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. The Acme Packing Company writing staff has ranked the players in terms of the players’ overall talent levels and likelihoods to make an impact in Green Bay. We will present the single compiled ranking set to you over the next two weeks.
Continuing with the pre-season evaluation of the Packers 90-man roster, we look at the rookies and young players likely to ascend, and a few vets who will be looking to fend off the charge. While the rankings do not take a final roster into account, it is a decent guide. These are interesting players who will be in for some serious struggles. These will be the players giving some of the necessary depth and special teams players for this team.
No. 50: S Marwin Evans
The Packer defensive backfield is getting more crowded with the addition of Davon House and two highly drafted rookies, and that could spell trouble for former undrafted free agent, Milwaukee native, and strong safety Marwin Evans. Evans does offer value as a special teamer and the team thinks enough of him to have given him time in all 16 games last season. He actually boasts impressive speed for a strong safety, but his lack of positional flexibility will work against him as safeties can generally only play safety, whereas corners are generally athletic enough to play all over. Evans will have a battle to sneak onto the 53.
No 49: G Lucas Patrick
The former Duke standout signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016, and he should have ample opportunity to make an impact. With both TJ Lang and Josh Sitton recently walking out the door, guard is perhaps the most open position on the team. Patrick possesses ideal size, and has been intriguing enough to the coaching staff to survive a serious injury without facing the chopping block. Patrick spent last year on the practice squad, but he’s a good bet to make the leap to the big show in 2017.
No 48: WR Trevor Davis
Many people have been spoiled by a few recent breakout rookie receivers across the NFL, but the norm is that it generally takes 2-3 years for a receiver to really excel, as we saw with Davante Adams. Taken in that light, Davis’ struggles as a rookie aren’t that concerning, and his special teams work makes it easier to have some patience. Davis is debatably the most athletic receiver on the team, and if he can start to incorporate better technique this season you will start to hear his name as part of any conversation involving Randall Cobb’s soon-to-be-expiring contract.
No 47: OL Don Barclay
It isn’t entirely fair that many of Barclay’s high profile struggles came out of a desperation move to tackle while the Packers were facing some excellent defenses, but Barclay hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire at guard either. He’s adequate on the interior of the line, and by most accounts, trusted by the coaching staff, but he also plays what is clearly the most disposable position on the roster, and if some of the young guns play well early, Barclay could find himself in trouble. There are no sure things at the guard position on the Green Bay Packers.
No 46: WR DeAngelo Yancey
A lot of people like 7th round receiver Malachi Dupre as a breakout star, but I love players like DeAngelo Yancey. While he didn’t light up the combine in the traditional sense, he showed off the skillset of an over-the-middle monster. Yancey came in at a hair under 6-2, 220 pounds, and if he were a running back instead of a wide receiver, would have posted the 4th highest speed score of the combine at 104.5.
My initial reaction was to compare him to Ty Montgomery, but Yancey is a much more polished receiver coming out of college. He’s adept at using his size to get clean breaks off the line, and his ability and willingness to go over the middle keeps corners guessing on the outside. For a thick guy, he’s also a solid deep threat due to an advanced ability to track and adjust to the ball, a necessity with the poor quarterbacks at Purdue. His dominant showing against an excellent Wisconsin defense is one of the best individual college performances of last season. Some scouts criticize his route running but I see a lot of good work along with the bad. Receivers rarely break out in their rookie year, but if given the opportunity, Yancey is my favorite to produce immediately.
No 45: DT Christian Ringo
With Letroy Guion suspended for the first 4 games of the season, Ringo will enter as the de facto starting nose tackle playing between Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark or backing up Daniels at 3-tech. Ringo is a bit undersized for the nose tackle role and can get pushed around a bit. He’s an athletic player, but athleticism can be wasted on the inside of a 3-4, and while Ringo generally holds his own, he is probably more suited for a general defensive line backup spot. Ringo is likely to get Pete Best-ed upon Guion’s return, or Montravius Adams’ quick development.
No 44: OLB Kyler Fackrell
Kyler Fackrell is probably the single weirdest Packer, both in terms of story and in play style. He is Mormon, and many Mormon players enter the NFL on the old side due to the standard 2-year mission. Fackrell is old for a second-year player, as you would expect, but he never went on said mission, instead opting to paint houses for a year after high school, and spending the full 5 years in college. As a result he is older at 25 with a high center of gravity, which occasionally results in him getting completely blown up. He is also an excellent athlete and can provide surprisingly effective pass rush. The biggest problem with Fackrell is that he has an intriguing skillset for a younger player who may still develop more strength, but Fackrell will turn 26 this year, not 22, and he is what he is at this point. He will probably show up on the stat sheet enough to continue warranting snaps, and probably show up on the highlight reel getting blocked into next week enough to provide a few chuckles.
No 43: RB Aaron Jones
The Patriots, as they often do, set the trend of employing specialized running backs instead of every down running backs and the smart teams have taken notice. In fact, in the Super Bowl last season the Pats basically won on the strength of receiving back and Wisconsin alum James White, and the Falcons basically lost when receiving back Tevin Coleman was injured.
The Packer front office is still among the best in football, and they have taken notice. Ty Montgomery will fill the designated pass-catching starter role, and it’s likely that Jones enters as his immediate backup/complement, while Jamaal Williams and Devante Mays fill the power back spot. Jones is a sneaky good athlete and excelled at the combine agility drills. He’s a polished receiver and shows good vision between the tackles as well, and should cause defenses fits in the same manner as Montgomery. He was an absolute steal as a late 5th rounder.
No 42: TE Richard Rodgers
Richard Rodgers has great hands. No one is more likely to hold on to a 2-yard out pattern than the 4th year tight end. Outside of that, Rodgers brings almost nothing to the table. He’s not a great blocker (though he’s not awful), and unlike most tight ends, getting him matched up on a linebacker doesn’t really do anything for you. Rodgers will cost the Packers nothing and he knows the system, so he is likely to stick around for another year, but he’s a free agent at the end of next season, and with Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks in the fold he will likely be moving on in 2018.
No 41: S Kentrell Brice
Safety Kentrell Brice flashed some real ability late last season when the Packer secondary was crashing, burning, and having salt sprinkled on its ashes. Signed as an undrafted free agent before the 2016 season, he showed surprising athleticism and a willingness to pop receivers. Brice was a major contributor on special teams and that is likely to keep him on the roster, but he also finds himself backing up Morgan Burnett, with newly-drafted Josh Jones on the depth chart. He’ll likely remain a contributor, but his path to regular playing time is no longer evident.