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 89 players in the process.
No. 35: Masterful Masthay
Tim Masthay will never lead the league in punting, but that isn't his goal.
The fourth-year punter consistently has flipped field position in the Packers' favor. He was better than ever in 2012 with 30 inside-the-20 punts vs. just five touchbacks, and his 26 fair catches practically doubled his total of 28 in 2010 and 2011.
Of Masthay's 70 punts, only 24 were returned. New England's Zoltan Mesko had the fewest punts returned, 23, but he punted 10 fewer times than Masthay.
Only Podlesh (84) and Mesko (154) yielded fewer return yards than Masthay's 179.
"Stats can be misleading but I think they tell a general story most of the time," Masthay said last year in a quote we used in our Training Camp Countdown package. "If you have a really low opponent return average and low number of punts returned but you're netting 30 yards, that's not winning punting. That's not winning football. My goal as a punter on up-the-field punts, I want to hit — a majority of the time (because) there are different situations where different punts are desirable — but you want to hit medium-distance punts. When I say ‘medium,' I mean anywhere from 40 to 50 with good hang time, because those are the balls that net good yards and flip the field position, but they don't stress the coverage and the coverage has a good chance of making that a fair catch or tackling him right away."
No. 36: No Mulligan needed with this signing
Needless to say, "SportsCenter" didn't lead its 10 p.m. show with the Packers' signing of tight end Matthew Mulligan.
According to ProFootballFocus.com's film study and grading, Mulligan was the 10th-best blocker among tight ends last season, when he played with St. Louis, and the ninth-best in 2011, when he played for the Jets.
Mulligan was caught off-guard by his release from the Rams but was thrilled to land in Green Bay, which reminds him of his native Bangor, Maine. The Packers are thrilled to have him.
"He's a strong kid. He brings tenacity to the field," tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. "When he's engaged in the block, he's not going to be the first one to stop. He brings an attitude and vigor you like to see in a player, certainly as a tight end. He's a smart kid. He works very diligently. He's very professional about what he does. He comes to work. He doesn't do a heck of a lot of smiling, but we've got him smiling a little bit around the meeting room just to loosen him up a little bit."
No. 37: Productive Daniels
The Packers drafted two defensive linemen in 2012. Jerel Worthy, a big-name player from Michigan State, was the headliner as a second-round pick. Mike Daniels went under the radar at Highland Regional High School in Blackwood, N.J., in college at Iowa and again during the draft, with Green Bay grabbing him with a fourth-round compensatory selection.
It was Daniels, however, who was the more productive player, even though he missed the offseason practices after needing labrum surgery following his senior season. Worthy was given a prime role as a nickel pass rusher but managed 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and 23 tackles in 467 snaps. His tackle rate of 20.30 snaps per tackle was the worst of the defensive linemen. Daniels registered two sacks, six quarterback hits and 19 tackles in 231 snaps. His 12.16 plays per tackle ranked third among the defensive linemen.
The Packers added two more defensive linemen in 2013, with first-round pick Datone Jones and fifth-round pick Josh Boyd, plus welcomed back Johnny Jolly. Daniels, however, looks relatively secure entering camp.
"Mike's been a good addition," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said at the end of last season. "He's got good movement, he's strong – he's kind of a strong, compact guy. He's done a nice job in the short-yardage and goal-line series for us. You've seen him make plays in our sub packages. He's got quickness and movement. I think Mike's done a nice job. I like his temperament. He's an aggressive guy and he's going to give you all-out effort. I like what he brings to the front. I like his attitude as much as anything."
No. 38: Holy, Moses
One thing's for sure: Kevin Greene can coach outside linebackers.
Whether it was Erik Walden (scrap heap) and Frank Zombo (undrafted rookie) helping the Packers win a Super Bowl in 2010 or Dezman Moses going from undrafted free agent to starter in 2012, Greene has coaxed quality play from players with humble roots.
Moses was an immediate standout during training camp and wound up starting six of the final seven regular-season games along with the playoff opener. Strong and intelligent, Moses contributed four sacks, 11 quarterback hits and a forced fumble, according to team stats. He missed just one tackle, according to ProFootballFocus.com. On special teams, he had five tackles, and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown against Jacksonville and a muffed punt in the playoffs against Minnesota.
"Every time I put Moses in, good things seem to happen," Greene said before the playoffs. "He's hitting people, he's striking people, he's had some nice pass rushes."
Added Clay Matthews late last season: "Obviously, coming in as a free agent, it's difficult to not only make a team but get some playing time. Now he's a starter for this team and he's playing very well. Number of sacks, number of big plays and tackles. For him to come in here with the way in which he has, kind of keep his head down, keep in the book and continue to work, it speaks volumes about his character and what he's helped this team do and what he's willing to accomplish. I think he's got a lot of potential."
No. 39: Rookie year, Take 2
The Packers gave up three draft picks to move into the fifth round to get Terrell Manning in 2012. Manning, however, saw his weight plummet to 219 pounds as he battled colitis.
"I was in so much pain and I was sleeping maybe an hour-and-a-half, two hours during camp," Manning said last month. "I spent most of my time in the bathroom — literally, in the bathroom. Things were coming out of my body but I hadn't eaten in days. I didn't have anything in my system but things were still coming out."
With that, his chance to get on the field on defense went down the drain. A concussion sustained on special teams in Week 1 put him on the shelf for the next five games and a shoulder injury cost him another five games. In all, Manning played in five games, plus both playoff contests, and contributed five tackles on special teams.
Manning's potential must have played at least a small role in the decision to release Desmond Bishop. During two years in the starting lineup at North Carolina State, Manning 10.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for losses, four interceptions, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
If Manning can produce in camp and the preseason, Capers will find some way to get him on the field.
"You're starting to see some of the assets that we saw in him coming out of college," inside linebackers coach Winston Moss said during the offseason. "He's been a good run player, he's done some good stuff on the blitz, he's athletic, he can run, so he's going to continue that progress of just growing. It's going to be great to see him get into the pads in training camp and really see him against a different opponent rather than our offense. So, I'm excited for that. Hopefully, he just continues upward and onward."
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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.