Packers Roster: Predicting the Bubble Before Final Cuts

Brian Gutekunst and staff will be tasked with whittling the Packers roster from 80 down to 53 by next Tuesday. With the preseason finale tonight in Kansas City, it gives fringe players one last stage to make their case. Matt LaFleur confirmed earlier this week that many starters will not be playing, so it gives ample opportunity for the younger players to show out. Here are 5 players on the bubble, and a guess as to what their fate may be early next week.

T Caleb Jones

Listed at 6-9 and 370 lbs, Jones certainly stands out. But his play has been backing up his stature of late, and he has begun to climb the depth chart. He has taken reps with the 2nd team at both left and right tackles lately. He also got possibly another endorsement after Gutekunst traded Cole Van Lanen to Jacksonville Tuesday. With both Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins off of the PUP list, it makes it a little harder to project Jones onto the 53.

Yosh Nijman is the clear swing tackle, and the Packers clearly think both Zach Tom and Royce Newman can fill in at tackle if necessary. With so much versatility along the line, it seems unlikely the Packers will keep 10. So it may come down to Jake Hanson’s ability to play both center and guard that gives him the 9th spot over Jones.

Prediction: Cut

WR Juwann Winfree

A training camp darling a season ago, Winfree spent the majority of last season on the Packers practice squad before being elevated to the active roster in December. He has had another impressive training camp, and that has certainly caught the eye of his quarterback. Rodgers has specifically mentioned Winfree on multiple occasions when talking about the depth at the receiver position. With this his third season in the offense, his steadiness may prove too valuable to pass up. With the ups and downs of the younger receivers, perhaps Gutekunst takes Rodgers input and keeps Winfree and avoids another Jake Kumerow situation.

Prediction: Makes the 53

S Dallin Leavitt

Leavitt was brought in mainly for his special teams contributions. He spent three years as a core special teams player under Rich Bisaccia for the Raiders – accumulating over 800 special teams snaps in three years. But he had a real shot at securing a top back-up spot at safety, until he suffered a shoulder injury in the first preseason game. He is expected to miss significant time per Matt LaFleur.

But if the Packers want to keep the door open for him to return at any point this season, they’ll have to keep him on the initial 53 man roster before placing him on injured reserve. With a rash of other injuries at the safety spot, including waiving Vernon Scott with an injured designation – the depth is slim. And Leavitt has the most experience of any of the back-ups, and could be a special teams boost later in the season.

Prediction: Makes the 53

RB Tyler Goodson

With Kylin Hill on the PUP list to begin the season, he is guaranteed to miss at least the first four weeks of the regular season. The third running back spot likely then comes down to Goodson or Patrick Taylor. LaFleur has stated that decision will be heavily weighted on pass protection and special teams contributions. This would seemingly give Taylor an edge. But Goodson has arguably been the more impressive back throughout the preseason. With Hill likely to return at some point, it may give the Packers more comfort in trying to sneak Goodson onto the practice squad and giving the nod to the more experienced Taylor.

Prediction: Cut

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Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.

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