GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 17: CB Chandon Sullivan (5-11, 189, third season, Georgia State)
In last year’s rendition of this roster countdown, Sullivan ranked No. 63. I put him two spots after Mike Tyson.
Sullivan played in five games as an undrafted rookie with the Eagles in 2018 but was released just after the 2019 draft. The Packers, liking his ability to play safety and cornerback, signed him shortly thereafter. He emerged as a quality role player last season and might enter training camp as the front-runner for the slot. Considering the Packers played with at least five defensive backs on 81 percent of the snaps last season, the nickel position is of vital importance.
“Chandon was a guy we liked him coming out of college,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said of Sullivan’s time at Georgia Southern, where he was a three-time member of the all-Sun Belt Conference team. “He had his ups and downs in Philadelphia, but at the time it was one of those things we thought he’d be a nice player to compete with our roster. I’m really proud of him and how he stepped up in the moments that he did. He was put in some pretty tough spots, not only for a young player, but also he had to play a lot of different spots for us whether it was safety, nickel, outside. I think he showed his versatility and I’m excited where he can go.”
Over the final 12 regular-season games, Sullivan played 20-plus snaps in 10 games and 35-plus snaps in five games. According to Sports Info Solutions, Sullivan allowed a scant 6-of-21 passing (28.6 percent) for 74 yards with one interception and five breakups. In other words, he almost got his hands on as many footballs as the receivers he was covering. The numbers at Pro Football Focus weren’t as great but were darned good, nonetheless: 13-of-32 passing (40.6 percent) for 140 yards with one interception and three breakups.
The interception came at Dallas in Week 5. That’s where the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. A key play in that game was Nick Collins’ pick-six, which he celebrated by dropping to his knees and raising his arms to the roof of AT&T Stadium.
“If you walk out of here like you’re leaving the building, if you look to your left, you’ll see the picture from the Super Bowl,” Sullivan said a few days later.
Sullivan celebrated his interception in the same fashion.
“I guess it was kind of on my mind subconsciously,” Sullivan said. “We had a plan – I’m not going to tell you what we were going to do – but in the heat of the moment, being my first interception, I was like, ‘Man, I know what I’m going to do,’ I ran to the end zone. I knew we were going to take a group photo and I posed. I knew that the photographers were going to get a picture of me solo, just like how he did it when they took it. So, I posted the picture and it kind of took off. So, that’s kind of cool.”
Sullivan was an Academic All-American who graduated with a 3.86 GPA while majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. He was one of 13 finalists for the William Campbell Trophy – aka the Academic Heisman.
“We took grades very seriously,” Sullivan said. “My dad, he taught us to try to be the best at everything you can. Growing up, it was always straight-A’s. If you brought home a B, that’s OK but you’re going to hear about it for a little while. Hat’s off to my dad and my mom.”
Why he’s so important: Tramon Williams was the oldest starting defensive back in the NFL last season. He was so good in the slot that he received one All-Pro vote. Williams remains unsigned and, with no marquee additions in the defensive backfield, Sullivan would seem to be front and center in the conversation to take his place in the lineup.
“My mind-set is never that I made anything or that I’ve arrived,” Sullivan said. “The way I was brought up from my parents and my earlier coaches was to never be satisfied. I never feel like I’ve arrived. I’m just hungry every day. … Even when I got released, I never lost confidence in myself. I’m fortunate enough to be here in this situation.”