The big debate in Green Bay’s backfield will be based on numbers: Do they have enough spots for three or four backs?
Yesterday, Acme Packing Company kicked off our 53-man roster projections, starting with the quarterbacks room. Our writers each sent in their own 53-man roster predictions, which we aggregated to make one final list.
The second post in this series covers the running backs, which feature an interesting mix of established contributors, roster bubble players and even an injury list candidate. Ultimately, APC had four backs making the final roster. With that being said, the final ball carrier barely snuck in, going to show how tight the decision to carry three or four backs could be by August 30th when the roster needs to be set at 53 players.
For the fourth straight season, Aaron Jones looks to be the leader in the Green Bay Packers’ backfield. The only question moving forward will be how big that number one back role is. Last season, despite starting 15 games, Jones had fewer rushing yards (799) than the “number two back” in AJ Dillon (803.) Earlier this offseason, new offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich — promoted from offensive line coach and run game coordinator — stated that he wants to get the duo of Jones and Dillon on the field together more, something the team had dabbled in last season.
As already mentioned, Dillon will be a featured back in the Packers’ offense regardless of whether he’s labeled as a starter. At the moment, no “backup” running back is being drafted higher in fantasy leagues than Green Bay’s leading rusher from 2021.
The APC staff also projects that Patrick Taylor, who saw 63 offensive snaps over nine games last season, and Tyler Goodson, a highly-regarded undrafted free agent rookie from Iowa, will make the roster. In the season finale last year, Taylor carried the ball 11 times for 53 yards and one touchdown. Goodson recorded 553 carries and 70 receptions while with the Hawkeyes, good enough for All-Big Ten honors in his final two seasons at Iowa.
The assumption is that running back Kylin Hill, who tore his ACL against the Arizona Cardinals on a mid-year kickoff return, will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. Up until his injury, Hill was the team’s third running back, a role that Taylor would later fill. As recently as minicamp, Hill was working with the “rehab group” in Packers’ practices. Hill will almost certainly make the team once he’s healthy, the question is just when that will be.
The odd man out in the group is undrafted free agent rookie BJ Baylor by way of Oregon State. While Baylor posted a 1,300-yard rushing season last season in Corvallis, he finds himself in a tough position to make the team behind four (or five, depending on how you view Hill’s situation) NFL-caliber running backs. The Goodson versus Baylor battle should continue until cuts start rolling in August, but there’s a better chance that the former Beaver is on Green Bay’s practice squad in September than their 53-man roster.
Wednesday’s posts will focus on the receiver position, the spotlight of the 2022 offseason.
Read our roster preview for the running back position here.