Grading The Green Bay Packers’ 2022 Roster

Kingsley Enagbare and Samori Toure dodged The Turk.

Jack Heflin wasn’t as fortunate.

Tyler Davis was given one final chance.

Juwann Winfree’s time came to an end.

After a handful of tough decisions, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst trimmed his roster to 53 on Tuesday.

The Packers released quarterback Danny Etling; offensive linemen Caleb Jones and Michael Menet; wideouts Winfree, Travis Fulgham and Ishmael Hyman; tight ends Nate Becker, Sal Cannella and Alize Mack; running backs Patrick Taylor, Tyler Goodson and Dexter Williams; kicker Ramiz Ahmed; defensive linemen Heflin, Chris Slayton and Akial Byers; outside linebackers Kobe Jones and La’Darius Hamilton; inside linebacker Ray Wilborn; cornerbacks Kiondre Thomas, Innis Gaines, Rico Gafford and Kabion Ento; and safeties Shawn Davis and DeVante Cross.

Several of these players will be re-signed to Green Bay’s practice squad. And there’s still time for Gutekunst to tinker and toy with things before the Packers head to Minnesota for their season-opener on Sept. 11.

For the most part, though, these are your 2020 Green Bay Packers.

Here’s a full breakdown of Green Bay’s roster with an analysis and positional grades.

Quarterbacks (A)

Starter: Aaron Rodgers

Reserves: Jordan Love

Summary: Rodgers threw 37 touchdowns last season, just four interceptions and posted a 111.9 passer rating. Rodgers won his second straight MVP, his fourth overall, and now trails only Peyton Manning (five) in that department.

Rodgers skipped the overwhelming majority of the Packers’ offseason program, though. Then, he didn’t play a single snap in any of Green Bay’s three exhibition games.

Many wondered if that will hurt his chemistry with a revamped wide receiver group that’s now without Davante Adams. But Rodgers isn’t one of those.

“Training camp is a long experience,” Rodgers said. “There’s plenty of time for conversations, for practice, for a lot of the things that (I) expect them to do in the regular season. I rely on the coaching staff to pass on the message as we’re learning the offense, and then I’m kind of the 202 professor.”

Arguably the biggest story in Green Bay this summer was the growth of Love.

After two non-descript seasons, the Packers’ 2020 first round draft pick took a major step forward this preseason. Love’s arm talent and physical gifts were never in question. This summer, though, Love showed that his accuracy, command of the offense and decision making were all dramatically improved.

Love was hurt by dropped passes in exhibition games that led to interceptions and subpar numbers. But it’s been apparent that if Rodgers goes down for an extended period, the Packers have a terrific chance to succeed with Love.

“He’s shown a lot of growth,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Love. “Just the consistency with what you see with his fundamentals, his footwork, he looks much more fluid, I would think we can all agree with that. I think he looks much more decisive.

“The ball is coming out of his hand. I don’t see a whole lot of hesitation in his play. He’s done a much better job and has a much better grasp of protections and how to adjust those, and when he needs to get the ball out.”

Running backs (A-)

Starter: Aaron Jones

Reserve: AJ Dillon

Summary: The Packers kept just two running backs — for now — following the release of Taylor, Goodson and Williams. It’s likely Gutekunst will add a third back soon, but for now, the speedy Jones and the 247-pound Dillon give Green Bay one of the best 1-2 punches in football.

Dillon led the Packers with 803 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns last year. Dillon is a punishing runner who has surprising speed and tends to get stronger as the game goes.

Jones and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry are the only running backs to post 1,000-plus yards from scrimmage and 10-plus scrimmage TDs each of the last three seasons (2019-21).

Jones, Jim Brown (1957-61) and Jim Taylor (1958-62) are also the only players in NFL history to post 4,000-plus rushing yards (4,163), 40-plus rushing TDs (41) and an average of 5.0-plus yards per carry (5.06) in their first five seasons.

With Green Bay’s wide receiver situation uncertain, both Jones and Dillon are likely to see more targets in the passing game this season. It’s probable they’ll be in the backfield together more than past seasons, as well.

“We have runs to both of them, we have swing passes to them, we have screens, we have down-the-field stuff, we have action stuff, we have scat protection, we have six- man, seven-man protection stuff,” Rodgers said. “There’s a lot in the offense for those two guys. We’ve got to get our best 11 on the field and it seems like those two are both in the best 11.”

Kylin Hill, Green Bay’s No. 3 back at the start of last season, will begin the year on the PUP list. Taylor, who carried 23 times last year, and the speedy Goodson (4.42 40-time) could end up on the practice squad.

Wide receivers (C-)

Starters: Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb

Reserves: Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, Amari Rodgers, Samori Toure

Summary: Until proven otherwise, this is the biggest question mark on the team.

