Now that the Green Bay Packers have wrapped up the 2017 NFL Draft and rookie minicamp, the team has finalized its 90-man roster heading into the start of OTAs. We at Acme Packing Company have ranked the players roster from 1 through 90 in terms of the players’ overall talent levels and likelihoods to make an impact in Green Bay and we present the single compiled ranking set to you over the next two weeks.
First up in APC’s 90-man roster rankings is the bottom of the roster. Most of these players are recent undrafted free agent signings, including a few who earned contracts after rookie minicamp.
If you’re one of these players, however, fear not. Last year’s “bottom 10” featured one player who made the initial 53-man roster in running back Brandon Burks (though he was waived a day later), as well as another who showed up on the active roster for a few weeks in the middle of the season (Jermaine Whitehead). There were also a handful of players who spent time on the Packers’ practice squad, including guard Lucas Patrick who is expected to provide serious competition for a backup interior offensive line spot this season.
Here’s a look at the start of our 90-man ranking.
#90: RB Kalif Phillips
Although Phillips’ signing as an undrafted free agent came immediately after the draft and Will Stanback was the running back signed after rookie minicamp, APC’s authors feel that Phillips (out of UNC-Charlotte) has more to prove than the former UCF and Virginia Union product.
#89: WR Michael Clark
Clark is a physically imposing receiver, listed at 6’6” and 217 pounds. He had a big-play season for Marshall last year, with 37 catches for 632 yards and a 17.1 yards-per-catch average. However, the book on Clark is that he needs to develop a route tree and work on his hands, and players with a limited route tree rarely make much of an impact in Green Bay.
#88: TE Aaron Peck
Peck will almost certainly need a year on an NFL practice squad before becoming an NFL contributor, as he is moving to tight end from wide receiver. He could fit in the mold of the “move” tight end that is prevalent across the NFL, as he has a similar body type to Giants first-round pick Evan Engram. However, he does not possess the same elite athletic tolls that Engram does, and he will need to continue to bulk up.
T-#86: S Aaron Taylor
At Ball State, Taylor was a multi-year starter but never intercepted a pass and broke up just four. Granted, he is primarily an in-the-box safety, and he could provide a physical presence in the middle of the field. However, Taylor has neither the speed nor explosiveness that the other safeties on the Packers’ roster possess.
T-#86: WR Montay Crockett
Crockett’s college production as a receiver is what keeps him near the bottom of our list at present, not his raw physical skills. The 5’11”, 190-pounder has exceptional speed, with a 4.39 40 and 1.54 10-second split at his Pro Day. He’s also explosive (38” vert, 10’11” broad) and quick (6.82 3-cone), so the question becomes this: why did he only have 32 career receptions for 535 yards in three seasons? Crockett’s path to the roster will almost certainly be on special teams as a gunner or a returner, given the Packers’ logjam at the back end of the receiver depth chart.
#85: P Justin Vogel
While Jake Schum is the incumbent, Vogel was signed to give him some competition this offseason. Like most of the punters the Packers have signed in recent years, Vogel is seen as having average leg strength but having good placement. The numbers seem to bear that out, as he averaged between 42.5 and 43.8 yards per punt each of his three years but landed 37% of his punts inside the 20.
T-#83: CB David Rivers III
Rivers, who has no relation to teammate and New England Patriots draft pick Derek Rivers, is a tall corner at 6’1”, but he was only a starter for about a year and a half. He has a good initial burst (reportedly had a 1.53 10-yard split in his Pro Day 40) but has modest college production.
T-#83: LS Derek Hart
The Packers cut fellow long-snapper Taybor Pepper after rookie camp, leaving Hart as the only option on the roster at present. The rookie from James Madison has not yet played in an NFL game, and will have to deal with the ever-present spectre of Brett Goode’s availability on free agency until the final cuts.
#82: ILB David Talley
One of the Packers’ tryout signings, Talley from Grand Valley has good speed and explosiveness, running at 4.51 and jumping 41”. He also was an all-conference linebacker who picked up 3.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions as a senior. He will adjust to playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 to moving inside in the Packers’ 3-4 system.
#81: CB Donatello Brown
Brown, another taller corner, has a fascinating story, as he sat out of football for a few years and enters the NFL at age 25. However, he turned his situation around after his struggles and has a shot to make it with the Packers, who have traditionally given undrafted cornerbacks lots of opportunities. He recorded three interceptions in college.