With the unusual NFL offseason that has taken place, it could very well mean a slow start to the 2020 season for members of the Green Bay Packers rookie class.
It’s certainly been an unusual NFL offseason as mini-camps have been canceled, all offseason programs have been done virtually up to this point, and recently it was reported that the preseason would be just two games. Given these circumstances, when it comes to the Green Bay Packers’ rookie class, they are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to contributing, at least early on, in 2020.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that most of this 2020 rookie class wasn’t going to be big contributors this season anyways. The three offensive linemen drafted in Round 6 are backups, and seventh-round picks Jon Garvin and Vernon Scott provide needed depth at edge and safety, but likely weren’t going to play significant roles this season anyways.
Even first-round pick Jordan Love is obviously going to be a backup. However, this isn’t exactly an ideal situation that the Packers want the future of their franchise to be entering as his development and learning of the offense is going to be slowed. But assuming Aaron Rodgers can stay on the field, this shouldn’t affect Green Bay much in 2020 and by no means should this affect Love in the long run.
Yet having said all of that, there are three draft picks who, under normal circumstances, could have seen playing time right away, but this offseason could change that, or at the very least, the amount of playing time. Those three players would be A.J. Dillon, Josiah Deguara, and Kamal Martin.
Dillon was an explosive runner at Boston College, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and he is going to be competing with Jamal Williams for RB2 snaps sooner than later. But with limited time on the practice field and as he adjusts to this new offense, Green Bay may choose to rely more on Williams early on since he is familiar with Rodgers as well as LaFleur’s system.
Meanwhile, Deguara has it even more difficult as he is supposed to play a Kyle Juszczyk-like role in this Green Bay Packers’ offense. This requires him to wear many hats and shift from one responsibility to the next seamlessly. There are veterans who struggle to fill this role, so there is certainly going to be a learning curve for the rookie.
Lastly is Kamal Martin, who can work in space but also provide help against the run. While we know Christian Kirksey is going to be the starting inside linebacker, the second spot is up for grabs, and many believe Martin could compete for it. However, this unusual offseason could limit his involvement early on, especially when we consider that his competition has all been in Mike Pettine’s defense for at least one season.
Of course, this isn’t something that is only affecting Green Bay, as every NFL team has to deal with it. But for a Packers team that didn’t have any significant offseason additions, they are relying on internal development and a few of these rookies to help them take a step forward in 2020.
And when it comes to these aforementioned rookies – Dillon, Deguara, and Martin – patience is going to be needed as they get up to speed.