Some of Biggest Improvements often come Internally

While we look to the draft for ways that the Green Bay Packers can improve, oftentimes the biggest improvements will come internally instead. 

When we discuss how a team is going to improve from one year to the next, we often look to the draft for those answers. And while, hopefully, the Packers can find some immediate help at receiver, along with bolstering their depth at edge, the interior defensive line, and safety, among other positions, some of the biggest improvements that Green Bay may experience in 2022 could come internally.

Although we often look to rookies to come in and make immediate impacts, more often than not, the initial contributions will be minimal. As we all know, there are learning curves and adjustment periods to life in the NFL, which is why players in their second and third years can frequently be the ones who provide the biggest boost. Recent examples include Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, Robert Tonyan, and Allen Lazard, to name a few.

For the 2022 Green Bay Packers, there are a few players who fit this mold. TJ Slaton was on the field for 266 snaps last season, according to PFF, and he was able to show some flashes. With some experience and a year in the NFL under his belt, Slaton could provide a much-needed consistent presence -- other than Kenny Clark -- at the nose tackle position. 

He has the makings of being an early-down run-stuffer with pass-rush upside. If Slaton is effective, the entire front seven will benefit. At 6'5" - 340 pounds, Slaton will eat up space and occupy double-teams, keeping the linebackers and edge rushers clean; while also allowing Clark to move around more in search of one-on-one opportunities.

Even Eric Stokes, as good as he was, is still an ascending player entering Year 2. We saw him quickly progress as the season went on, and in the end, he allowed just 51 completions on 100 targets at 11.9 yards per catch with nine pass breakups. One area where he could improve is his ball skills, and if he does, he will likely come away with more than just one interception in 2022.

Speaking of cornerbacks, while Alexander could end up being the primary slot corner this season, it's not as if he is going to spend all of his time there either--so who else can fill that role? Well, in 2021, the Packers drafted Shemar Jean-Charles to be a nickel corner, and although we don't exactly know where he is at in his development, if he can provide reliable snaps as the star, it will provide Joe Barry with an immense amount of flexibility in the secondary. This will allow Alexander to travel with the opponent's top receiver, and if both he and Stokes are on the boundary, that could lead to Rasul Douglas taking some snaps over the middle of the field as the third safety. I wrote about this in more detail recently, and you can click here to read, but in short, the possibilities for Barry in this instance would be endless.

And while I took the time to highlight Slaton, Stokes, and Jean-Charles, really, this entire Green Bay Packers defense could be in-store for a big jump under Year 2 of Joe Barry. As is the case with any new system, there is a learning curve, and time is required--just look at the Matt LaFleur offense from 2019 to 2020. If Barry's group can make that type of jump in his second season at the helm, then watch out.

On the offensive side of the ball, at various points, the Packers had four relatively inexperienced offensive linemen out on the field in Yosh Nijman, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan, and Royce Newman. All things considered, this group held up well with all of the injuries, but the quick passing game and having an MVP quarterback provided some assistance, and the run game lacked the big play ability we saw in 2020. However, that experience gained was valuable, and if healthy, we hopefully see a more dominant version of this unit -- especially with David Bakhtiari back -- which, of course, will benefit the entire offense.

Josiah Deguara is another player who could take a big step forward as well. As I wrote recently, tight ends rarely produce at a high level right away, and while from a statistical standpoint, Deguara's 2021 season doesn't stand out, there were positives, and he was much closer to what is the norm for a young tight end rather than being on the bad end of that spectrum. 

There are other players I haven't mentioned, including Amari Rodgers, who could provide the Packers with that needed gadget presence in LaFleur's offense, but you get the idea. 

Of course, we hope that Green Bay finds some immediate help and potential difference-makers early on in the draft, but that is just one path to improvement. In all likelihood, the more significant jump will come from young players already on the roster who take on larger roles as they hopefully make those Year 2 and Year 3 leaps that so many successful NFL players have made.

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

NFL Categories: 
11 points

Comments (41)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Leatherhead's picture

April 11, 2022 at 11:06 am

It's a 53 man roster. You can't add 53 new players every year. Most of the roster rolls over from one year to the next, so you have to have improvement from those guys from year to year because that's most of the team.

1 points
4
3
jannes bjornson's picture

April 11, 2022 at 11:41 am

You don't get bigger, you get better.

4 points
4
0
Leatherhead's picture

April 11, 2022 at 11:53 am

I keep going back to my own boys. After they graduated from college, they were noticeably more mature physically at 25 than they were at 22. And smarter about just about everything, and more experienced in dealing with things like jobs, bosses, etc. Adulthood.

Why don't we think football players are the same?

