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. 44: RB Kylin Hill (5-10, 214; 22; rookie; Mississippi State)
Ranking eighth in school history in rushing yards while setting a couple receiving records, Hill made his mark at Mississippi State.
What he did with a single tweet made a much larger impact.
On. Nov. 3, Mississippi voters approved creation of a new flag.
To him, the tweet was a snapshot of his own life experiences as a Black man living in Mississippi. Not planned but also not spontaneous, the tweet revealed only a fraction of his true feelings, an abbreviated message of 97 characters, 18 words and his patented “100” emoji, to show he wasn’t messing around.
The unabridged story is much deeper.
Hill has been called the n-word. In fact, he’s been called the n-word a half-mile from where, in front of a mostly white crowd, he gallops across a field on fall Saturdays. His mother has been called the n-word, too. For no obvious reason, Hill has been made to pull his vehicle off the road, exit it and then, only when the white officer completed his fruitless search, been told to be on his way.
“When you’ve been through the situation, you get frustrated,” Hill explains. “You get tired of the situation. I said, ‘I need to speak up.’”
So, while lying in bed at 1:09 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, he fired his tweet into the ether. And then, like a person truly unimpressed by his own work, he rolled over on his side, buried himself in covers and took a nap.
“It just took the courage,” he said at pro day. “I’m an athlete, I’m branded very well, so I felt like somebody in my position had to speak up. I knew the backlash I was going to get, (but) my family, my teammates and even the coaches stood behind me and helped out. The support I was getting felt good, even from players from other schools backed me up and motivated me to let me know they were behind me. I knew what I was doing, I just took a big risk and if I had to go back and do it over I would have.”
The Packers, of course, drafted Hill for what he can do on the field. In 2019, he rushed for 1,350 yards (5.6 average) and 10 touchdowns. Hill paced the SEC in rushing yards per game, was second-team all-conference and won the Conerly Trophy as the best college player in the state of Mississippi.
Then came 2020, with Hill going from a potential Day 2 pick to one of the last picks of the draft. New coach Mike Leach installed his Air Raid system, which made the running game an afterthought. After Hill was suspended for a game, he opted out of the rest of the season. In three games, he rushed 15 times for 58 yards (3.9 average). However, he did catch 23 passes for 237 yards (10.3 average). He tied the school record with 15 catches vs. Kentucky and broke the school record for most receiving yards by a running back with 158 vs. LSU.
His ability to catch makes him a strong fit in Matt LaFleur’s offense and the logical front-runner over Patrick Taylor and Dexter Williams to be the No. 3 back. “I think the dude is a legit third-down back with enough run skills,” a scouting director said. And his incredible ball-security history will make running backs coach Ben Sirmans sleep easier at night.
“Kylin, he was a special player, man, for us there," quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy, a former MSU offensive coordinator, said. "He had the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, he had the ability to run the ball between the tackles, and you could be on the plus-20 or the minus-20 and he had the ability to score. He was a dynamic player for us, somebody that came to work every day, somebody that worked his butt off when he was on the practice field. He’s a guy who we built a lot of what we did at Mississippi State around him and around his ability. It was really cool to be able to get reunited with him.”
No. 45: CB Shemar Jean-Charles (5-10, 184; 23; rookie; Appalachian State
Coming out of Miramar High School in Florida, Jean-Charles was the 199th-ranked cornerback and the 2,236th-ranked prospect in the 2016 recruiting cycle by 247 Sports. In April, Jean-Charles was the 28th of 38 cornerbacks selected in the NFL Draft.
“It’s surreal,” he said during rookie camp. “My situation, you know, throughout my career, just looking back at all of it and just seeing the stadium, putting that helmet with that ‘G’ logo on it, it’s just surreal. I’m motivating a lot of people back home. Just seeing what I’m doing, the point I was able to get to, and being able to be that person that motivates a lot of people back home is just surreal to me. Like a lot of guys, it’s a dream come true. We all had aspirations to get to this point, and just for it to actually be here and experience all of this, it’s crazy. I’m loving every second of it.”
Jean-Charles dominated the lower-rung competition at Appalachian State. He earned some first-team All-American accolades as a senior, when he led the nation with 17 passes defensed (one interception, 16 breakups). According to PFF, he was targeted 34 times on passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield. Of those, he allowed six completions but broke up 13. Over his two seasons as a starter, he led the nation with 27 passes defensed (two interceptions, 25 breakups).
“He was a favorite of a bunch of our scouts,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “We have a certain process we go through in the final three weeks before the draft. Guys get together and they work our board from the bottom up. This was a guy that just was the outlier for them. They were so excited to try to move this guy up the board, which we did. So, as it unfolded, I got a lot of taps on my shoulder during those period of times about him being on the board and available. So, we were thrilled to be able to select him.”
Jean-Charles is likely to focus on the slot, the position manned last season by Chandon Sullivan.
“I really like his smarts,” defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said during OTAs. “He’s a smart football player, very crafty. He understands what we’re trying to get him to do. You could be from a small school but I really love the way he competed. When you watched the film, he’s always somewhere around the ball. He was getting after it, he was doing what he was supposed to be. To me, he’s only a small-school (guy) until he got to Green Bay. Now he’s just like everybody like else.”
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