They say you can’t be old and wise if you’re not young and stupid. Tell that to the Green Bay Packers-who feel confident contending as the youngest team in the league this season. The NFL hasn’t seen this young of a team in six years, but the Packers don’t see this as a glaring negative.
GREEN BAY PACKERS YOUTH
The average player on this team was born in 1998- ironically, the same year that the Packers lost a crushing game to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. You often hear the value of veteran experience, but there is little sacrifice in talent for Matt LaFleur’s squad. A few key notes about this team:
-All-Pro Tackle David Bakhtiari is the oldest player on the roster at 31 years old
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While more of the youth resides on the offense, the Packers, namely GM Brian Gutekunst, are known for considering the future. Gutenkunst has not only curated this young team by design. He is also the man also has a knack for uber-athletic guys on the field. The RAS, or Relative Athletic Score, is a metric used to evaluate players in a snapshot format on measurements like height, weight, wingspan, drill exercises, etc. It’s rare to see a player donning green and gold and NOT in that elite tier.
ARE THEY HUNGRY?!
There is most certainly value in younger, faster, and stronger who can grow together. But this comes with one caveat: leadership. If LaFleur can keep his team grounded and focused then the on-field experience will get better with time-albeit with its share of hitches. Luckily, for the Packers, there are still a number of valuable veterans on both sides of the ball. See David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, and Jaire Alexander. And let us not forget that Jordan Love isn’t fresh out of college by any means. A little duality on this team can go a long way.
With younger guys on a rookie contract, you avoid headaches like we have seen rampant throughout the whole offseason: player holdouts. A number of players put their foot down in order to strike a satisfactory deal. It started with names like Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley, and Josh Jacobs to more recently defensive stars like Chris Jones, Brian Burns, and Nick Bosa. Luckily, a lot of those contract discussions were happily settled; for a few, question marks still remain. A whole other conversation is needed to address the state of the running back market in the NFL.
The fusion of fresh, athletic playmakers who can grow together as a unit. All the while keeping the salary cap in check. That is a win-win for the post-Rodgers era. Most NFL teams don’t subscribe to letting their future starting QB develop for more than one season. However, this has been a recipe of success for Green Bay since 2008. When Favre passed the torch to Rodgers. Now it is in the hands of number 10. In both a division and conference full of mediocrity, don’t be surprised when the young guns come out swinging.