Ranking the roster, part six: 1-10

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
4:15
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We conclude our ranking of the Green Bay Packers' roster as it stood at season's end with the top 10.

The rankings were 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 worked our way up.

Here are the previous installments:

Part 1Nos. 51-64.

Part 2Nos. 41-50.

Part 3Nos. 31-40.

Part 4 – Nos. 21-30.

Part 5 – Nos. 11-20.

The top 10 includes a rookie, a second-year budding defensive star and a specialist who saved his career.

1. Eddie Lacy, RB: Hard-running, second-round pick led all rookies and ranked eighth in the NFL with 1,178 yards rushing in the regular season. After fumbling on his fifth NFL carry, went 296 straight rushes without another fumble, including the playoffs. Helped give the Packers their first top-10 running game (they ranked seventh) since 2004.

2. Josh Sitton, LG: Made a successful switch from right guard and was named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Good finisher in the running game, which gave Lacy plenty of room when running left. Allowed just one sack, according to Pro Football Focus, his fewest since a sackless season in 2010. Committed seven penalties (including five holding calls), which matched his average over the past three years.

3. Jordy Nelson, WR: Missed most of training camp because of knee surgery but showed up ready for Week 1 and had his most productive season despite having to play more than ever in the slot after Randall Cobb's Week 6 leg injury. Posted career highs with 85 catches for 1,314 yards despite playing with four different quarterbacks. Also caught eight touchdowns. Made several spectacular sideline catches. Dropped just six passes in 128 targets, according to PFF, for the second-lowest drop percentage of his career.

4. Aaron Rodgers, QB: Had a couple of dominant performances, like the 480-yard day against the Redskins in Week 2, and won five of his first seven starts before breaking his left collarbone in Week 9 against the Bears. Returned in the finale to make one of the most memorable plays of his career, the 48-yard game-winning touchdown to Cobb in the final minute against the Bears to clinch the NFC North. Played only so-so in the playoff loss to the 49ers, but his seven-plus game absence reiterated his value to the team.

5. Mike Daniels, DT: Added weight in the offseason helped him become the most effective inside pass-rusher in his second season, collecting 6.5 sacks while playing 48.6 percent of the snaps (second only to B.J. Raji among the defensive linemen). Could see more time next season on first and second downs in the base package.

6. Sam Shields, CB: Tied his career high with four interceptions in 14 games, including a game-changing pick in the Week 15 win over the Cowboys. Speedster has refined his coverage skills and turned into the team's best outside cover corner. Missed nine tackles, third most among Packers defensive backs. Allowed completions on 50 percent of the times in which he was targeted and gave up four touchdowns, according to PFF. Committed just three penalties (and none for pass interference). Scheduled to become a free agent, it will take a deal in the $7 million-per-year range to re-sign him.

7. Tramon Williams, CB: Began to return to his 2010 form in the second half of the season, when he allowed just one touchdown over the final eight games (including playoffs). Gave up four touchdowns in 17 games and missed 10 tackles, second most among Packers defensive backs, according to PFF. Allowed completions 57 percent of the times he was targeted. Played all but 14 snaps this season, most among the defensive players. Strong finish might have saved him from having to take a pay cut from his $7.5 million in salary and bonuses next season.

8. Clay Matthews, OLB: Played only half the defensive snaps because of another hamstring injury and a broken right thumb (twice) after signing a five-year, $66 million contract extension last offseason. Still led the Packers with 7.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits but failed to make the Pro Bowl for the first time in five seasons and also missed his first playoff contest.

9. Mason Crosby, K: Followed his worst season (63.6 percent on field goals) in 2012 with his best (89.5 percent, including playoffs) and made the longest outdoor field goal of his career, 57 yards in Week 11 at the New York Giants. It was just 1 yard short of his career best and franchise record, set indoors at Minnesota in 2011.

10. T.J. Lang, RG: Flip-flopped sides with Sitton and once again showed his power as a run blocker. Allowed just three sacks after giving up nine in 2012, according to PFF. Penalized five times but none for holding.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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