Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews Headline the Ranking of the Green Bay Packers Roster
For the Green Bay Packers, winning Super Bowl XLV took a lot more than just the original 53-man roster that every team goes into the season with.
15 players went to the injured reserve with season-ending injuries, meaning the Packers had to scrap the heap of street free agents to even field a full roster.
That type of resiliency was a defining part of the Packers season. Each and every member contributed something to Green Bay bringing back the Lombardi Trophy.
Here is a ranking of every player that was on that roster and made it to the end of the season. Practice squad players will not be included, but those who finished on the IR will.
67. CB Josh Bell: Landed on the injured reserve in mid-August with a knee injury and probably won't be back next season. He might forever be known as the guy who gave up the game-winner to Mike Wallace and the Steelers in 2009.
66. CB Josh Gordy: Activated from the practice squad for the final nine games of the season but never saw the field. The Packers like Gordy however, and he'll get another look as a project player and is probable to make the practice squad.
65. LB Diryal Briggs: Brought in towards the end of October and contributed a handful of special teams tackles. Briggs is only 25, but chances are he gets flushed out by the return of several IR linebackers this summer.
64. G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was brought back after being cut in training camp on Dec. 31 and served as Scott Wells' backup for the final stretch. While he never saw the field, he'll get a chance in camp to win a spot.
63. CB Brandon Underwood: The Packers have high hopes for him but he's yet to realize any potential. That, along with his recent legal troubles, will make Underwood fight for a spot on this team moving forward.
62. LB Matt Wilhelm: Was added along with Briggs at the end of October as a true street free agent. Wilhelm was also guilty of the facemask that all but gave the Falcons a Week 13 win, and won't be back next season.
61. DE Jarius Wynn: Was a final roster cut but got a second chance after Justin Harrell went down. Wynn registered 1.5 sacks in limited action and should get a good opportunity to make the team next season.
60. QB Graham Harrell: Once a prolific college player, Harrell is now coach Mike McCarthy's newest project quarterback. He still needs time, but he could develop into the backup if Matt Flynn leaves after 2011 or is traded.
59. G/C Nick McDonald: Made the team as a rookie free agent and the Packers like his potential as either guard or center. McDonald wasn't active for a single game but could be in the running to take Daryn Colledge's spot at left guard if he leaves.
58. LB Robert Francois: Played some with the defense but was mostly a special teamer. His penalty against Miami for lining up over the center was a big play in the game, but Francois might get another look in camp.
57. TE Spencer Havner: Cut before the season, the Packers brought back the fan favorite in November. Havner promptly got re-injured—considerably hurting his chances to be back next year.
56. LS Brett Goode: A trusted member of the special teams unit and didn't make a glaring mistake all season. The Packers rewarded Goode with a contract extension towards the end of the year.
55. WR Brett Swain: Won the No. 5 receiver spot during camp and caught six passes while contributing on special teams. Some are high on Swain and some are low, but he'll have to fight his way onto the roster again in camp.
54. CB Pat Lee: Played the most important snaps of his career in the Super Bowl after injuries ravaged the Packers secondary. Lee has been a bust second-rounder thus far but will still have the opportunity to make the team as a dime back.
53. RB Dmitri Nance: Acquired from the Falcons practice squad after Ryan Grant's injury and fits the Packers running scheme. Nance will need an impressive summer and camp to win a roster spot, however.
52. S Anthony Smith: Re-acquired from Jacksonville in an unsuspected October trade. Smith played on special teams but didn't contribute much and most likely won't be back.
51. DE C.J. Wilson: A surprise contributor as a seventh-round rookie on the defensive line. Wilson kept getting better and stronger throughout the year and has a high chance of staying on the roster.
50. TE Tom Crabtree: Surprisingly survived the final roster cuts but showed why by bringing blocking and toughness to the Packers tight ends. Crabtree might never be an impact receiver, but his blocking gives him value.
49. DE Justin Harrell: Many quiver at the sound of his name, but Harrell's story is a sad one. With all the injuries he's suffered in his career, the talent that led the Packers to pick him in the first round has never had the chance to show.
48. TE Donald Lee: With all the talent and youth among the Packers tight ends, it was clear Lee was on his last stretch in Green Bay. Caught a couple touchdowns but was released after the season.
47. G Jason Spitz: Once a two-year starter on the offensive line, he's regressed to the point where the Packers are unlikely to bring him back. Spitz still has some versatility, but also struggled when pressed into duty during the season.
