Photo via Lori Nickel of Milwaukee Journal SentinelWith the 47th pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select; health insurance for Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay’s 2015 season was plagued by injuries on the offensive side of the ball starting with their star receiver Jordy Nelson (ACL) in the preseason. As the season progressed, Green Bay’s offensive line caught the injury bug as well. The Packers started the season off hot without Nelson, however once the offensive line began to acquire injuries, the season slowly began to go downhill. Injuries to T.J Lang, Josh Sitton, and David Bakhtiari proved to be a little too much for even Aaron Rodgers to overcome at times.
Rodgers stats and play suffered throughout the year. Without Nelson, Green Bay’s receiving core is one of the slowest in the NFL. Therefore the injuries to the offensive line were devastating. Rodgers had little to no protection and time in the pocket to allow his receivers to get open. Rodgers seemed to have to use his evasiveness to escape the pocket within three seconds on over 50% of all his drop backs. To make matters worse, the Packers receivers dropped passes like crazy. Rodgers was sacked 46 times (2nd most in the NFL). This also hurt the production of the Packers running game and running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy went from a 1,139 yard season in 2014, to a 758 yard season with seven fumbles. Some contribute it to the weight Lacy gained in the off season (rightfully so) however, the injuries to the line were the biggest contribution to his lackluster season. Four of Green Bay’s offensive linemen have one year left on their contracts, so the hole at this position has become one of Green Bay’s top priorities.
Thus, the Packers decided to use their second round pick on the senior OT from Indiana, Jason Spriggs. Spriggs is a 6’6” 301lb offensive tackle. His talent scream for him to be a first round pick. He has great size and athleticism for his position. He is very quick and agile therefore, he’s great for fast paced spread offenses like the one he played for in college. His quickness allows him to beat defensive ends to their spots unlike ones who get blown by with the use of a quick move off the edge. However, Spriggs does have weaknesses that spell out why he fell to the second round of the draft. Scouts say Spriggs lacks consistency and the motor that is needed to be successful in the NFL. He also has questionable upper body strength which makes it harder for him to sustain his blocks.
Spriggs was named 2nd team All-Big Ten In 2015 only allowing two sacks on 431 called pass attempts. He also only allowed 72 knockdowns in 972 snaps. This all explains why the Packers felt the need to trade up and draft him. He’s a player with lots of potential at the position. The Packers are viewing him as a young talent that can step in a year or two, and contribute to time (in the pocket) and protection for Aaron Rodgers as well as running lanes for Eddie Lacy. Even though Rodgers was able to stay healthy this past year, there are no guarantees that it will be more of the same this year. The Packers front office realize that Rodgers is the franchise player and there are no excuses for him to be subjected to so many hits. Even though the Packers have numerous holes on the defensive side of the ball, protecting the franchise player is the most important thing they can do. So, this pick was like health insurance for the Packers star Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.