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Packers 90-Man Roster Countdown: Players 30-21

There are linebackers galore in the 20s.

Mike Neal (left) and Brad Jones (right)
Mike Neal (left) and Brad Jones (right)
Andy Lyons

With OTAs and minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp not opening until late July, the APC staff decided to rank every member of the Packers' 90-man roster. Players were rated on their playing ability in 2014, not on projected value in future seasons. It follows that the top 53 aren't necessarily the 53 players that will make up the final roster come September.

Today, we continue our 90-man roster rankings with players 30 through 21.

30. Khyri Thornton - Defensive Tackle

A third-round pick in this year's draft, Thornton brings to the table very good athleticism for a large man and a strong pedigree - despite playing his college ball at Southern Mississippi, Thornton was highly-recruited and originally committed to Florida State. He was arguably the best player on the field at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this January, and should be in the mix immediately for playing time on the defensive line.

29. Jamari Lattimore - Inside Linebacker

The special teams star filled in for an injured Brad Jones on occasion last year, and showed some great promise. Back on a Restricted Free Agent tender, Lattimore will look to try to steal a starting job in training camp, but if he cannot he'll likely go back to being a captain on coverage units and he'll fill in here and there on defense.

28. Andrew Quarless - Tight End

Despite being looked at as an ideal number two tight end, Quarless will likely go into the season as the top option at the position. He is versatile, able to line up in line as well as in the backfield and split wide. He has been inconsistent as a blocker, but possesses all the qualities necessary to become a good one. He signed a new two-year deal this offseason to stay in Green Bay.

27. James Starks - Running Back

Another recipient of a two-year contract this offseason, Starks was one of the premier backup running backs in the league last year, averaging a sterling 5.5 yards per carry. He has dealt with many injury issues over the past few years (and missed a few games last season with knee issues) but when he's been on the field, he has produced well. He has improved his hands and blocking ability as well over the past few years, and is as complete a backup as you'll find in the NFL.

26. Nick Perry - Outside Linebacker

Perry is another player whose injuries have limited his ability to be an impact player for the Packers. When on the field, he produces, putting up 6 sacks and three forced fumbles in his 17 games over the past two years. The fact that he has missed a whole season combined with issues adjusting to coverage responsibilities are what keep him in the mid-20s instead of placing him higher on our list.

25. Brad Jones - Inside Linebacker

Jones had a great season in 2012, filling in for the injured Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith after converting from outside linebacker. He struggled more in 2013, and was limited with a number of injuries. He's better as a blitzer and in coverage than he is in run support, and the Packers will need him to be injury-free and more consistent in 2014.

24. Mike Neal - Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

The experiment with Neal at linebacker turned into a full-fledged position switch in 2013, thanks to all the injuries the Packers had at the position. Like Perry, he is raw in coverage and struggles when asked to contribute heavily in that aspect of the game. Still, his raw athleticism and pass rush ability made him a dangerous weapon off the edge. This year, expect him to be used on the line more often again, thanks to the personnel additions at outside linebacker, as he'll likely be an inside rusher in sub packages.

23. A.J. Hawk - Inside Linebacker

Few Packers are the source of more debate among the team's fans than Hawk, who is frequently praised by coaches for his intangibles. However, one of his most-cited weaknesses turned into a strength in 2013 after Hawk lost some weight and became more effective in pass coverage (PFF grade of +6.1 in coverage). Hawk is highly unlikely to lose his grip on a starting job for 2014, and is signed through 2015.

22. B.J. Raji - Nose Tackle

Returning to Green Bay on a one-year, $4 million deal seemed crazy before the 2013 season, but Raji struggled at defensive end again and demand for his services on the open market was very low in Free Agency. Raji will shift back to nose tackle, where he put up his finest season in 2010, and the Packers hope that he can provide an anchor in the middle of the defense when lining up in the base 3-4 alignment.

21. Davante Adams - Wide Receiver

Adams is ranked this high mainly based on his physical skills, including 4.54 speed at the combine and his 39-inch vertical. He will need to make the transition to a pro-style offense, but once he gets up to speed he shows all the signs of becoming the Packers' latest success story as a second-round pick at wide receiver. He likely will start the season 4th on the depth chart, but we expect him to challenge Jarrett Boykin for the 3rd sot before his rookie season is through.