The Green Bay Packers‘ tradition of riding bicycles into training camp is around the corner. What the tradition signifies is the end of an offseason and the start of forming a 53-man roster.
Being that Green Bay wasn’t active in free agency, the roster will look similar to last year’s. Continuity could be a good thing seeing that the Packers were on the verge of the Super Bowl the past two seasons.
Yet, because of the minor change to the roster, Green Bay will be relying on young players to develop and emerge as key contributors.
Here are two sleepers on the Packers roster who can be difference makers this upcoming season:
AJ Dillon is the first sleeper. The second-year running back is assuming a larger role in the Packers offense this season. Dillon would’ve been the feature back if Aaron Jones didn’t sign a contract extension this offseason.
Nonetheless, Dillon is taking over for former backup Jamaal Williams, who signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason. While Jones was the starter, Williams played a vital role for the Packers.
Dillon will have to be as effective in pass blocking and short-yardage situations as Williams was. However, Dillon could have a higher upside than Williams provided.
In three seasons with the Packers, Williams rushed for over 100 yards just twice. Dillon managed to accomplish that feat in Week 15, which was his only real opportunity as a rookie.
Also, while Williams has a physical running style, he lacks the size of Dillon. Listed at 6-foot and nearly 250 pounds, Dillon is a true power back who can complement the versatility Jones provides out the backfield.
If Dillon makes a second-year leap, him and Jones will enter the NFL’s best running back duo conversation. With a dynamic duo out the backfield to go along with Green Bay’s passing attack, they could be the top-scoring offense once again this season.
The second sleeper on the Packers roster is a new addition to the team. In the third round of this year’s draft, Green Bay selected Amari Rodgers. The Clemson receiver adds an element to the Packers roster that hasn’t been there since Randall Cobb left the team.
Listed at 5-9, 212 pounds, Rodgers is the perfect size to be the Packers’ primary slot receiver. On top of that, Rodgers’ speed can be used for gadget plays and in the return game which has been a recurring issue for the Packers.
Having Rodgers in the slot will give the Packers offense more of an underneath element, therefore opening up big plays to deep threats like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Not to mention, possibly forcing secondaries to shift some coverage away from All-Pro receiver Davante Adams.
Rodgers thrived in this role during his senior year at Clemson, finishing the year with 77 receptions, 1,020 receiving yards, and seven touchdown catches.
Cobb’s best year in this role came in 2014. The former Packer finished with 91 receptions for 1,297 yards and 12 touchdown catches. If Rodgers can have half that production, he will become a vital part of the Packers offense in his rookie year.
Rodgers’ versatility is something that the Packers need on offense and if used effectively could help them reach the Super Bowl this year.