The Green Bay Packers will finish their final preseason game on Saturday. That will be followed by NFL cutdown day when the Packers and the other teams in the league need to reduce their rosters to 53 players. Then they will sign players to their practice squad. Here is a look at the top five young players who have been a surprise at Packers training camp and in preseason games this season. To make this list, players must have one year of NFL experience or less and must have been playing well above the expectations that existed for them before camp started.

Packers Surprise Young Player Number 5: OT Rasheed Walker

The Packers selected Rasheed Walker in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Penn State alum played sparingly as a rookie, playing in one game, and taking four snaps on special teams.

Scouts felt Walker had early round talent but a poor senior season and questions about his work ethic moved him back to the seventh round.

This year in camp, Walker has taken a big step forward in his play. He has even seen action with the first-string offense in the preseason game against New England when David Bakhtiari was kept out of the lineup to rest his knee.

Walker has played well and may have surpassed Yosh Nijman on the depth chart for the swing tackle spot on the roster.

Surprise Player Number 4. RB Emanuel Wilson

Emanuel Wilson has been the team’s best running back in the first two preseason games. He has rushed for 174 yards in two games on just 21 carries while running for two touchdowns.

The Packers signed Wilson in late May after being released by the Denver Broncos. The former Fort Valley State star has showed outstanding burst and the ability to read his blocks and accelerate through the hole.

His big breakout game against the Bengals happened on the anniversary of his father’s passing which made for an inspirational story. Wilson seemingly came out of nowhere to make his mark.

The key to Wilson making the roster as the third running back will be pass protection and the ability to contribute on special teams. Wilson should at least make the practice squad with a chance to be elevated for games during the season if the Packers keep only two running backs on the initial 53-man roster like they did last year.

Packers Surprise Young Player Number 3: QB Sean Clifford

The Packers selected former Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford in the fifth round after there was a run on signal callers in the draft. Many scouts felt Clifford was a seventh-round talent or even a priority undrafted free agent primarily because he lacks an elite NFL caliber arm.

In the first two preseason games, Clifford saw extensive playing time and showed promise. While he lacks a strong arm by NFL standards, he has exceeded expectations. Clifford proved he understands the offense and he’s showed poise and leadership. He has also showed he can bounce back after making a poor throw.

Clifford looks like he could be a quality backup in the NFL with the potential to improve as he gains experience. Thus far, Clifford has been a positive surprise for the Packers.

Surprise Player Number 2: CB Carrington Valentine

Carrington Valentine was considered an afterthought when the Packers selected him in the seventh round with the 232nd overall pick of this year’s draft. The Kentucky alum has been one of the bigger surprises of training camp so far.

Valentine excels at press coverage and plays a physical game. He looked outstanding at joint practices against Cincinnati going up against Ja’Marr Chase. He intercepted a pass in the preseason game against the Bengals in Week 1.

Valentine took some reps with the first stringers when Jaire Alexander was held out of practice and a game due to a minor injury.

While he has shined at times, Valentine has also made his share of rookie mistakes. He was called for two penalties in pass coverage against the Patriots.

Regardless, Valentine has secured a roster spot for himself and has the potential to be the fourth corner on the team early in the season before Eric Stokes returns.

Packers Surprise Young Player Number 1: WR Malik Heath

Before training camp opened, it was Malik who, but now all Packers fans are familiar with Malik Heath. The undrafted free agent out of Ole’ Miss made eight catches for 111 yards in the first two preseason games. He leads the team in both catches and yards.

Heath has made plays consistently in training camp and his 6’2”, 214-pound frame gives him the size and blocking skills that the Packers are looking for at the receiver position.

Right now, Heath looks to be battling with Samori Toure for the fourth spot on the depth chart. His blocking skills should help him see the field a little more once the season starts. If he continues to work hard and shows positive results, he should carve out a role for himself.

Heath has been a great story and the biggest surprise of training camp thus far.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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