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 ahead of July 28, the first practice of training camp. 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. 19: C Josh Myers (6-5, 310; 22; rookie; Ohio State)
The Packers have enjoyed quite a run of excellent play at center. Corey Linsley preceded Scott Wells. Wells preceded Mike Flanagan. Flanagan preceded Frank Winters. Going back further, there was Larry McCarren, Ken Bowman and Jim Ringo.
Up next? The Packers used a second-round pick on Myers. Who knows if he’ll be great, but he did spend most of the offseason with the No. 1 offense.
You can’t tell Myers’ story without talking about his family. His mom, Julie, played college basketball at Dayton. His father, Brad, was an offensive lineman at Kentucky. Myers is the youngest of three brothers. The oldest, Zach, played at Kentucky.
“This is how it started,” Julie Myers said. “We did not let his older brother play peewee football until he was in fifth grade. That’s what we were going to do with Josh, as well, but, before the third-grade season, the coach for that peewee team dropped off the highlight CD from the year before and Josh watched it and was all about it. He begged and begged and begged us to let him play. So, it really was his love for the sport.”
Myers was offered a scholarship to Ohio State as a high school freshman and he committed as a sophomore. He was the Buckeyes’ two-year starting center, continuing the school’s run of excellence at that position. He was first-team all-conference in 2020. Pro Football Focus charged him with two sacks and 11 total pressures last season. He was not penalized in his two years in the lineup.
Myers needs to show two things. One, obviously, he has to block. Second, he has to know his stuff. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line and is responsible for the line calls. If there are growing pains, quarterback Aaron Rodgers can make things right. It could be a bigger challenge, however, if Jordan Love moves into the lineup.
“One of the reasons why I love center so much is because I do have to learn the entire play,” he said. “At other positions at times, you can get by with just knowing your job, and it will eventually come up and catch up to you. But at center, that’s not really the case, and that’s what I love about it. You’re just forced to know everything and so it can be harder on the front end because there’s so many things going through your head when you get a play call. But, on the back end, I think it’s an advantage because I know everything that’s going on around me.”
No. 20: LB Krys Barnes (6-2, 229; 23; second year; UCLA)
On the surface, there’s nothing overly exciting about Barnes’ rookie season. The undrafted free agent finished second on the team with 78 tackles. He added one sack, five tackles for losses and one forced fumble.
Houston’s Zach Cunningham led the NFL with 163 tackles. That almost doubled Barnes’ total. Dallas’ Jaylon Smith was second with 154, the Giants’ Blake Martinez ranked third with 151, Cleveland’s Joe Schobert finished fourth with 141 and Tampa Bay star Devin White ranked fifth with 140.
Now, keep in mind, Barnes played 421 defensive snaps. That gave him a tackle rate of 5.40 snaps per tackle. Cunningham’s tackle rate was 5.80, Smith was 7.04, Martinez 7.04, Schobert 7.87 and White 7.08.
Barnes’ rise was well chronicled. After going undrafted, he vowed revenge on the rest of the NFL.
“All the other 31 teams who didn’t pick me and passed me up, I will go out there and show them what they missed on,” Barnes told the ABC affiliate in his hometown of Bakersfield, Calif.
Turns out, the Packers almost missed, too.
After an impressive training camp, he failed to make the opening roster and was placed on the practice squad. Six days later, he was added to the active roster. A day after that, he was in the starting lineup for the Packers’ victory at Minnesota.
Barnes played in 13 games with 10 starts, missing three at midseason due to COVID. Still, now that he’s made it, the draft snub still resonates.
“Nah, that’s going to drive me forever,” Barnes said after the opener. “I feel like for me, being passed up on by 31 other teams is going to drive me to no end. I want to get better every day, continue to prove that I belong to be here, continue to make those teams feel like they missed on something great. I feel like that’s definitely going to be something that is stuck I my head for a while and it’s going to motivate me to keep going, because it’s definitely a feeling that hurt, not being drafted, but it’s going to push me and fuel me each and every day.”
No. 21: RB AJ Dillon (6-0, 247; 23; second year; Boston College)
It’s hard to say what Dillon’s most impressive accomplishment has been during his relatively short time with the Packers.
Is it the monster performance under the lights and through the snow at Lambeau Field a couple days after Christmas?
Entering Week 16, the second-round pick from Boston College had carried 24 times for 115 yards in his nine games. He never had more than five carries or played more than 14 snaps in a game. But with Jamaal Williams out with a quad injury, Dillon got his chance.
And did he run with it. Dillon carried 21 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. In what turned into a heavyweight showdown, the 247-pound Dillon outrushed the 247-pound Henry (23 carries, 98 yards, zero touchdowns), who leads the NFL in rushing.
“Being the rushing king two years in a row, obviously, big respect to him. Just to kind of be in the same talking point, it’s a huge honor,” Dillon said.
“I put out a tweet, I said Saquon (Barkley), Nick Chubb, I think Najee (Harris) had a picture from the Reese’s Senior Bowl where his quads were looking big,” Dillon, wearing a “Quadfather” shirt, said following an offseason practice. “So, I put out maybe we could make a ‘Quad Squad.’ No competition but, if it does come down to competition, mine are the biggest and we can put that down and state it out the strongest, no big deal.”
With Aaron Jones and Williams atop the depth chart and with Dillon missing time with COVID, Dillon played only 97 snaps and carried the ball merely 46 times as a rookie. He’s going to get a lot bigger workload as Jones’ new sidekick following the free-agent departure of Williams.
“I think we can be the best running back tandem in the NFL,” Dillon said. “You look at us and you see thunder and lightning, which absolutely we are. But the lightning guy, Aaron, he can also grind out some yards. And the thunder guy, myself, I’d like to say I can still beat some guys running away from them. We both definitely have our strengths.”
Time will tell but running backs coach Ben Sirmans likes what he sees.
It Will Be Brother vs. Brother as Packers Elevate St. Brown for Game vs. Lions
The roster move sets up a brother-vs.-brother receiver battle with Green Bay's Equanimeous St. Brown and Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown.
NFL Week 2 Results Show Lunacy of Week 1 Overreaction
There are three absolutes in life: death, taxes and Week 1 NFL overreaction. Don't believe it? Check out what happened in Sunday's Week 2 games.
Packers Could Be Alone in First Place in NFC North
None of the NFC North’s four teams played well, making it the only division to get swept in Week 1.
“He sees the opportunity that he has in front of him,” Sirmans said during OTAs. “I think a lot of times that’s enough to really add an extra spark to a guy and how he goes about his business. So he’s really excited about the opportunity and I think that’s the biggest thing that I see with him, that he knows that we’re going to lean on him a lot more this year than we did last year and it’s extremely important for him to want to feel like he’s an asset for this team.”