It’s admittedly hard to gauge who’s doing well in training camp before preseason games start, but more than a few players have been consistently popping up in training camp reporting so far. So who’s catching our eye so far? We asked the APC staff for their training camp standouts to this point. Here’s what they had to say.
Justis Mosqueda: CB Carrington Valentine
Carrington Valentine is a player I’m excited about. I’m not sure how much he’s going to play this year, but he seems to have been a steal of a selection in the seventh round. I didn’t watch him until after the Packers selected him in the draft, but he (and Dontayvion Wicks) was one of two Day 3 selections I thought were massive value choices.
Valentine has been a guy who has made headlines since OTAs, and that momentum hasn’t stopped since the pads have come on. On Family Night, Valentine was able to play some of the limited first-team defense snaps that the team played in the team periods, which is pretty unheard of for such a late-round pick. In practice on Monday, the only practice that the team has had since Family Night, Valentine was actually allowed to play first-team snaps at outside cornerback, which displaced Rasul Douglas into the slot — something the Packers didn’t do at all on Family Night.
Who knows if he’ll even get on defense this year with Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Douglas, Keisean Nixon and Corey Ballentine already established at the cornerback position, but I’m thrilled to track Valentine’s progression.
Rcon14: OL Sean Rhyan
The fact that Sean Rhyan looks like an actual NFL player, and maybe even a useful NFL player is a pretty big deal. I’ve moved past 2023 already and am looking to 2024+ when it comes to pretty much everything I’m looking at, and the 2024 offensive line has question marks everywhere. What happens with David Bakhtiari, Yosh Nijman, and Jon Runyan Jr this off-season is a big question mark. If the organization is confident that Rhyan could fill a starting role somewhere on the line, that opens up a lot of different possibilities for the Packers as they figure out who is going to be on that line long-term.
Sam Kallien: TE Luke Oh Lawd He Comin Musgrave
It’s been eight seasons and the Packers still haven’t fully recovered from the loss of Jermichael Finley. They’ve had some fun years from guys like Jared Cook and Robert Tonyan, and a fun play or two from Richard Rodgers. Marcedes Lewis will absolutely be missed, but the new TE era in Green Bay has begun with a guy the Packers think is their answer. He’s a giant, and a fast one at that. Building chemistry with his new QB is going to be essential this year, but by all accounts it seems like the team is already pleased with what he’s shown at camp.
Evan “Tex” Western: DL Devonte Wyatt and RB Tyler Goodson
Nearly everyone has expected that one of these second-year players would take a huge step forward this year, but the other is someone I have been excited about since he signed as a UDFA last spring. Let’s start with Wyatt, the second of two first-round picks in 2022. After impressing in his brief spurts of playing time as a rookie, the hope was that he would be ready for a starting role, and all signs indicate that he is. He has been consistently disruptive as an interior pass-rusher, and his get-off at the snap looks tremendous. If he can carry his success early on in camp into the regular season, he could be a 6-to-8 sack player this season, which should also make life easier for Kenny Clark on the other side of the line.
I also want to mention Goodson for his improved play and expanded role so far in camp. He’s in a real dogfight with Patrick Taylor and draft pick Lew Nichols for the third running back job, and I’m excited to see Goodson in whichever preseason game he is the team’s “featured” runner. His speed allows him to be much more than just a runner, though, as he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and has been moved all around the formation, including taking jet sweeps. Perhaps more important is that he’s picking up on the other things he needs to do in order to be a trusted RB3, things like blitz pickup and special teams. Goodson brings a lot more juice and versatility than Taylor does to the running game, and I’m hoping his improvements in those other areas get him the job because I think he’ll be able to do a heck of a lot to help this offense in 2023.
Paul Noonan: WR Dontayvion Wicks
In the 2021 Dontayvion Wicks was one of the 5 best receivers in college football averaging 21 yards per reception and accumulating 1200 yards and 9 scored in Bronco Mendenhall’s explosive offense at Virgina. Mendenhall would retire in the offseason and was replaced by Tony Elliott, at which point everything on the Virgina offense, including Wicks, fell apart.
Eliott is clearly at fault, and so the question on Wicks is whether you can coax the 2021 version out of him with a proper, functioning offense. Wicks is a 9.17 RAS guy, extremely shifty, and possessing a pair of ridiculously long arms that drastically expand his catch radius. Drops were an issue last season, but drops are among the more fixable problems a receiver can have. He’s been limited by a concussion in camp, but his ceiling is as high as any receiver in the 2021 draft, and may eventually provide some heat on Doubs and Toure.
Jon Meerdink: The Packers’ giant young tackles
I’m fascinated by Brian Gutekunst’s ongoing effort to collect as many enormous offensive tackles as he can. Yosh Nijman, it turns out, was just the prototype at 6-foot-7 and 314 pounds. Since then, Gutekunst has added 6-foot-6 Rasheed Walker, 6-foot-9 Caleb Jones, 6-foot-8 Luke Teunta, and 6-foot-7 Kadeem Telfort. A forest worth of trees has sprouted in the Packers’ offensive line room.
Are any of them any good? That remains to be seen, but the Packers sure seem to have a type, and given their success at manufacturing offensive linemen over the past few years, it stands to reason at least one of them will break through. Rasheed Walker is, as of today, nominally the Packers’ second-string right tackle, though if push came to shove Nijman would probably get first crack at the job if Zach Tom was for some reason unable to fill it. Still, the Packers have a group of plus-sized clones in camp this year, and seeing if that storyline goes anywhere will be interesting.