The Green Bay Packers have made some interesting decisions amid all the chaos brought by the roster cuts this time of the year. There have been a number of key departures, though there are also some key survivors who avoided being released.
Interestingly, looking at the Packers' decision, there's one sneaky roster cut survivor who could actually make a lasting impact on the team.
Packers' sneaky roster cut survivor: Emanuel Wilson
Every roster spot is important and precious to an NFL team. It could be a franchise quarterback or an undrafted rookie; teams never know who will step up in a big moment for their team. There are always undrafted free agent rookie gems that sprout every season. The Packers may have found one this offseason in Emanuel Wilson, and there's a world where he contributes to the Packers as soon as this season.
It has taken Wilson a lot of pitstops to get where he is now. He began his college football career at Johnson C. Smith University, a private HBCU school. He then transferred to Fort Valley State, another HBCU, where he ran for 2,206 yards and 24 touchdowns across two seasons. He also averaged over six yards per carry at 6.2.
Wilson did not get invited to the NFL combine, but he did show out at his pro day. At 5-foot-11 and 226 pounds, Wilson was clocked in at a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash. That's not a great dash time, but makes for an outstanding speed score when adding a player's height and weight into the calculation. Wilson showed out at Fort Valley State and was a more than an adequate athlete, but that still didn't net him a selection during the 2023 NFL Draft. The Denver Broncos picked him up as an undrafted free agent, but they let him go three days later. Wilson then signed with the Packers a week later.
Green Bay's RB3 spot was for the taking between Wilson, Patrick Taylor, Tyler Goodson, and Lew Nichols. Taylor was the incumbent, but a strong preseason from any of these guys could leapfrog one over the rest. Wilson saw that opportunity and did the most with it. It all started in Green Bay's preseason opener versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Wilson went off and scampered for 111 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
— NFL (@NFL) August 16, 2023
Emanuel Wilson didn't stop there. He ended the preseason with 38 carries for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He also added four receptions on four targets for 24 yards. The 223 yards he accumulated rushing was the most of any player during the preseason. Not only did he lead the NFL in rushing during the preseason but he also forced the most tackles during the preseason with 11, according to PFF.
#Packers RB Emanuel Wilson not only led the NFL in rushing yards (223) this preseason, but also led all RBs in forced missed tackles, per @PFF. Had 11. Also tied for the lead with 5 runs of 10+ yards, and his 80-yard run was the longest of the preseason.
Legit running talent.
— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) August 29, 2023
NFL teams were forced to submit their series of roster cuts on Tuesday. One name was notably absent from the Packers' list of roster cuts, and that's Wilson.
Full list of Packers cuts pictured below.
Biggest surprise? They were released at 3:15 pm. Perhaps the earliest in team history.
*CB Eric Stokes to PUP
*S Tarvarius Moore to IR
*RB Tyler Goodson, LS Broughton Hatcher, RB Lew Nichols waived/injured. pic.twitter.com/7k2NpFquLg
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 29, 2023
Among Wilson's competition for the Packers' third running spot, Tyler Goodson and Lew Nichols were both waived/injured, meaning they'll revert to Green Bay's injured reserve if they go unclaimed. Patrick Taylor was outright waived, but he has been waived before by the Packers. He likely will find a spot on the team's practice squad.
That means Emanuel Wilson has earned the third spot on the Packers' depth chart at running back. He likely will not play much if Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon stay healthy, though he's certainly a nice insurance policy.
Both Jones and Dillon both stayed healthy for all of 2022. To ask any running back to stay healthy for two consecutive seasons is a tough ask for anybody. It isn't that hard to picture one of them getting injured. If that happens, Wilson will get a shot. And if it goes anything like what he did in the preseason when he made it impossible for the Packers to get rid of him, then Green Bay will have another player who can contribute at running back and make some noise.