The Green Bay Packers are set at the top of the depth chart at running back heading into OTAs and training camp with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon set to get the bulk of the snaps this season. But behind the top two runners, the team likely faces an intriguing battle for what is likely one roster spot and another on the practice squad.
Right now, there are four players on the Packers 90-man roster fighting for that third running back spot. Here is a look at each of them and what they bring to the table:
1. Kylin Hill
Hill was the Packers seventh round draft choice last season. The former Mississippi State star made the team and won the third running back position after a strong preseason. He was also the team’s primary kick returner.
During the regular season, Hill saw limited action on offense, carrying the ball 10 times for 24 yards. Half of those carries came in the Packers Week 1 blowout loss to the Saints.
Hill averaged 19.9-yards per kick return and seemed to show promise as a kick returner before suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Cardinals in Week 8.
The injury will likely force Hill to start 2022 on the PUP list. This will give him a chance to compete for a roster spot once he gets healthy. Hill is hoping he can continue his development in year two, even if he will not start the regular season on time.
2. Patrick Taylor
When Hill was injured, Taylor was added to the roster from the practice squad. The Memphis alum gained 89 yards on 23 carries and scored one touchdown. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield who can use his 6’3”, 223-pound size to his advantage. His strongest performance came in Week 18 in Detroit where he played the second half.
Taylor hopes to build on the progress he made last season when he finally got a chance to show what he could do in the NFL. His size and receiving ability make him a good fit in the Packers offense.
3. Tyler Goodson
The Packers signed Goodson as an undrafted free agent last month. The former Iowa star stands only 5’9” but weighs nearly 200 pounds. He’s not tall but his body is not small, either. He has 4.42 speed in the 40 which gives him the ability to break away from defenders if he breaks into the open field.
He was a three-year starter at Iowa and gained more than 1,100 yards in 2021.
Goodson ran in a zone blocking offense at Iowa and has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he isn’t the most elusive runner and needs to be more decisive in his cuts.
Some scouts feel Goodson has the skills to return kicks although he did not see extensive action in that role at Iowa.
We shall see how Goodson fares in training camp and in the preseason.
4. BJ Baylor
Baylor gained more than 1,200 yards last season at Oregon State while averaging 6.0-yards per carry and running for 13 touchdowns. He did not see significant playing time prior to 2021. He also ran in a zone blocking scheme in college which is similar to the one the Packers utilize under Matt LaFleur.
Scouts say Baylor has good vision and hits the hole decisively, but he tends to run high and that means he doesn’t gain as many yards after contact and he takes more punishment than a runner who keeps a lower center of gravity.
Baylor caught 14 passes in his college career. Scouts question whether he can become a reliable receiver at the NFL level. Similar questions were asked about AJ Dillon and it turned out Dillon was a good receiver out of the backfield once he got the chance. The jury is still out on Baylor.
Baylor is slightly taller than Goodson at 5’10” and 202 pounds but is still considered a little undersized.
GM Brian Gutekunst may decide to sign another running back prior to the start of training camp, but as of right now, these are the four candidates fighting for one or at most, two spots on the active roster.
The third running back has the opportunity to grow into a larger role with the team. He would be the next man up if injuries hit either Jones or Dillon and would immediately see a bigger role in the offense. Remember, Dillon started his rookie campaign as the Packers third runner behind Jones and Jamaal Williams.
Somebody is going to win a roster spot this September, the big question is who it will be?