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, concluding this week.
We are nearing the end of our roster countdown, as we work our way into the teens today with players 20 through 11. APC’s contributors had some trouble coming to a consensus on some of these players, with numerous different combinations — particularly regarding the three cornerbacks that make the list in this grouping.
After seeing this group, you can probably tell who the top 10 will be, so stay tuned for 10-6 and 5-1 the next few days.
#20: G Jahri Evans
Evans isn’t his perennial All-Pro self any more at age 35, but after the Packers lost T.J. Lang to the Lions in free agency, he is in a great spot. They signed him as a free agent just before the start of the NFL Draft, freeing up GM Ted Thompson to focus on the defense and depth rather than finding a starting guard early on. Evans still thinks he can play at an elite level, and Mike McCarthy praised his attitude and fit in the locker room just this week.
#19: CB Davon House
The first of a trio of cornerbacks on this list, House — a former Packers fourth-round draft pick — had a very good first year in Jacksonville in 2015, recording four interceptions and a stunning 23 pass breakups. However, he was shelved last season when the Jaguars moved away from a press-man coverage scheme and was released this spring. Now he returns to Green Bay, where he returns to the coverage techniques that helped earn him that big deal from the Jaguars a few years back. House likely projects as one of the Packers’ starters on the boundary, as his length and physicality will help him match up against bigger receivers.
#18: CB Kevin King
Whereas House’s experience is arguably his best trait at this point, King is a relatively raw player but possesses overall athleticism that is second to none at the cornerback position. The 33rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft (and the Packers’ first selection), King’s 6’3” frame should allow him to man up on taller wideouts as well, and his ball skills are exceptional. If he can learn to develop his technique at the line of scrimmage quickly, he should be an instant contributor as a rookie.
#17: G Lane Taylor
When Josh Sitton was surprisingly released at the end of the preseason in 2016, Taylor was viewed with skepticism as his replacement. During the season, however, he proved to be no worse than a solid starter, and was good in pass protection. He will be tasked with elevating his game further in his second year in the starting lineup, but has demonstrated that he is fully capable of being counted on as a consistent, steady player in the interior of the offensive line.
#16: CB Damarious Randall
The comparisons to Davante Adams’ second season are numerous for Randall, but they fit. After a rookie year that saw sparks of great play, his sophomore season was almost entirely lost due to injury. But while Quinten Rollins had similar issues, Randall’s ceiling is much higher, due in part to better overall athleticism and football experience. Early on, it seems that Randall will likely man the slot in the Packers’ nickel and dime alignments this season, a big role that was often occupied by Micah Hyde in the past. In fact, some of Randall’s best tape at Arizona State came in the slot, so this might be a better fit for him than lining up on the boundary anyway.
#15: DT Kenny Clark
When your head coach says you’re “crushing it” in the weight room, that’s absolutely a good sign, and that is especially the case for Clark, the 21-year-old second-year pro. After a slow start to the year, Clark came on strong down the stretch and is going to be counted on as one of the Packers’ primary interior rushers in the nickel as well as a likely nose tackle when the team lines up in their base 3-4. Clark is a terrific athlete for a 315-pound man, and if he is adding to his functional strength at the point of attack, he should grow into a legitimate force in the trenches this season.
#14: WR Randall Cobb
Cobb had a down year last season, and although injuries were a factor, he has now seen significant declines in numbers and target share each of the past two years. It is worth noting, however, that his catch rate was close to that of his breakout 2014 campaign (about 71.5%), and according to Pro Football Focus he did not drop a single catchable pass last year. Still, with Jordy Nelson likely to line up in the slot more often in 2017, Cobb will need to demonstrate the ability to get open on the boundary if he hopes to rebound from a season that saw him post his lowest per-game production since his rookie year.
#13: RB Ty Montgomery
Perhaps it’s a surprise to see Montgomery land ahead of Cobb, but what he brings to the running back position is a flexibility that the Packers have not had in a long, long time. As a runner, he averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season, and he caught a whopping 79% of the passes thrown his way for the second straight year. Plus, he has added four pounds of muscle since the 2016 season concluded, presumably in an effort to be more physical as a runner. The only question about Montgomery should be his pass-blocking, an area on which he will no doubt be spending significant time this offseason. With his ability as both a runner and receiver, he should be in line to pick up 1,200 yards from scrimmage, even if the rookie backs pick up lots of carries.
#12: C Corey Linsley
One of the likeliest candidates for a contract extension this season is Linsley, who entered the league as a fifth-round pick in 2014. Since then, he has been a steady presence at center, taking over as a rookie when then-starter JC Tretter broke a bone in his ankle and not looking back. Though he started 2016 on the PUP list with hamstring issues, Linsley came right back into the starting lineup in game number eight and played at an excellent level throughout the rest of the season.
#11: WR Davante Adams
Adams is another fourth-year pro who could get a contract extension this season, as he finally had a breakout season in 2016. Although he finished the season three yards shy of 1,000, he caught a whopping 12 touchdowns as he used his big, physical frame and leaping ability in the red zone. He could have had a few more scores if not for some drops, but he is nearly impossible to cover on slants and digs. If his hands improve and he continues to develop his route-running, he should vault into true WR1 status after this season.