From 1 to 83: From Blackmon to Moll

We continue our countdown of the Packers' roster, from No. 35 Will Blackmon to No. 39 Tony Moll, with a tight end and two more linemen in between.

It's the dog days of summer, but the start of training camp is only 15 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: 35

Will Blackmon, CB/KR: Blackmon (6-foot, 206 pounds) plays an important role on defense and special teams. While the fourth cornerback doesn't play nearly as much as the nickel cornerback, the Packers have six games against the NFC North's star quarterbacks, as well as matchups against pass-happy Cincinnati and Arizona. He's been a below-average cornerback (four passes defensed, no interceptions in three seasons) and could be supplanted by Pat Lee. Nonetheless, he's a mainstay on special teams, where he led the Packers in tackles, was one of the NFL's top punt returners and figures to be the main character as they try to upgrade last year's last-ranked kickoff return. Don't dismiss how field position impacts winning and losing. A few yards here and a few yards there add up to hundreds of yards over the course of a season. He was the fourth corner for most of the offseason and the top kickoff and punt returner.

Packer Report Ranking: 36

Donald Lee, TE: There's been a lot of hype about second-year tight end Jermichael Finley, but first, he must beat out the reliable Lee (6-4, 248). When the Packers have been at their best during the Mike Holmgren-Mike Sherman-Mike McCarthy era, their tight ends have been top-notch playmakers, whether it was Mark Chmura pairing with Keith Jackson, or Bubba Franks being a big-time red-zone threat, or a flash-in-the-pan performance by Tyrone Davis. Lee fell from 48 catches for 575 yards (12.0-yard average) and six touchdowns in 2007 with Brett Favre to 39 catches, 303 yards (7.8 average) and five touchdowns in 2008 with Aaron Rodgers. He spent the offseason as the starter.

Packer Report Ranking: 37

T.J. Lang, G/T: Assuming Jason Spitz is successful in his move from right guard to center, the Packers will have new starters at right guard and right tackle. While Josh Sitton and Allen Barbre will enter training camp as the front-runners at those spots, they better not rest on their shorts-and-helmets laurels from the spring. Lang (6-4, 316) was one of the most impressive linemen as the top backup at both spots during offseason workouts, and a couple of the coaches have said they can't wait to see Lang perform when the pads go on in August. If nothing else, he'll push Sitton and Barbre this year and compete for a starting job next year, when the Packers might need a new left guard in case Daryn Colledge moves to left tackle to replace Chad Clifton or departs in free agency. Lang, the Packers' fourth-round pick, received a four-year deal with a signing bonus of about $502,000.

Packer Report Ranking: 38

Jamon Meredith, T: Meredith (6-5, 304), the second of the Packers' fifth-round picks, has all the tools required to be the long-term answer for when longtime left tackle Chad Clifton finally gives way. Meredith is tall, has long arms and is an impressive athlete. He just needs to get stronger and refine his technique. He'll do both this year, assuming he gets to watch and learn from Clifton rather than have to replace him. Either Meredith will fade away into oblivion or he'll blossom into a starter, but at this point, he's the only player on the roster with the potential to replace Clifton at the offensive line's most important position. With Clifton recovering from offseason surgery, Meredith spent the offseason as the No. 2 left tackle. His four-year deal included a $172,500 signing bonus.

Packer Report Ranking: 39

Tony Moll, T/G: Moll (6-5, 311) is the Packers' utility man. He's started at right tackle and right guard, he's played left guard and he spent the offseason as the starting left tackle as Chad Clifton recovered from surgery. Moll has 18 starts in three seasons, all at right guard or right tackle, but he wasn't part of the offseason battles at those positions. He had a chance to make a statement at right tackle last year, when he replaced the injured Mark Tauscher, but after two starts, he was benched and the Packers moved Daryn Colledge from left guard to right tackle for the season finale. Whether he can actually play left tackle will be determined during the preseason, though his play at right tackle gives a hint on the answer. If the Packers can get by with Moll at left tackle, he'd be a huge asset because the team wouldn't have to move Colledge and, as a consequence, have new faces at two positions.


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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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