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2018 Packers 90-man roster ranking, #5-1: Green Bay’s stars among most underrated in NFL

The top players on the Packers roster may be unheralded, but they’re some of the best players in the NFL at their positions.

Green Bay Packers v Carolina Panthers
Davante Adams proved his 2016 season wasn’t a fluke, turning in his first Pro Bowl season even with Brett Hundley at QB.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In light of the NFL announcing its Top 100 Players of 2018 and with the Green Bay Packers finalizing their spring roster, Acme Packing Company is back this week to break down the team’s 90-man roster, player-by-player. Once again, here is our 90-Man Roster Ranking, this time for 2018.

These rankings represent a composite of the individual selections from several APC contributors. We finish the list with the most obvious names, along with one ascending defender who could be posed to break out.

5. Kenny Clark DT

Clark served notice of his budding stardom as a rookie in 2016, dominating stretches of games for the Packers defense. The 6’3 314 pound nose tackle would chase down running backs in the flat, making plays with range no interior defensive lineman should reasonably possess.

The numbers will never jump off the page, but after not posting a sack as a rookie, Clark put up 4.5 last season, disrupting the pocket on myriad other plays. Mike Daniels made the Pro Bowl last season, but it could be reasonably argued Clark was the more impact defender for the Packers defense.

One of the true bright spots of the 2017 tire fire of a season was Clark’s solidification of the middle of the field. The Packers finished eighth against the run by DVOA, anchored by Clark eating up blocks inside. There may not be a better run-stopping triumvirate in the NFL than Clark, Mike Daniels and Blake Martinez. Clark’s nascent pass-rushing ability will be the next step in his evolution. Casual NFL fans were late to learn Mike Daniels’ name. They may not have a choice but learn Clark’s very soon.

4. Davante Adams WR

Remember when fans wanted Jared Abbrederis and/or Jeff Janis to be starting ahead of Davante Adams? Now, he’s one of the most productive receivers in football, a Pro Bowler and a bona fide No. 1 receiver.

Adams’ play didn’t fall off when Brett Hundley took over. If anything, he broke down the door of stardom and announced his presence. It’s not only possible but likely Adams’ development paved the way for Jordy Nelson to be shown the door.

One of the most dynamic route runners in football, Adams beats jams at the line of scrimmage with his outstanding footwork and explosive change-of-direction skills. Even when Hundley wasn’t finding him, rest assured, he was open. The clearest indicator Adams isn’t a product of Rodgers? In 2016, Adams finished with 75 catches on 121 targets and 12 touchdowns. In 2017, playing mostly with Hundley, Adams put up 74 catches on 117 targets and 10 touchdowns.

There’s no more looking over his shoulder, wondering if a bad route or a dropped pass may get him benched for a Cheesehead favorite. This passing offense belongs to Adams and the 25-year-old should own it for a long time to come.

3. Mike Daniels DT

Finally. It took the league until last season to recognize Daniels as a Pro Bowl player, but he’s been a top interior defender for at least three seasons. Much like Clark, the sack numbers may never look sexy in the score book (is that still a thing?) but Daniels consistently beasts opposing guards, walking them back into the backfield.

Daniels will even whip his man so badly, he’s practically taking the handoff for the running back. An injury early in the season meant a slow start, but once he and Clark started getting consistent times together they were eating up blockers at an incredible rate. There were legitimately times when the tenacious interior duo would take on four blockers by themselves.

With the quick passing game mitigating the impact of modern edge rush freak athletes, players who can wreck havoc on the interior provide a unique value add for a defense. Daniels, after finally getting his due, isn’t like to play any less pissed off this season as any other. Mike Pettine’s scheme should allow Daniels to spend more time as his natural three-technique position, which means this may even be the best we’re going to see him play. Daniels is scary enough for opposing offensive linemen. In this defense, he just got downright frightening.

2. David Bakhtiari LT

The string of underrated stars comes to an end in a fitting way: in second place. There should no longer be any questions about where Bakhtiari stands among the league’s best offensive linemen. And frankly, he should be second to no one in that discussion. He’s one of the best pass-blocking tackles in the league at the most important pass-blocking position in the game.

Yet he was second team All-Pro each of the last two seasons and has somehow only been to one Pro Bowl in his career (2016). But it feels somehow appropriate for a player who was never even first team all-conference in the Pac-12 at Colorado. He was second team twice.

When the Packers have their starting offensive tackles healthy, it’s the best duo in football, particularly in pass protection. All-Pro voters may have noticed the four games missed last year and dinged him. If Bakhtiari stays healthy this year, they’ll be no more excuses to overlook the most complete left tackle in football.

1. Aaron Rodgers QB

Let’s start with the obvious: duh. If there’s a “best players” or “most important” players list, there’s only one name deserving of the top spot and he wears No. 12 in Green and Gold.

He proved that last year without even being on the field. Green Bay’s passing attack turned to salt under Brett Hundley and though that’s its own indictment of Hundley (and the offensive staff), the reality of Rodgers as deodorant clearly resonated with this franchise. They don’t let Alex Van Pelt walk out the door, revamp the playbook, sign a pair of tight ends and draft a cadre of rookie receivers without recognizing how hard Rodgers’ job is an how easy he makes it look.

Even fans of the Packers don’t recognize his greatness fully. It would be impossible to. He makes the amazing seem routine, making unbelievable throws with the sort of perfunctory confidence of someone who expects to do things other players wouldn’t even think to try.

He’s suis generis in a league full of players often tabbed with the “unique” label or referred to as “singular talents.” Put simply, the best player on the Green Bay Packers is the best player in football.