After months of uncertainty, professional football, king of all sports, returns. By the end of this week, the Green Bay Packers will have a 53-man roster and be preparing for a Week 1 tilt against the Minnesota Vikings.
Due to a lack of preseason games and a stricter PR policy by the team, predicting a final roster is much more difficult than previous years. Without firsthand knowledge of who’s been running with the first team or a reliable form of augury, those of us outside of practices can only speculate.
One of the more intriguing depth charts in at running back. The backfield is loaded with talent and implications for the future. The Packers top backs from 2019, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, are on a contract year, and the team used a second-round pick on AJ Dillon. The Packers have big decisions to make on the position, and those could start as early as this week.
That said, who do I think makes the Packers’ running back group in 2020?
Running Backs (4): Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, AJ Dillon, Tyler Ervin
Aaron Jones is part of the trinity of offensive stardom on this Packers team, along with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. It took too long for the offensive staffs of the last few years to commit to Jones, but it finally happened and it paid off big. Jones is a legitimate star by land or air. His contract situation will be complicated going forward; running back contracts are a favorite debate, and the 2021 free-agent class is loaded. But there is no reason to think Jones won’t be tearing through defenses as a Packer in 2020.
Jamaal Williams could be a surprise cut in 2020. The team could work out a deal with Jones and keep him and Dillon as their core backs. But with promising reports about Williams’ evolution in the passing game, I think he sticks around this year. Williams is a reliable back willing to do anything asked of him, and he improves every year. Plus, his interviews are positively charming. Couldn’t ask for a better number two running back.
AJ Dillon was a second-round pick. There is zero chance he doesn’t make the roster. It’s probable he beats out Jamaal Williams as RB2 by midseason, but he’ll enter the season as RB3. Matt LaFleur loves his potential and believes he’ll be a weapon in the passing game. Once the rookie learns the ropes, he’ll be the future of the position in Green Bay. And those legs might be as legendary as Kumerow’s hair.
Tyler Ervin breathed life into one of the worst return units in the history of the National Football League. Yet he can be more than a return man. LaFleur tried to get Swervin’ Ervin involved in the passing game, and a full offseason with the team will prepare him for more playtime. Early reports revealed Ervin was getting work as a wide receiver, so a position change is possible. However, until told otherwise, he makes the roster as a running back.
Notably omitted are second-year back Dexter Williams and fullback John Lovett. D. Williams faces the challenge of joining a crowded backfield after an underwhelming rookie season. While he has looked sharper in training camp and is a natural fit in the offense, barring injury or a surprise cut he spends another year on the practice squad.
LaFleur’s offense would love a star fullback, and Lovett is an intriguing player. With some practice, he could be a versatile weapon and be a better Taysom Hill. However, Josiah Deguara likely fills a lot of the same role in 2020, and roster spots are precious. Lovett is an ideal practice squad player.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.