Patrick Taylor set to become Packers’ interim RB2 for coming weeks

Green Bay Packers, Patrick Taylor - Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Patrick Taylor - Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

Back in training camp, the Green Bay Packers had a plethora of running backs to choose from to form their final 53-man roster.

Behind the superb tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, the Packers’ RB3 spot was up for grabs and would be decided between rookie Kylin Hill, Dexter Williams and Patrick Taylor.

With the benefit of upside and youth on his side, the Packers went with Kylin Hill, who made it clear in preseason action that he was fully deserving of a roster spot.

Patrick Taylor finished in second place (or fourth place overall) and was awarded a spot on the practice squad as a consolation, while Dexter Williams was released altogether.

After Hill tore his ACL when returning a kickoff against the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks back, Taylor was activated and served as an emergency RB3 while Jones and Dillon continued to bear the entire workload.

I’d imagine a good portion of fans weren’t even aware Taylor was active until the Packers handed it off to him late on against the Seattle Seahawks after Jones was injured with what we now know as a sprained MCL.

The Packers will likely shut Jones down until after their bye week, which should give him plenty of time to get healthy and avoid any other unwelcome injuries that could occur in the upcoming games.

It’s assumed that AJ Dillon — whose role in the offense has been greatly expanded this season — could receive anywhere from 90-100% of the Packers’ running backs snaps over the next two games in Jones’ absence.

But for those snaps where the big 250-pound back needs a breather, the Packers will look towards Taylor to take the load off Dillon’s gigantic shoulders.

Chances are you’re familiar with the name, but if you’re unaware of Taylor’s origin, the Packers signed him as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 draft. Remember that time we were all talking about Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers?

A crowded college backfield

Taylor played his college ball for the Memphis Tigers, a program which has blossomed into a running back factory of sorts in recent seasons.

Taylor’s most productive year at Memphis came in 2018 when he split snaps alongside (get this) current Los Angeles Rams RB Darrell Henderson, Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard, Philadelphia Eagles RB Kenneth Gainwell, and oh yeah, this team had Washington Football Team RB Antonio Gibson playing at receiver!

In that rather busy backfield, Taylor was able to muster a 1,000-yard season with 5.4 yards per carry. He intended on repeating such production in his senior year, but a foot injury in the season opener sidelined Taylor for three months.

What did NFL scouts dislike about Taylor?

Obviously by going undrafted, it’s clear that there were some flaws which made NFL scouts and execs disinterested in the Humble, TX native.

Taylor’s combine testing wasn’t bad at all, and he remains a pretty nice athlete. He posted a solid 7.21 Relative Athletic Score, which included an explosive 10-inch broad jump.

The only issue is that the RAS score was also boosted by Taylor’s 6’1 height, which is in the 96th percentile for running backs. Height is one of the few measurables that can have a negative effect on a running back’s draft stock.

The scouting reports noted Taylor’s lack of vision and decisiveness with the ball in his hands as his biggest flaw. They weren’t overly impressed with his pass protection either, especially considering his big frame.

Taylor can mix it up in the receiving game

The college tape proves Taylor is adept at running routes out of the backfield. He had a slight drops issue in his senior year, but everything else indicates he can function as a receiving back when called upon.

AJ Dillon has already taken great strides in this area of his game, but the fact remains that Aaron Jones accounted for 70% of all targets to running backs this season. Taylor must be ready to contribute in this department.

Who do the Packers have behind Patrick Taylor?

So, who is the emergency back for the emergency back? Well, the Packers signed Kerrith Whyte to the practice squad earlier this week.

The 25-year-old Whyte weighs less than 200 pounds and clocked a 40-yard dash at 4.37 seconds back in 2018. He is a speedster in every sense.

Whyte last saw regular-season action as a Pittsburgh Steeler at the tail end of the 2019 season. He had a pretty respectable 122 yards on 25 carries over a six-game stretch.

Whyte more recently played in one game this preseason as a member of the Buffalo Bills — that game happened to be against the Packers. He didn’t have much to shout about in that game aside from a 13-yard reception in the fourth quarter.

It’s likely Whyte could be activated as the RB3 for Sunday’s game and could play snaps in a pinch.

Either that or the Packers just rely on someone like Amari Rodgers to run the ball if AJ Dillon were to get hurt. Hey, Eric Stokes had multiple huge rushing seasons in high school, why not? I’m kidding.