Ahead of their first preseason game of 2023 with the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday, the Green Bay Packers released their first unofficial depth chart. Although there wasn’t anything too surprising, there are still a number of takeaways worth making note of.
For Matt LaFleur, however, he does not want the players focused on where they stand on the depth chart at the moment. Instead it’s about getting better each day and maximizing the opportunities that they have.
"“Just because somebody is running with the ones,” said LaFleur last week, “doesn’t’ mean that’s necessarily the case and vice versa if you’re running with the twos, I don’t want the guys thinking about the depth chart at this point.”The sole focus each and every time you go out there is to try to get better each and every day in everything they do. In order to do that, you have to give max effort, you got to be deliberate about what you’re doing. Know the ins and outs, the details, the why of everything we are asking these guys to do.”"
Here are my quick takeaways from the unofficial depth chart, along with some thoughts from what I’ve seen during the training camp practices.
Bo Melton is the sixth wide receiver
The first five spots at this position group are set, but the sixth spot is up for grabs between Bo Melton, Malik Heath, and Grant DuBose. Melton has put together a really strong week of practices, finding the end zone on multiple occasions. He has lined up primarily in the slot, and been targeted either on quick routes where he gets the ball in space with his 4.34 speed, or targeted downfield.
"“I’ve seen a lot of good things from both those guys,” said LaFleur about Melton and Heath. “They are different receivers. Malik is kind of your big goonish-type of guy, that you know we love around here. He’s very physical. And Bo is a scrapper. He’s a scrappy guy that can really run. I think they both have flashed. It’s just about building the consistency in which they go out there and ultimately they’re going to have to do it in the preseason games.”"
Heath is coming off his best training camp practice during Family Night, where he found the end zone twice, while DuBose returned to the practice field for the first time on Monday after being activated off the NFI list. With how active the tight ends and running backs are in the passing game, the sixth receiver’s role is going to be small, and I don’t believe it’s a given that the Packers even keep that many. For Melton and Heath specifically, it’s going to be important that they carry the momentum they’ve built into the preseason.
Samori Toure is ahead of Jayden Reed
Both of these players are going to see a lot of snaps this season, so the fact that Samori Toure is listed ahead of Jayden Reed at this point should be taken with a grain of salt. Reed has seen a lot of time with the starters this summer, but especially early on, Toure has been targeted more, I would say, perhaps showing the value of the year of experience he has in LaFleur’s system. With that said, Reed has made several plays as of late and brings big play ability with his speed.
Patrick Taylor is RB3
Tyler Goodson has been the more impressive player on offense, seeing more time with the starters in a gadget role and also just being more explosive with the ball. However, both LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst mentioned last week that special teams contributions, pass catching, and blocking abilities would be key factors in deciding who wins this battle. Special teams play is a big reason why Taylor was on the roster for much of 2022, and is an area where Goodson will have to carve out a role. Each of the three backs competing for this roster spot will be featured in a preseason game. Goodson is listed ahead of Lew Nichols, who has missed the last two practices with a shoulder injury.
Zach Tom is the starting right tackle
Again, not surprising, he has started there for really all of training camp up to this point. Tom is going to be one of the starters come Week 1, the question right now is where? And I think the answer lies in where the biggest talent gap is. Is it between him and Josh Myers at center or Tom and Yosh Nijman at right tackle?
Rasheed Walker over Caleb Jones
The second offensive line unit has mostly consisted of Rasheed Walker at left tackle and Caleb Jones at right tackle. However, on the depth chart, Nijman is at right tackle, pushing Jones to the third unit. Perhaps this is simply because Nijman is listed as a right tackle, and if he were at left tackle, we would have seen Walker with the third team. Based on what I’ve seen, I would have thought that Jones would be ahead of Walker on the depth chart, given that he’s seen some snaps here and there with the ones going back to offseason programs. But nonetheless, it’s something to monitor because depending on how the Packers view Jones verse Walker, the second option of those two is not guaranteed a roster spot.
