The Green Bay Packers released their first unofficial depth chart of 2011 Tuesday, four days before their preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns.
With four preseason games and just under a month before Week 1, take this depth chart with a large grain of salt. Plenty will happen between now and Sept. 4, meaning plenty of names will be moved around.
Here is a look at the depth chart, via Packers.com:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell
RB: Ryan Grant, James Starks, Dimitri Nance, Alex Green/Brandon Saine
FB: John Kuhn, Quinn Johnson, Jon Hoese
WR1: Greg Jennings, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Brett Swain/Diondre Borel, Kerry Taylor
WR2: Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Chastin West, Tori Gurley/Antonio Robinson, Shaky Smithson
TE: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams/Ryan Taylor/Spencer Havner
LT: Chad Clifton, Marshall Newhouse, Theo Sherman
LG: Derek Sherrod, T.J. Lang, Adrian Battles
C: Scott Wells, Nick McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Sampson Genus
RG: Josh Sitton, Nick McDonald, Caleb Schlauderaff
RT: Bryan Bulaga, Chris Campbell, Ray Dominguez
At least on paper and according to most experts, the Green Bay Packers were one of the “winners” from the 2011 NFL Draft. But for as good as the newest Packers could be this season, there are a handful of others who could make the jump from roster-worthy to impact player.
Breaking out implies that the player is not already well-known and has not made an impact on the team worth writing about. For example, Jordy Nelson could very well become the Packers’ second leading receiver in 2011, but last season was when he became a household name. Other notable players left off the list include Desmond Bishop, John Kuhn and Tim Masthay.
1. Mike Neal, DE: The Packers’ second round selection from 2010 played just 83 snaps during his rookie campaign, but a shoulder injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Many were skeptical of the pick, but in those two games Neal registered a forced fumble and sack to go with three tackles. With the reality that Cullen Jenkins could be in a different uniform come September, Neal could be expected to enter a starter’s role. He has the size and speed to play the position and could make the loss of Jenkins that much easier on the defense.
2. James Starks, RB: There’s no denying Starks’ impact down the stretch and into the playoffs, but his sophomore season could be the year that he takes the reigns from Ryan Grant and becomes the Packers’ starter of the future. Grant has been one of the more underrated running backs in the NFC over the past three seasons, but Starks has played well enough to at least share a 50/50 load in the backfield. Grant is under contract for just one more season and the Packers could be grooming Starks to take the role full-time.
3. Bryan Bulaga, RT:
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Johnny Jolly.
That’s about all Packers fans have to say regarding the defensive end after NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell suspended Jolly for the entire 2010 season Saturday. Jolly reportedly violated his substance abuse policy and prosectuors in the state of Texas are also looking into potential drug dealing, indicating Jolly “bought, sold, funded, transported and aided in the buying, selling, funding and transportation of illegal narcotics including cocaine and marijuana” from 2006 through May 2008.”
Jolly is also due in court at the end of July on charges that he possessed over 200 grams of codeine during a traffic stop in 2008. If convicted, Jolly could face up to 20 years in prison.
Make no mistake about it: I am extremely pleased with how the Packers’ 2010 draft went down. They came out of the three-day festivities with a future left tackle, depth on both lines, a potential starting safety, and even more potential threats on an already scary offense. But what’s the fun in agreeing?
By in large, the Packers’ front office knew 1000 times more about the players in the draft than I ever could by reading Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Preview book or watching Youtube videos, but here’s what I would have done if I was calling the shots on Draft Day.
*Note* Each selection is based on what the Packers actually did leading up to that point. So in round two, I am saying who the Packers should have selected based on taking Bryan Bulaga, etc.
Round 1, pick 23
Who was the pick: Bryan Bulaga, LT, Iowa
Who should have been the pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Round One: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Bulaga’s stock was all over the board, but Ted Thompson stuck to his draft board and went with who he hopes will be the team’s future left tackle. They could have gone with the instant upgrade at outside linebacker or safety, but instead chose Bulaga. He has excellent size and can play three positions on the line. The Packers say he will have a chance to compete for the starting left tackle position this year.
Round Two: Michael Neal, DE, Purdue