Welcome back to another edition of Acme Packing Company’s ranking of the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster. This edition covers players ranked 40th through 36th.
Thanks to a tie for the 40th spot in the rankings, this group of players has six members rather than our usual five. However, this group consists of players at every experience level, from 13-year NFL veterans to rookie draft picks. And although all of these players have a clear path to the roster in one way or another, one in particular is likely to get a much more prominent role on the team than he had a year ago.
T-40: JK Scott, punter
In his first year out of Alabama, the 2018 fifth-round draft pick had a bit of a tough adjustment to the NFL. Scott had a decent enough 44.7 gross average, which was a few tenths of a yard better than Justin Vogel’s mark from the year before and finished third for a single season in Packers history. However, his net average was much worse at 38.8 yards, and he struggled significantly to pin his kicks inside the 20-yard line.
With a new special teams coordinator on board, the job remains his for the upcoming season. His long, lanky frame and the ability he showed in college — both in his directional ability and his ability to boom kicks — suggest that he can become a very good NFL punter. But he needs to be more consistent to live up to his high draft status, especially since Michael Dickson, who went a handful of picks ahead of Scott, earned All-Pro honors as a rookie.
T-40: DeShone Kizer, quarterback
Like Scott, Kizer needs to improve this summer to live up to his excellent physical tools. His two lengthy outings relieving Aaron Rodgers in 2018 showed why the Cleveland Browns were all too happy to move on from him last offseason. First, he effectively gave the game away in one quarter of action against the Bears when filling in for Rodgers after he suffered his knee injury. Only a ridiculous second half by number 12 salvaged the turnover-fest that ensued with Kizer in the game.
Then in week 17 with Rodgers pulled due to a concussion, Kizer again struggled mightily. He completed just 16 of 35 passes for 132 yards and an interception. As he did in the preseason, Kizer had his best production with his feet, scrambling four times for 40 yards.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues facing Kizer in his third year in the NFL is the fact that he will be learning a new offense and playing for a new head coach for the third time. His physical skills give him the inside track on the backup quarterback job, but it is by no means a guarantee that he will hold on to it.
39: Raven Greene, safety
One of the bright spots in the preseason last year was Greene, a rangy deep safety who made a few great plays on the football in training camp and helped out with some nice special teams support. That earned him a spot on the roster, which he eventually parlayed into a key role on special teams and a few games as a useful reserve and key player when other safeties suffered injuries.
By far, Greene’s best game came in a win over the Dolphins, when he recorded a sack and took a fake punt 26 yards for a first down. He also forced a fumble earlier in the year in kickoff coverage. Look for him to get another long look as a backup to Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.
38: Reggie Gilbert, outside linebacker
Given the three big additions to the Packers’ edge group this offseason, Gilbert will likely be an odd man out with dividing up pass-rushing snaps this fall, even if he makes the team. Once a preseason darling of Packers fans who clamored for him to get more playing time, Gilbert has delivered only modestly with 3.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits over his 18 games.
Gilbert did suit up for the third-most snaps of any Packers outside linebacker a year ago, taking the field about 46% of the time. However, he too often seemed to get washed out in the run game and simply was not a productive, consistent pass-rusher.
With that said, Gilbert was a regular contributor on kick and punt coverage units, and he is in the mold of the bigger, more powerful edge rushers that the Packers have seemed to prioritize this summer. That could keep him around for another year to see if he can bring more to the table on a lighter load of snaps.
T-36: Kingsley Keke, defensive lineman
With the Packers sitting out the entire fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft due to trading away their two picks in a move up for safety Darnell Savage, Brian Gutekunst seemed ecstatic to land Keke in round five. The versatile lineman moved to defensive end from nose tackle a year ago for Texas A&M because his team needed him more there, and responded with an impressive 7.5-sack season.
Capable of playing just about any position on the line, he impressed at the Senior Bowl as a three-technique tackle and interior rusher, the same position as former fourth-round pick Mike Daniels. Keke should immediately be considered as a backup for the veteran, and a good performance in 2019 could make him the heir apparent if the team elects to move on from Daniels when his contract expires after the season.
T-36: Marcedes Lewis, tight end
After a year spent languishing on the bench with Mike McCarthy in charge, Lewis agreed with another former Packers tight end — Martellus Bennett — on how unfriendly the former Packers coach’s offense was for the position. However, with Matt LaFleur arriving to run the show and feature the position more heavily in 2019, Lewis returned on a one-year deal, reuniting with new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
At this stage of his career, Lewis’ size and blocking ability are his best assets. The former helps with his catch radius, however, as he did have one particularly memorable catch a year ago in the preseason. Furthermore, his longest catch in the regular season, a 30-yarder, came on a throwback pass design like the ones LaFleur’s offense will likely use frequently. Look for him to be on the field a lot more in 2019 than the 191 snaps he played a year ago.