Tyler Davis ahead of Tucker Kraft
Up until recently, Tyler Davis had seen quite a few more snaps with the starting offense than Tucker Kraft—although Kraft is coming off a very good Family Night performance as both a pass catcher and blocker, and has seen his role with the ones increasing over the last week. With Luke Musgrave being the primary pass catching threat and Davis holding up very well as a blocker, those two cover the basic responsibilities that come with playing tight end, allowing the Packers to bring Kraft along a bit more slowly if they wish to do so, at a position that comes with a very steep learning curve. Now, having said that, don’t be mistaken either, Kraft is going to have a role in this offense and comes with a much higher upside than Davis.
JJ Enagbare is edge rusher No. 5
Both Lukas Van Ness and Justin Hollins are listed ahead of JJ Enagbare, which matches what I’ve seen on the practice field. Both players, especially Van Ness as of late, have seen their fair share of snaps with the starters and spent most of their times with the second units. Also of note is that Hollins is listed as the third edge rusher. As I’ve mentioned before, from a salary cap standpoint, he is not a roster lock, but he was good against both the run and pass last season, is playing with either the ones or twos, and his starting on some special teams units. It’s hard to envision him not being on the roster. Brenton Cox is edge rusher No. 6.
Rudy Ford is starting next to Darnell Savage
This has been the case for much of the summer and going back to offseason programs as well. Outside of Savage, Ford is the second-most experienced safety on the team in Joe Barry’s defense, and did well providing some much-needed stability to the position last season. However, as of late, we have seen Jonathan Owens next to Savage with the starters. LaFleur said last week that we would continue to see a lot rotating at this position.
Owens and Tarvarius Moore are listed as the third and fourth options, with Anthony Johnson and Dallin Leavitt with the third-team. This is where Johnson has spent just about all of his time, which isn’t surprising, given that this is only his second season at the safety position. Leavitt, meanwhile, is on this team to play special teams.
Innis Gaines is the backup nickel cornerback
You can read more here, but in short, with crowded safety and cornerback rooms, I’m not sure what Innis Gaines’ path to the 53 man looks like, but he is someone that you shouldn’t forget about because he can be a contributor in 2023. Although the cornerback room is talented, Keisean Nixon is the only true-slot option that the Packers have – outside of Gaines or Shemar Jean-Charles, who likely isn’t going to make the team – which would make Gaines the backup, and potentially someone we could see called upon just like late last season. He’s also someone who ended up being a key special teams contributor in 2022 and has been starting on a few special teams units this summer.
Pat O’Donnell is ahead of Daniel Whelan
I will say, this punter competition is a lot more real than what I thought it was going to be. Daniel Whelan packs a lot of power, which I’m sure is appealing to the Packers. But as always, there is more that goes into this role than just that aspect, most notably how each performs as a holder. When Anders Carlson has been kicking in training camp, the two have been alternating as holders. Providing stability has a holder was one of the big reasons the Packers signed O’Donnell last offseason, and there is definitely some risks that come with relying on a rookie kicker and a rookie holder, in a season where points may really be at a premium. If the Packers were to release O’Donnell, they would save about $1.5 million in cap space.
Other quick notes
Josiah Deguara is listed as a fullback for the first time. He’s technically been used as an H-back but listed on the official roster as a tight end. During individual drills, he and rookie Henry Pearson have spent a portion of that time on their own doing blocking drills out of the backfield.
Kenny Clark is listed as a defensive end and not a nose tackle, where he has spent a lot of his career. With TJ Slaton seeing more snaps in the middle, that hopefully gives Clark more one-on-one opportunities away from the interior.
Luke Musgrave is the starting tight end, which has been the case since OTAs.
With Zach Tom starting at right tackle that means Josh Myers is the starting center. But the competition for the starting center role is absolutely a camp battle that is taking place.