APC’s countdown of the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster continues on this afternoon, as the numbers move on to players 45-42. Note that there was a two-way tie for the 40th place in the ranking, so both of those players will be discussed in the next installment of the series.
Today’s rankings represent players from all offensive position groups with the exception of quarterback. While one rookie skill position player looks to become a quick contributor in the Packers’ new offense, a pair of pass-catchers will attempt to make strong back-to-back preseason impressions in their quests to earn second seasons with the team.
45. Dexter Williams, RB
One-year college wonders can often be met with scrutiny during the draft process and that may have been the case with Williams, who slipped to the Packers’ sixth-round draft slot. In the end, the drafting of Williams may turn out to be one of the team’s best picks if he can duplicate the success he had during his senior season at Notre Dame.
Williams rushed for 995 yards and 12 touchdowns on 158 carries last season for the Irish, becoming the team’s bell-cow back in his final season. In Green Bay, Williams seems like a great fit to be the initial third back on the roster with an opportunity to ascend as his rookie season moves along. Williams has every-down back type of potential and should be a reliable complement to third-year backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Quick acceleration and decisiveness are calling cards for Williams, who has not had the wear-and-tear coming into the league that many backs do. The Packers plan to run often and Williams figures to be in the cold-weather rotation as the season progresses.
44. Robert Tonyan, TE
An impressive 2018 preseason helped the formerly undrafted Tonyan make Green Bay’s final 53-man roster. Despite flashing receiving talent in the exhibition and appearing in all 16 games in 2018, Tonyan hauled in just four catches during the regular season, including a notable 54-yard touchdown catch in Seattle.
The Indiana State product has plenty of developmental upside and should have another opportunity to tap into it this upcoming season. The tight end position is an important one in all phases of Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s offensive game plan, and Tonyan joins a crew of Jimmy Graham and newcomer Jace Sternberger as receiving-first tight ends. However, Tonyan’s key to an increased snap count, much less a roster spot, in 2019 is consistency and his ability to improve as a run blocker, an area in which Marcedes Lewis excels. Tonyan should be in the fight for a final 53-man spot as a fourth tight end.
43. Justin McCray, OL
The Packers’ 2017 jack-of-all-trades swingman on the offensive line got his opportunity to start the season at right guard in 2018. But it was not all sunshine and rainbows for McCray, who made just five starts in splitting time with Byron Bell. While McCray earned a league “average” grade by Pro Football Focus, he failed to prove that he could be the team’s starting guard of the future.
That does not mean McCray is not valuable to the Packers. His versatility to play guard, tackle, and even center when needed makes him a solid depth piece for the Green Bay offensive line. The signing of Billy Turner and second-round selection of Elgton Jenkins signals that McCray will be a bench option in 2019, but he should still be a safe member of the final roster.
42: Jake Kumerow, WR
A fan favorite from the moment he made his first catch in preseason action, the UW-Whitewater alum Kumerow built a strong rapport with Aaron Rodgers in the 2018 training camp. A promising performance in the exhibition slate raised optimism for Kumerow’s ability to contribute in the regular season, but a shoulder injury on a somersault at the conclusion of an 82-yard touchdown reception in the second preseason game landed Kumerow on injured reserve.
Kumerow did get the chance to return in December, making his debut against Arizona and catching his first NFL touchdown against the New York Jets. There is some savviness to his game and an ability to get open in space that could help Kumerow earn a second shot on the final roster in 2019. The Packers’ decision not to draft or sign a noteworthy wide receiver this offseason points to a level of comfort with the receivers currently on the roster and Kumerow is one of a sizable group of second-year receivers looking to make an impact. If he can indeed continue building a relationship with Rodgers, Kumerow could be a dark horse breakout offensive player in 2019 for a position group being met with doubt on the national level.