A former Chicago Bears draft pick could soon find himself on the other side of the NFC North rivalry lines.
According to the NFL transaction wire, the Green Bay Packers hosted former Bears seventh-round running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. for a workout on November 15 as they begin to re-assess their backfield options in light of Aaron Jones’ recent knee injury.
Whyte was the second of two running backs the Bears selected in the 2019 NFL draft behind David Montgomery in the third round, but he has received few opportunities to showcase his talents since coming into the league. At this point, the peak of Whyte’s young career was in November of his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed him off the Bears’ practice squad while battling injuries and saw him gain 122 yards on 24 carries over six games of action. He also served as a kickoff returner.
The Packers also worked out undrafted rookie insider linebacker Christian Elliss (Idaho) and third-year tight end Caleb Wilson (UCLA), the latter of whom received the title of Mr. Irrelevant when the Arizona Cardinals made him the last selection of the 2019 draft. Wilson saw a chunk of special teams snaps over five games in 2020 for Philadelphia, while Elliss has spent time on three different practice squads this year.
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
Could Whyte Play Multiple Roles for Packers?
The Packers have a logical reason to check out what running back depth is available on the market after getting the diagnosis back on Jones. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers’ lead back suffered a “mild MCL sprain” during Week 10’s win over the Seattle Seahawks and is expected o miss at least the next game, putting the team in the undesirable position of trying to replace one of their better offensive weapons.
As far as a straight-up replacement goes, AJ Dillon should be more than capable of handling Jones’ responsibilities as Green Bay’s top rusher. They also have the No. 2 role covered with second-year Patrick Taylor, who was signed to the active roster on November 4 after rookie Kylin Hill suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Still, the Packers have spent nearly all of the 2021 season with three options coming out of the backfield and would have reason to add another body while Jones recovers.
The Packers could always turn to former Jacksonville Jaguars backup Ryquell Armstead as their third man in the rotation. He has spent the better part of two weeks on their practice squad learning the system and is the only other running back associated with the team at this time, making him the sensible choice to be their new No. 3. But even if Armstead does prove to be the answer, it would only make sense for another body to take his place on the practice squad — even if only temporarily.
Whyte’s value on special teams could be a good sell for the Packers. They have leaned on wide receiver Malik Taylor as their kickoff returner since Hill was lost to injury and don’t have an obvious reason to shift away from him, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a second option in the works. Who knows, his ability to be a contributor on special teams might even earn him priority over Armstead.