Power Ranking the Deepest Positions on the Packers Roster

Mike Neal is one of several players making outside linebacker the deepest position on the defensive side of the football for the Packers.

There are different ways to define "depth" or "deep" in a football sense.

When the offseason roster is maxed out at 90 spots, every position has more than enough players from a numbers standpoint.

Depth, here, is considered as a percentage of players at each position that will be impact players during the regular season.

In other words, which positions (apart from quarterback) can suffer and injury or two and still be in good shape?

What follows is a subjective power ranking of the deepest positions on the Packers roster as it currerntly stands in June.


1. Quarterback

The Packers found out the hard way last season how valuable a competent backup quarterback can be, but as long as there's room for only one quarterback on the field, the position can be considered the deepest in Green Bay.

When healthy, Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. As long as he's not injured, pretty much the only time Rodgers will leave the field is when the Packers are dominating their opponent late in the fourth quarter.

Matt Flynn may not be the best backup quarterback in the NFL, but he has shown to be a reliable one, particularly in Green Bay. For a variety of reasons, Flynn has shown to have a greater comfort level operating the Packers offense than his other stops in the NFL.

Scott Tolzien and Chase Rettig are still unproven, but Tolzien in particular showed some raw potential last season spelling an injured Rodgers.


2. Running Back

As the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Eddie Lacy has the running back position under control. And there's no reason he shouldn't be even better in Year 2 with a season of experience under his belt, potentially a three-down type of player.

The Packers will have the luxury of keeping Lacy fresh, however, spelling him with James Starks, who re-signed with the Packers in the offseason. Backing up Lacy last season, Starks averaged 5.5 yards per carry, the highest in the NFL of any player with more than 50 attempts.

Johnathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris have a lot to prove after having each of their seasons ended by injury last year, but both displayed an exciting burst of speed in limited playing time.

John Kuhn isn't exactly dazzling with the ball in his hands, but as an experienced veteran and terrific pass protector, he has his value.

And undrafted rookies LaDarius Perkins and Rajion Neal each offer something useful if they're able to quickly adjust to the NFL.


3. Outside Linebacker

One of the reasons outside linebacker seems so deep is because of the free agent addition of Julius Peppers. Granted, there's some ambiguity in trying to pigenhole Peppers into a specific position or role, but as long as he's practicing with the linebackers and coach Winston Moss like he was as Organized Team Activities opened, he'll be considered primarily an outside linebacker.

The hope in Green Bay is that Clay Matthews will take pressure off Peppers as a pass rusher and vice versa. Now Matthews just needs to stay healthy after missing a combined 10 full games the past two seasons.

Beyond Peppers and Matthews, there's two other players that are being counted upon heavily—Mike Neal, who was given a deal averaging $4 million per season this offseason, and former first round draft choice Nick Perry.

Looking to the future, the Packers also addressed outside linebacker with the selection of Carl Bradford in the NFL Draft, a nod to the "you can never have enough pass rushers" mentaility. And that was before adding Adrian Hubbard and Jayrone Elliot as undrafted free agents.

With so much talent at the position, it's going to be difficult for last year's rookies, Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer, to make the team's regular season roster once again.


4. Cornerback

There might be some uncertainty in the future at cornerback as Tramon Williams, Davon House and Jarrett Bush all enter the final year of their respective contracts, but at least for 2014 there will be plenty of depth at the position.

The Packers made sure there's some stability at cornerback by signing Sam Shields to a lucrative four-year $39 million contract in the offseason.

If Casey Hayward is able to return to his pre-injury form when he intercepted six passes as a rookie in 2012, the Packers will be in good shape, particularly in defending the slot.

It will tough for sixth round draft choice Demetri Goodson to find playing time with so many experienced veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, and he'll be joined in that quest by Antonio Dennard and Jumal Rolle.


5. Wide Receiver

The Packers may not have much experienced depth beyond Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb at wide receiver, but they have depth nonetheless after selecting three rookies in the recent NFL Draft.

Davante Adams will be expected to make the biggest contribution as a second round draft choice, but he'll be fighting for playing time with the likes of fifth rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh rounder Jeff Janis.

How high the rookies will be able to climb the depth chart will depend on if Jarrett Boykin will be able to fend them off. After grabbing 49 passes for 681 yards last season, he's a player on the rise.

There's no shortage of other young, talented receivers on the roster with Myles White, Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey and Alex Gillett engaged in a battle for perhaps one or two roster spots.


