The Packers will hold three more OTAs this week, and then things will get very quiet until training camp begins in late July. Enjoy the break because things are going to get hectic very soon. Anyway, here are some more Packers-related thoughts that ran through my mind in recent days:
1) Not only is A.J. Dillon a really good guy and one heck of a running back, but he might be the most unselfish player in the league. The former Boston College star could rush for at least 1,200 yards if given more chances, yet he seems very content in his role as Aaron Jones’ understudy for a third consecutive season. And while Dillon figures to pound the rock more than the 187 times he did a year ago, he’s not going to come close to getting 20 carries a game. What makes Dillon’s attitude even more admirable is his contract status. A big 2022 would set him up for a lucrative extension next spring or summer, but that’s unlikely to happen due to what’s expected to be a relatively limited role in the offense. He might be forced to play out his rookie deal and hope to cash in following the 2023 season – a season in which he should finally become “the guy.” It wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, especially for a running back, but you can bet Dillon won’t complain.
2) Undrafted rookie Cole Schneider probably won’t make the 53-man roster, but it would be a big surprise if he’s not part of the practice squad. The guard/center from Central Florida reminds me so much of a young Lucas Patrick, who overcame not being drafted to start 34 games for Green Bay before signing an $8 million contract with the Bears in March. Like Patrick, the 23-year-old Schneider lacks ideal measurables but usually finds a way to get the job done. He understands angles and positioning and does a nice job of sealing off his man in the run game. Schneider (6-3, 309) has good eyes and awareness in pass protection, and while he’s far from a great athlete, he has just enough reactionary quickness to recover when he gets out of position. Competition at guard and center will be fierce. Starters Jon Runyan and Royce Newman return, along with veteran Jake Hanson and draft picks Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom. It’ll be tough for Schneider to crack that group as a rookie, but don’t count him out. He’s the kind of tough SOB coaches love to have around.
Lined up at left guard (#65), Schneider does a great job of reacting to movement and keeping Boise State’s outside linebacker away from the QB.
3) If the No. 4 cornerback is one of the biggest concerns going into training camp, you know Green Bay’s defense is loaded with talent. Still, for a team that intends to play a lot of nickel this season, that spot on the depth chart is pretty important. Veteran Keisean Nixon is the favorite to win the job, even though his former team (Las Vegas), viewed him almost exclusively as a special teams player in 2021. The former undrafted free agent from South Carolina was on the field for only 81 defensive snaps despite the Raiders’ extreme lack of depth at corner. Tape suggests Nixon might be serviceable in the slot, but he looked like former Packer Isaac Yiadom when asked to line up outside. It’s fair to wonder why general manager Brian Gutekunst didn’t just re-sign Chandon Sullivan. He’s a better player, and the Vikings are paying him only $800K more. Again, the No. 4 corner is hardly a big deal – unless, of course, he suddenly becomes the No. 3 corner.