Ranking the roster, part three: 21-30

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
3:15
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Monday, we began our rankings of the Green Bay Packers' roster as it stood at season's end.

The rankings are based on how the players performed this season – not on their overall importance to the team.

We started at the bottom of the roster and are working our way up.

Here are the previous installments:

Part 1 – Nos. 51-64.

Part 2 – Nos. 41-50.

Part 3 – Nos. 31-40.

Now, we look at Nos. 21-30, a group that includes one rookie and two former first-round draft picks.

21. Micah Hyde, CB: Rookie fifth-round pick played nearly 40 percent of the defensive snaps in the nickel (slot cornerback) position. Allowed completions on 73.1 percent of the times he was targeted but usually tackled well, giving up an average of only 4.5 yards after the catch, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Allowed just one touchdown pass and missed only three tackles, fewest among the regulars in the secondary. Was not called for an accepted penalty. Took over the punt return duties after Randall Cobb's injury on Oct. 13 and ranked fifth in the NFL with a 12.3-yard average. Returned one punt for a touchdown. Has a bright future and could possibly end up moving to safety.

22. James Starks, RB: Averaged a career-best 5.5 yards per carry in mostly a backup role and matched his career-high of playing in 13 regular-season games. Rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries in Week 2 against Washington after starter Eddie Lacy was concussed in the first quarter. Started Week 3 against the Bengals and gained 55 yards on 14 first-half carries but couldn't finish because of a knee injury that kept him out the next three games. Had touchdown runs of 25, 32 and 32 yards and also had runs of 34 and 41 yards. Scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, his durability issues will scare teams away, so he could return in a similar role.

23. Jarrett Bush, CB: Veteran played perhaps his best defensive football while serving as the dime defensive back over the final five weeks of the season. Did not allow a touchdown pass and had the game-clinching interception in the late stages of the Week 14 win over the Atlanta Falcons. However, he blew containment on Colin Kaepernick's third-and-8 scramble that set up the game-winning field goal as time expired in the playoff loss to the 49ers. Finished tied for fourth on the team in special teams tackles (seven) despite missing four games because of a hamstring injury. Once was one of the most penalized players on the team, but was flagged for only one (an illegal block) in 2013.

24. Mike Neal, OLB: Made the transition from defensive end and saw more playing time (65.9 percent) than any outside linebacker on the roster. Battled through a couple of injuries but did not miss a game for the first time in his four-year career but then left in the first quarter of the playoff game because of a knee injury. Had a career-high five sacks and also had an interception and a forced fumble but struggled with some of the other aspects of playing on the outside. Missed 11 tackles, tied for the second-most on the team. An unrestricted free agent whose return is not a guarantee.

25. Johnny Jolly, DT: Made a successful comeback from a prison sentence and a three-year NFL suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Played well early in the season, when the Packers had a top-5 run defense, but his decline mirrored the Packers' fall to 25th against the run. Missed only one tackle while playing 25.7 percent of the snaps, most in obvious run situations. Sustained a season-ending neck injury in Week 15 against the Cowboys, although it is not believed to be career threatening. At age 30 and scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, still looks likely to return for a moderate price.

26. Ryan Pickett, DT: At age 34 and in his 13th NFL season, played in every game for the second straight season. Ranked third on the defense in playing time (48.0 percent of the snaps), led the defensive line in tackles and was not charged with a single missed tackle. Doesn't get much done as a pass- rusher anymore -- last sack came in the 2010 season. An unrestricted free agent, his age and decline in play might spell the end in Green Bay.

27. B.J. Raji, DT: Made less of an impact than in any of his previous four seasons, which could hurt his value as an unrestricted free if the Packers don't re-sign him. Reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer at some point last year but would be hard pressed to get that kind of money from the Packers now. Still led the defensive linemen in playing time (58.7 percent) but failed to record a sack for the second straight season. Although he has been non-committal about returning, there's a sense among some inside the organization that Raji would rather try his hand in a different scheme.

28. Don Barclay, T: Started all but two games at right tackle and was solid in the running game but struggled in pass protection. Allowed nine sacks -- one fewer than left David Bakhtiari, who gave up a team-high 10 in 17 games. Also allowed 27 quarterback hurries in 15 games, one fewer than Bakhtiari did in 17, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Ranked third among Packers' offensive linemen with five penalties (three false starts, two holding). With the expected return of Bryan Bulaga next season from his knee injury, Barclay likely will go back to being a backup.

29. Brett Goode, LS: Veteran did not have any major problems on his snaps for punter Tim Masthay or on Mason Crosby's placekicks. Made only one tackle on the punt coverage team. Expected to be the snapper for the near future.

30. Nick Perry, OLB: Injuries hampered the former first-round pick's transition from a college defensive end for the second straight season. Sustained a foot injury on a strip-sack in Week 6 against the Ravens and missed five of the next six games. Still was hobbled upon his return and played only 38.3 percent of the snaps. Posted four sacks and eight quarterback hits while forcing three fumbles. Committed a terrible gaffe on special teams, when he jumped off sides with 1:35 remaining in Week 16 when the Steelers were lined up for a field goal. The penalty gave the Steelers a first down, and they then scored the game-winning touchdown.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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