Last year, one of the biggest questions entering camp was which fullback would be cut. The Packers had drafted Quinn Johnson in April, adding a powerful run blocker to a group that already included proven veterans John Kuhn and Korey Hall. The logic of most at the time was that the Packers just couldn't afford to use three roster spots up on a position of diminishing importance, and that they'd be forced to part ways with one of the veterans.
However, Ted Thompson had different things in mind, and the Packers opted to retain all three FBs, a highly unorthodox move in this era of pass happy offenses. Now, nearly one year later, we can't help but to wonder...is there any reason to do it again?
In order to answer this question, we need to revisit the Packers' reasons for keeping three fullbacks last August and see if they apply today.
The primary causative factor can be traced back to April 26, 2009, when the Packers selected Johnson in the 5th round of the NFL Draft. Now, as we've already mentioned, the Packers already had a pair of capable FBs on the roster, so this move seemed nearly as strange as the one it would lead to four months later.
believed that he had the potential to become a dominating lead blocker and a freight train of a short-yardage back. As Ted Thompson demonstrated then (and again in this year's draft when he selected TE Andrew Quarless), already having proven players at a position will not prevent him from adding additional talent.
However, while it was obvious that Johnson had great potential, it was just as clear that he would need time to develop. Though given every opportunity to overtake Hall and Kuhn, Johnson struggled mightily in camp and had difficulty transitioning into the Packers' zone-blocking scheme. It looked doubtful that he'd be ready to be a solid contributor, let alone an every-down starter.
Seemingly, the Packers had two options at this point:
- Cut either Kuhn or Hall and hope that Quinn is able to perform adequately
- Keep Kuhn and Hall on the 53 man roster while attempting to sneak Johnson onto the practice squad
In the end, the potential consequences of both options were considered unacceptable. The Packers didn't want a drop-off at fullback, but they also didn't want to see Quinn wearing another team's colors. So Ted Thompson selected "Choice C" and held on to all three.
In other words, the Packers' decision to keep three fullbacks boils down to the fact that they coveted Quinn Johnson, yet he wasn't ready to play. In order for Ted Thompson to repeat last year's move, both of these conditions would have to exist again today. Let's see if they do.
A brief examination of what Johnson did last year should be able to tell us all what we need to know. Although he didn't play much (he was active for only 9 games), Quinn Johnson did make an impact when he was in, however briefly. In fact, as Jersey Al noted, when Quinn was on the field he did exactly what the Packers drafted him to do: lay people out. He wasn't exactly a stalwart catching the ball (2 receptions, 4 yards, and he bobbled and fell down on one of them) and he has yet to get a carry, but we all know that his primary purpose on the Packers is clearing holes for Ryan Grant. In that regard, so far, so good.
This observation tells us two things: 1) the Packers are still high on Quinn and 2) he has improved to the point where he is at least serviceable. The same combination of factors that forced TT to keep three FBs last year do not appear to be present this year. Someone is expendable. Someone will be cut. The Packers have no reason to hang on to three fullbacks again. Now just who stays and who goes will be a discussion that we'll save for training camp (but my prediction is that the FB not pictured in this article will be the odd one out).
Camp Countdown Questions series!
- #9: Does Harrell make the cut?
- #10:Is there any reason to keep three FBs again?
- #11: Does Bishop finally make his move?
- #12: Where does Starks fit in?