9 points
9
0
greengold's picture

April 13, 2022 at 12:36 pm

I do love where you’re coming from with this. Project some of this with me, if you would, on all the OL Gutekunst has added to our Packers roster over the past two years, and the developments of WRs within system.

We did see some exciting stuff from Winfree. Lazard has turned into a great player for us.

Leatherhead, I thought so much on how to add more OT help and OG help, adjusting my own mocks that I have been building. Man, I just don’t see the -dire- need if we have Yosh & Bakhtiari back at full strength. The house is filled with former OTs… right?

There’s a definite trickle down effect drafting OT first as a rule, as well as in ignoring what might prove to be generational talents, where we still need them, on D.

I put a ton of thought, research and video review into every single one of these players, and, I think they all fit LaFleur’s stated systems for both O & D, perfectly. As you’ll note, I held to one of Wolf’s maxims: “Always draft a cornerback.”

********
22 WR Jahan Dotson
28 WR Velus Jones
53 EDGE Sam Williams
59 DT Phidarian Mathis
93 LB Troy Andersen
132 OT Braxton Jones
140 DE Eyioma Uwazurike
171 TE/H Chig Okonkwo
228 S Markquese Bell
249 WR Deven Thompkins
258 CB Joshua Williams

********
22 WR Velus Jones
28 DT Phidarian Mathis
53 EDGE Sam Williams
59 LB Troy Andersen
93 TE Jelani Woods
132 OT Braxton Jones
140 DE Eyioma Uwazurike
171 TE/H Chig Okonkwo
228 WR Deven Thompkins
249 CB Decobie Durant
258 OG Jason Poe

Just a note, this is my latest, and might be my last share with this. I’ve also researched ALL the WRs available in this draft, watched their tape. Wow. There’s NOTHING like the eye test. I am extremely confident that these players will not only be great, but could help us close the deal on winning another Super Bowl.

0 points
0
0
greengold's picture

April 11, 2022 at 12:35 pm

Nice work, Paul. This is one of the best pieces I’ve read here in a while.

LOVE TJ Slaton. I thought both he and Stokes were complete steals from last year’s draft. There’s a lot to like with both players. Imagine if we can add a player like Devonte Wyatt or Travis Jones to our DL this year, allowing for a superb rotaion, and a shift of Kenny Clark to 3-tech, where he is insanely successful… Wow!

I have a lot of hopes for SJC’s development too, and fully expect we will see improvement. One of those Miami ballers with exceptional coverage gifts that can’t be taught, and a true, dedicated student of the game.

Deguara coming back successfully from his ACL with a year+ of healing would be the cherry on top.

Look at the development of Gary, Nijman & Runyan under LaFleur. I suspect Royce Newman will show like improvement as well. Two big pluses there, possibly 3. Campbell had a career year. Rasul Douglas lit it up. A lot to like so far…

8 points
8
0
croatpackfan's picture

April 11, 2022 at 01:34 pm

Only remark I have on your post is that development of those players are not result of HC (MLF), but of his coordinators and lower position coaches. They are true heroes here.

2 points
4
2
murf7777's picture

April 11, 2022 at 01:36 pm

GG...Slaton is an interesting one and one who is extremely valuable IF he takes a jump in year two. Many don't realize that his draft scouting reports state he is a better pash rusher than run stuffer. Most think because of his size he has to be a really good run stuffer. I hope he r improves and shows he can be that run stuffer that frees up others to make big plays while still pushing up the middle to force the QB out of the pocket!

3 points
3
0
LLCHESTY's picture

April 11, 2022 at 06:35 pm

Slaton got good push most of the time but needs a lot of hand work and added strength. He probably lost some strength losing 35 lbs between the end of the season and the draft. But he has to get better at hand fighting and shedding blockers. There were a lot of plays, especially outside zone runs, where I saw to a good job of flowing to the ball but when it came to shocking his blocker and making a play he couldn't lose them.

0 points
0
0
Packer_Fan's picture

April 11, 2022 at 12:09 pm

I like the premise of this piece and agree overall with what may happen. Just what players will take that next step. There does seem to be more of this happening under LaFleur than McCarthy as McCarthy's teams waned with talent at the end.

Expecting to see that in the OL with Runyan, Nijman, Myers and Newman all young and played well last year. Perhaps that is why Turner was released. And I don't expect a tackle being taken in the draft in the early rounds.

Dillon was already good last year and he may be the best back we have had in a long time. And I want to see both of them used together. Just hope Lafleur puts in some plays to take advantage of their skills,

I thought MVS would take a jump last year, but that didn't happen. I am not betting on Amari Rodgers to take a big leap. Gute will have to work on bringing in some veteran help along with the high draft picks.

