The final installation of the Packers’ 2021 preseason was played in Orchard Park, New York on Saturday afternoon. The Buffalo Bills welcomed Green Bay for what would be many players’ last chance to submit their claim for a spot on the initial 53-man roster. Let’s take a look at which players impressed in the week 3 edition of Packers Stock Watch.
With the rest of the Packers’ 2021 draft class hogging most of the media’s attention throughout training camp, Shemar Jean-Charles has quietly gone about his work.
The Appalachian State product entered camp as a fifth-round draft pick who carried upside as a future nickel corner in Joe Barry’s defense.
Jean-Charles doesn’t hold any freakish traits, but he predicates his game on sound fundamentals to get the job done.
The 23-year-old has played in every game this preseason and has gone virtually unnoticed for much of it. That’s not to say he’s been bad, though.
Like offensive linemen, if you don’t notice a defensive back, that usually means he’s doing his job well.
Against the Bills, the rookie showed signs of settling in. He was around the ball more, leading to a preseason-high four tackles. Jean-Charles finished the preseason with seven tackles and one pass breakup.
Although allowing one completion on the day, he was never out of position to make a play on the ball or rally for a tackle.
Jean-Charles’ roster spot was never in question and he’s shown encouraging signs in his first training camp.
Barring injury, he likely won’t see much playing time in his rookie season, but time to soak in more information while quietly working on his craft could pay dividends as early as 2022 when Jean-Charles could be asked to start.
Another forgotten player amid this exciting training camp.
Reggie Begelton joined the Packers following the loss to the 49ers in the 2020 NFC Championship game.
He was a stud in the Canadian Football League, ranking top five in every major receiving category in 2019.
The Lamar product was good enough to warrant a spot on the practice squad last season and hoped to take the next step as a 27-year-old.
On Saturday, Begelton got a long look and a nice share of targets to make his case. Much like the rest of the preseason, he didn’t disappoint when he got his chance.
He finished with four grabs on six targets for 51 yards, finishing second to Malik Taylor in yards.
Begelton finished the preseason with seven catches on 12 targets for 80 yards. He also flashed in his lone opportunity on special teams against the Jets where he knifed his way for a 28-yard return.
In his pressers, Begelton comes across as a lunch pail guy, grinding it out each day and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
That has surely resonated with the coaches, and with Devin Funchess being placed on IR, his approach has put him in a battle with Malik Taylor for the sixth and, presumably, last receiver spot on the roster.
Begelton doesn’t have the raw ability that other receivers have, but his sure hands have secured him a spot on the practice squad at the very least, and possibly the 53-man roster.
When opportunity knocks…
Malik Taylor entered his third season with the Packers after spending one year on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster in 2020.
A roster spot in 2020 doesn’t guarantee you a spot in 2021, though, and Taylor found himself in a heated battle with Funchess and Begelton for the final spot on the receivers’ depth chart.
When Funchess began missing camp due to injury, Taylor took over.
The Ferris State alumn posted four grabs for 66 yards against the Jets in week 2 and five catches for 69 yards against the Bills.
He showed the ability to catch in traffic and create plays with the ball in his hands.
Taylor finished the preseason with 14 grabs on 16 targets for 185 yards – the stud receiver of the preseason.
Being with the Packers in 2020, Taylor has also shown he can make an impact on special teams, which could be his ticket to the active roster in 2021.
Entering Saturday’s matchup against the Bills, Taylor was the clubhouse leader for the sixth spot in the receiver room. Barring something major, it seemed like the job was his to lose.
Despite dropping a pass, he made a statement in week 3, finishing second in targets and catches, and leading the team in yards.
Reggie Begelton has certainly made a push for the 53-man roster, but Taylor’s experience with the team, ability on special teams, and a rock-solid preseason has firmly placed him in the driver’s seat entering final cutdowns.
It’s eye-opening when someone produces 4.8 yards per carry in the NFL. It’s even more eye-opening when that person finds himself on the outside looking in at a roster spot.
Like most players on this list, Dexter Williams hasn’t commanded much attention this preseason.
The 23-year-old has bounced between the active roster and practice in his first two seasons with the Packers.
His abilities as a playmaker are intriguing, but it just hadn’t seemed to click for the Notre Dame product.
Now in 2021, Williams seems to have taken a big step.
With the emergence of Kylin Hill, Williams hasn’t been given as many opportunities as in past years, but his efficiency has gone up drastically.
Williams has provided multiple sparks for a Packers offense that has looked stagnant at times throughout the preseason.
Against the Bills was no different, where he rushed for 28 yards on five carries (5.6 yards/carry).
He’s shown more wiggle and better vision this preseason, and his performance against the Bills has left some wondering if he could sneak his way onto the 53-man roster.
If not, would his preseason performance garner interest from other teams?
You’d have to assume so.
One thing for certain is if Williams does make his way to the Packers practice squad, the organization has four intriguing backs to turn to at some point this season.
Linebacker has long been noted as an area of weakness for the Packers.
Now with a veteran addition and some players emerging on the roster, the position looks the best it has looked in some time.
Isaiah McDuffie has been a member of those emerging on the roster.
The sixth-round pick has settled in nicely this preseason, visibly improving with each snap.
McDuffie registered just four tackles through the first two games of the preseason before exploding for nine tackles and a half-sack against the Bills.
The Boston College alumn had his coming out party on Saturday and may have secured his spot on the 53-man roster as a result.
The most glaring trait McDuffie carries is his strength. He made multiple tackles on Saturday that would suggest he is, in fact, a grown man.
McDuffie isn’t the fastest guy on the field, but his growth through just three preseason games has to leave the Packers intrigued about his ceiling.
He will likely find himself as the fifth linebacker on the depth chart with an opportunity to watch, learn, and grow this season.——————
Joshua Frey-Sam is a journalism student and aspiring sportscaster hailing from Winnipeg, Canada. A Packers fan since 2005, Josh has worked to master the financial and scouting aspect of the NFL over the past few years. Josh remains a firm believer that Dez did not, in fact, catch the ball. You can follow him on twitter at @jfreysam.