Sat, 08 May 2021

Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon offer intriguing one-two punch Wes Hodkiewicz

Packers.com is taking a look at the Packers' roster, position by position, leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft. The series continues with the running backs.

GREEN BAY - A new era is about to get underway in the Packers' backfield.

With Jamaal Williams hopping across Lake Michigan to join the Detroit Lions, Green Bay will now press forward with Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones and 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon as its one-two punch on the ground.

Jones has driven the backfield's resurgence in Green Bay since the Packers drafted him in the fifth round back in 2017, racking up 4,421 total yards and 43 touchdowns in 54 regular-season games.

Jones and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown are the only two players in NFL history to post 3,000-plus rushing yards (3,364) and 35-plus rushing TDs (37) with an average of 5.00-plus yards per carry (5.17) in their first four seasons in the NFL.

What's more, Jones has become a certified threat in the passing game. His 96 catches over the past two seasons are second on the team to only All-Pro receiver Davante Adams.

Yet, the 26-year-old running back has continued to increase his ground production, culminating in a career-high 1,104 rushing yards this past season that helped catapult the Packers into the top 10 in rushing offense for the first time since 2013.

Headed to free agency for the first time in his young career, Jones was widely viewed as the top rusher on the market. Yet, he chose to re-sign with the Packers just days before the start of free agency because of what he called "unfinished business" in Green Bay.

His new running mate comes in the form of the 6-foot, 247-pound Dillon. As important as the well-rounded Williams was to the Packers' success the past four years, the bruising Dillon presents a powerful change of pace that Green Bay's offense has lacked since Eddie Lacy was in his prime.

After returning from the COVID-19 reserve list in December, Dillon showed what he can do when he barreled through the Tennessee Titans' defense during an impressive 124-yard, two-TD performance in Week 16.

In that outing, Dillon became the youngest player in franchise history to rush for 100-plus yards and two TDs in a game, while his 13 rushes of at least five yards were the most by a Packers running back since Ahman Green had 13 carries of five-plus at Tampa Bay on Nov. 16, 2003.

While the top spots on the RB depth chart are solidified, the battle for the No. 3 job remains wide open with veteran Tyler Ervin still a free agent.

The Packers have drafted at least one running back in three of their last four drafts, but also are set to return three from last year's practice squad in former sixth-round pick Dexter Williams, Mike Weber and Patrick Taylor.

Williams appeared in three games as a practice-squad elevation last season, rushing for eight yards on two carries. Williams was expected to have a big role against San Francisco in Week 9 when Jones was injured, and Jamaal Williams and Dillon were on the COVID-19/reserve list, but the 24-year-old running back injured his knee in the first quarter and was placed on the injured list the following Wednesday.

Weber has had an interesting NFL career to date. After posting a pair of 1,000-yard seasons at Ohio State, Weber ran a 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine with a 33½-inch vertical and did 22 bench reps.

A seventh-round pick by Dallas, Weber would spend his entire rookie season on the Cowboys' practice squad before jumping over to Kansas City's p-squad during the Chiefs' playoff push.

Weber won a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City but was released in May after the Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round. He remained a free agent until the Packers signed him to the practice squad in November after Dexter Williams' injury. He was called up twice from the practice squad but didn't see any in-game action.

Taylor missed half of his senior year at Memphis, and his entire rookie season with the Packers, due to a foot injury. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound running back practiced for a few weeks near the end of the year but wasn't activated from the non-football injury list during Green Bay's playoff push.

Position-by-position series

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