*This will be a weekly post with updates after each game based on performance.*
Value can be tough to assign in the NFL, especially since there’s so much turnover on each team. While ranking the returning players to the Packers is fairly easy, attempting to rate rookies is difficult, given how invested the team is to draft and development.
I attempted to rank each player based on a few criteria – their talent, how valuable they are to the team’s success, and the depth of each position. Some of these rankings will seem out of place, but note that it is NOT a list in order of most talented.
The “Super Bowl or Bust” Group
1. Aaron Rodgers – The Most talented QB on the planet should be ranked as such. If injured, as with any team with a top 15 starter, their chances are close to zero. Rodgers should have enough weapons to make this a top 5 unit, if not better.
2. David Bakhtiari – Any other QB on this other than maybe Tom Brady, and Bakhtiari is #1. I thought going into this season, the pass rush was going to be the biggest concern, but I was VERY wrong. The starting group is very good, and should probably be a top 10 unit, but the depth is paper thin, especially at left tackle(more on that later). Bakhtiari is probably a top 5 left tackle, let’s hope he stays healthy,
3. Mike Daniels – Stout on run defense and a great pass rusher, he’d rank top 5 on most teams. He’s a bit higher considering the Packers frequently run with 2 down linemen. My hope is he gets more reps on passing downs to reduce the reliance on other pass rushers, but who knows. All I know is the Packers do not have a replacement like Daniels at the 3 technique.
4. Bryan Bulaga – Part of arguably a top 3 tackle tandem, Bulaga is almost as important as Bakhtiari. They can probably get by a little better without him, but Bulaga takes this line to another level when healthy. Back up tackles have played a total of 246 snaps lifetime in the NFL, and Bulaga has a history of health problems. I do not like these odds.
5. Nick Perry – Perry still has room to grow, and is why I put him slightly above Matthews. He’s the Packers best OLB against the run, and offers upside in the pass rush. Given his injury history, and the lack of depth behind him, the Packers desperately need him to stay healthy.
6. Clay Matthews – Along the same lines of importance, but at this point in his career, we know what Matthews is as a player. His best days are behind him, but if he stays healthy, he can still provide the Packers with a ton of value off the edge. They need it since he’s the Packers’ most versatile linebacker.
7. Corey Linsley – See a theme yet? The Packers do not have a single backup behind Linsley that has ever played a snap at center that wasn’t in the pre-season. Linsley is in line for a lucrative contract next off season, and might price himself out of Green Bay, and Green Bay is in serious trouble if that happens. Let’s just hope he leaves with a ring on his finger first.
8. Jordy Nelson – We saw how important he is to this offense in 2015, and there isn’t much of a difference this season. Nelson is the only Packer WR capable of playing the slot in addition to the outside and doing each at a high level. Adams is a good insurance policy, but he doesn’t offer Nelson’s versatility.
9. Davante Adams – This being Adams’ contract year, and looking to back up his solid 2016 comeback campaign, Adams is poised to continue his great play. Not that his injury would tank the Packers chances at making the post season, but his play in conjunction with Nelson and the rest of the pass catchers elevates this offense to elite levels. Behind Nelson and Adams, the drop off is substantial.
10. Ty Montgomery – The Packers offense revolves around Aaron Rodgers, and Montgomery is the perfect complement to that. In his only season of production, he showed promise as a runner between the tackles, and more importantly, a dangerous weapon as a receiver. While work needs to be done as a blocker, his dual-threat ability is unbelievably valuable to this offense, and the drop off after him is substantial as well.
The “Better Luck Next year” Group
11. Morgan Burnett – The only reason the safeties aren’t higher is the depth at the position. Burnett is easily the most versatile of the bunch and will be relied on a lot in the Packers’ ‘Nitro’ package. It being a contract year, he has a lot to prove.
12. HaHa Clinton-Dix – Ranked only slightly below Burnett for versatility reasons, HHCD is coming off a Pro Bowl year, and is looking to continue to move into the upper echelon of NFL Safeties. If he does it this season, he could easily move into the top 5 most important players.
13. Lane Taylor – Fresh of a new contract, the Packers expect Taylor to continue to improve, as he should. More reps, familiarity with his line mates, and understanding of the offensive dynamic should only help him. Depth is slightly better behind him than at the tackles, but really, that’s splitting hairs.
