The Green Bay Packers quietly made a very interesting signing during the second day of training camp, inking a deal with free-agent running back Corey Grant.
Grant was an exceptional gadget player for the Jaguars and a useful weapon in their offense. Grant is a very capable receiver out of the backfield, but can hit the edge in a hurry and also provides value as a kick returner.
Grant also is familiar with the Packers‘ new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett held the same position with the Jaguars from 2016-2018, where Grant was slowly mixed more and more into the offense. Never was Grant’s value more on display than in the 2018 AFC Championship Game between the Jaguars and Patriots.
Grant gave Bill Belichick and his defense fits throughout the game with his swing pass actions and blinding speed. He finished the game with three receptions for 59 yards, once again proving his worth as an elite pass-catching back.
The Packers had largely ignored the running back position throughout the offseason up to that point, with the exception of drafting Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams in the sixth round of the draft.
If all goes well, Williams will at best be a third-down back who cannot yet be trusted in between the tackles on early downs. Aaron Jones will be the featured starter, while Jamaal Williams spells him. The signing does not necessarily bode well for Williams’ chance of making the team, as four running backs would not be ideal for the rest of the depth on the roster.
Furthermore, the Packers appear to be planning on using a fullback often in their offensive sets. Throughout the first few days of training camp, the Packers have been using Danny Vitale during practice in both running and passing situations. Keeping four running backs while also retaining a fullback would be foolish for Green Bay.
Adding Grant to the backfield is going to help the Packers flesh out their running back rotation more fluidly.
Jones will be the wiggly, shifty back who provides the most playmaking potential. Williams is more of a short-yardage asset who can be a “chain-mover.” In other words, during a cold December game at Lambeau Field with playoff implications, Williams can help you grind out a couple of big first downs.
Grant, meanwhile, can be the gadget player that the offense has lacked for ages.
Ted Thompson and previous regimes never supplied the offense with the necessary offensive weaponry to truly make them as diverse and multi-faceted as possible. Now that Grant is there, Nathaniel Hackett and Matt LaFleur can open up the playbook far more than it ever was under Mike McCarthy.
The position group lined up directly behind Aaron Rodgers has the opportunity to be a sneaky good one this coming year.