It would be wonderful if Slaton takes a big jump. My slice is get help from the draft with IDL, ILB and Edge to push the defense over the top.

-2 points
1
3
stockholder's picture

April 11, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Point here. Point there. But the truth is this is not a Super Bowl roster. And with Adams, MVS, and Z smith leaving. Hope were Lucky.

-9 points
3
12
WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

April 11, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Z Smith was a complete non-factor last year. And the roster is nowhere near set at WR. No way to make that claim at this point in the off season.

5 points
6
1
stockholder's picture

April 11, 2022 at 02:26 pm

He came back for the playoffs. Non-factor in a WEAK DIVISION !!!! Without Rodgers this team isn't going anywhere.

0 points
2
2
TarynsEyes's picture

April 11, 2022 at 03:15 pm

Even with Rodgers, this team isn't much in the playoffs.

3 points
5
2
stockholder's picture

April 11, 2022 at 04:56 pm

It showed when MVS was out. Nobody could stretch the field.

1 points
3
2
TarynsEyes's picture

April 11, 2022 at 03:11 pm

"No way to make that claim at this point in the off-season."

That view needs to work for both sides of the debate.

1 points
2
1
Johnblood27's picture

April 11, 2022 at 06:21 pm

welcome back Taryn

1 points
1
0
MooPack's picture

April 11, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Of all the players to make a jump, TJ Slaton would have the biggest impact of the group. I have high hopes he can provide some better rotational reps to improve the run defense and push the pocket. They do better at stopping the run and this defense could be in the top 5-10.

Eric Stokes and Josh Myers are going to be fine.

Shemar Jean-Charles is still sort of a mystery and isn't one I'm counting on much. Add to that it seems a DB gets injured almost every year and my hope is they take Dax Hill in the 1st. Safety that can play slot and possibly outside. His athleticism is that good. He could be a star playing the star.

Royce Newman played better down the stretch, but I think the draft can add a better lineman.

Deguara and Amari Rodgers are more gadget players at their respective positions that tend to need to be schemed open. Always makes me a bit nervous when they talk about receivers needing to be schemed open. Meaning they may not have the ability on their own to beat coverage. Both players improvement is going to depend on what comes from the draft.

The other player, not mentioned, I hope can get back to pre-injury form is Kylin Hill. They get him back with Jones, Dillon, and Patrick and that's a pretty good RB group.

4 points
5
1
murf7777's picture

April 11, 2022 at 01:38 pm

Moo....the defense has been around the top 10 the last two years. Where it really needs to go is in the top 5 if this team is to win the big one. It has to be dominate, not just really good.

0 points
0
0
MooPack's picture

April 11, 2022 at 02:21 pm

I'd be taking care of that in the draft. I see potential for elite D with the right picks.

2 points
2
0
greengold's picture

April 11, 2022 at 02:49 pm

That’s right, Moo. There are a lot of players we can take to help us there. Landing the right ones, NT, 3-tech DT and DE will be huge, as will an upgrade from Barnes at ILB.

0 points
0
0
greengold's picture

April 11, 2022 at 02:40 pm

It won’t happen giving up > 60% conversions on 3rd & short.

Been seriously deep diving DTs, DEs and ILBs both early/late.

I have to tell you, I refuse to waste my time with ILBs that have 31” arms. Must have gone back close to 300 deep, and that’s a lotta searching for little payoff. I found TWO that fit Day 3… whoosh.

Ty Summers is a far superior cover guy than Leo Chenal, and, man, Ty was Captain America coming into the NFL… ugh. Think Chenal will light this NFL on fire? I’d doubt it. Ty’s arms 31.5. Chenal’s? 31.0”. No thanks.

Short arms seriously inhibit tackling ability in the NFL, where everybody is bigger, faster.

We should be thankful having Wilborn, for sure, as well as Gutekunst’s pick up of La’Darius Hamilton. BOTH exceptional ILB physical gifts to develop.

1 points
1
0
Guam's picture

April 11, 2022 at 03:10 pm

I'm not much of a talent evaluator, so take this question with a grain of salt GG, but do short arms really make a difference in tackling? Very few RBs or TEs in the NFL are going to be brought down with an arm tackle, so I would think speed and short area quickness (as well as ability to diagnose a play) to get your shoulder in position for a hard hit would be more important than arm length.

In coverage I could see short arms being an issue as LBs and DBs often reach to break up a pass and short arms don't help.

