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Ranking the Roster: Nos. 75-77 – Big Ten Big Guys

Before a broken ankle, offensive tackle Coy Cronk was an ascending NFL Draft prospect. He joins a Packers unit short on pure tackles.
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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 the start of training camp on July 27. 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. 75: OT Coy Cronk (6-4, 318; 23; rookie; Iowa)

A couple years ago, Cronk was seen as an ascending NFL prospect at offensive tackle. Then, calamity struck.

Cronk started 40 consecutive games at left tackle for Indiana before suffering a broken ankle four games into the 2019 season. Dr. David Porter, a foot and ankle specialist affiliated with the Indianapolis Colts, did the surgery.

Given an extra year of eligibility, Cronk transferred to Iowa, shifted to right tackle and won the starting job. However, the COVID-19 lockdown had limited his ability to rehab the injury, he struggled through two starts and was shut down. With his range of motion finally back to normal, Cronk would have been back in the lineup for the bowl game against Missouri but COVID struck the Tigers and the game was canceled.

Iowa’s pro day should have given Cronk an opportunity to remind scouts of his potential. Instead, he tested positive for COVID-19 and wasn’t able to test. Ultimately, he went undrafted. Green Bay signed him with a $6,000 bonus.

Cronk entered that 2019 season looking like a legit prospect. The encouraging part was his year-to-year improvement. According to Pro Football Focus, Cronk allowed nine sacks and 28 total pressures in 2016, two sacks and 38 total pressures in 2017, four sacks and 26 total pressures in 2018 and zero sacks and three total pressures in four games in 2019. His abbreviated 2019 season included a strong performance against Ohio State’s indomitable Chase Young. The penalty count went from eight to seven to four to two.

So, while there’s some good film on Cronk, scouts had to travel back in time to find it.

A scout said the Packers might have found gold. He joins a crowded offensive line room but one in which only David Bakhtiari, Billy Turner and Yosh Nijman are pure tackles.

“I love Coy,” the scout said. “If Coy can get healthy and get back to where he was playing before the ankle injury in 2019, then he may be the steal of the college free agency class across the board.”

No. 76: DT Willington Previlon (6-5, 287; 24; first year; Rutgers)

Previlon went undrafted last year, failed to make the roster and spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad. He was elevated to the gameday roster for one game but did not play.

As a senior at Rutgers, Previlon won team MVP honors and was an honorable mention on the all-Big Ten team after posting a team-high 7.5 tackles for losses. In four seasons, he recorded four sacks and 12.5 tackles for losses. Half of those sacks came in 2018. A three-star recruit, he redshirted in 2015 and didn’t see any action in 2016 but played in all 36 games the final three seasons.

Off the field, he can play the trombone and piano. “I've always been into musical instruments," Previlon told the school Web site. “My first instrument was the guitar, then I played the trombone, then the baritone. Now I'm on the piano. I've been playing for five years now. When I feel like I want to be a little to myself, I play the piano and focus on that.”

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No. 77: DT Jack Heflin (6-3, 304; 23; rookie; Iowa)

Heflin had zero scholarship offers following his career at Erie-Prophetstown High School in Prophetstown, Ill.

Division III schools wanted him. Some NAIA programs, too. In fact, he got only three walk-on offers from Division I programs. One of those was Northern Illinois.

The defensive tackle redshirted in 2016 following a shoulder injury, started all 13 games in 2017 and earned all-conference honors as a sophomore (six sacks, eight tackles for losses) and junior (three sacks, 8.5 TFLs, three forced fumbles). Having earned his diploma, he transferred to Iowa for his final season. In eight games (all starts), he had one sack and 3.5 TFLs.

That opened the NFL door for Heflin. He went undrafted; the Packers gave him a $7,000 signing bonus.

“I learned a lot about the game last year, the mental side of it, and getting a chance to compete against Big Ten competition week in and week out only helped me,” he told The Courier in April. “I feel like the experience has prepared me to compete at the next level.’’

Previlon and Heflin are the only challengers to the defensive line quintet of Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster and fifth-round rookie TJ Slaton.

Ranking the Packers Series

Nos. 78-80: Delontae Scott, Carlo Kemp, Bronson Kaufusi

No. 81: WR Bailey Gaither

Nos. 82-84: WRs Reggie Begelton, Chris Blair, DeAndre Thompkins

Nos. 85-88: LBs Ray Wilborn, Scoota Harris; OL Zach Johnson, Jacob Capra

No. 89: G Jon Dietzen

No. 90: K JJ Molson