14. Jahri Evans – The Packers are paying their guards less than ½ of what TJ Lang is making this year, and less than ¼ of what Lang and Sitton are making. Evans is a Pro Bowl Guard in the twilight of his career, but should solidify the position. This signing can promote 1 of 2 narratives – boost the resume of Thompson as a brilliantly frugal GM or continue to fuel his reputation for refusing to pay top dollar for proven talent. If he stays healthy, I would lean toward the former.
15. Ahmad Brooks – The only ‘backup’ to make the top 15. He will be heavily relied on as both a pass rusher and run defender. He will help bolster the unit, but let’s continue to hope for the health of all the OLB, because I’m not sure Brooks would be able to handle starting reps at this point in his career.
16. Kenny Clark – I’m reserved in my rank for him this season, but think he has the potential to crack the top 10 of this list. Adding muscle in the off-season, he looked unstoppable in the pre-season. Look for Daniels and Clark to be dominant this season.
17. Dean Lowry – The unit is thin on depth, but not on talent. Lowry had a great pre-season before injury, and could provide a solid addition to the pass rush. He’s likely the odd man out on a 2 down lineman front, but could prove invaluable in passing downs.
18. Martellus Bennett – This rank is not a knock on his talent. The TE unit is one of the most talented on roster. Bennett gives the offense a ton of flexibility in the passing and run games, but if injured, the Packers would have enough depth to get by. I cannot say enough good things about this addition, and can’t wait to see what he can do.
19. Davon House – Ranking the CB’s is darn near impossible. This will be the most fluid unit on the team most likely. House offers the most experience and stability to the unit, therefore is the most valuable.
20. Randall Cobb – How the mighty have fallen. Before 2015, Cobb was probably top 5 most valuable with the injury to Nelson. After 2 disappointing, injury riddled seasons, he is a prime comeback candidate. He is easily the unit’s most explosive WR when he’s right and healthy. He could jump up this list with a solid season.
The “Average Starter, Important Rotation/Reserves” Group
21. Josh Jones – Will be asked to do a lot as Burnett’s backup, and could elevate this defense to a new level given his talent. The Packers have to be excited about his potential.
22. Quinten Rollins – Has outperformed almost all CB’s so far in camp, and is likely the day 1 starting slot corner. That being said, 2016 did his stock no favors.
23. Kevin King – King will be held back a bit to hopefully slow the game down for him, but I look for him to take over the number 2 outside CB job by the midpoint in the season. He’s far too talented to be on the bench.
24. Demarious Randall – Another ‘what could have been player’. Baptized by fire last year, Randall is looking to bounce back. After a slow start to the pre-season and depth at the position, he may just be the odd man out. He’s still incredibly athletic, but needs to be more consistent with his footwork and positioning.
25. Jake Ryan – A solid ILB, he’s just the wrong body type for today’s NFL. He will be the teams top run defender at the position, but will likely sit behind Burnett, Jones and Thomas on passing downs.
26. Brett Hundley – Barring disaster, this ranking hopefully shouldn’t matter. Hundley showed some solid play this pre-season, and should be a solid backup if the worst were to happen…hopefully not, though.
27. Lucas Patrick – This is another case of “he’s not the most talented, but his value is immeasurable”. He’s listed as the backup for both center and guard – and has taken zero professional snaps. The Packers’ brass loves him, but his play on field remains to be seen. Since injury is a huge part of the game, he will play significant snaps this season regardless of his readiness, so let’s hope he’s at least serviceable.
28. Kentrell Brice – The primary SS in the ‘nitro’ with Burnett or Jones at ILB, Brice will be relied on heavily. He’s shown some flashes in coverage and more impressively in run defense, but needs to show some consistency.
29. Aaron Ripkowski – Old school player in the new era, he will provide some solid insurance in short yardage and pass protection. That being said, the likes of Joe Kerridge and John Kuhn are on the FA market…and Ripkowski’s services are easily replaceable. He absolutely cannot continue to fumble like he did against Atlanta.
30. Mason Crosby – After a rough couple of years post-Super Bowl, Crosby seems to have found his groove. Easy to forget when he’s doing well, hard not to when he’s not, Crosby lands somewhere in the middle of these rankings.
The “Reserves and Below Average Starters”
31. Kyler Fackrell – Simply put, he’s not very good. The only reason he’s ranked this high is because he’s 1 Perry or Matthews injury away from getting substantial reps. He’s a fine special teams performer and alright in coverage…but his pass rush is just downright bad.
