Packers Roster Countdown: Part 4

Robert Francois (Kirby Lee/USP)

Moving past the previous lists' undrafted rookie long shots, we move into players who definitely will challenge for roster spots in training camp. Among the players we've ranked from No. 66 to No. 70 are a playmaking defender, an outrageously athletic receiver and a promising cornerback.

As we've done in past years, we're counting down the Green Bay Packers' roster, from No. 90 ("Longest of Long Shots", Curenski Gilleylen) to No. 1 (Aaron Rodgers).

These rankings are not simply based on skill. Players were ranked on their importance to the team. Skill, a player's position, the depth of his position group, the odds he contributes, salary and draft history all play a part in how a player is ranked. More than the ranking itself, hopefully you will learn a little something about each of the 90 players in the process.

No. 66: Odd man out?

The answer to a trivia question is, well, the answer to a trivia question.

Back in to 2009, Robert Francois was an undrafted free agent linebacker who signed with the Minnesota Vikings. When the Vikings signed some guy named Brett Favre, Francois was asked to turn in his playbook.

The other trivia question? OK, maybe it's not quite as interesting. Last season, Francois intercepted two passes and forced a fumble. That's as many turnover plays as the rest of the inside linebackers combined (Desmond Bishop forced two fumbles and D.J. Smith had an interception). Not bad for making two starts.

Francois, however, faces an uphill climb to make the roster. Bishop and Hawk are back, and Smith projects as the No. 1 backup and might even challenge for playing time. In the draft, the Packers gave up three picks to move into the first round to select Terrell Manning. Finally, two special-teams aces, Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore, were moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. Francois, who played outside linebacker for the Packers in 2010, presumably will battle Jones, Lattimore and outside linebackers Dezman Moses, Erik Walden, Frank Zombo and Vic So'oto for two or three backup slots.

No. 67: Not quite a slam dunk

By now, you've probably heard that Dale Moss, an undrafted free agent wide receiver, played basketball for four seasons as South Dakota State before giving football a try in 2011. Not only did the 6-foot-3 Moss run a 4.39 in the 40 with a 41 1/2-inch vertical jump at his pro day, but his three-cone clocking of 6.32 seconds was faster than anyone has ever run at the Scouting Combine.

With just one year of football in college, Moss will be a work in progress, to be sure. But based on sheer physical tools, Moss has a chance to become a superior wide receiver. The Packers would love to stash him on the practice squad for a year to see how much progress he can make.

No. 68: Speedy recovery


Andrew Quarless
Brace Hemmelgarn/US Presswire
Even though he went from 21 receptions as a rookie in 2010 to three catches last year, Andrew Quarless was one of the Packers' most improved players. Among the Packers' five tight ends, the 23-year-old Quarless was the one who was an asset in the pass game as well as a blocker. A torn ACL and MCL sustained on Dec. 4 against the Giants make Quarless an obvious candidate for the season-opening physically unable to perform list.

"I was growing a lot, growing tremendously," Quarless said during OTAs. "Everything was positive, everything was on the upswing. But I don't like to look back. To me, it is what it is. These things happen in a career. It's all about coming back stronger. That's where my head is at right now. I'm excited. Rehabbing, my leg is bigger than it's ever been."

No. 69: Numbers game

Brandian Ross made quite a name for himself right off the bat last year. An undrafted free agent out of Youngstown State, Ross had a pick-six against Aaron Rodgers during the Family Night Scrimmage. Ross didn't make the team but he grew during his year on the practice squad, and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said Ross has been doing "a very, very nice job."

To make the team, Ross is going to need an incredible training camp and preseason because Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush and second-round pick Casey Hayward are locks to make the team, and last year's fourth-round pick, Davon House, was one of the standouts of the offseason workouts. The Packers typically keep six cornerbacks and Ross is No. 7.

No. 70: In case of emergency

Herbert Taylor was signed late last season to replace an injured Derek Sherrod, and his future in Green Bay hinges on Sherrod's health.

The Packers are expecting Sherrod, last year's first-round pick, to have recovered from last year's broken leg and challenge Marshall Newhouse's status as the No. 1 left tackle. The loser would be the No. 1 backup at both tackle slots, with rookie seventh-round pick Andrew Datko penciled in for a year of seasoning. Taylor's value, obviously, skyrockets if Sherrod isn't ready to go. Taylor played in 18 games for the Chiefs in 2007 and 2008, with that experience giving him a big advantage over Datko if pressed into service.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

VikingUpdate.com Recommended Stories