46. S Atari Bigby: Injuries cost him his starting spot and the coaching staff's confidence in him wavered this year. Still an aggressive tackler, chances are Bigby will head for greener pastures this offseason.
45. G/T Marshall Newhouse: The fifth round pick in 2010 didn't see the field at all his rookie season, but the coaching staff has high hopes for his future. Newhouse could be the long-term answer at either right tackle or guard depending on his progression.
44. FB Quinn Johnson: Part of the Packers trio of fullbacks, Johnson is the best pure blocker of the bunch. Needs to become more assignment-sure, but has the most potential of the three.
43. LB Brady Poppinga: Has never been a game-changing athlete in 53 career appearances and his recent injury woes will hurt him. With some of the new youth in the linebacking core, Poppinga might be hard-pressed to make the team.
42. FB Korey Hall: The most experienced fullback on the Packers roster and also one of the core special teamers. Despite everything Hall gives Green Bay, he's a free agent this summer and might not be around any longer.
41. LB Brad Jones: Played so well in '09 that the Packers did very little to address the outside linebacker position in the offseason. Jones was injured after an ineffective start to the 2010 season, but should factor into the linebackers next year.
40. DE Howard Green: He was acquired midseason and played a bigger role in the Packers defense than everyone expected. Primarily a block-eater, Green's rush of Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl gave Nick Collins an easy pick-six.
39. TE Andrew Quarless: While not the athlete Jermichael Finley is, he brings a lot of the same things to the table. With another year to mature, Quarless could develop into one of the better No. 2 tight end options in the league.
38. K Mason Crosby: He's consistent, but in a frustrating way. Crosby has never had a kicking accuracy over 80 percent, but chances are he'll be back next year.
37. LB Frank Zombo: He was never expected to contribute in his rookie year, but played well (five sacks) when given the opportunity. Zombo's injury opened the door for Erik Walden, but he'll be back to fight for playing time next year.
36. CB/S Jarrett Bush: Always an easy target for fans, Bush finally emerged as an important part of the Packers this season. As arguably the most vital special teams player, he's almost certain a roster spot next year.
35. LB Erik Walden: Had one of the performances of the year in Week 17 versus the Bears with three sacks and 12 tackles. If the Packers don't add an outside linebacker in the draft, Walden might have the first crack at being the starter.
34. OL T.J. Lang: Can play nearly any position on the offensive line and served as the primary backup for several of them this season. He still needs to get better, but Lang could be the starting left guard next year.
33. P Tim Masthay: It took plenty of failed experiments, but it seems as if the Packers have finally found a reliable punter. Masthay is far from Craig Hentrich at this point, but he gives the team some stability.
32. S Charlie Peprah: He was castoff in 2009 but the Packers brought Peprah back before this season. It was a good thing they did too—he was a steady starter filling in for injuries at safety.
31. T Mark Tauscher: The Packers brought him back to be the right tackle, but injuries once again caught up with Tauscher. After a nightmare beginning to the season, he was placed on IR and is probably done in Green Bay.
30. LB Brandon Chillar: An athletic and versatile linebacker, Chillar also saw his season end due to injury after just eight games. He needs to recover in time for camp and prove he's worth his $2 million contract to be back.
29. QB Matt Flynn: A former seventh round pick, Flynn has progressed into a solid backup with a possible starting future. Of course, that won't be in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers in town but he should be on the roster in 2011.
28. DE Mike Neal: Last year's second round pick proved he has talent with his early defensive showing. An injury cost him the rest of his season, but the future is bright for Neal as Cullen Jenkins probable replacement.
27. FB John Kuhn: Once an afterthought, Kuhn turned himself into a local hero with his inspired play out of the backfield. Chances are the free agent fullback will be back in Green Bay next season.
26. S Morgan Burnett: The rookie safety showed some flashes during his brief four game stint before getting injured. Burnett will need to battle Peprah for the starting spot, but he has to be the early favorite to take it back next year.
25. RB Brandon Jackson: While he failed as the lead back when Grant went down, Jackson is still underrated as a third down back. It's doubtful that any team will see him as a 300-carry option and he should be back in Green Bay.
24. WR James Jones: He's never been a star in the Packers offense, but Jones plays a part and usually plays it well. His big drops are a concern, but Green Bay should be interested in re-signing the talented receiver.
23. G Daryn Colledge: Of the Packers five starting offensive linemen in 2010, Colledge was arguably the worst of the bunch. And while he's been a reliable starter at left guard, it's probable that he won't be back next season.