0 points
0
0
greengold's picture

April 11, 2022 at 03:46 pm

It matters. Big time. Often the difference between a tackle and a “whiff.” NFL is just so much faster, especially the star players. 31” arms just ain’t gonna make it, and the back end of this draft at LB is LOADED with them…

-1 points
0
1
Johnblood27's picture

April 11, 2022 at 06:23 pm

It has to be dominate, not just really good.

do you mean like in the san fran playoff game?

1 points
1
0
greengold's picture

April 12, 2022 at 04:34 am

Which one? And, YES!!!

0 points
0
0
LambeauPlain's picture

April 11, 2022 at 02:23 pm

SJC played poorly with his opportunities. He may improve, but with the deep DB class, Gutey will draft a S and probably a CB in the later rounds. Dax Hill would be a fine prospect with great versatility as you point out.

2 points
2
0
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

April 11, 2022 at 09:30 pm

Moo,
Agree about the RB's!

0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 12, 2022 at 02:04 am

I agree on Hill. The mocks seem to leave some mighty good RBs on the board into day three, but I don't see a need. I even like Patrick Taylor as the #4 RB and more as Dillon's backup.

1 points
1
0
PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 11, 2022 at 02:21 pm

I'm also very interested in seeing if Innis Gaines or Vernon Scott has made a jump.
Jonathan Garvin has physical talent, so he could also make a jump.
I'd bet that Royce Newman and Yosh Nijman make big jumps this year; the coaches had enough faith to start Newman at the beginning of the year--that impressed me.
Jake Hanson has been kept around--has he improved enough that the team feels comfortable with him as the backup center? Without Lucas Patrick, there's a real question there.

3 points
4
1
arthurl's picture

April 11, 2022 at 04:18 pm

Nijman played excellent at LT once Jenkins went down. In hindsight, the Packers should have just left him there throughout the playoffs. He needs to be on the field; maybe the starting RT. The Packers have something in both Myers and Newman, plus solid play from Runyan. They look good there, but I could see them getting another player in the early rounds.

Very pleased overall; some guys drafted early didn’t pan out, but they have a solid young core of players. I suspect they probably get some quality additions with all picks they have.

0 points
1
1
Johnblood27's picture

April 11, 2022 at 06:47 pm

Active Roster from Packers.com - with my comments - here are the year 1, 2 and 3 players currently on the gbp roster
Player # Pos HT WT Age Exp College

Chris Blair
19 WR 6-2 198 24 1 Alcorn State young guy, was behind the exodus players (DA, MVS, EQ) lets see what he can do

Shawn Davis
30 S 5-11 202 24 1 Florida could provide depth, dont know much about him

Dominik Eberle
7 K 6-2 190 25 1 Utah State strictly insurance

Danny Etling
9 QB 6-3 222 27 1 LSU 4th on depth chart, can he beat out benkert?

Innis Gaines
38 S 6-1 202 23 1 TCU speedy guy, had flashes but was RAW in camp last year - hopeful

Alizé Mack
47 TE 6-4 251 25 1 Notre Dame not enough info

Michal Menet
65 C 6-4 301 24 1 Penn State if hanson doesnt pan out we have Menet

JJ Molson
11 K 5-11 180 25 1 UCLA kicked really well last years camp - might be ready to take over.

Kiondre Thomas
43 CB 6-0 186 24 1 Kansas State who?

Cole Van Lanen
78 T/G 6-4 305 23 1 Wisconsin got a few mop up snaps last year, jar on the shelf

Ray Wilborn
57 LB 6-3 230 25 1 Ball State showed some fire last camp, promising

Kurt Benkert
6 QB 6-3 218 26 2 Virginia has a great personality...lol

Kabion Ento
48 CB 6-1 187 26 2 Colorado time to make or break with this project, shine or shine on.

Rico Gafford
80 WR 5-10 184 25 2 Wyoming speed - will it kill? unknown

Tipa Galeai
40 LB 6-5 229 25 2 Utah State got some snaps, not impressed - needs to make or break in this camp

La'Darius Hamilton
54 LB 6-2 261 24 2 North Texas see above, illustrates why edge is a sneaky need

Jack Heflin
96 DL 6-3 304 24 2 Iowa warm body, might not make it out of camp

Kylin Hill
32 RB 5-10 214 23 2 Mississippi State injury recovery still underway.

Shemar Jean-Charles
22 CB 5-10 184 23 2 Appalachian State some snaps last year, did not impress, part of woeful ST

Isaiah McDuffie
58 LB 6-1 227 22 2 Boston College showed in camp, see above

Josh Myers
71 C/G 6-5 310 23 2 Ohio State played well for rookie in limited snaps, hopeful recovery and consistent performance, we coulda had Creed!!!

