raining-camp reps Nick Foles may have just led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl Mike Daniels Jersey
, but back in 2015, he put himself on the highlight reel of a rookie Packers cornerback with little experience in football. Quinten Rollins picked off a Foles pass against the Rams, returned it for a touchdown, punctuating Rollins’ best game as a pro. Since then, however, the highlights have been few and far between for the former third-round pick. Injuries derailed his 2016 campaign and an Achilles tear ended his season in 2017. Even before those injuries, Rollins failed to consistently show he had the athleticism needed to play cornerback in the NFL, struggling to run with tight ends at times, never mind receivers. Watching him try to chase around the speedy Falcons receivers on the slick track in Atlanta underscored the need for a revamp in the secondary (Kevin King is a 4.4 player, Jaire Alexander ran 4.38 at the combine and Josh Jackson reportedly ran in the 4.4’s at his Iowa pro day). Early in training camp, Rollins played in some dime situations as a corner, then as a linebacker, an indication Mike Pettine wants to see him play a little bit of everywhere. Rollins may have to stick as an overhang defender rather than a cornerback if he’s going to make this team. Here’s the problem: Jaire Alexander pushed his way into the No. 1 defense thanks in part to Kevin King looking like a legit impact corner early in camp and Davon House struggling. Second-round pick Josh Jackson shuffled in the slot and the boundary with the No. 1 unit, all signaling Rollins’ spot as a corner remains very much up for grabs. It’s not just possible, but likely he’s no better than CB4 on this team right now, and by the end of camp, that could be more like CB6 behind King, Tramon Williams, Alexander, Jackson, and House. Hell, why couldn’t Lenzy Pipkins be ahead of him? I’ve seen more in the last year from him as a corner than Rollins. Could his role in the box as adime linebacker add value? Sure. Well, maybe. How many traditional inside linebackers are the Packers going to keep? Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan feel like locks. Oren Burks makes the team. And undrafted free agent Greer Martini already plays on multiple No. 1 special units early in camp. If he makes the team as a special-teams player and backup linebacker, where is Rollins fitting on the roster? We already know it’ll be tight to get all these receivers onto the team. Green Bay lost a projected roster spot with the news Bryan Bulaga will be healthy for Week 1 Authentic JK Scott Jersey
, a trade the Packers would take 110 times out of 100. But if Rollins isn’t a rotational cornerback, doesn’t play on special teams, and only has value as a box linebacker/safety hybrid, it’s hard to see him making the team. Someone like Joe Thomas made the roster under somewhat similar circumstances in the past as a speedy backup linebacker, but he also played on just about every special-teams unit. For now, that’s not Rollins. If he’s a safety, he’s behind other safeties like Marwin Evans and Jermaine Whitehead as backups who play special teams. It’s become increasingly difficult to find a spot for him on the Packers team. He’s not a corner. Not a safety. Not a linebacker. For Green Bay, if Rollins doesn’t prove definitively he’s one of those things, he’s proven definitively he’s not worth keeping on the roster at all.Packers WR Geronimo Allison should break out in 2018, but not as a red zone target One of the quiet keys to the Green Bay Packers’ offense in 2018 will be the play of wide receiver Geronimo Allison. Tabbed as the de facto third wide receiver behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, Allison will take Jordy Nelson’s place in three-wide sets and, barring injury, he should set career highs in receiving stats.Indeed, former NFL defensive end Stephen White sees this year, Allison’s third in the NFL, as a potential breakout season for the former Illinois wideout. However, White points to red zone usage as a primary reason why, something that does not particularly jibe with either his athletic skill set or his usage in the Packers’ offense in the past. Here are a few of White’s comments:This is an interesting idea regarding back-shoulder throws. For Aaron Rodgers, these throws are hardly 50-50, particularly when he is throwing to receivers with whom he has good chemistry. Indeed, back-shoulder sideline throws to Adams or Nelson over the past few years have been practically indefensible due to Rodgers’ pinpoint accuracy and those two receivers’ route-running and body control.While Allison does appear to be due for an uptick in target share on these types of plays, they do not rely heavily on size and leaping ability to out-jump or box out a defender. Instead, those qualities come into play much more on deep vertical throws or goal-line fades — the latter of which might as well be taken out of the playbook with Rodgers under center due to his athleticism and ability to create throwing lanes with his legs.However, White projects Allison to improve on his touchdown numbers due to his size:Indeed Youth Antonio Morrison Jersey
, Allison should be in for a bigger year, but improvement from him would likely come from more targets overall, particularly more vertical targets, and hopefully an improvement on his sub-60% catch rate (his hands were one quality that White accurately notes provide an area for improvement). But it will not and should not happen as a result of throwing more goal-line fades in his direction.So far, we have a small sample size, and it is true that both of Allison’s two career touchdowns (both from 2016) came on shorter throws (four and ten yards, respectively). However, both are perfect examples of Rodgers’ athleticism providing an open throwing lane rather than Allison using his size.On the four-yard score against the Falcons, Rodgers steps up into the pocket and scrambles to the right as Allison comes open. On the ten-yarder, Rodgers retreats in the pocket under pressure and evades multiple pass rushers, buying time for his receivers to work their way open before slinging the ball to a diving Allison for the score.Was his size a factor on either of these plays? Not really. Instead, his awareness of spacing in the end zone and ability to separate from coverage when the play breaks down led to the scores.Furthermore, the Packers have three targets who would be better targets for jump-ball throws than Allison anyhow. Davante Adams forfeits two inches in height to Allison, but he makes up for it with elite leaping ability (39.5-inch vertical at the Combine compared to Allison’s 33). Then there are new Packers tight ends Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis (who each stand 6-foot-6 and recorded Combine verticals of 37 inches or more). Oh, and the Packers’ three rookie wide receivers are all comparable or better jump-ball targets as well. J’Mon Moore has a 38-inch vertical and gives up only a half-inch in height, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is 6-foot-4 with a nearly 80-inch wingspan, and Equanimeous St. Brown is just under 6-foot-5 and would likely have tested better in the vertical.Don’t misunderstand — Allison is going to be the team’s WR3 this year, and he should see a big uptick in all of his counting stats. He will almost certainly catch a handful of touchdowns and probably will post more receptions, yards, and touchdowns in 2018 than in his first two years combined. And White does compliment Allison’s route-running as one of his better qualities. However, the reason he should do so will be based on the intangibles — route-running, improved hands, and his chemistry with Rodgers — rather than because his size theoretically distinguishes him as a jump-ball target.