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. 25: DT Dean Lowry (6-6, 296; 27; sixth season; Northwestern)
The Packers could have released Lowry and created about $3.3 million worth of valuable cap space. Instead, they restructured his contract. The team reduced Lowry’s $4.1 million base salary to the league minimum and converted the difference into signing bonus. With the insertion of three void years, the Packers reduced Lowry’s $6.3 million cap hit by almost $2.5 million.
A fourth-round pick in 2016, Lowry has been an understated mainstay on the defense. He’s played in 79 of a possible 80 games, including 69 in a row dating to his rookie season. Over the last three seasons, he played 66 percent of the defensive snaps in 2018, 61 percent in 2019 and 59 percent in 2020.
To be sure, the Packers need more than Lowry produced last season. Lowry ranked 61st among interior defensive linemen with 36 tackles, tied for 66th with two stuffs (a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage vs. the run), tied for 33rd with three sacks (after having zero in 2019) and tied for 53rd with 19 pressures (according to Pro Football Focus). That’s simply not good enough for a player being given more than one-half of the snaps.
Perhaps the Packers would have moved on had they had a glut of up-and-coming young defensive linemen on the roster. That’s not the case, though. As a wise personnel man liked to say, “You can’t release who you can’t replace.”
So, Lowry once again figures to see a lot of playing time.
“Dean comes to work every day,” defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said after Lowry’s restructure. “He does everything you ask him to do. I would say we didn’t have the greatest start last year. I can say that not having them here in the offseason last year could’ve affected the way we started the season from a fundamental standpoint. Dean made great progress. I don’t know if you guys watched that Tampa game at the end of the year, but him and Kenny (Clark) inside dominated that line of scrimmage. I know the outcome wasn’t what we wanted but he was trending in the right direction there at the end of the year, exactly where we want him to be. If he can start the way he finished the year off, we’ll be heading in the right direction. Love his effort. He’s a great teammate and the guy just comes to work every single day like you’re supposed to.”
No. 26: ILB De’Vondre Campbell (6-4, 232; 28; sixth year; Minnesota)
Unemployed into June, perhaps Campbell would have pounced on any contract offer from a halfway decent team. Regardless, he was thrilled to join the Packers.
“When you see the ‘G,’ it speaks for itself,” he said. “Just having a chance to play for such a high-class organization, you see the difference immediately. Everybody is welcoming, even the GM, the staff. Even offensive coaches introducing themselves to me. That’s what a first-class organization is all about, and I’m seeing it first-hand.”
A fourth-round pick by Atlanta in 2016, Campbell has started 70 of a possible 80 games during his five seasons. He had a career-high 129 tackles for the Falcons in 2019 and a career-high seven tackles for losses with Arizona in 2020.
At almost 6-foot-4, he is an imposing presence who doesn’t have to come off the field on passing downs. Paired with Krys Barnes, the Packers could play more traditional defenses rather than relying on lightweight dime packages, like they did so often under former coordinator Mike Pettine.
During his final three seasons in Atlanta, Campbell played 91 percent of the defensive snaps in 2017, 83 percent in 2018 and 89 percent in 2019. Last year in Arizona, he played 79 percent – going from almost 100 percent in the first eight games to ceding playing time to No. 8 overall selection Isaiah Simmons in the final eight games.
“I could see him being your three-down linebacker,” a scout said. “His length really can make things difficult on quarterbacks. And he tackles well, too, so even when he does give up a catch, he usually limits the damage.”
The Packers have been hindered by mediocre-or-worse linebacker play for years. Blake Martinez piled up tackles but made few impact plays. Veteran signings of Antonio Morrison, B.J. Goodson and Christian Kirksey the previous three years all wound up being one-year-rental disappointments.
“He’s not a great player,” the scout added, “but he’s probably better than what you’ve had.”
Ranking the Green Bay Packers Roster
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