Thanks to Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com (who we had on Railbird Central for a pre-draft interview) we are able to get first-year statistical projections for the Green Bay Packers rookie class.
Let's get the caveats out of the way. These projections are based upon the assumption each player starts all 16 games on an average NFL team.
Obviously, that's a leap in logic for most most all NFL rookies, but we will note that last year's projection for running back Eddie Lacy was 1,065 yards, 4.6 ypc and 25 receptions, which wasn't all that far off from what Lacy actually produced.
These statistics are derived from a completely objective formula using an algorithm that takes into account things like each player's college production, their strength of competition, NFL Combine measurables and previous performances of similar rookies at the same position.
So without further ado, here's a fun if flawed look at what the Packers' rookies could be expected to do if they started an entire season:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (3rd-ranked safety by PredictionMachine.com)
72.2 tackles, 3.0 interceptions, 6.6 PBUs
Under the assumption of good health, Clinton-Dix likely will start all 16 games for the Packers in 2014, so these projections are probably not as far fetched as some other players. For comparison's sake, M.D. Jennings—the person whose spot in the lineup Clinton-Dix will replace—had 56 tackles, zero interceptions and one pass broken up in 2013. The Packers greatly upgraded the talent at safety, which should pay dividends in the form of an improved unit that ranked 25th in total defense and 24th in points allowed last season.
Davante Adams (12th-ranked wide receiver by PredictionMachine.com)
86.2 receptions, 882.9 yards, 10.2 YPR
Adams should be able to carve out a role on a Packers offense in need of receiving help now that James Jones and Jermichael Finley (at least temporarily) have departed. The only question is, how high can Adams climb on a totem pole that also includes Jordy Nelson, Ranall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin and others. His talent suggests he could become as high as the No. 3 receiver a rookie, a role via which Jones put up some pretty good numbers during his time in Green Bay.
Khyri Thornton (39th-ranked defensive tackle by PredictionMachine.com)
30.8 tackles, 1.1 sacks, 5.8 TFLs, 0.5 FF
Thornton was not surrounded by very good talent at Southern Mississippi, which limited some of his own production. But perhaps a sign of his potential is his projected tackles for a loss. Among the defensive tackles ranked 29th through 43rd on the list by Prediction Machine, Thornton's 5.8 TFLs are the highest of the group. The Packers hope they've identified a diamond in the rough whose pro production will be better than what it was in college.
Richard Rodgers (21st-ranked tight end by PredictionMachine.com)
34.2 receptions, 445.1 yards, 13.0 YPR
Even though Rodgers is just the 21st-ranked tight end, his projected receptions rank tied for seventh, yards rank third and yards per reception rank fourth. His projected 13.0 yards per reception is also higher than wide receiver Davante Adams. Andrew Quarless figures to be the primary in-line tight end in Green Bay, but Rodgers figures to engage an an intriguing battle with Brandon Bostick as the team's top flex tight end throughout the offseason and training camp.
Carl Bradford (8th-ranked outside linebacker by PredictionMachine.com)
54.4 tackles, 7.0 sacks, 11.9 TFLs
Bradford's projected 11.9 tackles for a loss rank third behind only Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr among players classified as outside linebackers. In Green Bay, Bradford will encounter difficulties finding playing time at a position that also includes Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Nick Perry, but he should be a core special teams player as he continues to develop.
Jared Abbrederis (11th-ranked wide receiver by PredictionMachine.com)
66.3 receptions, 779.3 yards, 11.7 YPR
Abbrederis has several concerns entering the NFL. Chief among them are the multiple concussions he's reportedly suffered during his time at Wisconsin. Beyond the medical concerns, he needs to get stronger if he hopes to get off jams by the likes of the Richard Shermans of the NFL. But if he's healthy and gets stronger, the value Abbrederis provides as a receiver as well as a return specialist will greatly benefit the Packers.
Jeff Janis (10th-ranked wide receiver by PredictionMachine.com)
78.4 receptions, 914.2 yards, 11.7 YPR
Surprisingly, despite being the Packers' seventh-round and last draft choice in 2014, Janis ranks higher than both Adams and Abbrederis in the Prediction Machine listings with more receptions and more yards. Obviously the formula used in the rankings are influenced heavily by Janis' blazing fast Combine times and production in college against inferior competition. The raw skills are there and the ceiling is high, but Janis will undergo a steep learning curve in acclimating to the NFL.
Adrian Hubbard (41st-ranked outside linebacker by PredictionMachine.com)
38.2 tackles, 3.9 sacks, 5.7 TFL
From a purely physical standpoint, Hubbard's NFL comparisons include Jevon Kearse, Brian Urlacher and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. Unfortunately, for having all the physical tools in the world, Hubbard underwhelmed at Alabama and didn't have nearly as much statistical production as he could have. Good thing for the Packers, there's very little risk in signing Hubbard as an undrafted free agent. If he lives up to his potential, they get a steal. If not, the financial investment was minimal and they really only lose the time invested into developing him.
Rajion Neal (23rd-ranked running back by PredictionMachine.com)
222 carries, 847 yards, 3.8 YPC, 33 receptions, 222 yards, 8 TDs
It was perhaps surprising that the Packers signed two undrafted rookie running backs along with LaDarius Perkins and are reportedly bringing another one for a workout in James Sims. That raises questions about the recovery of Johnathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris from injuries in 2013. But for going the undrafted route, Neal was a productive college running back.
LaDarius Perkins (29th-ranked running back by PredictionMachine.com)
206 carries, 689 yards, 3.3 YPC, 35 receptions, 288 yards, 6 TDs
At just 5' 7" and 195 lbs., Perkins is not a workhorse back. But he does have a lot of experience catching the ball out of the backfield and has extensive experience returning kickoffs as well. If the Packers want to relieve Randall Cobb from his special teams duties, Perkins has a shot to replace him.
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Photo: Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams by Brian Carriveau.
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