Royce Newman
70 T/G 6-5 310 24 2 Mississippi up and down last year, candidate for performance jump this year.

Amari Rodgers
8 WR 5-9 212 22 2 Clemson see above, needs opportunity on offense, st not his meal ticket fo sho

T.J. Slaton
93 DL 6-4 330 24 2 Florida up and down last year, candidate for performance jump this year.

Eric Stokes
21 CB 6-0 194 23 2 Georgia great rookie campaign, a repeat would be good, ball skills could get better.

Patrick Taylor
27 RB 6-2 217 23 2 Memphis limited snaps, showed ok, power guy, know what we have here. upside?

Steven Wirtel
46 LS 6-4 228 24 2 Iowa State replace this bum!

Tyler Davis
84 TE 6-4 252 25 3 Georgia Tech 3rd year, make or break, get em good or get em gone applies here

Josiah Deguara
81 TE 6-2 238 25 3 Cincinnati coming off big injury, showed flashes, needs to be more consistent this year

AJ Dillon
28 RB 6-0 247 23 3 Boston College has arrived. Star in the making.

Jonathan Garvin
53 LB 6-4 257 22 3 Miami Has all the tools, like to see him become more impactful with his limited snaps.

Jordan Love
10 QB 6-4 219 23 3 Utah State Needs reps, showed promise in limited exposure, He will become the future.

Jon Runyan
76 G 6-4 307 24 3 Michigan Solid performer, has arrived and should be a consistent performer

Vernon Scott
36 S 6-2 202 24 3 TCU needs to show in camp, injury last year hurt him (and the teams depth)

Juwann Winfree
88 WR 6-1 210 25 3 Colorado has the tools, got some snaps as injury replacement, caught a few, fumbled a few. needs to show up and become reliable, may help on ST.

2 points
3
1
Johnblood27's picture

April 11, 2022 at 08:06 pm

what kind of douchnozzle could down vote this with no comment?

1 points
1
0
Johnblood27's picture

April 11, 2022 at 08:06 pm

identify yourself so I can see who is the complete azzwipe here.

1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 12, 2022 at 02:08 am

IDK, I am not a mod. I can even it up with an upvote, so I did.

1 points
1
0
Johnblood27's picture

April 12, 2022 at 01:35 pm

Thanks TGR, you're good people!

0 points
0
0
greengold's picture

April 12, 2022 at 04:42 am

Welcome to my world…

-2 points
0
2
Johnblood27's picture

April 12, 2022 at 06:54 am

yeah, I live in that world too. There are a couple of cowards who downvote every post I make and I really do not care about any stoopid "vote - thing", thats not why i read this site from stem to stern every day including all the comments.

I am a devoted (obsessed) Packer fan and i enjoy the takes here.

but... if you dislike a post, and it is very innocuous, like a bunch of data peeled from Packers.com, what does a downvote mean without a comment?

Just prejudiced cowardice I guess.

Argue with me, agree with me, I don't really care, but hiding behind a keyboard on a site like this is just douchenozzlesque...theres a new word!

1 points
1
0
greengold's picture

April 12, 2022 at 07:42 am

I like it. Agree. Douchenozzlesque is fitting there.

I actually gave myself the thumbs down on my “Welcome to my world,” just to save the twat the trouble. LOL.

Helpful to care more about - not caring at all - on the likes/dislikes. Leave those inclined towards the douchenozzlesque eating your dust.

If I had a dollar for every thumbs down I got about trading Aaron Rodgers, going back to a year ago… and, here we are. Didn’t win the Super Bowl. Didn’t even make it to the NFCC game FFS. Oh, yeah… Yes, he actually did say “Last Dance.”

Stop caring about that stuff. Your takes here are always great (even if I may disagree), genuine and appreciated. Cheers!

1 points
1
0
PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 12, 2022 at 07:53 am

Agreed. I literally NEVER downvote except for comments that are mean-spirited flaming. If you disagree with a concept, FFS say what you think, don't just leave an "I-hate-the-world" downvote. People who leave unclarified downvotes are pathetic.

0 points
1
1
Johnblood27's picture

April 12, 2022 at 10:24 am

I actually laughed out loud when I saw your post had a single down vote and no comment...

then I evened it up with an up vote... just becuz!

0 points
0
0
EVaGerty's picture

April 12, 2022 at 03:27 pm

Makes $190 to $480 per day online work and i received $21894 in one month online acting from home. I am a daily student and work simply one to a pair of hours in my spare time. Everybody will do that job and online makes extra cash by simply
COPY AND OPEN This Website..... 𝑾𝒘𝒘.𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑1.𝑪𝒐𝒎

0 points
0
0