AJ Dillon looks set for a breakout season

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The Green Bay Packers went 13-3 last season, won NFC North and reached the NFC Championship game for a second straight year. The Packers lost to Tampa Bay, 31-26, in the conference title game and the offseason has been filled with drama.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants to leave Green Bay, but the Packers have insisted on not moving him. Stay tuned for more theater in the days to come.

With or without Rodgers, Green Bay will begin training camp on July 28. Throughout the rest of the month, I count down the “30 Most Important Packers” before the 2021 campaign.

In 21st place is second-year running back AJ Dillon. The other players who were revealed in the top 30 are listed at the bottom of the story.

No. 21

RB AJ Dillon

Last season: As a rookie last year, Dillon was the Packers’ No.3 running back and had just 46 litters.

This was due in part to the fact that Dillon was on the reserve / COVID-19 list from November 2 to December 10. Partly because the dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams played ahead of Dillon.

When Dillon got the chance to shine, he took full advantage of it.

Dillon broke for 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 40-14 victory over Tennessee in December. Dillon outscored the Titans’ Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry that night and finished the year averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

Career to date: The 6-1 / 1, 247-pound Dillon set school records with 4,382 yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons at Boston College. Dillon has eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards every year he was in British Columbia, highlighted by a 2019 season in which he ran for 1,685 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Dillon shocked people by running the 40-yard scorecard in 4.53 seconds at the 2020 NFL Combine. He also did 23 225-pound reps and then the Packers drafted him in the second round.

At the NFL Combine in 2016, the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Derrick Henry – to whom Dillon is often compared – ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds and performed 22 reps on the 225-pound bench press. .

In addition, Dillon edged out Henry in the vertical jump (41 inches to 37) and the wide jump (131 inches to 130).

Outlook: Jamaal Williams signed with Detroit in the offseason, opening the door for Dillon races to jump in spectacular fashion.

Aaron Jones, who signed a four-year, $ 48 million contract with the Packers in March, remains Green Bay’s backbone. Dillon’s unique combination of power and speed makes him a great addition to Jones.

Don’t be surprised to see the duo combine for 400 carries and 2,000 rushing yards in 2021.

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“It was definitely a learning experience. In BC I used to receive the ball 25 times a game, but I think there is something to be said about having two superstars in the backfield doing their thing, learning that you need to make every representative count. So last year, yeah, I didn’t have the ball at all in a game or twice in a game, but at the end of the year when I had those three reps in a game, I gave it my all. So it’s definitely a learning experience, but it’s something that I feel like as I progress into a bigger role it’s definitely going to pay off. – Dillon on the ups and downs of his rookie season

I think he’s a lot… more familiar with offense. Definitely more familiar with his surroundings, both physically and mentally and he also sees the opportunity he has ahead of him. I think most of the time that’s enough to really add an extra spark to a guy and the way he runs his business. So he’s really excited for the opportunity and I think that’s the most important thing I see with him, that he knows we’re going to be leaning on him a lot more this year than last year and that ‘ it is extremely important for him to want to feel that he is an asset to this team. So I think that’s why you just see the leap and the energy that it gives out there, the excitement that it has, the eagerness to come out and play and produce. – Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans on Dillon

“Yeah, I think it’s just the confidence he has in what he’s doing there, the consistency with which he trains. I think you could see a guy who really improved over the season in terms of attention to detail, focus, effort in training, and I think he had a good place to learn. He’s a really smart guy who goes to great lengths every day, and we’re really excited about what the future holds for him. – Packers coach Matt LaFleur on Dillon

THE TOP 30

• N ° 30 – OG Jon Runyan

• N ° 29 – ILB De’Vondre Campbell

• N ° 28 – WR / PR Amari Rodgers

• N ° 27 – CB Chandon Sullivan

• N ° 26 – ILB Krys Barnes

• N ° 25 – WR Allen Lazard

• N ° 24 – CB Eric Stokes

• N ° 23 – DE Kingsley Keke

• N ° 22 – OG Lucas Patrick

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