Post Minicamp Packers Roster and Depth Chart Predictions

Packers Minicamp 2017

I know that a fellow writer covered this a few weeks ago, but with minicamps wrapping up, there’s plenty of down time to speculate what Ted and company will do with the Packer roster, so let’s give it a shot.

For easy reading, we’ll go position group by position group to determine which guys will make the squad and who will end up in Free Agency, on the Practice Squad, or even on another team. Some guys I predict to end up elsewhere in the NFL, and there is logic behind all of them.

*Italicized Names are on the Practice Squad

[EDIT: When this was first published, I forgot to add the fullback position. That is now corrected. Thanks for the comments calling it out. I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, and Ripkowski deserves better.]

QUARTERBACKS (2)

  1. #12 Aaron Rodgers
  2. #7 Brett Hundley
  3. #8 Taysom Hill ( R )*

Rodgers and Hundley are set in stone, for obvious reasons. But after that it gets hairy. Both Taysom Hill and Joe Callahan are highly coveted by the coaches, but other pressing needs on this roster and with a bevy of other supremely talented players at the bottom of the 53, neither made the team, but Hill does end up on the practice squad. However, I think this is the end of Joe Callahan in Green Bay, but he will end up in Green somewhere else-New York.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

  1. #88 Ty Montgomery
  2. #30 Jamaal Williams ( R )
  3. #33 Aaron Jones ( R )
  4. #32 Devante Mays ( R )

These four seem pretty safe. Montgomery is bulking up a little bit even to be an every down runner, and his versatility could make him a Le’Veon Bell/Latavius Murray hybrid. After him, the three rookie draft picks all bring something different to the table that complement each other extremely well. Williams is a hammer who runs a lot like James Starks but more explosive. Jones is a Brandon Jackson clone, and Mays is a bulldozer who will grind out short yardage. After that, there are two other talented undrafted rookies, but there with three other rookies already here, there wasn’t room on either the roster or practice squad for either William Stanback or Kalif Phillips.

FULLBACKS (1)

  1. #22 Aaron Ripkowski

This one was simple as far as the “Ripper” goes. He is on his way to being an elite fullback, a great lead blocker and capable ballcarrier. He reminds me a lot of William Henderson as far as his all around game and attitude goes. He will be a mainstay in Green and Gold for a long, long time. But the other fullback on the roster, Joe Kerridge, was polarizing to me. The staff seems to love his special teams ability, but with so many other capable players on defense, he would be a luxury and a borderline roster player at best.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7)

  1. #87 Jordy Nelson
  2. #18 Randall Cobb
  3. #17 Davante Adams
  4. #81 Geronimo Allison
  5. #19 Malachi Dupre ( R )
  6. #11 Trevor Davis
  7. #16 DeAngelo Yancey ( R )
  8. #89 Michael Clark ( R )*

The Top 4 are locked in right now with each of them bringing something different and important to the passing game. Nelson does it all, Cobb is a premier slot guy, Adams is the best quick slant runner in the NFC, and Allison is a possession type who has a knack for the clutch play. And with some great flashes in minicamp, Dupre appears to have an inside shot at the #5 spot. That leaves anywhere between 1 to 3 slots for others guys. I think Trevor Davis’s speed and return ability help him keep a spot. And with Yancey having the build and the coaches being really high on him after he was drafted, I think he gets one of the final spots on the roster. But that does mean that Jeff Janis ends his tenure in Green Bay. He is a good special teamer, but his lack of development as a receiver and a ton of defensive backs and running backs are now on the team that can play special teams as well. He ends up out of Lambeau and in Arizona. And with the Packers keeping usually at least one receiver on the Practice Squad, I think they give that spot to 6’6″ wideout Michael Clark.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

  1. 80-Martellus Bennett
  2. 84-Lance Kendricks
  3. 82-Richard Rodgers
  4. 84-Beau Sandland*

