5 Rookies Who Need to Step Up for the Green Bay Packers
5 Key Rookies For Green Bay Packers
NFL Draft Day. Hundreds of young men across the country are waiting patiently and watching to see if their names are called. A lifelong dream to play in the NFL may very well come true. Once that player gets the call and sees their name flash across the television, reality sets in and the excitement is shot through the roof. This is something every kid wants, and is something that the Green Bay Packers use better than anyone to build upon what is already the most winning franchise in all of the NFL
Since becoming general manager of the Packers, Ted Thompson has done a fantastic job of drafting young talent. Thompson believes in these young players, and wants them to have an immediate splash in the league.
In an interview conducted with Peter King, Thompson said, “We’re big believers in drafting and development.” It has been the motto of Thompson since he has taken the helm, and 2013 was no different.
This year, the Packers had 11 draft picks; within those 11, five stand out in my eyes. These five rookies must step up for this team if they want to be successful this year. It is time for them to prove themselves to the organization and show what they can do.
These rookies, if successful, can put their names up there with great draft selections such as BJ Raji, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, AJ Hawk and some guy named Aaron Rodgers.
I believe that these guys can do the job for the Packers and be successful for not only this year, but years to come. Check out who I believe the top five rookies are for the Packers that need to step up in the 2013-14 season.
CB Micah Hyde
Drafted in the 5th round, cornerback Micah Hyde was drafted to sure up a secondary that lost veteran Charles Woodson a year ago. Hyde will have a lot of opportunities to make plays in a secondary that is young and untested.
Hyde played college ball at Iowa, where he received the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award in the Big Ten and was co-MVP for the Hawkeyes.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, Hyde is good size for a cornerback in the NFL. The coaching staff is high on Hyde, and his potential is through the roof. If he can stay healthy and play up to potential, he will make a great one-two punch with second year man Casey Hayward for years to come.
OL David Bakhtiari
Drafted in the 4th round, offensive lineman David Bakhtiari has a large role to play for a rookie. Listed at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, Bakhtiari is a physical, strong kid with a lot of upside.
Bakhtiari played most of his college career on the right side of the line, but with the loss in preseason to starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga, Bakhtiari was thrown right into the mix. He must start on the left side and protect Aaron Rodgers' blind side for the entire season.
Left tackle is a position that is a staple in most offensive lines, and is the protector of the “blind side” for a right handed quarterback. It is a transition that may be hard for Bakhtiari, but I believe he can do the job.
So far, he has done a good job in protection. He had the challenge of going against All-Pro defensive end Aldon Smith in Week 1, and stood him up for most of the game. He then had the challenge of facing Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan in Week 2. Bakhtiari has held his own in both matchups.
Bakhtiari has gotten great reviews from the coaching staff for being a “pros pro,” and if he can continue to work hard, he may just be the next Chad Clifton for the Packers.
RB Johnathan Franklin
Drafted in the 4th round, rookie running back Johnathan Franklin was highly touted coming out of UCLA. Listed at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, Franklin comes in as a back that can spare carries and be productive catching the ball out of the backfield.
Franklin is a tad bit undersized, but according to most analysts, he plays much bigger. NFL analyst Charles Davis said of Franklin, “He’s compact but he’ll run inside the tackles.” He also referred to Franklin as a “good locker room guy.”
This is high praise for Franklin, who will most likely be the No. 2 or No. 3 back for this team. However, with some injuries that have occurred already this season, Franklin can emerge as a big time back with his great speed and one cut ability.
DE Datone Jones
Drafted as the Packers first selection, defensive end Datone Jones comes into Green Bay with a lot of expectations. Jones is a physical, hard nose defensive player that can put pressure on the quarterback.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, Jones has good size and displayed decent speed at the combine. NFL analyst Mike Mayock was very high on Jones coming out of the draft and believed he would fit great with the Packers.
Mayock said of Jones, “Because Green Bay plays a 3-4 defense, this kid is an ideal fit. I love this kid’s upside. He fits the scheme. He’s the only one I saw who beat Eric Fisher (number one draft pick overall by the Kansas City Chiefs) all week long in one-on-one.”
Jones is currently dealing with an ankle injury. However, if he can get back to full strength, he can be a force for this Packers defense that needs to take a lot of the pass-rushing load off of Clay Mathews.
RB Eddie Lacy
Drafted in the 2nd round, running back Eddie Lacy was a steal for the Packers. Listed at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, Lacy is a physical, demanding back who I believe has the potential to be the next Marshawn Lynch.
Lacy played his college ball at Alabama and was in a a pro style offense under Nick Saban. While at Alabama, Lacy rushed for 2,402 yards and scored 30 touchdowns. Along with the individual stats, Lacy helped lead Alabama to back-to-back National Championships in 2011 and 2012.
The Packers have been looking for a back like Lacy, a guy who can run between tackles, block and catch the ball out of the backfield. Lacy had a solid game in Week 1 against a very good San Francisco run defense. Aside from a fumble in the first half, he ran for 41 yard and a touchdown, and showed he could hold up blocking in the NFL.
Lacy left the Packers' Week 2 game with a concussion on his first run. However, when he returns, he should still be listed as the No. 1 back.
In my opinion, Lacy will be the future back with the Packers for years to come. If he can remain healthy and protect the football the way he did in college, there is no doubt he can become a 1,000 yard rusher and put his name amongst Packer running backs such as Ryan Grant, Ahman Green and even the great Jim Taylor.