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Packers 2016 roster preview: Starks re-signs, UDFAs will push Crockett for RB roster spot

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Sure, the running back room in Green Bay has familiar faces from last year, but one of those faces had to come back on a new deal and a few young players will look to push for roster spots this summer.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers entered the 2016 offseason with just two running backs and one fullback on their roster. As the offseason went along, they ended up re-signing one player from the 2015 team who had hit free agency. Despite an interesting crop of mid- to late-round running backs in the 2016 NFL Draft, however, they did not make a selection on a runner and instead brought in a trio of undrafted free agents to push for playing time in training camp.

Perhaps one of the biggest moves that the Packers made so far this offseason, however, is a non-move, as a certain red-bearded fullback remains on the market. Today we'll break down the Packers' offseason additions at the running back position and give a quick shout-out to that veteran who is still unsigned and who could still end up finding his way onto the roster if circumstances require it.


#44, James Starks

6'1", 203 pounds
  • 2015 Rushing Stats: 16 games, 148 carries, 601 yards (4.1 yards per carry), 43 receptions, 392 yards (9.1 yards per reception), 5 TDs, 5 Fumbles.
  • Returns on a 2-year, $6M contract ($1.5M guaranteed)

Should Eddie Lacy's exercise regime not take, James Starks is back to ensure that the running game will at least be adequate, if unspectacular. Where Lacy has All-Pro upside, Starks is a comforting level of "solid" in all facets, while providing a superior weapon in the passing attack. Now on the wrong side of 30, the Packers hope that a small workload over the course of his career will allow Starks to hold off father time, and that an unfortunate rash of fumbles was just an anomaly. If you want an Edgar Bennett to complement your Dorsey Levens, you could do worse.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings

#26, Don Jackson

5'10", 205 pounds
  • 2015 Stats: 13 games, 228 carries, 1,079 yards (4.7 Y/C), 7 receptions, 77 yards (11.0 Y/R), 9 total TDs

Jackson was an extremely productive player for Nevada over the course of his 3 year career, increasing his YPC every season and topping out at an impressive 4.7. He even showed some athleticism with an impressive 4.5 40 yard dash. The issue with Jackson (and there's always an issue with UDFAs) can be found in the agility drills where he struggled in the 3-cone (7.09) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.34). Jackson is on the small side and you would ideally like to see more shiftiness. His lack of involvement in the Wolf Pack passing game may be a symptom of this limitation as his teammate James Butler was featured in the passing game. If you're looking for a standard "change of pace" back, this probably isn't it.

#34 Brandon Burks

5'9", 203 pounds
  • 2015 Stats: 12 games, 201 carries, 1005 yards (5.0 Y/C), 29 receptions,304 yards (10.5 Y/R) 9 Total TDs

Burks began his college career as a wide receiver, but was switched to the backfield in his sophomore season. He was a part-time player as a sophomore and junior, but flourished in a full time role as a senior, cracking 1,000 yards on 201 carries and enjoying his most successful season catching the ball with 29 receptions for 304 yards (10.5 Y/R). Burks' high YPC (5.2 for his career) is more a function of his level of competition, but he is quicker than Jackson and his passing game acumen may give him a leg up on his competition.

#40, Alstevis Squirewell

6'0", 265 pounds
Newberry College
  • College Stats: 30.5 Tackles for Loss in his final two seasons

Squirewell spent his time at Division II Newberry College (alma mater of one Brandon Bostick) terrorizing opposing quarterbacks as one of the most dominant defensive lineman in his conference, but he'll get his NFL shot as a fullback. Squirewell played the position in high school and made the switch to defense in college partially because of the somewhat obsolete nature of fullbacks in the modern game. It is the height of irony that fullback may be his only ticket to the NFL. The odds are decidedly against him, but he shows great burst and power as a defensive end, and I for one would not want to encounter him lead blocking. If nothing else, he has a fantastic name, and plays a position where name goes a long way. Speaking of which...

Still out there...

#30, John Kuhn

6'0", 260 pounds
  • 2015 Stats: 16 games, 9 carries, 28 yards (4.7 Y/C), 7 receptions, 77 yards (11.0 Y/R) 9 Total TDs

Unsigned as of this article, John Kuhn's time in Green Bay may finally be coming to an end. Once a useful pass blocker, lead blocker, and receiver, Kuhn has lost much of his athleticism and struggled in all areas last season. His pass blocking was particularly alarming as he exposed Aaron Rodgers to direct hits on more than one occasion. Carrying even one fullback is a luxury for many teams, and if the Packers feel the younger Ripkoswki can do the job on offense it's hard to imagine them bringing Kuhn back. Then again, he has good friends on the team and he works cheap, so you never know.