32. Lance Kendricks – Will be a big part of 2 TE sets, but again, the depth here is great. Should be a solid backup.
33. Blake Martinez – The odd man out in the ILB rotation, Martinez will likely be replaced by Burnett/Jones/Thomas frequently this year. 10 years ago, this thought was unimaginable given his style of play, but here we are.
34. Kyle Murphy – The Packers disaster plan at tackle, he had an ok pre-season. He doesn’t have the talent to ever be a really good player, but should be at least somewhat serviceable as a backup.
35. Jason Spriggs – The 2016 2nd round pick is not off to a great start to his career. Struggling mightily in the pre-season, the Packers do not look very strong here. Offering great athleticism and size, Spriggs should be better than his performance suggests. Let’s hope he puts it all together…sometime very, very soon.
36. Aaron Jones – From what I saw, Jones offers the Packers the best value as the backup RB. A threat as both a runner and a receiver, he provides the most value to the Packers’ backfield behind Montgomery.
37. Jamaal Williams – Personally, I think he’s a one trick pony, and he’s not that great at the one trick. Purely a downhill runner with an upright pad level. He’s James Starks without the quick cut ability. Maybe it will just take time.
38. Richard Rodgers – WONDERFUL depth at a stacked position. He will be used, but not that often.
39. Ricky Jean Francois – Purely a run defender, he is nice depth at a relatively thin position.
40. Marwin Evans – had a terrific pre-season, but is absolutely buried on the depth chart. Will be a great special teamer given his athleticism and willingness to hit.
41. Jeff Janis – He’s the team’s best special teamer, but is absolutely buried on the WR depth chart. I refuse to put him higher because Allison will take over the top bench WR, and this unit’s depth. His hands and route running still hold him back a bit.
The “Special Teamers and Cut Candidates”
42. Josh Hawkins – Pretty much the same description as Marwin Evans, minus the hitting ability (though not terrible in this regard). He’s a solid 5th string option.
43. Justin Vogel – Solid training camp, but frankly, the Packers have made due with less, no offense to Mr. Vogel. He will be more than adequate.
44. Montravius Adams – Will likely start the season on the bench, has upside as a pass rusher, but has a long way to go before seeing the field given his injury.
45. Joe Thomas – The team’s top dime ILB, he likely loses playing time to Josh Jones. Just doesn’t size up as well.
46. Trevor Davis – His value right now is almost entirely as a returner. If he’s playing well in this regard, he skyrockets this list. If he continues to struggle hauling in punts, he’s a candidate for being cut down the road. Don’t really see him as a receiver, but who knows.
47. Quinton Dial – Massive human being, similar to Mike Pennel. Space eater, run stuffer extraordinaire, won’t offer much as a pass rusher. Just doesn’t have much of a burst. Nice depth though.
48. Chris Odom – It is so hard to project where he lands on this list. He hasn’t played a down as a Packer, so I can’t put him any higher, but if this unit gets hit with injury, we will find out how good he is pretty quickly. The Falcons were hoping to keep him on the practice squad, but the Packers were desperate to add some talent.
49. Brett Goode – He’s a fine long snapper…
50. LaDarius Gunter – …Honestly? I wasn’t sure he would make the team. He had a bad preseason, and he is being miscast as a slot corner. I don’t see a future for Gunter in Green Bay, but sometimes, guys just need the limelight to bring out their best. Time will tell.
51. Lenzey Pipkins – I was stunned he made the 53 man roster…but it could be short lived with Allison coming back week 2. I like him, but 7 CB’s is a lot.
52. Justin McCray – 10 offensive linemen is a lot, and while I thought McCray was fine, he could be on the cut list. They could feel differently since, you know, OL depth.
53. Davante Mays – Built like a truck and surprisingly sure handed in the passing game…I just don’t see a place for him and wasn’t sure he’d make the roster. He probably won’t see much of the field barring injury.
The “Injury & Suspension” Group
Geronimo Allison – He probably falls somewhere in the high 20’s when reinstated. He’s not fast, but is quick in and out of his releases, is sure handed and offers a the widest catch radius of the unit. He had a good pre season, and I think is solid depth for this unit.
Vince Biegel – Currently on the PUP, when Biegel comes back, he will immediately shoot up to the top 25. Despite not playing a single snap, Biegel offers much higher upside than Fackrell or Odom, and should slide into the rotation.
Don Barclay – Depending on how bad his injury is, he could be a candidate for the IR designated for return, much to the chagrin of Packer fans. Frankly, the Packers don’t have a backup center, and could use the versatility. IF he returns, he is somewhere in the low 30’s, and Patrick likely drops in value.