Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon have solidified themselves as one of, if not the best, running back duos in the NFL. It’s a foregone conclusion that the two-headed monster will again be on display in 2022. There will be very few carries to go around outside of those two at the outset.
That doesn’t mean the race for the third running back spot is an afterthought in Green Bay. Whoever wins it is one opportunity away from being able to play a pivotal role. It’s a battle that could come down to Kylin Hill and undrafted rookie Tyler Goodson.
Patrick Taylor took over in the No. 3 spot last year after Hill suffered a torn ACL against the Arizona Cardinals near the midway point of the year. Taylor’s size and pass-catching ability out of the backfield give him a shot, and he’s earned as much as he’s worked his way up from the practice squad to the active roster over the course of the last couple of years.
Green Bay took a seventh-round selection in 2021 and turned it into Hill, who was a standout back at Mississippi State. Many projected Hill to go in the middle rounds of the draft, but he ultimately slipped.
Hill’s involvement in the return game gives him an extra check as he continues to rehab from his knee injury heading into the offseason. Hill spent time as the kick returner in his rookie campaign, and the more you can do in the league, the better your odds are to stick around.
Hill never got a chance in his rookie season after suffering the knee injury. It’s fair to expect that the Packers will want to see what they have in him during the offseason and into the preseason.
However, the knock against Hill is his availability. He tore his ACL at the end of October, so it’s anyone’s guess if he will be ready for any offseason activities. He may start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If he does, it opens up the door for Taylor or Goodson.
Goodson was a steady, reliable running back at Iowa. He plowed his way through the Big Ten, racking up 2,551 yards in three seasons. Like Hill, many had Goodson tabbed to go in the mid-to-late rounds, but Goodson completely fell out of the draft. He could be Green Bay’s hidden gem.
Goodson excels at most aspects of the running back position, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s with the Packers. As an undrafted prospect, he likely had options and may have chosen Green Bay because of the void that exists at RB3.
Many may roll their eyes at the notion of discussing who the No. 3 back in Green Bay will be. However, let’s not forget that the Packers had Jones and Jamaal Williams two years ago, and there was a rookie named A.J. Dillon who burst onto the scene at the end of the year. Dillon’s validation on the field in the stretch run, especially in a game against the Tennessee Titans towards the end of the 2021 season, made it slightly easier for the cap-strapped Packers to part with Williams.
Yes, Dillon was a second-round pick, and neither Hill, Goodson, nor Taylor have that draft pedigree. Still, there are examples in recent history that shed some light on undrafted or late-round selections used on running backs who flourished (see James Robinson in 2020).
The hope for Green Bay is that Jones and Dillon stay healthy and ride the wave this upcoming season, chewing up most of the snaps at the position and a majority of the touches. If that happens, Green Bay should be in a really good spot on the offensive side of the ball despite what many consider to be a lack of attention paid to the wide receiver position this offseason.
If there is a need for the No. 3 back to be shuffled in more frequently, though, that’s when we’ll look at the battle that will unfold this offseason with even more interest.
Green Bay may roll into the regular season with four running backs on the final 53-man roster. Or they could run with three and keep Hill, who could start on the PUP list. Either way, it will be a fascinating race to track, with each candidate in Taylor, Hill, or Goodson having their own merits.
Who knows, maybe when all is said and done, the two-headed monster could morph into a Green Bay Ghidorah.