All-Pro wideout Davante Adams demanded a trade after the season, so Green Bay shipped him to Las Vegas for a first- and second-round draft pick.

That leaves the Packers with a group that’s either mediocre (Lazard), over-the-hill (Cobb and Watkins), unproven (Rodgers) or rookies (Watson, Doubs and Toure).

The passing game struggled much of the summer — partially due to Green Bay’s defense being elite, but also due to many of its own sins. That led to Aaron Rodgers calling out his young receivers late in camp.

“He’s just holding them accountable. That’s all it is,” running back Aaron Jones said. “If you’ve been in the system for a while, the system is not super easy to pick up, but once you’ve got it, you’ll get it. And those young guys will be good once they pick it up and you can see them making strides every day.”

Watson and Doubs undoubtedly have the most upside among this group.

Watson, a second-round pick in April, is big, strong and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. He spent the first three weeks of training camp on the PUP list, though, with a knee injury and is behind.

Doubs, a fourth-round draft pick, was an early star in camp with daily highlight reel catches. But he struggled with drops and drew the wrath of Rodgers at times.

For now, it’s likely the Packers go with their veterans early in the season and gradually give Watson and Doubs more playing time.

Tight ends (C)

Starter: Robert Tonyan

Reserves: Josiah Deguara, Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Davis

Summary: The Packers got a huge lift when Tonyan — who tore an ACL in Week 8 last year — was activated off the PUP list on Aug. 14.

Tonyan had a breakout 2020 campaign in which he caught 52 passes for 586 yards. Tonyan also had 11 touchdowns, which tied Paul Coffman’s record for most TD catches in a season by a Packers tight end.

Tonyan’s numbers were down in 2021, when he caught 18 passes for 204 yards and two TDs before injuring his knee. But for a group lacking another proven pass catcher at the position, Tonyan’s return was akin to finding an oasis in the desert.

Tonyan’s status for Week 1 is uncertain. But even if he’s held out early, he appears likely to return soon.

“I want to try to get my body to be ready for that first game,” Tonyan said. “Just taking it day by day and feeling it out when it gets closer.”

Lewis, 38, remains an above average blocker. Deguara, who tore an ACL as a rookie in 2020, hopes to show why he was a third-round pick. Davis was fortunate to make the team after a rough summer.

Offensive line (B)

Starters: David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Elgton Jenkins

Reserves: Yosh Nijman, Jake Hanson, Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, Rasheed Walker

Summary: Bakhtiari and Jenkins — both recovering from ACL injuries — did team drills on Monday. While that was a positive development, their status for Week 1 remains uncertain.

If they’re back — and close to their old selves — Green Bay could once again field a top-five line. If not, the Packers will be forced to juggle parts.

The good news for Green Bay is it has talent and depth after Gutekunst selected three offensive linemen in each of the past three drafts.

Nijman started eight games last season and is one of the top swing tackles in football. Hanson had a big summer and provides interior depth. And rookies Rhyan and Tom are versatile players who both saw time this summer with the first string offense.

Defensive line (B)

Starters: Dean Lowry, Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed

Reserves: Devonte Wyatt, TJ Slaton, Jonathan Ford

Summary: Green Bay has its most talent and best depth here since its 2010 Super Bowl championship team.

Clark, a two-time Pro Bowler, is coming off his finest season. Clark led Green Bay’s defensive line in tackles (48), finished fourth on the team in sacks (4.0), third in tackles for loss (six) and third in quarterback hits (13).

Lowry is also coming off the finest of his six NFL seasons after setting a career high in sacks (five) and in passes defended (four) in 2021.

Reed, who signed a one-year deal with the Packers in late-March, has 24.5 career sacks and has played 71.3% of the snaps over his last four seasons.

Wyatt, a first round pick in April, had an incredibly quiet summer. The good news for Green Bay is it won’t have to rush him onto the field.

“It’s a lot of learning for him,” LaFleur said of Wyatt. “I think when you talk about that position, that’s one of the tougher positions to kind of acclimate quickly to the National Football League.

“So, there’s been a lot of great learning lessons along the way, but he’s a guy that we have a lot of confidence in. You can see it. It’s in his body and it’s just getting it out of him.”

Slaton had a productive training camo and could see an enhanced role in Year 2.

The biggest surprise among this group was Green Bay keeping Ford instead of Heflin, who had another productive summer. The fact Ford was a seventh round draft pick in April, though, and Heflin went undrafted in 2021 might have been the difference.

Outside linebackers (B+)

Starters: Rashan Gary, Preston Smith

Reserves: Kingsley Enagbare, Tipa Galeai, Jonathan Garvin

Summary: The Packers return one of the NFL’s better outside linebacking duos in Gary and Smith.

