The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books and so is the 90 man roster that the Green Bay Packers will carry into training camp and the preseason. With the exception of some turn over on the very bottom of the roster or a surprise post-draft free agent signing, the team that will eventually become the 2018 Green Bay Packers has been assembled. But what will that assembly look like? Here is a way, way too early guess at what the final 53 man roster will look like.
Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Brett Hundley
The Packers did not trade for Kizer just to cut him. He is one year removed from being drafted in the second round as the 4th overall QB taken. The real question is whether Hundley will stick. While he has been exposed as a mid-level back-up QB, he’s one that knows the offense well and in whom Mike McCarthy has put a lot of work. He’ll play out the final year of his rookie deal as insurance behind Rodgers while Kizer adjusts to Green Bay’s offense.
Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Ripkowski
The Packers backfield is pretty well set at this point. While only keeping four may seem sparse, Green Bay did just that in both 2016 and 2014. They’ll probably stash Devante Mays on the practice squad again as insurance.
Wide Receiver (6)
Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, J’Mon Moore, Michael Clark, Equanimeous St. Brown
The Packers will have some very difficult decisions to make at wide receiver. They currently have eleven receivers on their roster, only two of which (Jake Kumerow and Colby Pearson) are not recent draft picks or players have already contributed heavily in past seasons. Adams and Cobb are locks. Everyone else is fighting for a roster spot. Allison’s upside is limited but he knows the offense. The Packers will have to rely upon him early while their younger guys get up to speed. The Packers have a 4th round pick invest in Moore, so he will make the roster whether he looks ready to contribute this year or not.
Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey, Michael Clark, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are all on the bubble. Only two will make it onto the final roster. I think that Davis’ time with the Packers has come to an end. He’s a nice special teams piece but he has never established himself as a receiver. Clark and St. Brown make the back end of the roster. Valdes-Scantling spends a year on the practice squad acclimating to the NFL. I thought that Yancey had a good shot of making the roster but that was before Brian Gutekunst and company spent over a quarter of their 2018 draft picks on receiver.
Tight End (3)
Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendricks
Green Bay went out and procured two starting tight ends from free agency. Lewis will give the Packers a bona fide blocking, Y-type tight end that the Packers have been missing in recent years. The question is who the Packers will keep behind Graham and Lewis. While they can cut Kendricks and save a little money, unless someone like Emanuel Byrd really shines in camp, it’ll be hard to justify his release.
Offensive Line (10)
David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Bryan Bulaga, Justin McCray, Cole Madison, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, Lucas Patrick, Kofi Amichia
McCray seems to be the heir to the starting RG spot coming into camp. Bakhtiari, Taylor, and Linsley are locks. Bulaga has been an injury liability in recent years, but it seems very unlikely that he will be unseated. While the Packers have made surprise cuts to veteran starting offensive linemen before (Josh Sitton and TJ Lang), there’s little benefit to cutting Bulaga now, with free agency over (the potential cap savings would have been about $3 mil).
Madison is close to a lock given his draft investment (although Green Bay did cut Yancey last year, another rookie 5th rounder). Spriggs and Murphy are hard to gauge. Both tackles were 2016 draft picks. While Spriggs was taken in the second round and Murphy in the seventh, Murphy has been the more successful of the two, with many already calling Spriggs a major disappointment. Both players missed significant time in 2017 to injury. The lack of depth and competition at tackle will likely help them to keep their jobs in 2018.
Defensive Line (6)
Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Muhammad Wilkerson, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, James Looney
Daniels, Clark, and Wilkerson will make for a beastly defensive line. Lowry is nearly a lock to be the solid fourth man. Watch for undrafted rookie Conor Sheehy out of Wisconsin to potentially overtake seventh round pick Looney in camp.
Inside Linebacker (3)
Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan, Oren Burks
Inside linebacker is possibly the easiest position to call at this point. Martinez and Ryan are the obvious starters. The Packers moved up in the third round to take Burks as a cover linebacker to spell Ryan in passing situations. The Packers have kept just three inside linebackers on the final roster for the past two years, and no one is going to unseat these three.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Vince Biegel, Reggie Gilbert, Chris Odom
Many expected the Packers to use a high draft pick to add an EDGE rusher. They did not. That certainly says something about what they think of the young talent already on their team. Matthews and Perry will start. Biegel and Gilbert will fight for significant playing time.
Fackrell will turn 27 during the 2018 season. As a third round pick in 2016, he’s shown almost nothing to legitimize his being drafted at all, much less at pick 88. In what will be (but shouldn’t be) a somewhat surprising move, the Packers cut Fackrell and keep Odom in his place, who builds off of his 2017 preseason success with the Atlanta Falcons.
Kendall Donnerson is a perfect candidate for the practice squad at OLB, as he learns how to utilize his athleticism to play NFL football.
Kevin King, Tramon Williams, Davon House, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Lenzy Pipkins
This group looks a lot different than it did just a few months ago. Gone is Randall. In are veteran Tramon Williams and rookies Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. King, Williams, Alexander, and Jackson are all locks. House isn’t a lock but he’ll make the roster as veteran insurance behind Alexander and Jackson.
That leaves former second round pick Quinten Rollins and a flurry of late-round or undrafted returning players like Demetri Goodson, Lenzy Pipkins, Josh Hawkins, Herb Waters, and Donatello Brown all fighting for potentially one spot. I expect Gutekunst to continue cleaning up some of Ted Thompson’s recent misses and part ways with Rollins in favor of Pipkins, an intriguing second year, undrafted player who was pressed into significant regular season snaps last season.
Haha Clinton-Dix, Josh Jones, Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans
Clinton-Dix and Josh Jones will be your starters. Brice has already shown himself to be a capable depth player. Evans edges out Jemaine Whitehead for the fourth safety spot.
Special Teams (3)
Mason Crosby (K), JK Scott (P), Hunter Bradley (LS)
Yes, Green Bay used a fifth round pick on a punter. But was that more surprising than their taking a long snapper with a seventh? They must have really liked Scott and Bradley.
Practice Squad: DeAngelo Yancey (WR), Martez Scantling-Valdes (WR), Emanuel Byrd (TE), Alex Light (OL), Kyle Meadows (OT), Conor Sheehy (DL), Greer Martini (LB), Kendall Donnerson (OLB), Donatello Brown (CB), Raven Greene (S)
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @TaylorONeill87