Oh, how things have changed in just two years for the Green Bay Packers. In 2021, the Green Bay Packers finished the season with a 13-3 regular season record, winning an NFC North title. The Packers were led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who would win his fourth NFL MVP award that season. Along with Rodgers, the Packers had arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Davante Adams. But now, Rodgers is a member of the New York Jets, while Adams catching passes for the Las Vegas Raiders. The 2023 Packers are now turning to the next generation to take over for Rodgers and Adams. The Packers breakout candidates will need to produce at an elite level to compete in the NFC. At the top of that list of players the Green Bay Packers are expecting big things from is wide receiver Romeo Doubs.
Romeo Doubs Tops List of Players Who Green Bay Packers Expect Big Things From
It has already been beaten into Packers fans heads that the 2023 Green Bay Packers will be a lot younger than in seasons past. That is a fact, the Packers will be fielding a very young and in some areas inexperienced squad in 2023.
However, Packers fans are in denial about why the Packers will be so young this season. Yes, players like Rodgers, Adams, Marcedes Lewis, and Adrian Amos, all seasoned veterans, have departed. But the biggest factor for the Packers young roster is the failure of Brian Gutekunst’s early draft classes.
Gutekunst became the Packers general manager in 2018. That year, he made 11 selections. Out of those 11 players selected that year only one (Jaire Alexander) remains on the roster. In the following draft, 2019, out of the eight picks Gutekunst made, only three remain. Those players are Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, and Elgton Jenkins.
The players from those two draft classes should be the core of the current Packers roster. For a franchise that Gutekunst has stated is a “draft and develop” team, that isn’t a very good sign. If not for his ability to pick up low-cost free agents who have contributed, the Packers would be in an even worse spot.
Knowing that, there is a reason that the Packers are depending on several young players to stand out this season. The young players aren’t the only ones the Packers are going to need to step up in 2023. There are some veterans who will need so as well.
Romeo Doubs, Wide Receiver
Romeo Doubs was the training camp darling of 2022. The 2022 fourth-round pick caught the attention of fans early on in training camp. He was consistently making big plays and looked like he might be the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft.
While he had a solid rookie season for a fourth-round pick, it didn’t match what he achieved in training camp. A big part of that was a mid-season injury he suffered against the Detroit Lions. The injury caused Doubs to be limited to just 13 games. Still, he caught 42 passes for 425 yards with three touchdown receptions.
Of course, the Packers are hoping that Christian Watson will capitalize off his strong rookie campaign. Watson has blazing speed and the size to become a playmaker in the NFL for a long time. But the Packers are counting on Romeo Doubs to be just as productive. In his second season, Watson will see opposing defenses key on where he is lined up and he should face a lot of double teams. That will leave Doubs with a lot of single-man coverage. He will need to show he can take advantage of that and make the plays required for a number two NFL wide receiver.
Doubs made headlines with his surprising comparison of Jordan Love to Aaron Rodgers. If Doubs wants his comparison to become reality, he is going to need to produce and help out his first-year starting quarterback.
Yosh Nijman, Offensive Tackle
If the season were to start tomorrow, the Packers starting right tackle would be Yosh Nijman. The former undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech has worked his way up the Packers offensive line depth chart. Entering his fourth season with the Packers, Nijman has made 21 starts. Those starts coming at both left and right tackle.
It appears that Nijman will have the luxury of focusing on just one position this season. That being at right tackle. A lot has been written about Nijman’s ability, some of it overblown. While Nijman played well when forced into action, he was given a lot of help by Marcedes Lewis, one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. With Lewis now departed, Nijman is going to need to show he can be a force, in both the run and pass game.
Many will point to the presence of Zach Tom if Nijman falters. But the Packers are going to need to rely on Tom’s versatility at other positions. Tom is expected to back up David Bakhtiari who has battled a knee injury the past three seasons. He will also be possibly battling starting center Josh Myers for the starting center spot in training camp. If the Green Bay Packers offensive line is going to continue its high play, Nijman is going to need to show that he is ready to step up his game to the next level.
Devonte Wyatt, Defensive Tackle
Since Kenny Clark was selected by the Packers in the 2016 NFL Draft, they have been looking for a running mate to take the pressure off of Clark. It appears that Devonte Wyatt will be given every opportunity this season to be that player.
Gutekunst used one of his two 2022 first-round picks on Wyatt. He was a standout at the University of Georgia, earning second-team All-American honors in 2021. Wyatt did close to nothing in his rookie season. He played in 16 games, starting none of them, registering nine solo tackles with one and a half sacks.
But with Jarran Reed (Seattle Seahawks) and Dean Lowry (Minnesota Vikings) departing as free agents this off-season, Wyatt will be given every chance to be a starter. Wyatt showed some glimpses as an interior pass rusher in 2022. But he will need to show he can play the run. Since becoming the Packers defensive coordinator, Joe Barry’s defenses have struggled to stop the run. If that is going to change, Wyatt will need to lead the way.
De’Vondre Campbell, Inside Linebacker
As we recently wrote, there wasn’t a player who was more of a 2022 disappointment than De’Vondre Campbell. In fact, Campbell’s 2022 play was so bad, he almost made our list of players who aren’t a lock to make the 2023 opening-game roster.
In 2021, Campbell turned out to be one of the best free-agent signings of Brian Gutekunst’s career. Not only did he become a leader, but his play was outstanding. His play earned him All-Pro honors that season.
Campbell did deal with injuries last season. But even before the injuries, he wasn’t near the player he was in 2021. While the Packers have an up-and-coming star in Quay Walker, the Packers still need Campbell to play better. With Walker becoming a playmaker at inside linebacker, the Packers don’t need Campbell to play like he did in 2021. But he will need to play better than he did in 2022.
Rasul Douglas, Cornerback
If De’Vondre Campbell is Gutekunst’s best free agent signing, then Rasul Douglas is in his top five. Picked up off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad midway through 2021, Douglas became a playmaker for the Packers defense.
In 2021, Douglas posted 13 passes defended with five interceptions, two of which he returned for a touchdown. Unfortunately for Douglas and the Packers, he was miscast to start the 2022 season. Douglas started off playing on the inside, being the Packers starting nickel back. He didn’t look comfortable on the inside and his play showed that.
But when starting boundary cornerback Eric Stokes was lost to a season-ending injury, Douglas was put where he belonged, replacing Stokes on the outside. He finished the season with four interceptions, 13 passes defended, one sack, and one forced fumble.
It appears that Stokes won’t be ready to go to start that season. That will allow Douglas to play his more natural position, boundary cornerback. If Douglas can produce as he has on the outside, and Barry doesn’t mess it up, he and Jaire Alexander have the chance to be one of the better-starting cornerback combinations in the NFL.
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