Gary, the 12th pick in the 2019 draft, is a rising star who led the Packers in sacks (9.5) and quarterback hits (28) last season. Smith rebounded from a lousy 2020 campaign with 9.0 sacks and a team-high nine tackles for loss.

Depth is an issue, though.

Enagbare, a fifth round draft pick in April, flashed this summer. But his 4.9 40-yard dash time is something he’ll have to overcome against NFL tackles.

“Ah shoot, my 40 was my 40,” Enagbare said. “I mean, I really can’t dwell on it too much. I’m here now and it’s really not an issue I’d say.”

Galeai and Garvin are holdovers that had to battle to keep their jobs.

Inside linebackers (B+)

Starters: De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker

Reserves: Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie

Summary: Two years ago, the Packers’ inside linebackers were Christian Kirksey, Oren Burks, Ty Summers and Kamal Martin — one of the worst quartets in football. Today, Green Bay’s group ranks among the NFL’s best.

Campbell, signed off the street last June, led the Packers with a career-high 145 tackles in 2021, had two interceptions, two sacks, and was named first-team All-Pro. Walker, a first round pick in April, was quiet most of the summer, but had a huge game in Green Bay’s exhibition finale in Kansas City.

“He is far from a finished product, but I think the guy takes unbelievable mental reps every play,” LaFleur said of Walker. “I love watching him run. He is a big guy that can move sideline to sideline. It is going to be fun to watch him paired up with next to another kind of creature and have two 6-3-plus linebackers in there that can really run and are very good players.”

Barnes made 23 starts and has 161 tackles over the last two seasons, but lost his job to Walker. McDuffie, a sixth round draft pick in 2021, was a bit player last year, but appears to have made a huge leap in Year 2.

Cornerbacks (A-)

Starters: Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas

Reserves: Shemar Jean-Charles, Keisean Nixon

Summary: Good luck finding a better trio than Alexander, Stokes and Douglas.

Alexander played in just four games last year before suffering a shoulder injury. But he had Pro Football Focus’ top coverage grade among cornerbacks in 2020 and looked like his old self throughout training camp.

According to PFFPFF
, Stokes had the NFL’s lowest rate of separation on his targets (24.0%) last season. He also ranked 15th among corners in yards per target (5.9) and was exceptional in press coverage, allowing just seven receptions on 27 targets.

Green Bay plucked Douglas off Arizona’s practice squad last October, and two weeks later he was in the starting lineup. From there, Douglas led the Packers with five interceptions and six turnover producing plays.

With Alexander healthy once again, Douglas will spend most of his time in the slot.

“They can’t mess with us,” Douglas said. “They can’t mess with us. They’re not ready for us.”

Depth is an issue with the unproven Jean-Charles likely to be the fourth corner. Nixon’s greatest contributions figure to come on special teams.

Safeties (B)

Starters: Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage Jr.

Reserves: Dallin Leavitt, Tariq Carpenter, Micah Abernathy

Summary: Green Bay’s safety tandem could be one of the better duos in football.

Over the past three seasons, Amos has the fourth highest coverage grade and overall grade among safeties from PFF. Amos has also forced 26 interceptions during that time, the highest-mark in football.

Savage, the first defensive back chosen in the 2019 draft, has reached a make-or-break point in his career.

Savage has the athleticism and intelligence (21 on the Wonderlic) to be a difference-maker in back. So far, though, that hasn’t happened and offensive coordinators have attacked Savage with regularity.

Leavitt will be one of the Packers’ anchors on special teams, while Carpenter also made the team due to his prowess on special teams.

Special teams (D-)

Specialists: PK Mason Crosby, P Pat O’Donnell LS Jack Coco

Summary: Crosby spent the summer on the PUP list. With Green Bay releasing Ahmed, though, it appears Crosby should be ready for the opener in Minnesota.

“I’m hitting all the marks,” Crosby said last week. “I’m just going to keep building off of that. The goal is obviously to be full-go and ready to go by Week 1.”

O’Donnell, who spent his first eight years with Chicago, has a 45.1 gross average for his career and a 39.3 net average. Both are tops in Bears’ history.

Coco, signed on May 18, beat out Steven Wirtel for the long snapper job.

The Packers finished 32nd last season — dead last — in special teams rankings compiled by longtime NFL writer Rick Gosselin.

That marked the fifth time since 2005 that Green Bay finished last in special teams rankings. The Packers also finished between 26th and 31st six other times in that stretch and had an average ranking of 25th, which was the worst in football.

LaFleur hired Rich Bisaccia — one of the NFL’s top special coaches the past two decades — to clean up Green Bay’s gigantic mess. But the Packers continued to struggle in that area this preseason.

“I think I can honestly say no, it’s not where we want it to be,” LaFleur said of his special teams units. “We definitely got it taken to us pretty good by Kansas City, and our guys understand that. We’re never going to run from that or hide from that. You’ve got to tell them the truth.”