Back in early June, I gave a best guess at the final 53 man roster for the Green Bay Packers. With half of the preseason in the books, it’s an interesting time to take another stab at it. Surely, there will be all sorts of surprises. Outside of the NFL draft, there may be no more sure-fire way of making a fool out of yourself. However, it’s entertaining to put yourself in the shoes of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy all the same.
Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley
Hundley remains trade bait for the Packers, but it doesn’t look as though he’ll be shipped off anytime soon. Joe Callahan has been outshone by Taysom Hill this preseason, but it remains unlikely that the Packers will keep three QBs. Still, it will be interesting to see if they attempt to stash both Callahan and Hill on the practice squad.
Running Back (4)
Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, Aaron Ripkowski
Ty Montgomery has yet to play the running back position for a full season, and is coming into the latter half of the preseason with a leg injury. Given that there’s so much inexperience on this squad, it’s hard to imagine the Packers rolling with only 4, but they may have to if they want to keep 7 receivers. Mays fills the role of a bigger, wrecking ball type back, but Ripkowski has already shown himself capable of taking on a short-yardage and goal line role, perhaps making Mays dispensable.
Wide Receiver (7)
Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis, DeAngelo Yancey, Max McCaffrey
In my last post, I had the Packers somewhat surprisingly cutting Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis. Things have become decidedly murkier now as Janis is putting in another impressive preseason. In two games, he leads the team with 83 receiving yards as well as one TD. However, Janis has a way of looking ready for a serious role during the preseason only to disappear come the real games. Meanwhile, Davis ripped off a 68 yard punt return for a TD against the Eagles, but has shown little as a receiver.
DeAngelo Yancey and Max McCaffrey have shown streaks of NFL talent during the offseason. Malachi Dupre is coming off of a concussion. Dupre seems to be the easiest choice to cut and attempt to stash on the practice squad. However, that would still leave the Packers with 8 talented wide receivers. The wide receiver position is going to be the most interesting one to watch when rosters are cut to 53. I think that McCaffrey ends up making the roster while Davis and Dupre are cut. Janis and Davis may be fighting for the same roster spot, so their future likely depends upon how both perform in the final two preseason games.
Tight End (3)
Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Richard Rodgers
This group might as well be set in stone.
Offensive Line (9)
David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Jahri Evans, Bryan Bulaga, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, Don Barclay, Lucas Patrick
The biggest question mark with the offensive line right now is Bryan Bulaga, who suffered a leg injury during Wednesday’s practice and had to be helped off the field. If he were, by chance, facing a season-ending injury, it might mean a roster spot for someone like Robert Leff who would provide depth at the tackle position. Spriggs has been infamously bad in both preseason outings thus far, but as a second round pick coming into just his second year in the NFL, the Packers have too much invested to cut him already.
The first 8 of these 9 players are likely a lock. I think that the Packers will keep nine and that the final spot will come down to whoever provides the most promise and depth as an interior lineman. Lucas Patrick has spent time at both center and guard, making him a versatile piece.
Defensive Line (6)
Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Ricky Jean-Francois, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, Christian Ringo
As I predicted in my last post, Guion was cut after facing a four game suspension. Adams has been out for much of the off-season program after undergoing foot surgery. At this point, he’s a very large question mark, but as a rookie third round pick, the Packers will certainly want to give him plenty of time to heal and develop as the season progresses. The final position will likely come down to Ringo or Brian Price. Ringo has been flashing some interior pass-rushing ability, so the nod will go to him.
Inside Linebacker (3)
Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez, Joe Thomas
A lot of folks will disagree, but I think that Joe Thomas is perhaps the best ILB on the team. There is no way that the Packers let him walk, even if Burnett and rookie Josh Jones come up from the safety position to play some hybrid ILB.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott, Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert, (Vince Biegel starts season on PUP, available to return in October)
The coaching staff has been cautious with getting Biegel back on the field. They certainly don’t want to jeopardize him re-injuring a foot which has kept him out of training camp entirely. While the coaching staff may be looking ahead at his future, Biegel’s absence is a major problem in the here and now. Already looked at as a weak position of incredible importance, the Packers haven’t gotten much out of Kyler Fackrell and Jayrone Elliott. With Biegel missing at least the first six games of the regular season, Reggie Gilbert will be retained at least until Biegel is healed and sufficiently prepared to contribute in Dom Capers’ defense.
While it seems obvious now to state that Gilbert will be waived when Biegel is ready to return, Fackrell has been a major disappointment thus far. If he doesn’t produce and show NFL strength, it’s not out of the question that he’s on the chopping block when the Packers need to open a roster spot later in the season.
Davon House, Kevin King, Damarious Randall, Ladarius Gunter, Quinten Rollins, Josh Hawkins
A month ago, Hawkins was among the longest shots on this list to actually make the roster. However, he’s been one of the most consistent cornerbacks on the Packers’ roster this offseason, showing progress and development after a streaky rookie year in 2016. Meanwhile, Damarious Randall had continued to look completely lost in training camp before leaving the preseason opener with a concussion. As a first round pick coming into just his third NFL season, it may be shocking but not unthinkable that Randall could be on the bubble, especially with Lenzy Pipkins, Daquon Holmes, and Donatello Brown all outshining him thus far.
As with Spriggs, the Packers have a lot invested in a young player with Randall, but if he can’t get back on the field and change the narrative about his play, Randall’s release could be the shocker of cut-down day.
Morgan Burnett, Haha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Josh Jones, Marwin Evans
Brice and Evans have looked very good at safety. They’ve looked so good, in fact, that the Packers may not feel it necessary to pay Burnett whatever price tag he’ll garner as an unrestricted free agent next off-season.
Special Teams (3)
Mason Crosby (K), Justin Vogel (P), Brett Goode (LS)
Vogel has been inconsistently good, but that’s likely to be the best that the Packers will find at this point during the off-season. The Packers brought back Brett Goode, even though Derek Hart is still on the roster. Goode has been a consistent long-snapper for the Packers for a number of years, so I expect him to stick over Hart.——————
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.