From 1 to 83: From Jolly to P. Lee

We continue our countdown of the Packers' roster, from No. 40 Johnny Jolly to No. 44 Pat Lee, with a safety and two fullbacks in between.

It's the dog days of summer, but the start of training camp is only 16 days away. At this point, the Packers have 83 players on their roster. The limit is 80, but the draft picks don't count until they're signed. With the Packers officially at 80 players, the team will have to make a corresponding roster move when fullback Quinn Johnson, linebacker Clay Matthews III and defensive lineman B.J. Raji are signed.

With that said, we continue to rank the players from No. 1 to No. 83. This list doesn't necessarily list the players from best to worst, but we take into account the players' importance on the roster and other factors such as contracts and potential.

Packer Report Ranking: 40

Johnny Jolly: Whether Jolly (6-foot-3, 325 pounds) is a good fit as a 3-4 defensive end remains to be seen, but he's the only proven big body among the presumed backups. Jolly started all 16 games last season at defensive tackle. He provided practically no pressure on the quarterback but he made some plays with his ability to get between blockers and make a tackle down the line of scrimmage. With the only other big man at defensive end being the unreliable-so-far Justin Harrell, losing Jolly to an injury or a suspension in his codeine trial that starts Friday would be a big loss. He spent the offseason as the starting right defensive end, but he was merely filling in for Cullen Jenkins. If he can play, he'll be the top backup along the line and the No. 3 interior rusher behind B.J. Raji and Jenkins on passing downs.

Packer Report Ranking: 41

Anthony Smith: Smith (6-0, 200) was the Packers' major offseason acquisition. The hard-hitting safety, a third-round selection by Pittsburgh in 2006, comes to Green Bay well-versed in the Packers' new 3-4 scheme and was coached as a rookie by the Packers' new safeties coach, Darren Perry. By filling in for Nick Collins for most of the offseason work, Smith was a big help as the defense got its first taste of the defense. He started 10 games and had two interceptions in 2007, when Pittsburgh boasted the league's top-ranked defense, but he fell out of favor last year and wasn't even on the gameday roster as the Steelers rolled through the playoffs and won the Super Bowl. He spent the offseason running the No. 1 defense, but he was hurt (groin) and out of the lineup when Collins arrived for minicamp. He'll presumably be the third safety but he's a solid insurance policy should Collins or Atari Bigby go down.

Packer Report Ranking: Tie 42

Korey Hall and John Kuhn: With the assumption being that fifth-round draft pick Quinn Johnson will earn a roster spot and possibly start, veterans Hall and Kuhn will battle for the second spot at fullback. Hall (6-0, 236) and Kuhn (6-0, 250) have proven to be a decent combo with their own strengths. Hall, with 15 catches in his two NFL seasons, is the better receiver. Kuhn, with seven catches in his two seasons in Green Bay, is the better blocker and has proven to be a good short-yardage runner. Hall had 13 tackles on special teams compared to 12 for Kuhn. Hall isn't a big guy at such a violent position, and perhaps that's why he's missed seven games in two seasons. Kuhn, on the other hand, is a perfect 32-for-32 with the Packers. Hall ran with the starters through the offseason, with Kuhn the No. 2 and Johnson the No. 3. If Johnson is ready to start, special teams may swing this battle to Hall. If Johnson isn't ready, then Kuhn might get the nod.

Packer Report Ranking: 44

Pat Lee, Lee (6-0, 194) was a big disappointment last season, with the second-round pick playing in only five games before heading to injured reserve with a minor knee injury. During limited action, he broke up one pass against Atlanta but otherwise wasn't a factor on defense or special teams. Lee was drafted because of his man-to-man prowess at Auburn, but with the Packers' defense shifting away from an all-man, all-the-time scheme, Lee's growth this season will be something to watch. He was impressive this offseason, spending most of the practices as the fifth corner but supplanting Will Blackmon on the final day of the minicamp. With starters Al Harris, 34, and Charles Woodson, 32, among the Packers' oldest players, they need Lee to grow into at the very least a quality nickel corner. Stepping up and being the fourth corner this year, behind Woodson, Harris and Tramon Williams, would be a good step.


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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