Over the past few days, we at Acme Packing Company have revealed our picks for the Green Bay Packers’ best players over the past decade. The 2010s have seen plenty of team and individual successes, and after addressing the offense and defense earlier this week, we shift our focus to the special teams to finish off the project.
Three of the four specialist positions were pretty easy picks for us, coming in as unanimous selections. One spot, however, had several strong contenders, but ended up in a strong, albeit not unanimous vote. Here are our picks for the top specialists on the team from 2010 through 2019.
Kicker: Mason Crosby
Even easier than Aaron Rodgers is the pick of Crosby on this team. That’s because no other player has attempted a place-kick in the regular season or postseason for the Packers in the past decade.
Crosby’s last decade saw some significant ups and downs, with the low point coming in 2012 when he hit just 21 of 33 field goal attempts. The following year, he fought off training camp competition from Giorgio Tavecchio and went on to post his best season to that point, missing just four kicks all year and hitting 89.2%. Crosby finally eclipsed a 90% rate in 2019, going 22-for-24.
Overall, he hit 244 of 297 field goal attempts in the decade for an 82.2% hit rate, and made 446 of 457 PATs.
Punter: Tim Masthay
In looking back at the Packers’ punters over the past decade, a fascinating trend emerges: the top three punters are all within 0.3 yards per punt gross of one another. Justin Vogel led the way with 44.44 in his lone season in Green Bay, followed closely by JK Scott at 44.34 and Masthay at 44.18.
If the separation were bigger, it would have been worth considering one of the shorter-tenured players, but with the group lumped together there, Masthay gets the nod because of his longevity and a tremendous 45.6-yard average in the 2011 season.
Kickoff Returner: Randall Cobb
Here’s where things really get ugly. The Packers’ return game has been largely a mess since 2010, with only a few bright spots. Ten players returned at least ten kickoffs for the Packers since 2010, but only one averaged more than 25 yards per return, and only one ever took one back to the house for a touchdown. Furthermore, one player more than doubled the number of returns and total kick returns of the second-place finishers.
The player to do all of those things was Cobb, who did almost all of his return work during his first two seasons. His return touchdown came in the very first game of his rookie year, when he went 108 yards to the house against the New Orleans Saints. And Cobb’s 25.88-yard average is the second-highest among any Packers kick returner with at least 10 returns since 1990, coming in about a yard short of Roell Preston and his two-year stint from 1997-98.
The likes of Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery, DuJuan Harris, Trevor Davis, and even Jordy Nelson contributed in the last decade, but none were as productive as Cobb.
Punt Returner: Micah Hyde
The Packers have an even shorter group to look to on punt returns, with only give players getting more than ten attempts in the last decade — and that even includes Tyler Ervin, who reached that mark in the final four games of 2019 alone! Here’s a look at those players and their numbers:
Packers’ punt returns stats
Although Cobb had the most attempts and Davis posted the best average, our unanimous selection was Hyde, due in large part to his lead in punt return touchdowns. His first, a 93-yarder against the Vikings as a rookie in October 2013, helped offset a kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson as the Packers won in Minnesota 44-31. He then had a pair in 2014, one each against Philadelphia and Detroit.
Hyde departed Green Bay after the 2016 season and has become an excellent starting safety for the Buffalo Bills since then. He has contributed only slightly on returns since arriving in Buffalo, but he does have one return score: a 45-yard touchdown when he took back a Miami Dolphins’ onside kick attempt last October.
Davis was the only other player to earn votes, getting one from APC’s seven contributors.
With the specialists now set, we have our complete All-Decade roster for the Green Bay Packers, which sets up as follows:
QB: Aaron Rodgers*
RB: Aaron Jones
TE: Jermichael Finley*
WR: Jordy Nelson*, Davante Adams*
FLEX: Randall Cobb*
LT: David Bakhtiari*
LG: Josh Sitton*
C: Corey Linsley*
RG: T.J. Lang*
RT: Bryan Bulaga*
DL: Kenny Clark*, Mike Daniels*
EDGE: Clay Matthews*, Julius Peppers*
ILB: A.J. Hawk
CB: Sam Shields*, Tramon Williams
S: Morgan Burnett*, Nick Collins
FLEX: Charles Woodson, B.J. Raji and Casey Hayward (tie)
K: Mason Crosby*
P: Tim Masthay*
KR: Randall Cobb*
PR: Micah Hyde