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Packers 2019 Roster Predictions: Green Bay goes lean at running back

With too many needs elsewhere, APC projects the Packers to go without a fullback in the fall.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In 2019, the Green Bay Packers’ roster looks very different from how it appeared at the end of the 2018 season. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and a role on the team’s regular season 53-man roster. Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the roster position-by-position and reveal our compiled predictions for the 53-man roster.

Unbeknownst to most of the NFL and its media, the Green Bay Packers been a consistently great rushing team for years. Take a look at their season DVOA rank for rushing offense over the past three seasons:

  • 2018: 3rd
  • 2017: 3rd
  • 2016: 5th

Despite these numbers, there is among fans a yearly existential dread around the position, and no free agent RB of any note ever escapes the attention of Packer fans for long. I call it “Marshawn Lynch Syndrome.”

Anyway, the current state of the position is as strong as it’s been in decades. We don’t project many backs to make the team, but the ones we do see cover every skill set you could want. The Packers’ front office correctly determined that running back talent was everywhere. Their draft scouting has been beyond reproach, and as a result they get elite production for minimal salary cap.

I’m so proud of them.

Starter: Aaron Jones

On a per-play basis, Aaron Jones is one of the five best backs in the league. The only things standing between Jones and true stardom are health and better play-calling. Matt LaFleur uses his backs more frequently and more creatively than Mike McCarthy, and it’s possible Jones finds himself on the cover of a few Fantasy Football magazines.

Backups: Jamaal and Dexter Williams, no relation.

Jamaal Williams figures to see plenty of time as the thunder to Jones’ lightning. His blocking will also keep him as a viable 3rd down option, especially if the line suffers any injuries that require assistance in the backfield. Jamaal is talented in his own right, and a near-perfect scheme fit.

Dexter Williams, on the other hand, is primed to break out should any tragedy befall Mr. Jones. He’s not quite a carbon copy, but most of his issues are of the off-field variety. His college production on a per play basis and his athleticism should be cause for optimism.

Released: Tra Carson, Dan Vitale, Malcolm Johnson

Carson fits the power back role if anything happens to Jamaal Williams, but the Packers are unlikely to keep a large stable of backs, and he hasn’t shown much in the NFL to this point, and it will take a strong camp, and some luck for him to crack the roster. Vitale has something to offer, but it will be tough to justify holding onto a fullback at the expense of more important positions. Malcolm Johnson will provide some nice preseason depth, and hopefully put some good work on tape.