Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who missed all of 2013 due to injury, was graded as an average starter by Pro Football Focus. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers' Starters Ranked 8th In NFL In PFF Grading

Pro Football Focus ran every projected starting offense and defense through its wringer recently and the Green Bay Packers units came together to rank eighth in the NFL.

Left guard Josh Sitton was one of three projected Green Bay starters to receive an elite grade. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Monson of PFF reported (ESPN Insider subscription required) the results, which broke each starter down into one of eight categories: Elite, high quality, good starter, average starter, below-average starter, poor starter, not enough information or rookie.

The Packers had three players ranked in the elite category—quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right outside linebacker Clay Matthews and left guard Josh Sitton.

The offense had two starters ranked as high quality in halfback Eddie Lacy and wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

The good starters included fullback John Kuhn, wide receiver Randall Cobb and right guard T.J. Lang on offense and right end Mike Daniels and cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey Hayward on the defensive side.

The bulk of the starters graded out as average, including five on the defensive side. They included left end Julius Peppers, left outside linebacker Nick Perry, left inside linebacker Brad Jones, cornerback Tramon Williams and strong safety Morgan Burnett. The offense had two average starters in wide receiver Jarrett Boykin and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

It is this group, Monson says, that could determine how good the Packers end up being in 2014.

The team has almost as many projected blue-chip starters (three, 12.5 percent) as it does below average (four, 16.7 percent), but it is the average players who may dictate the ceiling for this team. Seven projected starters (29.2 percent) grade out as average at this time and whether those players outperform or underperform that designation will likely determine how good this team becomes.

The assessment was particularly harsh about Peppers.

The team yet again tried to address the pass rush opposite Clay Matthews, this time with a veteran in Julius Peppers, but it would take a turnaround in his performance to prove that decision wise.

Receiving below-average grades were tight end Andrew Quarless, left tackle David Bakthiari, nose tackle B.J. Raji and right inside linebacker A.J. Hawk.

The Packers did not have any players who fell into the poor starter classification.

Each unit had 12 listed starters rather than 11; the offense included three wide receivers and a tight end, the defense listed five defensive backs and four linebackers.

Center J.C. Tretter was given the “not enough information” grade, not surprising since he missed his rookie year with an injury, and free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, of course, fell into the rookie category.

The only teams ranked ahead of the Packers were, in order, the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals.

As far as the rest of the NFC North was concerned, the Detroit Lions were 11th, the Chicago Bears 15th and the Minnesota Vikings checked in at No. 29.

In any event, do with these rankings what you will, just so long as you bear in mind that I am just the messenger … even though we all know what can happen to messengers.

Tags: Aaron Rodgers Clay Matthews Green Bay Packers Josh Sitton

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