Point-Counterpoint: Green Bay Has A Strong Roster


Football Insiders Columnist John Owning and Managing Editor Charlie Bernstein debate whether the Green Bay Packers have one of the better rosters in the NFL, outside of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

John Owning begins with the case for Ted Thompson and the Pack.

The Green Bay Packers may have the greatest quarterback on planet Earth, Aaron Rodgers. Unlike many other teams, their success isn’t dependent on solely their All-Star quarterback. That doesn’t mean there success isn’t due in large part to their All-Star quarterback’s success; however, he does have a very good supporting cast when healthy.  In fact, they have one of the better all-around rosters in the NFL.

Look at last year, Green Bay lost their No. 1 wide receiver due to injury and Rodgers had arguably his worst season since 2008. So bad in fact, that Pro Football Focus left him out of their top 101 players in the NFL for the 2015-2016 season. While PFF isn’t the end all be all for determining how a player played, it just goes to show how down of a year he had in 2015. Despite both these facts, the Packers still went 10-6 en route to another playoff birth.  Not many teams could survive a season in which their No. 1 offensive weapon was out and their quarterback had possibly his worst statistical season to date, let alone make the playoffs under those circumstances.  

The reason they were able to have this kind of success was because of their surrounding pieces. Outside of Nelson, Randall Cobb and DeVante Adams are solid receiver pieces when not asked to be the premier option. Richard Rodgers is an ascending option at tight end and Jared Cook is a solid No. 2 tight end. On the offensive line, the Packers may have the best interior as they have made a living developing mid round picks to become great starters.  T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and Corey Lindsey were all picked after the fourth round and each of them has an argument to be among the top-five on their defense.

On defense, the Packers have some holes on their defensive line outside of the dominant Mike Daniels; however, they did their best to fill those holes by drafting Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry. Inside linebacker is the biggest hole on Green Bay’s team. Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington shouldn’t be starters on any NFL franchise, but they are in Green Bay. Nevertheless, every team in the NFL has a position they are extremely weak at, it just happens to be inside linebacker for the Packers. In the secondary, the Packers have one of the best up and coming squads. Quinten Rollins proved to be an incredible steal, and he could develop into a young star this year. Damarious Randall is another young and talented who is on the brink of becoming a great player. Ladarious Gunter showed glimpses of becoming a very good No. 3 cornerback. Sam Shields is a critically underrated cornerback. Morgan Burnett and Haha Clinton-Dix are solid safeties who get the job done.

Overall, the Packers roster is littered with young and veteran talent, which has been built almost exclusively through the draft, which is a testament to general manager Ted Thompson.

Now for the case against the Packers roster.

I’m not saying Packers general manager Ted Thompson isn’t good at his job.  He clearly is.  He did draft quarterback Aaron Rodgers when there really wasn’t an immediate need for a quarterback as Brett Favre was already on the roster.

With that said, what have you done for me lately?

The Packers will always be competitive regardless of the 52 other players on the roster because they have Rodgers lining up under center.  A-Rod is an all-time great, and his sheer physical talents and quick release is like something we’ve never seen before.  Picture Dan Marino with mobility.

With such a transcendent player at the most important position in sports, why haven’t they been to more than one Super Bowl?

The easy answer is the talent, or lack thereof around him.

Honestly, how many Packers on the current roster would another team want to acquire?  How many would start for an average team?

Josh Sitton?  Sure, he’s a top offensive lineman.  Is anyone lining up to take any of the offensive tackles for anything more than depth?

What about defensively?  Clay Matthews has been great, but he’s now on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off a 6.5 sack season.

The last six first round picks Thompson has wasted spent (not counting 2016) have been on Damarious Randall, Haha Clinton-Dix, Datone Jones, Nick Perry, Derek Sherrod and Brian Bulaga.

Not exactly foundations of a strong roster.

The Packers open the 2016 season in Jacksonville against a Jaguars team that hasn’t finished above .500 in a decade.  Sure, Green Bay is favored (like they should be with Aaron Rodgers), but when you take the quarterbacks away, whose roster do you like better?

Not spending big money on free agents has always been Thompson’s mantra, but his roster is deteriorating around his legendary quarterback and if he didn’t have Rodgers he likely would have been fired years ago.

As my colleague stated above, the Packers do have a handful of solid players that could be nice pieces in the near future.

So does every team outside of San Francisco and Chicago (who beat the Packers last year).

The only thing that keeps Green Bay from picking outside of the Top 10 is Aaron Rodgers.  He’s the guy that keeps Mike McCarthy and Thompson employed and he keeps the lights on at Lambeau.

Otherwise, the Packers aren’t even an average roster, it’s a pretty bad one.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.