The Green Bay Packers will have a lot of positional battles in training camp this year. There will be competition at starting center to see who will replace All-Pro Corey Linsley. While Krys Barnes is expected to be one of the starting inside linebackers, the other starting linebacker gig is up for grabs. Last week featured a look into who might start at the “star” position on the Packers defense. Now, let’s take a look at who might be the Green Bay Packers number three running back in 2021.
Green Bay Packers Number Three Running Back Spot Breakdown
Without a doubt, the biggest off-season move by General Manager Brian Gutekunst was the re-signing of star running back Aaron Jones. In keeping Jones, Green Bay kept their top rusher and one of their biggest offensive playmakers.
However, it meant their number two back Jamaal Williams would depart as a free agent. It ultimately resulted in him joining the enemy, as he signed a deal with the Detroit Lions. Although, Gutekunst was content with his decision due to the presence of 2020 second-round draft choice AJ Dillon certainly was a major factor.
In limited playing in 2020, Dillon displayed why Gutekunst spent a second-round pick on him. Dillon rushed for 242 on just 46 carries with two going for touchdowns. Come season’s end, he finished the season with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. The speed and power he displayed showed that he is very capable of replacing Williams.
Through his two seasons as the head coach and offensive play-caller, Matt LaFleur has shown that he wants to run the ball. There is no doubt that emphasis will continue in his third season in charge, especially if the Packers are forced to start Jordan Love at quarterback. With Aaron Rodgers‘ return up in the air, the Packers would need a potent rushing attack to take pressure off of Love if he is their starter.
While Jones and Dillon are locked in at the number one and number two running back spot, the Packers number three running back position is up for grabs. As of right now, there are three possible candidates to fill the Packers number three running back spot. Here are the candidates to fill that spot.
In the 2019 NFL draft, Gutekunst and the Packers selected Dexter Williams in the sixth round. The former Notre Dame product rushed for 995 yards in his last season in South Bend. He had 12 rushing touchdowns on 6.3 yards per carry.
Williams displayed a one-cut ability while in college. That ability drew the Packers to Williams and no doubt played a big part in why they selected him. That running style made him a good candidate for the Packers zone blocking scheme.
Like most late-round draft choices, Williams has had a hard time getting on the field. The Packers depth at running back has played a big part in Williams not getting on the field. In 2020, Jones was entrenched as the top ball carrier, with Williams as Jones’ backup and Dillon being the Packers number three running back.
Depth isn’t the only reason that he has played in just seven games the past two seasons. It was reported in 2019 that Williams had a difficult time gaining the trust of LaFleur. That lack of trust carried over into 2020.
But out of the three candidates to be the Packers number three running back, Williams has the most experience. That experience should help him in this battle. Nonetheless, Williams will need to show something in this year’s training camp.
Many draft experts lauded the selection of Kylin Hill in the seventh round of this year’s draft. Those experts believed that Hill would come off the board in the fifth or sixth round. Luckily for the Packers, Hill was still on the board in the seventh round.
Hill played in just three games in 2020. Although, in 2019, Hill displayed attributes that should carry over well in the NFL.
In 2019, Hill rushed for 1,350 yards on 242 carries. He had 10 rushing touchdowns with 5.6 yards per carry. He also chipped in 18 receptions for 180 yards with one receiving touchdown. His ability to catch the ball could help out the Packers. LaFleur has shown that he loves getting the running backs involved in the passing game.
Even for the Packers number three running back spot, it will be an uphill battle for a seventh-round rookie to win that spot. But if Hill can show the same type of playmaking ability he did in 2019, he has a chance.
Patrick Taylor appears to be the dark horse in the race to win the Packers number three running back position. But we believe he has a very good chance of doing so.
Taylor signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2019 season. He spent all of last season on the injured list for the Packers. Similar to Hill, Taylor had a down season in his final season at Memphis. Then again, just like with Hill, Taylor had a very strong season prior to his last season.
In 2018, Taylor rushed for 1,122 yards on 208 carries. He rushed for an eye-popping 16 touchdowns and had 5.4 yards per carry. He also caught 17 passes for 197 yards with two touchdown receptions.
Most NFL teams ask their number three running backs to participate on special teams. The Packers are in dire need of athletes to improve their special team’s play. The first-year coordinator Maurice Drayton is looking for fast good-sized athletes to participate on special teams.
Taylor looks to be that type of athlete. He is 6’2″, weighing well over 200 lbs.. His size and ability should fit well into what Drayton is looking for. Williams has played some special teams for the Packers, but has struggled. Hill doesn’t have any recent experience on special teams and is smaller than Taylor.
If Taylor can show he can contribute on special teams, it should give him a leg up on winning the Packers number three running back spot.
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