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The majority of the Green Bay Packers’ progression as a football team in 2020 came from internal improvements by veteran players already on the roster.
The Packers finished 13-3 and advanced to the NFC title game for the second straight season, but Matt LaFleur’s team was better in almost every important metric during the 2020 season.
Much of the improvement came from the team’s best players. When great players play at an elite level, big things are possible.
Here’s a closer look at the most improved players from the 2020 season, using overall regular-season grades from Pro Football Focus as our guide:
(AP Photo/Jeff Haynes, File)
2019 grade: 69.8 2020 grade: 89.9 Improvement: 20.1 A steady, reliable center his whole career, Linsley put together a first-team All-Pro season in 2020. He was the No. 1 rated center overall, with the top run-blocking grades and third-best pass-blocking grades.
OT Rick Wagner
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
2019 grade: 58.6 2020 grade: 77.0 Improvement: 18.4 A disappointing and injured-plagued final season with the Detroit Lions provided the Packers with an opportunity to sign Wagner for cheap. He didn't have a penalty and was solid in pass protection over 610 snaps.
CB Jaire Alexander
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
2019 grade: 73.0 2020 grade: 90.5 Improvement: 17.5 Brian Gutekunst's first draft pick improved from good to great and emerged as the NFL's top cornerback in 2020. He was the highest-graded player at his position and a second-team All-Pro.
OL Lucas Patrick
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
2019 grade: 48.0 2020 grade: 64.8 Improvement: 16.8 In his first year as a regular starter, Patrick proved to be a capable player at guard. He improved greatly over his three-year stint as a backup when he didn't have a season grade over 54.0.
LT David Bakhtiari
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
2019 grade: 78.5 2020 grade: 91.8 Improvement: 13.3 A shaky start and a rare cluster of penalties weighed down his 2019 season. Bakhtiari came back as strong as ever in 2020, earning another All-Pro selection.
QB Aaron Rodgers
2019 grade: 81.4 2020 grade: 94.5 Improvement: 13.1 The NFL's MVP was the driving force of the team's improvement. While solid in his first year in Matt LaFleur's offense, Rodgers was nearly untouchable in 2020. He was the NFL's highest-graded player.
OLB Rashan Gary
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary (52) celebrates sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the third quarter during their NFL divisional playoff game Saturday, January 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
2019 grade: 54.1 2020 grade: 67.1 Improvement: 13.0 It was somewhat delayed, but Gary certainly enjoyed the second-year jump in 2020. Over the final two months of the season, he was a consistently disruptive player, especially as a rusher.
S Adrian Amos
(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
2019 grade: 76.5 2020 grade: 89.4 Improvement: 12.9 Always reliable, Amos enjoyed his best professional season in 2020. Over the past four seasons, he's been one of the NFL's best coverage safeties.
WR Davante Adams
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, December 27, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
2019 grade: 83.5 2020 grade: 92.2 Improvement: 8.7 Now a four-time Pro Bowler, Adams rightfully took his place among the NFL's wide receiver royalty in 2020. He was the game's highest-graded receiver.
S Darnell Savage
AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman
2019 grade: 67.1 2020 grade: 75.3 Improvement: 8.2 Despite an up-and-down start to his second season, Savage came on strong over the second half of the year, especially in coverage. All four of his interceptions came over the final six games.
TE Robert Tonyan
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
2019 grade: 62.0 2020 grade: 67.9 Improvement: 5.9 At least in terms of production, Tonyan has a strong case as the team's most improved player. He had strong grades as a receiver but was nothing more than average as a blocker, holding back his progression in overall grade.
P JK Scott
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2019 grade: 72.7 2020 grade: 78.6 Improvement: 5.9 Scott certainly had his struggles, but PFF was much higher on his individual performance than the vast majority of outsiders. In fact, he finished in the top five in the NFL for overall grade among punters.
DL Kingsley Keke
Green Bay Packers defensive end Kingsley Keke (96) sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) late in the second quarter during their football game Sunday, December 6, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. It was his second sack on the night.
2019 grade: 63.4 2020 grade: 69.1 Improvement: 5.7 The second-year defensive lineman delivered 22 pressures and four sacks, major improvements in production over his rookie season (one total pressure).
OL Billy Turner
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates a touchdown with Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Billy Turner (77) during the 2nd quarter of the Green Bay Packers Los Angeles Rams NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
2019 grade: 65.3 2020 grade: 69.3 Improvement: 4.0 His ability to play multiple positions and not be a liability – especially at left tackle – was invaluable for the Packers offensive line. At times, he looked far more comfortable on the edge playing tackle than guard, his position in 2019.
WR Allen Lazard
AP Photo/Matt Ludtke
2019 grade: 69.5 2020 grade: 72.4 Improvement: 2.9 Once again, he was solid as a receiver (despite a few drops) and excellent as a run blocker.
K Mason Crosby
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
2019 grade: 73.0 2020 grade: 75.4 Improvement: 2.4 Crosby was perfect on field goals but did miss a handful of extra points.
Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Montravius Adams (90) against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
DL Montravius Adams (+19.4): He played only 130 snaps before going down with a season-ending injury, but he was terrific against the run early on. OL Lane Taylor (+22.4): His Week 1 performance against the Vikings was going great, but a significant injury ended his season after just 63 snaps. RB Tyler Ervin (+6.1): Matt LaFleur found effective ways to get him involved on offense, particularly on fly sweep motions.