Packers Roster Countdown Part 8

Here come the rookies as we get to Nos. 51-55 on our annual list. Why is B.J. Coleman, a player who might not make the team, ranked so high? Can two flavor-of-the-day players contribute?

As we've done in past years, we're counting down the Green Bay Packers' roster, from No. 90 to No. 1.

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. 51: No pain, no gain

Left tackle is a premium position. Most of the league's starting left tackles were selected in the first round, with Marshall Newhouse a notable exception as a fifth-round selection in 2010.

Could the Packers possibly strike gold twice with a late-round pick?

Florida State's Andrew Datko entered his senior season considered a first- or second-round prospect. Instead, surgery for a torn labrum sustained before his junior season — he played through the injury — didn't heal properly. A few games into his senior year, Datko went under the knife again. His college career was over and his draft stock was in the tank.

Datko spent the offseason playing left and right tackle. The coaches and training staff would love a year to work with him as he sits on the bench as the No. 4 tackle behind starters Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga and last year's top pick, Derek Sherrod. Datko, however, might be forced up a notch if Sherrod hasn't recovered from a broken leg.

If Datko's shoulder is cursed, the Packers are out a seventh-round pick. No big deal. If Datko's shoulder is cured and he plays to his potential, the Packers could have a very big deal and an embarrassment of riches at a vital position.

No. 52: Quarterback U

Unless disaster strikes, B.J. Coleman won't play a meaningful snap all season. Heck, he might not make the team and might never take a meaningful snap in his entire career.

So why is he No. 52 and ranked ahead of a few players who might actually contribute this season? Because Coleman's a quarterback and quarterbacks are important.

You know the history. The Packers drafted Matt Flynn in the seventh round and probably will get a fourth-round compensatory pick in return. They drafted Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round and wound up trading him to move up seven spots in the first round and fetch an additional third-rounder.

Coleman, a seventh-round pick who the Packers had coveted throughout the predraft process, is a project. Not only does he have to learn the scheme but the coaches are retooling his fundamentals. Still, he's a talented quarterback with a big arm. He's learned from Brett Favre and he's embraced working alongside Aaron Rodgers. He knows he's lucky to be in Green Bay, with its strong history of developing quarterbacks.

"B.J.'s exciting," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's a whirl a minute. He has a lot of questions, he's always talking, a lot of energy. Talented young man, but he's got a lot to learn."

No. 53: Holy, Moses

Maybe Dezman Moses is the flavor of the day, just another try-hard guy who shines in offseason practices because he's going 100 percent while the lineman charged with blocking him is going 90 percent.

Still, even with the first-round selection of Nick Perry, the Packers badly need a pass rush. Last season, Clay Matthews had just six sacks and the entire outside linebacker corps finished with 12. Moses obviously won't beat out Matthews or Perry, but if he can rush the passer when everyone's going 100 percent, there'll be a place for him in some specialized packages.

"I just try to be the best me that I can be and get better every day," he said. "Clay's obviously a great player; they drafted another great player. I'm just trying to do what I can and play my role, whether that's special teams, rushing the passer or playing the run."

No. 54: Speaking of flavor of the day ...

Vic So'oto was the flavor many days at training camp and the preseason last summer, especially against Indianapolis, when he tore apart the Colts' starters. Nonetheless, even with a horrendous pass rush exposing a suddenly shaky secondary, So'oto couldn't get on the field until late in the season.

Then, in the final two games of the regular season, So'oto got a combined 72 snaps from scrimmage. He contributed one sack and three quarterback hits. What did that get him for the playoffs? An inactive slip as Eli Manning demolished the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Moses, who played linebacker during his two years at Iowa, will enter training camp ahead of So'oto, who played on the defensive line at BYU. But So'oto is big and physical — just what position coach Kevin Greene looks for.

"He's a good player," Greene said of So'oto. "It's going to be a very competitive camp. He's a very physical kid. He's learned, he's improved."

No. 55: Wanted man

When Mr. Accumulate Draft Picks himself, Ted Thompson, dispatches three draft picks to acquire one player, that's telling.

Thompson gave up a sixth-round pick and two seventh-round selections to move into the fifth round to get North Carolina State linebacker Terrell Manning, who tallied 10 sacks and 25 tackles for losses in his two seasons as a starter. Manning did everything in college, from stopping the run to dropping into coverage to blitzing. That's precisely the job description of an inside linebacker in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme.

While there are no signs that A.J. Hawk's spot on the roster is in jeopardy, it's probably worth noting they have options there with Manning and D.J. Smith.

If you missed ...

Gurley's detours: 56

Fighting for jobs: 57-60

Five defenders: 61-65

Don't be surprised if ...: 66-70

It's Noah's Ark: 71-81

Roster long shots: 82-89

Longest of long shots: 90

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

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