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Friday, January 17, 2014
Ranking the roster, part five: 11-20

By Rob Demovsky

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.

Part 4 -- Nos. 21-30.

Now, we look at Nos. 11-20, a group that includes eight offensive players, one defensive player and one specialist.

The top 10 will appear on Monday.

11. Randall Cobb, WR: Was the Packers’ leader in receptions when he sustained a fractured tibia in Week 6 against the Ravens. Spent the next 10 weeks on the injured reserve/designated to return list before coming back for the Week 17 game against the Bears. Showed his value to the offense as a speedy slot receiver by catching a pair of touchdowns, including the 48-yard game winner against the Bears. Dropped only one pass in 42 targets, after dropping 11 in 110 targets the previous season, according to Pro Football Focus.

12. James Jones, WR: Gritty veteran was on his way to his first 1,000-yard season until a knee injury cost him nearly three full games. Still managed to finish second on the team in both receptions (59) and yards (817), the latter of which was a career high. Dropped just three passes in 93 targets, according to PFF. Will turn 30 on March 31, a few weeks after he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Despite depth at wide receiver, he may be too valuable not to re-sign.

13. Jermichael Finley, TE: Like Cobb and Jones, was on track for a big season until his season ended on Oct. 20 because of a neck injury that left him momentarily motionless and required spinal fusion surgery. Before that, averaged 12.0 yards on 25 catches and had three touchdowns in parts of only six games in the final year of his contract. Still young enough -- he will turn 27 on March 26 -- to warrant another sizeable contract but only if the Packers have no reservations about his neck. Otherwise, they could let him walk.

14. David Bakhtiari, T: Rookie fourth-round pick started all 17 games at left tackle after Bryan Bulaga’s season ending knee injury in training camp. Though he allowed 10 sacks in 17 games, seven of them came in three games (including four in the two meetings with the 49ers). Had a stretch of seven straight games in which he didn’t allow a sack. Performed well in the running game. Could use a little more strength and bulk but his quickness and intelligence served him well. Needs to cut down on his penalties. Had a team-high 13, including nine holding.

15. John Kuhn, FB: Unsung hero who served as a third-down blocking back, a short-yardage ball carrier and a core special-teams player. Made perhaps the key block of the season, when he chipped Bears defensive end Julius Peppers just enough to allow Aaron Rodgers to hit Cobb for the game-winning touchdown in Week 17 that clinched the NFC North title. Scheduled to be a free agent, there’s a strong sentiment in the locker room and among the coaches to bring him back even though he will turn 32 the first week of the season.

16. A.J. Hawk, LB: Ranked second on the defensive side in playing time (94.9 percent of the snaps) and once again showed his dependability. Had his best season since 2010 and maybe of his career but still has the same limitations in the open field. Took over as the defensive signal-caller after an early season injury to Brad Jones. Led the team in tackles on the way to setting the franchise career tackle record. Had five sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

17. Jarrett Boykin, WR: Enter his second season as an unproven receiver but stepped into a larger role after the injuries to Cobb and Jones and performed like a veteran. Finished third on the team with 49 catches and 681 yards with three touchdowns despite not catching a single pass until Week 6. Dropped five passes in 76 targets. His emergence could make Jones expendable.

18. Tim Masthay, P: Broke his own franchise record for net punting average (39.0 yards) and landed 22 of his 64 punts inside the 20-yard line while having only five touchbacks.

19. Matt Flynn, QB: Re-signed on Nov. 12 and inserted in the third quarter against the Vikings 12 days later. Helped rally the Packers to a 24-24 tie in that game and then went 2-2 as a starter over the next four games before Rodgers returned from his broken collarbone. Completed 61.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Scheduled to be a free agent again, lack of arm strength may prevent him from getting another shot as a starter, so he could return as a backup.

20. Evan Dietrich-Smith, C: First full season as a starter and was an upgrade over Jeff Saturday from 2012 but still may not have done enough to be considered the long-term starter. Struggled at times in the running game but proved to be an effective pass protector, allowing five sacks according to PFF. Committed only three penalties (two holds and a false start).