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 4 of our series includes a former seventh-round draft pick and five young defensive players with legit chances to win roster spots.
No. 79: C/G Michal Menet
Jersey No. 65; 6-4, 301; first season; Penn State
Menet, a three-year starting center at Penn State, was drafted in the seventh round last year by Arizona.
“I'm going to outwork people," Menet said upon being drafted. "I've always prided myself on doing that, just being able to outwork people and compete. ... It's a childhood dream come true. It definitely goes to show that if you put in the hard work... and love the game, the game will love you back. I'm just so thankful to the Arizona Cardinals for giving me a chance.”
Menet failed to make the Cardinals’ roster and served two stints on their practice squad before joining Green Bay’s practice squad in December.
For years, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has noted that being the No. 2 center is a sure-fire ticket to the roster. Menet will compete with 2020 sixth-rounder Jake Hanson, 2022 fourth-rounder Zach Tom and 2022 undrafted rookie Cole Schneider to be that player.
“Michal Menet is a special football player who has the ability to be a starter in the NFL because of his intelligence and durability," Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein said. "He started 34 games for us and was a proven leader that guys in the offensive line room were able to learn from. His toughness and physicality will allow him to have a long and successful NFL career.”
No. 78: S Tre Sterling
Jersey No. 45; 6-0, 205; rookie; Oklahoma State
Sterling didn’t stand out at any point in the offseason practices. It will be interesting to see if it’s a different story when the pads go on and the physical work starts in training camp.
As a sophomore in 2019 and junior in 2020, Sterling recorded 144 tackles, including an intriguing 20 for losses. He led the Cowboys with 12 tackles for losses in 2020 but torn ligaments in his wrist, an injury that required surgery, limited him to only five games in 2021.
Between the injury and a 4.71 in the 40 at pro day, Sterling went undrafted. The Packers signed him with a $2,500 bonus.
However, if his Big 12 playmaking ability shows up on Ray Nitschke Field and in the preseason, he could be in a good position to win a roster spot at a position group in which the candidates to back up Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage played a not-so-grand total of zero defensive snaps in the NFL last season.
“At the end of the day, if you want someone that is going to make plays and get wins and who cares about getting wins for the team, and at the end of the day cares about each other, that is the type of guy that I am,” Sterling, a new father, told Ocolly.com.
Sterling is a product of both of his parents. His father played football at North Texas. His mother is an interior designer. At Oklahoma State, Sterling was a marketing major with an eye for graphic design. In high school, he put together his own highlights package to help him get recruited. Some of his work can be found on his artistic Twitter profile.
“He's just always been inquisitive and curious about new things,” his father, Ron, told The Oklahoman.
“And he's not afraid to take risks, and so he plays a lot like that as well, too. He loves playing the game, trusts his teammates, but he's also one that's willing to gamble a little bit and take a few risks, and it's paid off for him, both inside the football arena and outside, as well.”
No. 77: CB Kiondre Thomas
Jersey No. 43; 6-0, 186; first season; Kansas State
The Packers signed Thomas, who played 28 snaps on special teams last season for the Chargers, to a futures deal in September.
Thomas spent his first three collegiate seasons at Minnesota before transferring to Kansas State for his senior year. He started the final four games of the 2020 season and broke up four passes. He had one career interception, which came while at Minnesota in 2019. He went undrafted last year, competed in training camp for the Browns and spent the entire season on the Chargers’ practice squad.
Officially 5-foot-11 3/4 and with 4.44 speed in the 40, he’s got the size and athletic goods to compete for a backup spot at cornerback. The Packers didn’t draft a cornerback and have precious little depth behind the Big 3 of Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes.
“Kiondre is strong on the line of scrimmage,” said Kansas State cornerbacks coach/defensive passing game coordinator Van Malone, a former NFL starting cornerback. “He uses his hands well in coverage. He has good overall instincts and has a favorable size/speed ratio. Kiondre was a hard worker and a valued member of our CB unit. We were grateful to have his leadership in the room for the short time that we did.”
In May 2021, he was given the key to the city of his hometown of Fort Smith, Ark.
“That was quite a surprise when they called me a couple of days ago and let me know I was receiving this honor,” Thomas told The Times Record. “It's a blessing because I grew up here and everywhere I go, I take Arkansas with me; that's the first thing I let somebody know is that I'm from Arkansas, and Fort Smith to be exact.”