Even with the re-emphasis on the tight end position by the coaches, there is still only room for 3. But these three all are capable of starting in the NFL, which could make this group the best trio in the league outside of New England. Bennett is an All-Pro talent on and off the field, Kendricks is as well-rounded as it gets, and Rodgers has the best hands on the team. After that, there is too much unproven. The team does seem high on Beau Sandland, but he is caught in a numbers game and spends another seaosn on the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

  1. 69-David Bakhtiari (LT)
  2. 65-Lane Taylor (LG)
  3. 63-Corey Linsley (C)
  4. 73-Jahiri Evans (RG)
  5. 75-Bryan Bulaga (RT)
  6. 78-Jason Spriggs
  7. 68-Kyle Murphy
  8. 79-Kofi Amichia ( R )
  9. 67-Don Barclay
  10. 62-Lucas Patrick*
  11. 74-Geoff Gray ( R )*

The top 6 are set again, as is Don Barlcay as the backup center…for now. Murphy has been working inside at guard as well as tackle, which should help him make the team. Amichia is a supremely athletic college tackle working inside at guard and center, much like JC Tretter was after he was drafted. And if he can show that he can be a passable center, he could move Barclay down the depth chart or off the roster. But Barclay has been getting high praise from his coaches and his quarterback for his versatility and work ethic, so he should be back on the 53. That moves promising guards Lucas Patrick and Geoff Gray to the Practice Squad. One really tough cut was Adam Pankey who has active roster talent but is behind Patrick and Gray and there wasn’t even room on the practice squad. But keep an eye on him.

DEFENSIVE LINE (5)

  1. #76 Mike Daniels (DE)
  2. #97 Kenny Clark (NT)
  3. #94 Dean Lowry (DE)
  4. #90 Montravius Adams ( R )
  5. #95 Ricky Jean Francois
  6. #96 Brian Price*

With the Packers going to more nickel base formations, there isn’t a need for a large amount of defensive linemen, and each of these five guys are versatile enough to play all over the line of scrimmage. Expect Daniels, Clark, and either Lowry or Jean Francois to be the third starter in the base. But with all of them able to move around, that leaves Christian Ringo and Brian Price on the outside looking in. And with Price being more of a pure defensive lineman, I give him the Practice Squad spot. Ringo however, isn’t done with his NFL journey, as he ends up in Indianapolis.

LINEBACKERS (8)

  1. #52 Clay Matthews (OLB)
  2. #53 Nick Perry (OLB)
  3. #47 Jake Ryan (ILB)
  4. #50 Blake Martinez (ILB)
  5. #48 Joe Thomas
  6. #51 Kyler Fackrell
  7. #45 Vince Biegel ( R )
  8. #91 Jayrone Elliott
  9. #93 Reggie Gilbert*
  10. #55 Cody Heiman ( R )*
  11. #56 Jonathan Calvin ( R )*

This was one of the hardest positions to leave guys off of, but in the end we had eight guys who were basically locks, and the others were really difficult cuts. Expect to see Matthews, Perry, Ryan, and Martinez listed as the “starters” but all eight will see the field for potentially significant snaps. And with Morgan Burnett and Josh Jones working as a dime ILB, that lets us only keep 8. Reggie Gilbert, though, could push for a roster spot. He was my final cut, showing Jayrone Elliott-like pass rushing ability and the desire to stay on this team. He is an easy choice for the practice squad, as is Heiman, who is a fantastic athlete and an instinctive player. He just needs some more time in the weight room and to adjust to the NFL. My final Practice Squad was between Calvin, an electric pass rusher, and steady Jordan Tripp, who was a special teams stalwart. But with Tripp likely to get looks elsewhere as a special teams leader, Calvin gets the nod.

