When the Green Bay Packers were rolling into the playoffs, Ty Montgomery was the No. 1 running back with Christine Michael the top backup. James Starks was sidelined by a concussion and Eddie Lacy, Don Jackson and John Crockett were on injured reserve.
Four months later, the depth chart is almost unrecognizable.
The Packers released Starks at the end of the season, didn’t tender Crockett and watched Lacy sign with rival Seattle. On Saturday, the Packers drafted BYU’s Jamaal Williams in the fourth round, UTEP’s Aaron Jones in the fifth round and Utah State’s Devante Mays in the seventh round.
The facelift was completed on Monday with the release of Michael and Jackson.
Like all facelifts, the Packers certainly look younger — and are younger. Lacy, Starks and Michael have combined for 1,660 career carries. As it stands, the Packers have Montgomery (80 career carries) and three rookies on the depth chart.
The release of Michael was no surprise, even though he was re-signed on March 22. On a pass-first team, trying to fit Michael into the offense was like trying to shove a square peg into the eye of a needle. In nine games with the Packers, Michael caught three passes for 14 yards; in five seasons, he’s caught 26 passes with a long gain of only 13 yards. In Jackson’s three games, he carried 10 times, caught zero passes and suffered two significant injuries (hand and knee).
Contrast the pass-game production to that of the draft picks. At BYU, Williams caught 27 passes as a freshman and 60 for his career. At UTEP, Jones had seasons of 30 and 28 receptions. In two seasons at Utah State, Mays caught two passes but fits the Packers’ big-back mold at 230 pounds.
“It’ll be competitive,” coach Mike McCarthy said after Williams, Jones and Mays were drafted. “I think you know how we like to play and how we’re going to play. The running backs’ responsibility, the priority is to be able to stay on the field for all three downs. All three of those young men have shown they can do that at a certain level. We’ll acclimate them, teach them our system. Ty Montgomery can do that, so he will be our starter, but it’s a competitive room. We obviously had some positions where numbers were not very high, and now after these three days, I think we have a competitive roster — a very competitive roster.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.