McGinn Wrap, Part 3: The Green Bay Packers' F players
It's never all sunshine and rainbows in Bob McGinn's annual grades. As he continues his look back at 43 years of covering the Packers, McGinn reviews all of the Packers who "earned" an F.
Five of the Green Bay Packers’ 32 first-round draft choices from 1991 to 2021 received an F in my annual end-of-season grading: defensive end Jamal Reynolds in 2003, tight end Bubba Franks in ‘06, defensive tackle Justin Harrell in ‘08, tackle Derek Sherrod in ’11 and linebacker A.J. Hawk in ’14.
None of those five players, however, was assigned an F in more than one season. In fact, of the 47 individual-season F’s in the past 31 seasons, only one player got multiple F’s.
Just as someone finishes first, someone has to finish last. In this case, that would be tackle Jason Spriggs, the Packers’ second-round draft choice from Indiana in 2016. He drew three F’s – in 2016, ’17 and ’18 – before concluding his career in Green Bay with a season-long stay on injured reserve (neck) in ’19.
That isn’t to say that Spriggs was the worst player that I ever graded. A good share of the players that received an F in one season just never got another chance with the Packers.
GM Ted Thompson said he regarded Spriggs as the last available left tackle with starter’s potential as the second round wore on in 2016. That’s why he traded fourth- and seventh-round draft choices to Indianapolis in order to move up from No. 57 to No. 48 and draft Spriggs.
As expected, the Packers then exercised unusual patience with Spriggs who, despite ample opportunity, never really progressed.
When right guard T.J. Lang was injured in mid-2016, Spriggs made his first two starts there. In 2017 and ’18, injuries suffered by Bryan Bulaga enabled Spriggs to start seven games at right tackle.
As a Packer, counting playoffs, Spriggs played 847 snaps: 589 at right tackle, 183 at right guard, 44 at left tackle and 31 as a sixth offensive lineman/extra tight end. His nine starts came in 39 games for teams that finished 25-25-1 from 2016-’18.
Based on my statistics, Spriggs allowed 10 sacks and 47 pressures overall, and 18 “bad” runs. He was penalized nine times.
Spriggs played 70 snaps in eight games as a backup for the Chicago Bears in 2020. Last season, his 90 snaps in 15 games for the Atlanta Falcons included one start at right tackle.
An unrestricted free agent, the 28-year-old Spriggs signed with the Colts on June 10. They released him Aug. 12, and he has been unemployed since.
Before the draft in 2016, longtime personnel man Ron Hughes launched into one of his trademark rants when asked for his evaluation of Spriggs.
“He’ll get overdrafted because he’s a workout guy,” said Hughes, who was consulting at the time for the Buffalo Bills. “I just do not like Spriggs. I’ve had my fill of Spriggs. I’ve watched him too much. I think he is (a finesse player). I never see him finish blocks. Never see him climb somebody and knock him down. I don’t want him.”
The following are the Packers’ 47 individual F seasons from 1991-’21 and excerpts from my grading comments.
Jeff Query, WR: “He continued to blow blitz reads in third year with system … Needs to rededicate himself to the game and take a less sullen approach … Seven catches … Erratic as last-season punt returner.”
Keith Uecker, G-T: “Former line coach Charlie Davis was up front about his admiration for Uecker, which was a key reason why he started him in 1989 and kept him around in 1990. But he can’t play anymore.”
Darryl Ingram, TE: “Cut and brought back twice. Knows the offense.”
Earl Dotson, T: “Regressed in second season. Flopped in crucial second-half stint at Philadelphia. Unmotivated and overweight.”
Don Beebe, WR: “Salary-cap figure of $387,500 was money poorly spent. Crashed from 41 catches, 730 yards and four touchdowns in ’96 to 2-28-0 in ’97. Won’t be on a regular-season roster again in Green Bay. At 33, with a long history of head injuries, probably ought to retire.”
Mike Prior, S: “A sad ending to what had been a productive 13-year career. Removed from the nickel after about six games and from the dime after about 10. Still, the damage had been done. It was painful to see a heretofore dependable veteran hitting the wall in coverage, as a tackler and on assignments.”
Rod Smith, CB: “Carolina cut him for a reason: he can’t play. Another smart person with decent speed and savvy, but it took exactly two weeks for him to be exposed at right corner in the dime. He’s gone.”
Jermaine Smith, DT: “Fourth-round pick in ’97 who flopped in 141 snaps over 10 games as a designated inside pass rusher. Possibly the loudest player in the locker room who will be talking smack elsewhere in ’00.”
Rodney Artmore, S: “Free agent who will be remembered for reacting late and then hitting Carolina’s Steve Beuerlein low instead of high on his game-winning quarterback draw in Week 13. Brash individual who doesn’t figure in ’00.”
Kenny Peterson, DT: “It was all downhill for the third-round draft choice from Ohio State after his hometown fans cheered his entrance into the lineup during the Hall of Fame Game. Played 144 snaps in 10 games, didn’t have a pressure and made seven solo tackles. Really didn’t make a play all year.”
Jamal Reynolds, DE: “Snap count dipped from 147 games in eight games as a rookie to 132 games in eight games last year to 111 in six games this year … Seems to give OK effort but nothing ever happens … Comes from an athletic family but isn’t an instinctive player and sometimes doesn’t know how to play the defense … No sensible reason to bring him back.”
Erwin Swiney, CB: “Former Nebraska cornerback who has hung around for two seasons for no good reason. Got too heavy this year and gave up 2 ½ plays of 20 yards or more in scant playing time.”