No. 76: CB Raleigh Texada
Jersey No. 34; 5-10, 191; rookie; Baylor
The Packers have perhaps the best trio of cornerbacks in the NFL with Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes. But Keisean Nixon is the only backup with any real NFL experience, and the Packers didn’t supplement the group during the draft. In fact, lured by a $3,000 signing bonus, Texada was the only player signed in college free agency.
At Baylor, Texada was primarily a perimeter cornerback. He finished his career with three interceptions, 15 passes defensed and 6.5 tackles for losses. He started 37 games, including eight of his 14 appearances as a fifth-year senior in 2021, when he had one interception and four passes defensed.
According to PFF, he allowed a 63.4 percent completion rate and three touchdowns (114.1 passer rating) in 2021. He was guilty of five penalties but didn’t miss any tackles. He ran a 4.43 in the 40 at pro day. Baylor coach Dave Aranda called Texada “a scrappy dude, a guy who will punch you in the face.”
Texada grew up playing cornerback. Trained by their father, Ranthony Texada was an all-Big 12 cornerback for TCU and Ridge Texada will be a junior cornerback at North Texas.
“They’re all natural corners, so when they walk into a program they know how to play,” his father told The Waco Tribune. “My oldest son was the more natural corner of the three, but Raleigh was always the hardest worker of all of them. He built himself into a cornerback through hard work.”
No. 75: ILB Caliph Brice
Jersey No. 42; 6-2, 233; rookie; Florida Atlantic
At juco powerhouse Hutchinson Community College, Brice played alongside Devonte Wyatt. While Wyatt went to Green Bay as a first-round pick with a $6.53 million signing bonus, Brice went undrafted and landed in Green Bay with a $2,000 bonus.
At Florida Atlantic, Brice came off the bench in 2019 before starting his final two seasons. His first career start came in the 2020 opener vs. Charlotte. Brice recorded 10 tackles, then broke down on the field after the victory when thinking about his brother, who died in May 2020.
“That was my first game. He was looking forward to watching me play this season,” Brice said in a FAU video feature. “That was the first time [I started] and I did well. After the win, it all just came back to me. It’s like I almost felt him there, and that’s why I broke down.”
Brice recorded 54 tackles in 2020 and 59 tackles in 2021. In three seasons, he had one interception, two passes defensed and one forced fumble. He had an excellent pro day with a 4.61 in the 40, 37.5-inch vertical and 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
All-Pro De’Vondre Campbell and first-round pick Quay Walker are locks to make the roster, and veteran Krys Barnes probably will make it, too. But the Packers made it clear they’re not going to hand roster spots to returning backups Ty Summers and Isaiah McDuffie, so there is a path to the roster spot.
No. 74: LB Ellis Brooks
Jersey No. 41; 6-1, 226; rookie; Penn State
Brooks will bring physicality to the party when training camp begins. That was evident before he suited up for his first game at the school known as Linebacker U.
“When Ellis hit people here, it sounded different than everybody else,” Greg Lilly, Brooks’ coach at Benedictine College Prep, told The Collegian. “I can remember his freshman year, we were doing some sort of inside drill and my back was turned to a play.
“I can remember him at fullback blocking the defensive end and when he blew the defensive end up, I can remember turning around and going, ‘What did I just hear?’ The sound that he made when he hit people, the intensity with which he hit people, it made a different sound than most high school kids.”
Brooks recorded 230 tackles in his career. That includes 100 tackles as a senior, when he was second-team all-conference.
More than physicality, Brooks said his coverage ability will give him a chance to make an impact in the NFL.
“I feel like I’ve shown I can do it all in coverage,” he told The Draft Network. “I can play man-to-man, zone, Tampa 2, drops in the middle of the field, and whatnot. Something I’ve tried to emphasize throughout this entire process is how smooth and oily my hips are. I’m able to open up and run, turn, drop, and things of that nature. It allows me to drive on the football in coverage whenever the quarterback makes a throw. It’s a skill that’s going to translate to Sundays.”
Between Brooks and Caliph Brice, one of Green Bay’s undrafted linebackers will have a chance to stick as a backup and special-teamer. By resume, Brooks is the better player, but he went undrafted because of his 4.77-second clocking in the 40. The Packers gave him an $8,000 signing bonus.
Annual Packers Roster Countdown
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.
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.