The Green Bay Packers have completed one week of training camp. Before we know it, they will be suiting up for their Week One game against the Minnesota Vikings, now the team that boasts Za’Darius Smith and Chandon Sullivan. (Don’t worry, Packers players have been terrible once they’ve left Green Bay for Minnesota. The numbers don’t lie). Before we get to that point, though, there are practices to have, preseason games to play, and cuts to be made. Now with 90 players, the Packers have to trim their roster down to 53 before the regular season begins. While there are many locks to make the roster, there are some players who may or may not make it. Here are three of these fringe players who have the best chance to make the Packers 53-man roster.
CB/WR/KR: Rico Gafford
Rico Gafford was signed to a future’s contract by the Packers in January of this season. In May, they announced that he would be returning to the cornerback position, which he had played in college. While with the Las Vegas Raiders, Gafford was converted to wide receiver.
The Packers have three of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Rasul Douglas. While Gafford, of course, will not take any starting job at the position anytime soon, the depth behind the three stars is one of concern. Perhaps a better way of putting it is that the position is wide open after the top three spots. According to Andy Herman of Pack-A-Day, who was able to watch practice this week, Gafford has looked strong as a cornerback:
Rico Gafford has been showing up today. That’s his 3rd forced incompletion in coverage. Meanwhile a nice pass rush from Devonte Wyatt.
— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) July 30, 2022
Aside from the cornerback position being open behind Alexander, Douglas, and Stokes, another position that is there for the taking is that of kick returner. This is a position the Packers have struggled to fill with consistently good players since 1996, and even then it was a one-year wonder. Gafford has been clocked to run a 4.22 40-yard dash, giving him the speed needed for the position. He took some snaps as a returner this week along with Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, and, shockingly, Aaron Jones.
Gafford does not have much experience as a kick returner on the NFL level. He does, though, have experience in Rich Bisaccia’s special teams system. He knows Bisaccia and Bisaccia knows what he is capable of. That may be enough for Matt LaFleur to find a spot for him on the roster.
RB3(?): Tyler Goodson
When the Green Bay Packers released their initial PUP list ahead of training camp, both Kylin Hill and Patrick Taylor were on it. Hill’s presence was expected as he is coming off of an ACL injury. Taylor’s, though, was not. I wrote previously how the third running back position could easily be one of the Packers’ undrafted rookie running backs.
Since then, Taylor has been activated and is practicing with the team. Regardless, though, Tyler Goodson is still drawing attention of his play on the field. Several fans and analysts who were in attendance this week took to Twitter to compliment the rookie running back:
Tyler Goodson is so smooth catching the ball. Just had a nice catch in the flat and then brought it up field – he may have been able to get in the end zone, would have been close.
— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) July 28, 2022
Some impressive burst today from Tyler Goodson with the ball in his hands.
— Paul Bretl (@Paul_Bretl) July 30, 2022
On the final play of the red zone drill, Jordan Love hits his checkdown in Tyler Goodson for a touchdown.
— Matt Reynoldson (@Matt_Reynoldson) July 28, 2022
Even though Patrick Taylor is back on the field, that far from guarantees him his third running back role that he finished last season with. He would not have even had it had Hill not gotten hurt. In his limited playing time, he averaged less than three yards per carry. The position is open for the taking, and Tyler Goodson has a great chance to nabbing it.
Edge: LaDarius Hamilton
When I made my pre-training camp roster prediction (way too early, may I add), I predicted LaDarius Hamilton would be cut. Now, it does not seem that will be the case. Of course, it is still way too early and the pads have not even put on yet. However, as Paul Bretl noted over at Packers Wire, Hamilton has been spending a lot of time with the second string defense.
Of course, the edge position is set in terms of starters with Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. However, beyond them, the backup slots are wide open. If Hamilton continues to earn reps with the second stringers, he could very well end up on the 53-man roster.
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