CORNERBACKS (6)

  1. #31 Davon House
  2. #23 Damarious Randall
  3. #20 Kevin King ( R )
  4. #24 Quentin Rollins
  5. #36 LaDarius Gunter
  6. #26 Herb Waters
  7. #28 Josh Hawkins*

Now, this position sees an overhaul from the arrivals of House and King, but there is still a great deal of unrealized talent there. Randall got glowing praise from the coaches for his camp so far, and he could be a difference maker in the slot. Rollins was the same way, but he is more of a better version of Micah Hyde to Randall’s Casey Hayward. LaDarius Gunter will see his playing time diminish due to the numbers and talent in front of him, but there will always be room for a player who is physical and competitive as him. My final spot goes to Waters, who just got Tramon Williams comparisons from coach Joe Whitt. That’s extremely high praise and Waters showed marked improvement over a small period of time last year after switching to corner. He is my biggest surprise to make the team. Josh Hawkins still has the blazing speed to make a difference, but this is a pure numbers game, so he ends up on the Practice Squad.

SAFETIES (5)

  1. #21 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (FS)
  2. #42 Morgan Burnett (SS)
  3. #27 Josh Jones ( R )
  4. #29 Kentrell Brice
  5. #25 Marwin Evans

It’s the same guys as last year, just replace Micah Hyde with someone infinitely more athletic in Jones. The 2nd Round pick was the star of the offseason program so far, even getting himself into trouble by lighting up Jeff Janis in a non-contact drill. That kind of competitiveness and heart can’t be taught, which makes me extremely excited for him. With Jones playing more of a hybrid role as well, that can let Burnett be a great stabilizing presence back at strong safety, and even slot corner if needed. Of course, there’s Pro Bowler Clinton-Dix at free safety, and as one of the locker room leaders. Brice is a massive hitter who should only get better, and Evans is a special teams stalwart who could see more time as a ballhawk in a centerfield role.

SPECIALISTS (3)

  1. #2 Mason Crosby (K)
  2. #5 Justin Vogel ( R ) (P)
  3. #54 Derek Hart ( R ) (LS)

This one is easy. These are the only specialists on the roster. Crosby is one of the elite kickers in the NFL, and one of the most underrated. The veteran will continue to be an asset as long as his right leg is attached to his hip. Vogel was one of the elite punter in the NCAA last year and directional skills are a good fit for Lambeau, while Hart outlasted another rookie to be the long snapper heading into camp. But he needs to make sure he’s consistent and can form a trio with Vogel and Crosby quickly, because Brett Goode is still a free agent and only a phone call away from being back.

So those are my early picks for the Packers opening day roster and practice squad. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. Feel free to tell me what I’ve got right, or why I’m crazy for keeping [insert player here]. Thanks and Go Pack!

 

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Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.

Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.

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  • Ferrari Driver

    No fullback?

    • James C. Drumheller III

      Ripper is going to be our fullback for sure.

    • Mike

      Thanks for calling that out. I was working on it while working at the radio station and for some reason overlooked Ripper. It’s fixed now.

  • Davante Mays is not a fullback. He isn’t a good blocker and does not seem to be a good receiver. Ripkowski is pretty good. His name should at least get mentioned and his omission from the roster explained.

    • Mike

      Thanks for calling that out. I fixed the issue. Ripper is a lock for the squad, and with only Ty as a non-rookie RB, they need to keep as many bodies as they can.

  • Bloomer

    If you add all the numbers, it equals 52. I’m pretty hopeful Rip makes the team, but I’m not certain there will be five backs.

    • Mike

      That was my mistake. When I was writing using this list-like format, I for some reason overlooked fullback despite having it prominently on my 53-man list. It is fixed now.

  • James C. Drumheller III

    I’m really impressed with the safeties on our roster. This could be the best group in a long time. Also like the fact that we have guys who will punish receivers who catch the ball.

    • Mike

      Agreed. I love the potential that Jones teased in minicamp and have always been impressed with Brice and Evans as backups. This secondary could be a serious strength is the young corners reach even 3/4 of the potential.