The end of the Acme Packing Company's Green Bay Packers 90-man roster countdown nears. Here, we cover selections 20 through 11, and later today the top 10 will be revealed.
20. Richard Rodgers, TE
The Packers' selection of Richard Rodgers wasn't particularly popular when Ted Thompson made the pick, but the former California tight end grew into a trusted pass catcher as the season wore on. He expects to spend his second season splitting snaps with Andrew Quarless before taking over as the lead tight end in 2016.
19. Andrew Quarless, TE
Quarless and Rodgers bunched together? While this wasn't by design (only one of the voters placed them back to back), this isn't the only time on this list that closely connected players appear in groups. Quarless, at least officially, will serve as Green Bay's starter at tight end. He played approximately 150 more snaps than Rodgers a year ago, but that had more to do with the latter's rookie struggles early in the year than the coaching staff favoring one over the other. The split was fairly equal down the stretch.
18. Micah Hyde, CB
Micah Hyde has entered each of his three seasons in the NFL expected to play a new role. As a rookie, he was a reserve nickelback who saw his snap count blow up once Casey Hayward's hamstring acted up. Last year, the team ran him mostly at safety. Now in 2015, Hyde will play everywhere — the slot, boundary and centerfield. And that's to make no mention of special teams where he still returns punts.
17. Davante Adams, WR
No player garnered more attention and praise during the Packers' offseason workouts than Davante Adams. The second-year receiver flashed in several big games during his rookie season, but now the team expects him to become a consistent threat in the passing game. Adams still falls behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the pecking order, but he offers a unique skillset that should help diversify the offense.
16. Casey Hayward, CB
2015 may prove to be the most important year in Casey Hayward's career. The cornerback built his reputation on generating turnovers and missing games in equal measure. With Tramon Williams and Davon House out of the way, Hayward can finally take his place as a starter along the boundary. Despite playing mostly over the slot in his career, Hayward's skillset should transfer just fine outside. The only question is whether he can stay on the field. If he does, a big payday awaits next offseason.
15. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
The second cluster of related players begins with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers' top pick a year ago. After an undistinguished training camp and preseason, Clinton-Dix slowly carved out a role in the defense, eventually becoming the de facto starter. The defensive back's range allows Dom Capers to use more single-high safety, the defensive coordinator's preference during 2009 and 2010. If you recall, those years saw the Packers finish at or near the top of the league in most defensive categories.
14. Morgan Burnett, S
After a disappointing 2013, Morgan Burnett rebounded well last year, becoming the consistent playmaker the Packers hoped for when they signed him to a long-term extension. Part of Burnett's turnaround was the reduction in snaps played as the deep safety in single-high looks, which came as a result of Clinton-Dix's arrival. Burnett should get to play closer to the line of scrimmage again this season, and he should play well again as a result.
13. David Bakhtiari, OT
David Bakhtiari is the lowest ranked starter along the offensive line, which is saying something given he was a unanimous top 15 selection. The left tackle still has wrinkles to iron out in the run game, but he's become a well above-average pass protector, something that could not have been said about his predecessor, Marshall Newhouse. Bakhtiari could take another step forward in his third year, but even if he doesn't the Packers still have a solid blindside protector on their hands that doesn't turn 24 until after the start of the season.
12. Corey Linsley, C
No player saw a bigger change from last year's ranking than Corey Linsley. Of course, none of the voters expected Linsley to start when they submitted their 2014 ballots. Linsley took over for presumptive starter JC Tretter after the third preseason game and never relinquished the position. He played well enough to garner a vote for the All-Pro team and should continue to improve. Not bad for a fifth-round pick.
11. Sam Shields, CB
The Packers' top returning corner, Sam Shields must improve on his 2014 performance if the Packers' defense is to take a step forward. Not that Shields played poorly last season, but teams picked on him during the second half of the year. Perhaps just as importantly, Green Bay cannot afford for Shields to miss any time. Williams and House aren't around to bail out the defense anymore.