Acme Packing Company's ranking of the Green Bay Packers' 90-man offseason roster marches on this week. In this latest installment, we detail the players that, though not stars, form the backbone of the roster.
For those just catching on, five APC writers ranked the players from No. 1 through No. 88, with the resulting list representing a composite ranking. Note that voting concluded prior to the Packers' signing of Brandon Ross.
As usual, keep in mind that the list does not necessarily reflect how the staff expects to the final 53-man roster to look, but rather how each player ranks against one another at the present time. With five weeks of training camp and the preseason on the horizon, the order could and likely will shift later on.
With those disclaimers out of the way, we continue the countdown with players 30 through 21.
T-29. Datone Jones - DE/OLB
All but officially, fourth-year man Datone Jones has moved from the five-tech position he played since arriving from UCLA to the "elephant" outside linebacker spot popularized by Julius Peppers. That means Jones can expect more pass rushing opportunities and fewer obstacles than he experienced earlier in his career. If he stays healthy and capitalizes, a hefty payday awaits the former first-round pick. Otherwise, journeyman status looms on the horizon.
T-29. JC Tretter - OL
It took the head coach Mike McCarthy and the Packers' coaching staff far too long to identify JC Tretter as the team's best option at left tackle once David Bakhtiari went down last year. When finally called upon in the playoffs, Tretter performed more than admirably, helping the offensive line nearly throw a shutout against the Washington pass rush. Now in his contract year, Tretter could resume working mostly on the interior while second-round rookie Jason Spriggs backs up Bakhtiari moving forward.
28. Mike Pennel - DL
If not for his four-game suspension, the Packers would likely roll with Mike Pennel as their starting five-tech in the base defense come Week 1. Instead, the team must scrap together some semblance of an interior using veterans Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion along with youngsters Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and others. Despite Pennel's undrafted roots, he has become one of the team's most impactful big men on defense. Accordingly, Green Bay will feel his absence during the opening quarter of the season.
27. Richard Rodgers - TE
Richard Rodgers contributed to some of the Packers' most unforgettable moments of 2015, including catching the "Miracle in Motown" Hail Mary for the game-winning score. However, he made disappointingly little impact between those highlights, averaging just 8.8 yards per catch and breaking precious few tackles despite ample opportunities. Rodgers' shortcomings largely inform the team's decision to sign Jared Cook earlier this offseason. Though Rodgers still offers value to the offense, his status as the top tight end on the team could change by the start of the regular season.
26. Jake Ryan - ILB
As a rookie, Jake Ryan started just five games for the Packers, though that didn't prevent him from amassing 50 tackles including three tackles for loss. Sam Barrington's injury along with Clay Matthews' shift back to the edge has made Ryan the one apparent lock among the inside linebacker group. Though he needs to demonstrate improve in his second year, the early signs suggest he can become a staple in the middle of the defense for the foreseeable future.
25. James Starks - RB
One of the league's top backup tailbacks, free agent James Starks returned to Green Bay this offseason on a two-year deal. With Eddie Lacy's conditioning and contract situation making him anything but a certainty, Starks' presence provides a viable Plan B if things go sideways. And if they don't Starks can still give the Packers 5-10 efficient touches a game.
24. Nick Perry - OLB
When the Packers declined Nick Perry's fifth-year option last offseason, many assumed the former first-round pick had come to the end of his tenure in Green Bay. Instead, an impressive playoff run that saw the edge rusher literally double his sack total convinced the team to sign him to a one-year deal to prove his mettle. The likely reduction in Peppers' workload should allow Perry ample opportunities to build off his productive postseason.
23. Ty Montgomery - WR
Though a multitude of factors caused the Packers' dismal offensive play following their Week 6 bye last year, Ty Montgomery's loss to an ankle injury may have contributed more to their struggles than it appeared at the time. His relative modest stats -- 15 catches for 136 yards and two scores -- belie his impact on the passing game, where he demonstrated a knack for finding holes in the coverage and exploiting them. Assuming he recovers fully from his ankle issues, Montgomery could make a serious push for No. 3 receiver targets behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
22. Kenny Clark - DL
The Packers drafted Kenny Clark with their first-round pick this past April with the express intention of developing the UCLA product into retired nose tackle B.J. Raji's long-term replacement. Clark, who doesn't turn 21 until October, has a long way to go before he fills Raji's shoes, but he should still see an enormous workload early on while Pennel waits out his suspension.
21. Davante Adams - WR
Perhaps no player endured a more disappointing 2015 season than Davante Adams, a former second-round pick who displayed plenty of promise as a rookie. Adams suffered a series of ankle injuries early in the year that zapped him of his quickness and aggressiveness. That cannot happen again in 2016 if he hopes to fend off challenges from Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis and the aforementioned Montgomery.