The Countdown: Roster Rankings

The 14th and final part of our second-annual series lists the five most important players on the roster. Not surprisingly, Aaron Rodgers is No. 1, but who fills out those other four positions?

With training camp four 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. Restricted free agent safety Atari Bigby will count once the NFL receives the paperwork on the restricted free agent tender that he reportedly has signed.

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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, or if you're going to be in town for the shareholders meeting or training camp, stop by the Packers Pro Shop.

Like we did last year, we're ranking the players from No. 1 to No. 83. This list doesn't necessarily rank 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.

(Note, this final list is going in descending order, unlike the first 13 installments of this series.)

Packer Report Ranking: 5

Greg Jennings: Given the choice of selecting a big-name receiver from the BCS conference or trading back and getting the no-name receiver from the mid-level conference, general manager Ted Thompson took Western Michigan's Jennings at No. 52 overall in 2006 rather than sitting tight at No. 36 and taking Florida's Chad Jackson or Miami's Sinorice Moss. Yeah, that worked out well. Jennings has 27 career touchdown receptions. Moss has 39 career receptions and is buried on the Giants' depth chart. Jackson has 14 career receptions and was out of football last year. Jennings was held to four touchdowns last season but remains one of the NFL's ultimate big-play threats. His average touchdown catch has covered 34.2 yards. His 34 receptions of 25-plus yards since 2007 trails only Carolina's Steve Smith and Atlanta's Roddy White. Last year, his six receptions of 40-plus yards ranked seventh in the NFL, and his 6.97 yards after the catch not only was a career high but led the NFL among its leading wide receivers. Jennings dominated the playoff game against Arizona, catching eight balls for 130 yards and a memorable one-handed touchdown. Look for him to be more of a featured part of the offense.

Packer Report Ranking: 4

Al Harris: The Packers' season died a slow death, beginning Nov. 22. That's when Harris was carted off the field with a horrible knee injury. While the Packers kept right on rolling into the playoffs with an 11-5 record, Harris' injury effectively killed their Super Bowl dreams. The Packers already were without Pat Lee (knee, preseason) and Will Blackmon (knee, Week 4). Without Harris, the Packers were without three of their top five corners. They didn't have a prayer to achieve meaningful playoff success in an NFC postseason field that included Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb. The 35-year-old Harris, who had started from the day Mike Sherman made his greatest personnel decision by acquiring him for a second-round pick in 2003, has poured his heart and soul into coming back. The Packers need him, even in a reserve capacity. Outside of getting turned around once at the Metrodome and giving up a 38-yard touchdown to San Francisco's Michael Crabtree on third-and-a-mile, Harris was superb last season. He proved wrong the naysayers who said Harris couldn't adjust to a zone-based scheme by allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete less than 50 percent of the passes thrown his way.

Packer Report Ranking: 3

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) .

Clay Matthews III: Tear up that staple of draft weekend, the draft value chart. The Packers took a paper beating by giving up their second-round pick and two third-round selections to move up to No. 26 in the 2009 draft to grab Matthews. We know how that turned out. Matthews was the big-play performer that Capers needed to make his defense work. Starting the final 13 games, Matthews finished second among NFL rookies with 10 sacks, and he added another in the playoffs. Eight of those 11 sacks came in the second half of the season as Matthews smashed through the so-called rookie wall. Equal parts relentless and quick, Matthews added four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles (including the playoffs). Now, he needs to figure out how to produce a big encore. Without a proven sidekick, Matthews knows he's going to face a steady diet of double-team blocks. How he adapts – or whether those double teams free up someone like Brad Jones to provide consistent pressure – very well could determine the fate of this season.

Packer Report Ranking: 2

Charles Woodson: What can you say about Woodson? The NFL's reigning defensive player of the year tied for the NFL lead with a career-high nine interceptions. His 81 tackles also were a career high. Ditto his four forced fumbles. Altogether, Woodson had a hand in 14 turnovers, including his forced fumble in the playoff game. That's stunning production from a player who opponents game-planned around but couldn't avoid, anyway. While he had "only" two sacks, his blitz off the corner was one of the most effective calls in Dom Capers' playbook. Woodson was the ultimate chess piece for Capers, who had to work around a rash of injuries in the secondary as well as to Aaron Kampman. Capers feared Dallas tight end Jason Witten more than Miles Austin, so Woodson held Witten to one catch and set up a touchdown with a sack-strip. In other games, he smothered the top receiver. Remarkably, Woodson had 17 interceptions and two touchdowns in eight seasons with Oakland. In four seasons with Green Bay, he has 28 interceptions and eight touchdowns. Not that Woodson needs to match that production — how could he? — but he needs to be just as effective.

Packer Report Ranking: 1

Aaron Rodgers: Surprise, surprise: The Pro Bowl quarterback tops this list. How good was Rodgers last year? Quarterbacks earn their stripes by delivering on third down and in the red zone. Rodgers didn't throw an interception in either situation. He ranked first in the NFL in interception percentage (1.29 percent) and third-down quarterback rating (133.5), and fourth in passing yards (4,434) and touchdowns (30). He was efficient (64.7 percent accuracy) and prolific (tied for NFL lead with 17 completions of 40-plus yards). Want some history? His 423 passing yards ranks fifth in NFL playoff history, his 319 second-half yards obliterated the NFL playoff record, and he's the only player in NFL history with at least 30 touchdown passes and five touchdown runs with seven or fewer interceptions. There's no reason to believe Rodgers won't be just as good. His pass protection will be better, with competent backups for both veteran offensive tackles. He played with a faster time clock down the stretch of last season, and has been given more freedom for this season by coach Mike McCarthy. And, of course, Rodgers is surrounded with playmakers in the passing game and running game.

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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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