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Pre-draft picture: Packers' dynamic backfield duo provides offensive foundation

Reserves at running back have limited experience and could see more competition coming

RBs AJ Dillon & Aaron Jones
RBs AJ Dillon & Aaron Jones

"Pre-draft picture" is a position-by-position look at the Packers' roster heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. The series continues with the running backs.

GREEN BAY – The Packers' 1-2 punch in the backfield will remain intact for a third straight year.

The upcoming draft could see Green Bay begin looking for future reinforcements, though, because for any number of reasons the combo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon won't last forever.

Jones and Dillon pretty much did their thing, as expected, in 2022. They combined for 2,492 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns, which broke down as follows:

  • Jones – 213 carries, 1,121 rushing yards, two TDs; 59 receptions, 395 receiving yards, five TDs.
  • Dillon – 186 carries, 770 rushing yards, seven TDs; 28 receptions, 206 receiving yards, zero TDs.

That wasn't quite as productive for the pair as the 2021 campaign, but the entire offense's transition following the departure of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, which was the ongoing story of the season, had its fits and starts.

In the backfield, Jones (5-9, 208) topped 100 rushing yards in four of the first 10 games, but only once more the rest of the season. Still, he posted his third 1,000-yard rushing season in the last four years and has now added at least 350 yards and two TDs as a pass catcher each of the last four seasons.

Dillon (6-0, 247) had just one touchdown through the season's first 11 games and then scored six over the next five contests for a career-best seven. His production in the passing game dropped from '21, though, by six catches, 107 yards and two scores.

With the offense going through another transition in 2023, this time at quarterback as Jordan Love takes over, Jones and Dillon become the most experienced perimeter weapons the Packers have, which could make the duo a larger focal point than it's ever been. Green Bay's receivers and tight ends will almost all be younger, either by age, playing time or both, leaving Jones and Dillon as the most reliable foundation for the offense as Love steps in.

How much longer the tandem will stay together isn't clear, though. The Packers re-worked Jones' contract in the offseason to create salary-cap space, and he has two years left on his deal (not including void years for cap purposes). Meanwhile, Dillon is entering the final year of the rookie deal he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2020.

Currently, the only other running backs on the roster are Patrick Taylor and Tyler Goodson, making it a strong possibility more running backs are on their way either via the draft or college free agency.

Taylor (6-2, 217) has now spent three years in Green Bay (the first as an undrafted rookie on the injured list due to a foot injury from his final college season at Memphis). Over the past two seasons as a backup and special-teamer, hopping between the active roster and practice squad, he has 33 carries for 120 yards and a TD, plus three receptions for 20 yards and a few coverage tackles.

Goodson (5-9, 197) was an undrafted rookie a year ago out of Iowa who spent all of 2022 on the practice squad, and he was inactive for the one game he received an elevation to the active roster. Goodson rushed for more than 2,500 yards over three seasons with the Hawkeyes, and in last summer's preseason for the Packers, he had 29 carries for 107 yards and a TD in three games.

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