GREEN BAY, Wis. – For more than a decade, we have ranked every player on the Green Bay Packers’ roster in advance of the start of training camp.
This isn’t just a rundown of the best players. Rather, it’s a not-too-scientific 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 all 89 players scheduled to be with the team for the first practice of training camp on July 27.
Part 3 of our series includes four skill-position players. One of them, former Wisconsin receiver Danny Davis, will start at the bottom of the depth chart.
No. 83: TE Eli Wolf
Jersey No. 48; 6-4, 238; first year; Georgia
Wolf is used to taking the challenging route.
Wolf was a walk-on at Tennessee in 2015. That’s where his brother, Ethan, who served a couple stints on the Packers’ practice squad in 2018 and 2019, was also a tight end.
When Wolf arrived on campus, he tipped the scales at merely 205 pounds. But he took his shot in the SEC rather than grabbing the scholarship offer to Eastern Michigan.
“I remember sometimes waking up middle of the night, setting an alarm, eating a peanut butter sandwich or something quick, and drinking protein shakes three times a day,” Wolf recalled in September 2019. “The weight room was huge, too. And since I’ve gotten here, the weight room has done nothing but help me put that weight on and keep that weight on.
“It took a while, and it was hard mentally and physically to get there, but I never looked at my weight and said, ‘Hey, if I’m 220, I’m not going to be able to perform’. I always looked at it if I’m 220, I’m still going to be able to do what everybody at 240 can. I may not be as heavy but I’ll be just as strong as every tight end in the country, and I took that as a personal challenge.”
Wolf worked for two seasons on his own dime before getting a scholarship in August 2017. Coach Butch Jones found a unique way to break the news.
In 2019, Wolf transferred to Georgia for his final season. He caught 13 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown, giving him career totals of 21 receptions for 272 yards and two touchdowns. He spent all of 2020 on the Ravens’ practice squad and the second half of the 2021 season on the Colts’ practice squad. The Packers added him in May.
No. 82: RB Tyler Goodson
Jersey No. 39; 5-9, 197; rookie; Iowa
The dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are the obvious leaders of the pack at running back. If Kylin Hill isn’t back from his torn ACL, Patrick Taylor is the front-runner to earn the third (and what could be final) spot in the backfield.
The Packers didn’t draft a running back but did sign Goodson and Oregon State’s B.J. Baylor as undrafted free agents. Whether it’s the 53-man roster or practice squad, one of them figures to stick around. It will be an interesting battle because of their differing skill-sets.
Goodson was a three-year standout at Iowa, capping his career with 2,551 rushing yards and, most impressively, 70 receptions. It’s that pass-catching ability that makes him so intriguing given how coach Matt LaFleur has used his backs in the passing game. That skill was obvious during the offseason practices.
Goodson has always loved football. In fact, as a kid, he slept with a football. His youth team in Suwanee, Ga., was coached by longtime NFL defensive lineman and assistant coach Brentson Buckner.
“I want the ball,” Goodson told The Daily Iowan, as opposed to his brother, a linebacker at Mercer.
Of the 72 backs with 150-plus rushes last season, Goodson ranked 12th with 1.30 yards per pass route but 70th with 2.35 yards after contact on runs, according to Pro Football Focus. Can he run with enough toughness?
The Packers gave Goodson an $8,000 signing bonus. For what it’s worth, during the final OTA that was open to reporters and with Jones, Dillon, Taylor and (obviously) Hill not practicing, Goodson ran with the second unit.
No. 81: RB B.J. Baylor
Jersey No. 35; 5-10, 202; rookie; Oregon State
Baylor started his collegiate career lost on Oregon State’s crowded depth chart. He redshirted in 2017 and had only 89 touches the next three seasons. He could have transferred – that’s what college athletes do these days – but he stuck it out.
“I take loyalty serious,” Baylor told The Oregonian. “I feel like loyalty is better than anything else. Because when you’re loyal, you always feel like you have someone’s back.”
With Jermar Jefferson and Artavis Pierce off to the NFL, Baylor got his chance in 2021. The fifth-year senior fully capitalized. He led the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,337 yards (5.9 average) and 13 touchdowns.
Of the 72 backs with 150-plus rushes last season, Baylor was 53rd with 0.65 yards per pass route but 27th with 3.48 yards after contact per carry. He had 29 fewer carries than Goodson but forced 17 more missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
A proven runner with tackle-breaking ability, can he catch?
