OTAs start today! Finally, a chance to see the earliest glimpse into the roster. It’s too early to really get into position battles, but there are some questions that can give us good early insights.
1) Who else lines up at center?
Corey Linsley is the undisputed starter for sure, but then what? Don Barclay, so help us, is currently the assumed backup. We’re in big trouble if it comes to that and, considering that Linsley already has a hard-earned reputation for being injury prone in just three short seasons, it just might. Jacob Flores is the only player besides Linsley that’s listed as a center on the Packers roster (which means nothing) – he played center and (surprise) left tackle in college, and spent last year on the practice squad. Kofi Amichia was drafted in the 6th round as yet another tackle that looks like he will slide over to guard, but he could just as easily slide a little deeper and try out at center, where he got some reps at rookie orientation. OTAs will be the first time we get a chance to see if the coaches think that stint was successful enough to give him a deeper look at minicamp. As a 6th rounder, the Packers have invested more in him that Barclay or Flores (who both went undrafted), and not much less than Linsley, who came in as a 5th rounder. If it’s a three-man race to back up Linsley, things could interesting and the winner could go a long way in shaping the offensive line roster.
2) How will the rookie running back reps be split?
Ted Thompson went gonzo on running back in the draft, grabbing Jamaal Williams (a one-cut back without a lot of speed, who fits the Packers blocking scheme), Aaron Jones (a small-statured, big play back who, while also lacking elite speed, averaged 7.7 yards per carry in college), and Devante Mays (a big, powerful back, who also lacks speed). With three speed-deficient backs, each with a different type of game, but each with the ability to fit the Packers scheme, it will be interesting to see who gets the early lead in earning reps. It could give us the most early insight into how the offense will function this year.
3) Where Josh Jones will be lined up?
Second second round pick Josh Jones was listed as a safety when he came out, but he could also play the slot, and he’s built like a hybrid linebacker. There’s talk of him being a Micah Hyde replacement as a “Swiss army knife” (one of the worst terms ever), but Hyde really was just a nickel back – he earned his titled largely on his special teams abilities. Jones shows even more versatility. A big safety, a slot corner, or a hybrid linebacker? All of the above? Will his play in the box allow Burnett to play more safety… or will he replace Burnett when his contract is up? How much Jake and Blake will we see? With all the corners fighting for time, who will play slo and who will go boundary? All these answers could be impacted by where Jones sees the most time, and OTAs will give us the first part of those answers.
That’s just three questions but there’s many more to be answered – man, it’s great that the offseason is finally moving!