From 1 to 83: From Finley to Jackson

We continue our countdown of the Packers' roster, from No. 20 Jermichael Finley to No. 24 Brandon Jackson, with cornerback Tramon Williams and two linemen in between.

The dog days of summer are coming to a close. Training camp is only 11 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: 20

Jermichael Finley, TE: For the Packers' offense to move from good to elite, it will be up to Finley (6-foot-5, 247 pounds). Dating to Mark Chmura and even further back to Paul Coffman, the Packers' offense has been at its best when receiving big-time production from its tight ends. Finley is blessed with the skills necessary to become an elite player. He's tall, athletic, runs smooth routes and has fantastic hands. But at the ripe old age of 22, is he beyond the maturity issues that put a black eye on his disappointing rookie season? Last season, in which he had just three catches for 10 yards in the first 14 games, he admitted to having "8-ball eyes" in the huddle. But he was the best player on offense for most of this offseason after working overtime with tight ends coach Ben McAdoo. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers called him "unguardable."

Packer Report Ranking: 21

Tramon Williams, CB: Nickel cornerbacks basically are the 12th starter on defense because more than half of the snaps in a game are played with extra defensive backs. Williams (5-11, 191) had a breakout season by tying for third in the NFC with five interceptions. He started nine games, including four at midseason when Al Harris was out with an injured spleen. However, he yielded far too many big plays, especially late in the season. Williams was the defensive standout of the offseason, coming up with an interception during practically every practice in which reporters were allowed to attend. If that strong play continues, the Packers will feel comfortable handing him a starting job when Harris or Charles Woodson step aside.

Packer Report Ranking: 22

Allen Barbre, RT: For nine seasons, right tackle was handled at a high level by the too-often unappreciated Mark Tauscher. But with Tauscher coming off of a torn ACL, the Packers have moved forward. Barbre (6-4, 305) was one of the surprise standouts of the offseason practices, regularly handling Aaron Kampman and other blitzers on passing downs while taking every rep with the first unit. Barbre is one of the strongest players on the team and perhaps its most athletic lineman. Inconsistency, the mental side of the game and a hot temper derailed his bid to start at left guard last year. Has he moved beyond those so he can provide a hard-driving run blocker and nimble pass protector? He says he feels comfortable at right tackle after being a standout collegiate left tackle. Barbre, who played two series at left guard in Week 2 at Detroit and for two quarters in Week 17 vs. Detroit, enters training camp with a rather firm grip on the position, but he'll be pushed by Breno Giacomini, T.J. Lang and perhaps Tony Moll.

Packer Report Ranking: 23

Jason Spitz, C: Spitz (6-3, 307) has been moved from right guard, where he made 29 of his 41 career starts, to center. Spitz has played well at center in the past. The Packers averaged about 140 rushing yards in five games last year when he either started or played the bulk of the snaps at center. He'll challenge incumbent Scott Wells, who started the final 13 games last season but had to leave two of them early. Spitz, on the other hand, started all 16 games at three positions and played every snap. The hope is Spitz will be better when focusing on only one position. With Wells limited to being a spectator through the offseason, Spitz took all of the reps with the No. 1 offense. He enters training camp as the favorite to win the job, but if Wells is healthy, this could be quite a battle.

Packer Report Ranking: 24

Brandon Jackson, RB: Somehow, somebody other than Ryan Grant must provide reliable production out of the backfield. Entering training camp, Jackson (5-10, 216) again will be the favorite to be the No. 2 halfback. Jackson had a few moments when he looked like the second-round pick he was back in 2006. He averaged a glittering 5.5 yards per carry last season, including seven carries for 61 yards and one touchdown at Detroit in Week 2, 10 carries for 50 yards in a win vs. Chicago in Week 10 and 11 carries for 80 yards in Week 13 vs. Carolina. However, he averaged less than six touches in his 13 games, showing that he hasn't earned the coaches' trust. The Packers need him to be more consistent, a better blocker and more elusive out of the backfield, where he averaged just 6.2 yards on 30 receptions.


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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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