“Yeah, you can see he’s got glimpses of when he can put his hands around the ball,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans said at the start of OTAs. “
As with Goodson, the Packers gave Baylor an $8,000 signing bonus. For what it’s worth, during that final OTA, Baylor ran with the “starters.”
No. 80: WR Danny Davis
Jersey No. 20; 6-1, 188; rookie, Wisconsin
The NFL is a tough business. That’s the reality for Davis, an undrafted rookie from Wisconsin.
Davis had a solid career with the Badgers with 131 receptions for 1,642 yards (12.5 average) and 14 touchdowns in a run-first offense. He’s got decent size and below-average athleticism (4.62 in the 40 and a 31.5-inch vertical leap), but good route-running ability and excellent hands (six career drops, including only one in 2021).
But, even with the trade of Davante Adams and the free-agent departures of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, it will be an uphill climb to crack a roster headed by veterans Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins, 2021 third-round pick Amari Rodgers and three draft picks.
Davis certainly didn’t look out of place during the four weeks of offseason practices.
“This is my dream, and this is one thing that I’ve wanted to do my whole life, so I’m thankful but at the same time I know that I can’t just keep thinking about that,” he told Madison’s Channel 3000. “I’ve got to continue to move forward and continue to… I’ll do anything. Special teams, I’ll get on there and make a tackle, I’ll do anything for this team and anything to make the team, so I’m looking forward to it and just show(ing) everybody what I can do.”
At Springfield (Ohio) High School, Davis scored a school-record 1,774 points during four seasons on the basketball team. Like it did for Adams, basketball skill translated to the football field for Davis.
“It's just like going to get a rebound and blocking the DB out,” Davis told UWBadgers.com after catching eight passes for 99 yards vs. Penn State in September. “It really is just like boxing somebody out. It definitely transitions. I'd say basketball has helped me tremendously with football in attacking the ball in the air and being physical with DB's.”
The Packers gave him a $5,000 signing bonus.
Parts 1 and 2
No. 89: DT Chris Slayton
Jersey No. 60; 6-3, 307; first year; Syracuse
The Packers signed Slayton off waivers from the 49ers in May. A seventh-round draft by the Giants in 2019, he has not played in a regular-season game. He’s served stints on practice squads with the Giants, Bills, Falcons, Steelers and 49ers.
At Syracuse, Slayton played in 49 games, including 42 starts. He tallied 107 tackles, including 32.5 tackles for losses and 9.5 sacks, and added five forced fumbles. He finished his career ranked ninth in school history in TFLs. As a senior captain, he was third-team all-ACC with 3.5 sacks and eight TFLs.
Slayton didn’t play football until high school. When he first tried the sport, he wanted to play quarterback. Already a big guy, the coaches pointed him to the defensive line.
No. 88: DT Hauati Pututau
Jersey No. 79; 6-3, 306; R; Utah
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kenny Clark, who is entering his seventh NFL season, is 26. So is Pututau, an undrafted free agent from Utah.
As a senior at Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City in 2013, Pututau was an all-region linebacker who also played receiver. He chose Utah, then went on his two-year Mormon mission to Florida.
“I gained a few pounds on my mission,” he said last season.
Pututau redshirted in 2016 and made his first starts in 2019 (one) and 2020 (three). In 2021, he took advantage of the NCAA’s COVID year. He played in 14 games with eight starts, tallying three sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses among 18 tackles.
Pututau is one of eight children. Two of them, Fua and Tennessee, also played on the Utes’ defensive line.
He is proud of his heritage.
“Tongan people are very prideful,” Pututau said. “We pride ourselves in who we are and who we portray to others who we are. As a Tongan you don’t show weakness and here at Utah that is what they stand for is you show no weakness. You work hard and the results will come. Being Tongan is what keeps me going, motivates me to be a hard worker and to develop a good work ethic each and every day we are out here on the field.”
The Packers gave him an $8,000 signing bonus, tied for tops on the team. He missed most of the offseason practices with an undisclosed injury.
No. 87: DT Akial Byers
Jersey No. 98; 6-3, 308; R; Missouri
Byers is an undrafted free agent who might have some untapped potential. At Fayetteville (Ark.) High School, he was an Under Armour All-American, a four-star recruit and a top-20 defensive lineman.
As a fifth-year senior in 2021, Byers played in 12 games with 10 starts. He had 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses among his 23 total tackles. In 52 career games, he registered two sacks and nine TFLs. He scored a touchdown vs. his hometown Arkansas Razorbacks when he pounced on a fumble in the end zone in 2018.
Byers took advantage of the NCAA’s “COVID year” and played a fifth season. He changed his jersey to No. 0 and worked under former Packers defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. Headed into his final season, he called himself a “great” run-stopper.
