The Green Bay Packers will rely heavily on their running backs this season. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are probably their two most talented offensive weapons. Therefore, Green Bay will use them a lot. But that also means the Packers will need running back depth, and one undrafted free agent has a real shot at making the initial 53-man roster.
His name is Tyler Goodson.
Goodson, who played college ball at Iowa, was considered the best available undrafted free agent RB according to Chad Reuter of NFL.com’s ranking. He is fast for the position, with a 4.42 40-yard time, but he is also thin at 197 lbs. Goodson had a strong three-year career at Iowa. In 2019, he became the first true freshman in school history to lead the team in rushing yards. He also had a good 2020 season, ending the year as a first-team All-Big Ten. Last season, Goodson ran for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns in 13 starts.
He’s obviously not a perfect prospect, and that’s why he wasn’t drafted. But his NFL Network draft profile highlights many of his qualities, such as “adequate acceleration to the corner,” “foot quickness to escape out the side door,” and “ran routes out of the backfield and split out.”
His ability to catch passes has already earned him attention during Packers training camp, where he’s been the third running back on the depth chart.
Kyle Crabbs from The Draft Network classifies Goodson as a “rotational runner and potential pass-catching threat.”
“His 70 career receptions often showcased a good ability to create separation against linebackers when running out of the backfield,” Crabbs wrote. The Draft Network gave Goodson a fourth-round grade.
Most of Goodson’s evaluations indicated that he might not be well-suited for a full-time role.
“Goodson played in Iowa’s zone-heavy run scheme but lacks elements like vision and decisiveness, which are usually associated with successful zone runners on the pro level,” wrote NFL analyst Lance Zierlein.
While Jones and Dillon have secured their roster spots — and a significant role on the offense — the rest of the depth is wide open. Last year’s seventh-round pick Kylin Hill is the projected RB3. The problem is that Hill suffered an ACL injury last season and hasn’t fully recovered. He started training camp on the PUP list.
The other likely option is Patrick Taylor, a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Memphis. He has been with the Packers since 2020. However, he got injured in his rookie year, and Green Bay cut him to start the 2021 season. He spent the first half of last season on the practice squad, and Green Bay promoted him when Hill was injured.
The last Packers running back on the depth chart is undrafted free agent B.J. Baylor from Oregon State. He was the 21st-best UDFA RB according to Chad Reuter, and Baylor has a long way to go to make the team — the practice squad is more realistic for him.
The Packers may decide to keep four running backs this year. They didn’t do it in the last two seasons, sticking with three. But considering how important Jones and Dillon will be to the team, rotation will be even more imperative.
In 2019, for example, the Packers finished the season with Jones, Jamaal Williams, Tyler Ervin, and Dexter Williams, plus fullback Danny Vitale. Therefore, it’s plausible to have more options if they can also contribute on special teams. However, Goodson will have to be more impactful in this area with the Packers than in college. He had only nine career snaps on special teams at Iowa. But Goodson has the physical profile to do that — his Relative Athletic Score is 9.54 out of 10, an elite number.
Last season, Green Bay’s depth running backs had around 8% of the offensive snaps — Kylin Hill had 26 offensive snaps (2.33%), and Patrick Taylor had 63 (5.65%). This number might increase a little bit.
The bottom line is that Tyler Goodson is a good depth option, at least until Hill returns from injury. His style is reminiscent of Jamaal Williams, who had had an important role with the Packers for four years before signing with the Detroit Lions last season. Goodson can be a good contributor to special teams. He can also be a rotational piece for what Aaron Jones does in case of emergency. And that’s enough for an undrafted free-agent rookie.