A little over a month ago I took a stab at predicting the Packers’ final 53 man roster here. With the final preseason game just hours away, the NFL offseason is nearly at a close. While several cuts were made on Tuesday in order to get the team down to 75, the most difficult and crucial cuts will be made on Friday and Saturday, as the final roster is assembled. Below is a new, updated prediction of that final roster, along with a prediction of some possible additions to the practice squad. While the picture of the team has become clearer over the past month, there are still a handful of players on the bubble, making a prediction of this nature mostly futile, but also a little fun.
QB: Rodgers, Tolzien, Hundley
RB: Lacy, Starks, Neal
FB: Kuhn, Ripkowski
WR: Cobb, Adams, Montgomery, Janis, White
TE: Rodgers, Quarless, Backman
OL: Bakhtiari, Bulaga, Sitton, Lang, Linsley, Barclay, Tretter, Walker
DL: Raji, Guion, Pennel, Boyd, Daniels, Jones, Gaston
ILB: Matthews, Barrington, Ryan, Palmer
OLB: Peppers, Perry, Neal, Elliot, Mulumba
CB: Shields, Hayward, Randall, Rollins, Hyde, Gunter
S: Clinton-Dix, Burnett, Richardson, Banjo
ST: Crosby, Mathsay, Goode
Matt Blanchard (QB)
John Crockett (RB)
Jared Abbrederis (WR)
Larry Pinkard (WR)
Justin Perillo (TE)
Matt Rotheram (G)
Christian Ringo (DE)
James Vaughters (LB)
Jermauria Rasco (LB)
Demetri Goodson (CB)
Gaston is the last man that I added to the final 53. It appears possible that any number of players (including those that I listed on my practice squad) may be eligible to actually make the roster, with Gaston himself going onto the practice squad instead. The fact of the matter is that Gaston has shown an ability to penetrate and make tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and he’s flashed this ability now in his second year with the team.
As beloved as Abbrederis is to Wisconsin fans, I just can’t imagine that he’s been able to show much of anything to the coaching staff in the last two years, and certainly not enough to warrant a spot on the final roster. With his injury history, I think that the team can fairly safely place him on the practice squad without his being vultured by another team. They might not have felt that way last year, but his injury history will probably make him less valuable to other teams that he might have been last year had he been placed on the practice squad.
Rotheram has gained some first team reps in practice recently. After sitting out with an injury for part of camp, the coaching staff likely wanted to give him a long look. Rotheram was one of the better run-blocking guards in all of college football last year at Pittsburgh. I’m not sure that he’s done enough to garner a spot on the roster, but the team may want to give him a year to learn and develop. He didn’t show too much this offseason, but he’s still an exciting, young player.
Another tough spot to call is the 4th ILB. Carl Bradford received a lot of reps during the offseason, but he could never establish the kind of consistency at the position that fans had hoped for. Similarly, Nate Palmer hasn’t jumped off the tape, but he seems most likely to leap-frog guys like Carl Bradford and Joe Thomas. It seems almost certain that the team will keep at least four inside linebackers, but there is no lock for that final spot.
The tight end race is close, as well. I gave the edge to Backman simply because, as a draft pick, he’s a bigger investment for the team than undrafted players Justin Perillo or Mitchel Henry. While I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Perillo grab the final spot thanks to his special teams prowess, I’d then expect Backman to land on the practice squad. It’s worth keeping an eye on Henry as well. He’s looked good at times even while playing with a club protecting a broken finger. That club was recently removed, but there isn’t a whole lot of time left for Henry to show off his receiving game. Perhaps he could have made a stronger push for a roster spot had he never had the club, but he definitely seems to have a shot at the practice squad.
One final difficulty in predicting the final roster comes from the suspensions of Datone Jones and Letroy Guion (for 1 and 3 games, respectively). While each of these players are under suspension, they do not count against the roster. My prediction above reflects what I think the roster will look like for most of the season (that is, after Week 5, when both Jones and Guion will be back). In the meantime, the team may keep another player in their place, letting them loose when Jones and Guion come back. I don’t suspect that the team will keep an extra player for Jones’ one-game suspension, but they will likely keep one for the 3 games that Guion will miss. While keeping an extra defensive linemen to keep Guion’s seat warm, as it were, would probably make the most sense, if healthy, the team could go in another direction.
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.