Packers Roster Countdown: Part 3

It's like Noah's Ark as we hit on players Nos. 71-81: two centers, two receivers, two tackles, two fullbacks and two running backs. The Packers didn't draft a center, making Sampson Genus and Tommie Draheim two players to recall. And one of the fullbacks has a ton of upside.

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. 71: Centers of attention

The Packers lost Scott Wells in free agency but replaced him with Jeff Saturday. At 37, Saturday likely is only a one- or two-year solution. The Packers didn't draft a center, and they don't appear to have a starter-in-the-making on the roster — unless it's Evan Dietrich-Smith, though he didn't even make the team in 2010. The two young prospects are ...

— C/G Sampson Genus (6-1, 315): Genus was a starting defensive lineman for South Florida as a sophomore before moving into the pivot and starting 25 games as a junior and senior. He signed with Green Bay as an undrafted rookie in 2011 and spent the year on the practice squad. He's generously listed at 6-foot-1. "What's funny is, (B.J.) Raji picks on me all the time about it," Genus said back in May. "He's always like, ‘You've got the perfect leverage, I've always got to go against a short guy.' Being short isn't all bad. You're already lower than everybody else. I think people make more of it than it really is. As long as you're strong and you prove you can play with these guys, that's all that really matters."

— C/G Tommie Draheim (6-4, 309): Of this year's undrafted free agents, Draheim received the largest signing bonus at $8,500. Draheim closed his career with 30 consecutive starts at left tackle. As a senior, he became San Diego State's first offensive lineman to be named first-team all-conference since 2003. As with Genus, Draheim spent the offseason flip-flopping between center and guard. Center isn't a foreign position for him: He was recruited to play center by SDSU after starting in the pivot for four years in high school. "We've got Jeff Saturday here, so we have a terrific player here to learn from. I'll just be sitting and learning as much as I can from him.

No. 73: Big opportunity for big safety

— S Sean Richardson (6-2, 216): Richardson was courted by 14 teams after the draft — including some who wanted him to gain about 10 pounds to play linebacker. Richardson, however, couldn't turn down the opportunity in Green Bay, where there's a vacancy opposite third-year pro Morgan Burnett. The three-year starter alongside Casey Hayward at Vanderbilt, Richardson used his size to pile up a bunch of tackles in the box but his only career interception came as a senior. Richardson, who ran a 4.43 in the 40, received a $5,000 signing bonus.

No. 74: Backfield in motion

— RB Marc Tyler (5-11, 226): Tyler is the son of former NFL star Wendell Tyler, who piled up 8,194 yards and 66 touchdowns from scrimmage during a 10-year career with the Rams and 49ers. "He just said, ‘It's a whole new game. Every day, somebody's trying to take your job.' He said, It's all mental, and what kind of heart do you have?'" Tyler's heart was up for debate among scouts leading up to the draft — his infamous TMZ video suggesting players take a pay cut after leaving USC for the NFL and his 4.76 clocking at the Combine didn't help, either. Marc Tyler rang up 8,000 all-purpose yards and 123 touchdowns for California high school powerhouse Oaks Christian but broke his tibia and fibula during his senior season, leading to a redshirt season at USC in 2007 and two years buried on the depth chart. He broke through for 913 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as junior but, with a one-game suspension for the TMZ comments, just 568 yards and four touchdowns as a senior.

— RB Duane Bennett (5-9, 213): Bennett rushed for 639 yards as a senior and ranks 13th in school history with 2,126 career rushing yards. As a senior, he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against Wisconsin. Bennett caught just three passes last year but 33 balls in 2010. As a junior, he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to former/current teammate Eric Lair. He sat out most of the 2008 season after tearing his ACL in the second game. Bennett, who received a $4,000 signing bonus, runs better than Tyler (4.63 in the 40) but Tyler's got the size the Packers covet.

No. 76: Small-school tackles

— OT Shea Allard: Allard (6-5, 305) earned a contract after participating at the Packers' rookie camp on a tryout basis. A three-year starter at left tackle for Delaware, he was third-team all-FCS as a senior. Even though he wasn't drafted or coveted in college free agency, the Packers have seen enough from him to keep him at left tackle. "I think my athleticism is a big thing for me and blocking in space is one of my strong suits," Allard told Packer Report for a story last month. "I like to think of myself as a hard worker, not only in the weight room but on the field. I like to finish plays, also."

— OT Mike McCabe: McCabe (6-5, 313) closed his career at Holy Cross with 34 consecutive starts, including the last two years at left tackle. He was a three-time Academic All-America. The Packers gave him a $2,500 signing bonus, and he spent the offseason at right tackle. His father, Stephen, was drafted by the Redskins in the 12th round in 1978 but failed to make the team and went into coaching.

No. 78: Big target

— WR Jarrett Boykin: Boykin (6-2, 217) left Virginia Tech as the school's career leader with 184 receptions for 2,884 yards, and his 61 catches as a senior also set a school record. His combination of size and production should have made him at least a midround draft pick, but he ran a plodding 4.74 in the 40 at the Scouting Combine. Boykin was signed by Jacksonville after the draft but was released after its rookie camp. At the Combine, only Juron Criner had larger hands than Boykin's 10 1/4-inchers among the receivers.

No. 79: Small target

— WR Shaky Smithson: With two touchdowns and a nation-best 19.1-yard average on punt returns as a senior at Utah, Smithson (5-11, 202) arrived in Green Bay last summer as the possible solution to the Packers' chronic kick-return problems. Instead, Smithson went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and Randall Cobb seized control of the return job. Because of Cobb's emergence and the depth at receiver, Smithson is a long shot. His off-the-field story is as good as anything on the field.

No. 80: Full house at fullback?

John Kuhn was the only fullback on the roster last season, but the Packers went with three fullbacks in 2009 and 2010. So, there's potentially a place for one of these guys with a breakthrough camp.

— FB Jon Hoese: Hoese (6-2, 238), who missed part of the just-completed offseason program, was an undrafted free agent last year who spent camp with Green Bay. He failed to make the team but was brought back to the practice squad in December. Hoese walked on at Minnesota as a safety. As a senior, he scored three touchdowns against Middle Tennessee State just days after his father suffered a massive stroke. Hoese received the game ball to give to his father, but he died two days later. When he was 16, he competed in a snowmobile race at Lambeau Field.

— FB Nic Cooper: Cooper (5-10, 249) could be a training camp sleeper. What the Packers like about Kuhn is his versatility and his running instincts. Cooper has some running instincts, as well. Last year, he rushed for 1,808 yards and 22 touchdowns, and added 22 catches for 233 yards and two more scores, to help Winston Salem State reach the Division II semifinals. Cooper, who received a $1,500 signing bonus, ran the 40 in 4.73 at Wake Forest's pro day.


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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.


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