The Countdown: Roster Rankings

Part 13 of our second-annual rankings includes four defensive players — Tramon Williams, Cullen Jenkins, Nick Collins and Brad Jones — and tight end Jermichael Finley.

With training camp five days away, football season is almost here. The Packers have 82 players on their roster, not including the suspended Johnny Jolly. The limit is 80, but unsigned first-round pick Bryan Bulaga doesn't count until he's officially under contract, and restricted free agent safety Atari Bigby doesn't count until he signs his tender.

If you missed ...

Part 13 (6 through 10)

Part 12 (11 through 15)

Part 11 (16 through 20)

Part 10 (21 through 25)

Part 9 (26 through 30)

Part 8 (31 through 40)

Part 7 (41 through 45)

Part 6 (46 through 50)

Part 5 (51 through 55)

Part 4 (56 through 60)

Part 3 (61 through 65)

Part 2 (66 through 71)

Part 1 (long shots) .

Like we did last year, we're ranking 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: 6

Tramon Williams: Think this is too high for someone who could be the third corner? If the Packers could have stopped the NFL's high-profile quarterbacks last year, they probably would have finished the regular season 14-2. That would have given them home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Even if the record remained 11-5, they certainly would have won at Arizona in the playoffs. So, cornerback is the key position if the Packers are going to make a run to the Super Bowl, which is why Williams is No. 6, Pat Lee is No. 23 and Brandon Underwood is No. 40. And that's why you haven't seen Charles Woodson and Al Harris on this list. In 2008, Williams started nine games and picked off five passes with 14 passes defensed. In 2009, Williams started 10 games and picked off four passes with 22 passes defensed. Sometimes, statistics lie, and that's the case with Williams, who gave up completions on 56.1 percent of the passes thrown his way and was flagged a team-high four times for pass interference.

Packer Report Ranking: 7

Cullen Jenkins: Just how important is Jenkins? That the coaches are toying with using him occasionally as a standup rusher speaks volumes. With Jolly's suspension, Jenkins is the team's only player with a ton of experience at defensive end. And with Aaron Kampman in Jacksonville, Jenkins is the only proven complement to Clay Matthews III as a pass rusher. Had Jenkins been able to wrestle quarterbacks to the ground last year instead of letting them slip out of his grasp, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said Jenkins might have led all NFL defensive linemen in sacks.

Packer Report Ranking: 8

New magazine!

The new Packer Report Training Camp Preview edition includes in-depth features on the two big battles — Daryn Colledge vs. Jason Spitz and Atari Bigby vs. Morgan Burnett — and a rundown of eight more battles, along with a roster prediction, a feature on Bryce Paup, Q&As with Ryan Pickett and Desmond Howard, and Hall of Famer Art Daley feature on a 1920s game that was decided by a phantom field goal. For details on getting a single copy of our new-and-improved, 64-page, full-color magazine, e-mail publisher Bill Huber.

Nick Collins: Collins is the NFL's most underrated safety. Even with back-to-back Pro Bowl trips, Collins rarely is mentioned among the NFL's best safeties. But his 13 interceptions are more than any safety in the NFL, and his four returns for touchdowns trail only Woodson's seven among all defensive players. He has amazing speed and instincts, and has become a much better tackler. If Atari Bigby starts again, it will be up to Collins to play center field and cover for Bigby's lack of range. If rookie Morgan Burnett starts, it will be up to Collins to mentor Burnett while making sure everyone is on the same page in the secondary.

Packer Report Ranking: 9

Brad Jones: Last year, I had Kampman picked as the Packers' third-most important defender. By that measure, the season should have been over after Jones replaced an injured Kampman in the starting lineup at midseason. Instead, the defense actually moved up a couple notches in the NFL rankings. Jones finished with four sacks in seven starts. Extrapolated over 16 games, and that equals nine. No doubt the Packers would take that, as long as Jones brings consistent pressure and plays as sturdy against the run as he did last year. He's stronger than last year and obviously has a better feel for things. He'll have to take advantage of offensive game plans that are geared toward stopping Matthews. If he can't, the Packers are up a creek.

Packer Report Ranking: 10

Jermichael Finley: When the Packers drafted James Jones in 2007, the hope was he'd develop to eventually replace Donald Driver as the first half of the Driver-Jennings one-two punch. When the Packers drafted Jordy Nelson in 2008, the hope was he'd develop to be Greg Jennings' sidekick. Fast forward to today, and neither Jones nor Nelson have shown they have what it takes to be a difference-making starter. But maybe they don't have to be that dominating target. That very well could be Finley, who dominated down the stretch last season after recovering from a knee sprain that kept him out of three games and almost all of a fourth. The Packers unveiled the future of their receiving corps during the playoff game, with Finley dominating the Arizona secondary while lined up either at the traditional tight end spot or flanked out wide. If Aaron Rodgers put his mind to it, he could get Finley 100 catches, with ease.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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