Projecting the Packers’ 2017 Offensive Starters
The rush of signing new free agents has ended. Who would be starting Week 1 for Green Bay’s offense if the season began tomorrow?
Free agency started almost a month ago, and teams are now turning their attention to the draft. The Packers added a few crucial pieces, but they also watched as many former starters signed with other teams. While the draft remains a month away, Green Bay knows what roster gaps it still must fill.
The current squad will undoubtedly look different in September, as the team adds rookies and additional free agents. But if the Packers finalized their roster tomorrow, which players would enter the season as offensive starters?
Note: bolded names indicate a change from the Packers’ 2016 Week 1 starters.
Skill Position Starters
QB Aaron Rodgers: No surprises here. The two-time MVP and the 2016 season’s passing touchdowns leader enters his tenth season as the Packers’ starting quarterback.
RB Ty Montgomery: Montgomery ended last year as Green Bay’s leading rusher, but 2017 will mark his first opening day start. After replacing Eddie Lacy following a season-ending injury, the converted wide receiver rushed for 457 yards and three touchdowns.
FB Aaron Ripkowski: Ripkowski represents the only fullback on the roster, and the Packers likely won’t pick up another. He’s quickly becoming a valuable role player. There are many games he won’t start because Green Bay likes to open with three-receiver sets. But when they do use a fullback, it’ll be Ripkowski.
WR Jordy Nelson: The reigning Comeback Player of the Year remains the top receiving threat for the Packers.
WR Davante Adams: Randall Cobb occupied the #2 spot last year, and the way the Packers operate means all three will likely start most weeks. While Adams’ skill set differs from Cobb’s, the fourth year player emerged as a bigger threat than Cobb, especially down the field. He and Nelson combined to make one of the most dangerous receiving duos in the league. Cobb will play a huge role in the offense, and will likely start many games in the slot, but Adams deserves to start opposite Nelson.
TE Martellus Bennett: The Packers’ prized free agent acquisition will start the season at the top of the depth chart. He’s an upgrade to Jared Cook, who started 2016, and makes for a dynamic presence down the middle of the field.
Offensive Line Starters
LT David Bakhtiari: Green Bay wisely inked Bakhtiari to an extension last season. He responded by emerging into one of the best pass-blocking left tackles in the NFL.
LG Lane Taylor: Taylor became last year’s starter at the last minute when the team surprisingly released Josh Sitton. He might not be a Pro Bowl caliber player, but he played well in his first extended action. He’ll be one of the team’s starters on the offensive line.
C Corey Linsley: Linsley started every game in his rookie season of 2014 and 13 games a year later. An injury prevented him from starting opening day in 2016, but after J.C. Tretter got injured Linsley started the season’s final games. Tretter’s departure to the Browns assures Linsley as the 2017 starter.
RG Don Barclay: Right guard could easily change before the year begins, but if the season started tomorrow, Barclay would likely start. T.J. Lang signed with the Lions, and the Packers didn’t have an immediate replacement at the position. Barclay’s experience gives him an edge over Kyle Murphy, at least for now.
RT Bryan Bulaga: Bulaga started all 16 games in 2016, the first time he’d done so in his career. He’s an above average player and will remain the right tackle after Mike McCarthy announced that he won’t move inside to replace Lang.