6. Offensive Line

Just about the only position that's truly up for grabs is at center, where two unproven quantities will duke it out to become Aaron Rodgers' exchange partner in 2014—last year's fouth round draft choice J.C. Tretter and this year's fifth round draft choice Corey Linsley.

No matter who ends up winning the starting center job, that player will be flanked by one of the best pair of guards in the NFL—Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang—which should help immensely.

Bryan Bulaga has a lot to prove coming off a torn ACL last season, but if he's healthy, he should be the starting right tackle. Meanwhile, David Bakhtiari will protect Rodgers' backside after an encouraging rookie season.

Former first round draft choice Derek Sherrod hopes to finally put his injury woes behind him and will be one of the top backups on the offensive line along with an experienced Don Barclay.

Lane Taylor made the Packers roster as an undrafted rookie last season, and while a year of experience will help, he's no lock to make the roster once again.


7. Defensive Line

The long-term future of B.J. Raji might be in doubt, but he'll hope to resuscitate his career as a nose tackle in 2014, and he'll be heavily counted upon as long as fellow big bodies Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly remain unsigned as free agents.

Mike Daniels had a breakout season with 6.5 sacks as an interior pass rusher in 2013 and there's no reason he shouldn't continue to get better.

The Packers could really benefit from another pass-rushing defensive lineman to complement Daniels, and last year's first round draft pick—Datone Jones—could be that guy.

Free agent signee Letroy Guion will be depended upon to be one of the team's run stuffers, as will Josh Boyd if he's able to make a second-year jump.

If third round draft choice Khyri Thornton is as good as the Packers hope, he'll be a factor in the defensive line rotation. And 2012 second round draft choice Jerel Worthy should be highly motivated to prove himself if he has any hopes of earning regular playing time.


8. Tight End

The depth at tight end sure would look a whole lot better with Jermichael Finley, but even without him, the Packers have plenty of options.

As the most experienced player on the team, Andrew Quarless will be the starter by and might be the best in-line tight end on the roster.

The Packers added some intriguing young rookies by drafting Richard Rodgers in the third round and taking a flier on Colt Lyerla as an undrafted free agent.

Joining them in the mix at tight end are Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner—all of whom have at least some NFL experience.


9. Safety

The depth at safety looks a whole lot better if Micah Hyde makes a full-time transition from cornerback, where he lined up during OTAs last week.

Regardless of where Hyde plays, the safety position is a lot better off than it was a year ago through the addition of first round draft choice Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Clinton-Dix is expected to join Morgan Burnett in the starting lineup, although Burnett will be expected to improve upon last year's subpar season.

Providing depth at the position are Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo and a pair of undrafted rookies—Charles Clay and Tanner Miller.


10. Inside Linebacker

A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones—the expected starters at the position—can boast of plenty of experience. It's just that they haven't provided a lot of big plays over the years.

Jamari Lattimore is among the backups after re-signing with the Packers as a restricted free agent in the offseason.

An opportunity exists for Sam Barrington to climb up the depth chart assuming he's able to come back from injury and make a big impression in Year 2 of his development.

Undrafted rookies Joe Thomas and Jake Doughty have an opportunity to stick around at one of the least-talented positions on the Packers roster.


Not Rated: Specialists

The Packers must seem set with their specialists considering they haven't brought in any offseason competition at kicker, punter or long snapper.

Mason Crosby will look to build upon 2013's bounce-back season, while Tim Masthay and Brett Good will try to stay steady as always.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

Photo: Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal by Larry Radloff Photography.

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Comments (4)

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 02, 2014 at 03:41 pm

Overall, I feel like this is one of the deepest overall rosters the Packers have had in a while.

I like a lot of the young players and expect many to take the year 1-2 and year 2-3 jump in play.

I am really looking forward to seeing how the roster shapes up and how each position looks after cut downs.

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Clay's picture

June 03, 2014 at 12:04 am

Just your standard objective analysis in this here article; ranks the team within itself. It would seem troll immune, like saying Ted Thompson has hair on his head.

But gotta give them their due! They will find a way!


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guenaj15's picture

June 04, 2014 at 09:03 am

Ted Thompson doesn't have hair on his head.... you homer

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 03, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Just reacting to BC's tweet about Janis. I wish you wouldn't have referred to him as a "workout warrior" the other day, because that sometimes is used to refer to guys who can't put it together on the field. Janis has way too much college production to label him as a guy who can't cut it on the field. I hope that we do see more catches where Janis looks like Jordy, and I think we will. I'm really hoping the Packers keep six this year.

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