“(Franklin) pushes us to get better every day no matter where it's at, on the field, or just in the weight room," Byers said at SEC Media Days. “He wants us out there working together, working on our footwork, hand placement, anything, or even just learning the playbook. And I think that's a big thing. He teaches us something new every day. So, every time we go into a meeting room, it's like you're in the classroom learning new things. I take every day we're meeting seriously.”
The Packers gave him an $8,000 signing bonus, tied for tops on the team.
No. 86: T/G George Moore
Jersey No. 77; 6-6, 312; R; Oregon
Moore won’t be fazed by going up against the likes of Rashan Gary or Kenny Clark during training camp. At Oregon, he battled Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was selected fifth overall by the Giants in this year’s draft.
“(Former Oregon coach Mario) Cristobal is a big believer in the whole ‘iron sharpens iron’ mentality,” Moore told SI.com’s The Spun. “Our front seven was amazing with Kayvon Thibodeaux and several others. All those guys are amazing football players, have high IQs, and made practices tough. We would go head-to-head every single day because we knew that’s what we needed to do to give ourself an opportunity on Saturdays. We knew that we’d need to be physical throughout the week to make sure it helps us have success during games.”
Moore started his college career in 2015 at The College of San Mateo. He missed that first season with a torn ACL but was a star in 2016, which made him the top-ranked offensive tackle in junior college. That opened the door to Oregon. After sitting behind Tyrell Crosby and Penei Sewell, Moore wound up starting 20 of a possible 21 games for the Ducks in 2020 and 2021. During his final season, Moore started six games at left tackle and seven games at left guard. According to PFF, he allowed three sacks at each position.
“I’m really proud of George Moore,” Cristobal said. “He didn’t play much high school football before he got to junior college, and when he got here, that’s a baptism by fire because he went into a group with some really seasoned upperclassmen that held themselves to a high standard, and George just kept at it. He allowed us to push him, and he’s really become a good football player.”
With seven years of college ball under his belt, Moore will turn 26 during the first week of training camp. He was older than the Ducks’ graduate assistant line coach last year, and he’s older than last year’s starting interior trio of Jon Runyan, Josh Myers and Royce Newman.
The Packers gave him an $8,000 signing bonus, tied for tops on the team.
No. 85: C/G Cole Schneider
Jersey No. 64; 6-3, 309; R; Central Florida
Asked which of the Packers’ undrafted free agents had the best chance of making the team and developing into a contributor, one team’s college scouting director pointed to Schneider.
Schneider started 47 games in four seasons at UCF, with 46 of those appearances at guard and one at center.
“He can play any of the inside positions whether it be right guard, left guard, or center,” UCF offensive line coach Herb Hand told The Fort Myers News-Press. “I think that's been invaluable, that's going to pay dividends because you're bringing great value to an organization to be able to play multiple positions.”
Lucas Patrick can attest to that. An undrafted free agent in 2016, he started 28 games at the three interior positions the last two seasons. Patrick signed with the rival Chicago Bears in free agency.
With an eye on getting a ready-made utilityman, the Packers used a fourth-round draft pick on Wake Forest’s Zach Tom. Like Schneider, Tom spent the offseason practices shifting between center and guard. So, it might be a tall order for Schneider to make the 53-man roster. He could be up for the challenge. As a senior, he did not allow a sack, according to Pro Football Focus, and ranked No. 1 among guards in its pass-blocking efficiency, which measures sacks, hits and hurries per pass-protecting snap.
At Riverdale High School in Fort Myers, Fla., he was a two-time state heavyweight champion in wrestling. A dominant two-sport star, he was voted the News-Press’s athlete of the decade. Among the athletes he beat out for the award was Packers receiver and fellow Fort Myers native Sammy Watkins.
“He pulls with ill intentions and tries to kill people,” UCF right tackle Marcus Tatum, who signed with the Jaguars, told The News-Press at pro day. “You couldn’t ask for a better guard than that. I knew when he was pulling in front of me that the (defender) was going to get moved. He’s willing to put his body on the line for anybody and is an all-around good person. He’s always been there for me, always helped me. He let me lean on him the moment I got here.”
The Packers gave Schneider an $8,000 signing bonus, tied for tops on the team.
No. 84: OT Caleb Jones
Jersey No. 72; 6-9, 370; rookie; Indiana
Caleb Jones, if he ever plays in a game for the Packers, would be the biggest player in franchise history.
Here is the story on Jones, a man so big he deserves his own headline.