Monday Musings: MIP #10

For the next few weeks, I’ll be using this space to list the 10 most important Green Bay Packers heading into the 2021 season. Not the 10 best; the 10 most important. Today is No. 10:

1) Billy Turner is far from being a Pro Bowler at any position on the offensive line, but his ability to play three of them adequately puts him on this list. Last season, he started four games at right guard, six games at right tackle, and six games at left tackle, including the NFC championship. And while his struggles against Tampa Bay made it obvious just how much the team missed David Bakhtiari, the Packers did go 4-2 and average over 30 points when Turner filled in for the five-time All-Pro. The 29-year-old from North Dakota State star figures to be every bit as important to the team’s success in 2021, especially when you consider the youth and inexperience of the backup offensive linemen. Having Turner around to fill in at multiple positions should allow the coaches to sleep a lot better at night. Still, with a salary-cap number of nearly $9 million in 2022, even that versatility might not be enough to guarantee him a fourth season in Green Bay.

2) Malik Taylor signed his exclusive rights tender last week. The former undrafted free agent played 166 snaps last season and caught 5 passes for 66 yards and 1 touchdown. And while he’ll be hard-pressed to make the 53-man roster again with the return of Devin Funchess and the drafting of Amari Rodgers, it would be a mistake to write him off. The 25-year-old from Ferris State did OK in limited opportunities last season, and he’s been more impressive than Equanimeous St. Brown in the past two training camps. Taylor is one of the faster receivers on the team, and he’s a willing blocker. He also did a nice job of covering kicks in 2020. Assuming Rodgers, Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are locked into roster spots, Taylor figures to be battling it out with St. Brown, Funchess, and a handful of totally unproven first and second-year players for one or two openings.


3) It’s crazy to think of how much draft capital has been spent on the secondary, especially in comparison to the defensive line and inside linebacker. Since 2014, the Packers have drafted nine defensive backs in the first two rounds. Five are still on the roster (Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Darnell Savage, and Eric Stokes), two are with other teams (Damarious Randall and Josh Jones), and two are out of the league (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Quinten Rollins). Meanwhile, the only defensive lineman picked in the first two rounds during that same time period was Kenny Clark. As for inside linebacker, it’s been since 2003 (Nick Barnett). Yes, 2003! What does this mean? It means that Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst, who’ve done the drafting for the past decade and a half, place an extremely high value on cornerbacks and safeties. It also means the secondary better be damn good this season.

POLL: Will Rashan Gary reach double-digit sacks this season?

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1 COMMENTS

  1. Everyone bitched and complained when Billy Turner was signed. “That’s too much money for a guard.” Gutekunst paid big bucks because he knew two things. First, Turner could play tackle. And second, both David Bakhtiari and Brian Bulaga were soon to be free agents and there was no way he could afford both. Turner gave him the versatility not to force an early pick on a tackle. Not unlike Jimmy Graham and how everyone complained about him. Gutekunst simply had bigger fish to fry, namely the secondary and the pass rush, than to use high draft capital on a TE. Graham was a stopgap until the position could be addressed at a later date just as Turner will be used now at RT. Turner makes a better tackle in my opinion. He’s no mauler at guard.

    As far as CB vs ILB, as any DC in the league will tell you corners and OLB make the world go round. They give you the versatility to do all kinds of things. The Bears Roquan Smith is an excellent ILB. Chicago however is going to miss Kyle Fuller more than they would Smith. Just because the position is more important. Still, I’d like to have a good sideline to sideline LB. You draft CB’s until you get it right. Just like you do QB’s on offense. Yes, Gutekunst missed on Josh Jackson but he knocked it out of the park when he selected Jaire Alexander. Not to mention Darnell Savage looks a lot like Nick Collins. And if Stokes is half as good as either we can all rejoice and be happy.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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