22. LB Nick Barnett: Lost for the season for the second time in three years, injuries have become an issue for the former Pro Bowler. A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop have jumped Barnett on the depth chart as well, and he might have played his last game for the Packers.
21. CB Sam Shields: An undrafted free agent pickup in 2010, Shields burst onto the scene as a playmaking third corner. With more experience at the position, the sky is the limit for his potential.
20. WR Donald Driver: Injuries and age finally started to creep up on Driver during the 2010 season. He posted his lowest totals since 2001, but he could still play a big factor in the Packers offense next year.
19. C Scott Wells: Vastly underrated, Wells anchors the Packers offensive line with smarts and toughness. He's getting older, but don't expect anyone but Wells to be the center next season.
18. WR Jordy Nelson: Much like James Jones, Nelson has never been the focal point of the Packers offense. Even so, he has the best chance to both replace the production of Jones and take away looks from an aging Donald Driver.
17. RB James Starks: We only have a small sample size, but Starks gave the Packers a glimpse of what they have with his strong playoff run. He'll compete with Grant for carries, but he has a high ceiling if healthy.
16. OT Bryan Bulaga: Wasn't expected to be the regular starter at either tackle position, but the injury to Mark Tauscher gave him a chance. Bulaga had his early struggles, but he looks like a 10-year starter at either left or right tackle.
15. DE Ryan Pickett: Lost in the Packers defensive accomplishments last season was Pickett's successful switch from nose tackle to defensive end. He is starting to get older, but his 330-pound frame has some good seasons left in it.
14. LB Desmond Bishop: After Barnett's injury, Bishop finally emerged as a player the Packers could count on to start full-time. He teams well with A.J. Hawk, and he earned his contract extension in January.
13. RB Ryan Grant: His value to the Packers was finally evident once he was lost for the season in Week 1. At just 28 years old, Grant has plenty of mileage left and forms a solid duo with Starks.
12. OT Chad Clifton: Despite his age, Clifton had a terrific end to the 2010 season. He won't be among the Packers best players for much longer, but he's currently a solid option at left tackle.
11. LB A.J. Hawk: He may never live up to his No. 5 overall draft status, but he is a steady and consistent performer. The Packers paid him to stick around and be their defensive play-caller for the foreseeable future.
10. DE Cullen Jenkins: His injury woes sometimes overshadow how good of a football player he is, but he's one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL. At age 30 however, it's likely he's heading out of Green Bay.
9. TE Jermichael Finley: With his unmatched skill set, Finley has the opportunity to shoot up this list in the coming years. If he stays healthy for a full season, the sky is the limit for this elite talent in the Packers offense.
8. S Nick Collins: His pick-six in the Super Bowl put him momentarily in the spotlight, but Collins is one of the NFL's most underrated defenders. His range and play recognition have gotten better every season he's been in the league.
7. B.J. Raji: Really came on in the second half of the 2010 season and was one of the NFL's most dominant players during that stretch. Nose tackles in 3-4 defenses rarely get much publicity, but Raji figures to be a poster boy for that position.
6. Josh Sitton: There may not be a more underrated offensive lineman in the game than Sitton. He's a mauler in the run game and is hands down the Packers best player up front.
5. Tramon Williams: His career path is something straight out of Hollywood. Once an undrafted free agent, Williams has progressed into one of the top cover corners in the NFL.
4. Greg Jennings: If you consider his entire body of work, Jennings probably had the best 2010 season of any NFL receiver. It also probably goes without saying that Rodgers-to-Jennings is one of the premier connections in the NFL today.
3. Charles Woodson: Despite being 34 years old, Woodson continues to be a disruptive force. Put simply, no corner in the NFL has his mix of versatility and play making ability.
2. Clay Matthews: With his 2010 campaign, Matthews could have, and possibly should have, been Defensive Player of the Year. Despite facing double teams on most plays, Matthews continually got to the quarterback and made big plays for the Packers defense.
A shin injury slowed Matthews during the middle portions of the season, but you could make the argument that he was the best pass rusher throughout the NFL year. At just 25 years old, the future is bright for Matthews.
1. Aaron Rodgers: Could it really have been anyone else? The Packers quarterback started the first half of the season painfully slow but was a dominant force for the rest of the year.
Rodgers put together two of the best quarterback showings in Packers (or even NFL) playoff history against Atlanta and Pittsburgh, and he threw for over 400 yards against the Giants in a game that had to be won.
The Super Bowl MVP is just entering his prime now, and the Packers should be in contention every season that Rodgers is at the helm of this team.