Packers' ROLB spot is totally up for grabs

Posted April 08, 2011 @ 10:17 a.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

The Packers figure to have more spirited position battles this offseason than one might expect from a championship squad, and our sources agree that the most competitive battle almost certainly will take place at right outside linebacker. The way we hear it, nobody has a clue at the moment as to who might have the upper hand at the position among Brad Jones, Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and — very possibly — a high-round draft pick.

Jones, the starter entering last season, is considered a solid run defender with good leverage. But before he was placed on injured reserve in late October with a shoulder injury, he did not register a single sack, interception, forced fumble or fumble recovery. Enter Zombo, a really hardworking undrafted rookie who just kept getting better and better (five sacks, six tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles), and then Walden, a great Ted Thompson pickup off the waiver wire in late October who did a very good job in starting five games down the stretch in place of the injured Zombo.

Jones and Walden are more athletic and better at dropping into coverage than Zombo, but Zombo is a lot stouter at the point of attack and looks like he will continue to improve as a pass rusher. Don't rule out Jones moving inside should Nick Barnett leave — a possibility head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned to team insiders at the NFL Scouting Combine.