Locks – Ty Montgomery (6-0, 216), Aaron Ripkowski (6-1, 246)
Montgomery’s journey to becoming the Packers’ featured back is quite unique.
After being a very productive slot receiver and gadget player in Stanford’s offense, Montgomery found himself buried on the Packers depth chart only two seasons into his pro career.
Green Bay went into the 2016 season with seven receivers on their 53-man roster. The first five weeks of the season Montgomery didn’t record a single reception and rarely saw the field. He had to bide his time and make his impact on special teams.
However, after a 10-reception, 98-yard breakout performance against Dallas, Montgomery was asked to switch positions and start at running back with both Lacy and Starks inactive the following week against Chicago.
The 24-year-old answered the call and finally showcased to everyone how he can be used on offense. In a receiver/halfback hybrid role, Montgomery recorded 126 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry and cemented himself as Green Bay’s best option at the running back position for the remainder of the season.
When Montgomery got his opportunities, he made the most of them. On 77 carries he averaged 5.9 yards per attempt, scored three touchdowns, and amassed 805 yards from scrimmage in 12 games.
With a full offseason to work on learning the in-and-outs of his new position, Montgomery has the potential to be the Packers’ most dangerous weapon in the backfield.
However, even though Montgomery’s transition to running back helped secure the position last year, Ripkowski may be the glue that holds the backfield together.
He’s Green Bay’s most reliable pass blocker. Because of his understanding of the offense and protections he’s effective as the lone back in shotgun on third downs.
He can even carry the ball when needed. He rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries last season, most of his work coming in short yardage or goal line situations.
His job is secure for years, and with so much uncertainty at running back heading into the 2017 season, Green Bay will need Ripkowski as a pillar in the backfield.