It’s finally here. The Green Bay Packers have reported to training camp and the season is starting. With training camp comes the annual tradition of making final roster predictions, even if it is excessively early.
Excitement fills the air around 1265 Lombardi Ave as Jordan Love leads the Packers into the post-Rodgers era. The Packers have hit a reset button on the roster, shedding a lot of (future) cap and veteran players. The core of the team is still intact but there is still plenty of opportunity for new players to make their mark on this team.
So, let’s get right into it, making some irresponsibly premature predictions before anything has really happened.
Offense: How many receivers will they keep?
Quarterbacks (2) – Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
The NFL passed a new rule allowing teams to dress an emergency quarterback without using an active roster space. I would expect most teams to keep two quarterbacks on their active roster and then put one on the practice squad for this reason.
The Packers just brought in Alex McGough last week, presumably to create some more competition for QB2/QB3. Ultimately, I think it’s more of a competition between McGough and Etling for the practice squad spot. The Packers used a 5th-round pick on Clifford, bringing on plenty of criticism. Cutting him at the end of his first camp could draw even more criticism. Not that Brian Gutekunst or Matt LaFleur care about that.
Running Back (3) – Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Tyler Goodson
I could see this being a position where the Packers only keep two players if they want more receivers. Jones and Dillon are a lock, obviously. But I think Tyler Goodson will do enough to make the roster this time. He should get plenty of carries during the preseason to show what he can do.
I kept him over Patrick Taylor because of his big-play ability. The big thing Taylor has over Goodson, in my opinion, is his pass protection. If Goodson can even get to being average in pass pro, he’ll be a shoo-in for RB3.
Tight Ends (4): Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis
Tight end is a unique position for the Packers this year in that they will be using them differently. Each of the top three tight ends will be able to contribute in their own way.
Musgrave should be a big threat in the passing game. Kraft will play more in-line and do some blocking (but don’t dismiss his pass-catching ability). Deguara will probably do a little bit of both, but also fill the H-back role in this offense, as he was always destined to do. And I’m sure they’ll keep Tyler Davis around for some depth.
Wide Receiver (6): Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Samori Toure, Dontayvion Wicks, Malik Heath
It feels like we ask the same question every season. How many receivers will the Packers keep this year?
Looking at the roster, six feels like a good number for this group. Watson, Doubs, and Reed are a lock to make the team. I would imagine Toure would have to have a truly ugly camp to get cut. That gives us four. That means two spots are left for a handful of others including draftees Dontayvion Wicks and Grant DuBose.
I think Wicks’ speed and ability to get vertical will land him a spot on the roster, especially if he can contribute on special teams.
DuBose is starting training camp on the PUP. If he continues to miss time, that opens the door for Malik Heath or Duece Watts. Ultimately, I think Heath has a better chance to catch on and the Packers see what they have in the undrafted rookie.
Offensive Line (10): David Bhaktiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., Yosh Nijman, Zach Thom, Royce Newman, Sean Rhyan, Caleb Jones, Rasheed Walker
I think how the Packers drafted should tell you all you need to know about the offensive line. It’s set. Or just about. They didn’t use one pick on an offensive lineman this year. There will be some position battles for some spots, but I think the coaching staff and Gute have a good idea of who will make the team this year.
Defense: Do the Packers have enough depth on the line?
Defensive Line (5): Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, T.J. Slaton, Kolby Wooden, Karl Brooks
The defensive line is the biggest question mark on the defense. If Wyatt can take a big second-year jump, I think this will be a good group. The rookies Kolby Wooden and Karl Brooks should have ample opportunities to rotate into the lineup this year, especially in pass-rushing situations.
An interesting tidbit from the first day of training camp is that Jonathan Garvin, who spent the last three seasons as an edge player, practiced with the defensive linemen. Maybe another way for him to get on the roster?
Depth is the biggest concern here. I don’t think the Packers want to have Clark logging as many snaps as he has in the past.
Edge (6): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Lukas Van Ness, Kingsley Enegbare, Justin Hollins, Brenton Cox Jr.
The Packers quickly turned one of the biggest concerns heading into the offseason into a possible strength. It sounds like Rashan Gary has a good chance to be back before the season starts. But if for whatever reason he isn’t ready, there will be plenty of depth with LVN and Justin Hollins being able to rotate in.
I really like the upside of Brenton Cox Jr., assuming he can stay on the straight and narrow.
Linebacker (4): De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Isaiah McDuffie, Tariq Carpenter
Behind the defensive line, the depth of the linebacker position is my biggest question mark. Campbell and Walker should be a great duo if they can both stay healthy and not get kicked out of games. McDuffie is a solid special teams contributor, but not a guy I want to rely on on defense.
The Carpenter-at-linebacker experiment will be interesting. I think he makes the team this year solely on his special teams contributions.
Cornerback (5): Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes*, Keisean Nixon, Carrington Valentine
Just like the edge position, this group seems pretty set as well. There will be competition for the last spot or two. Shemar Jean Charles is a guy that just hasn’t shown a lot in the last couple of years. Valentine’s name has popped up a few times during OTAs. We’ll see if he can make any sort of impact in camp and preseason games.
Safety (5): Darnell Savage, Jonathan Owens, Rudy Ford, Anthony Johnson Jr., Dallin Leavitt
In what is easily the weakest position group on the entire team, the safety position is going to be one to watch.
Will Darnell Savage finally come into his own and be the safety we all hoped he would be? Who will start opposite Savage? Can Anthony Johnson Jr. make an impact as a rookie? This group needs some work but I think these five are most likely to make this team. The top four will compete for real defensive snaps while Leavitt is Bisaccia’s special teams guy.
Specialists: Are the Packers Officially Moving On from Mason Crosby?
Specialists (3): Pat O’Donnell, Anders Carlson, Matt Orzech
This is life post-Mason Crosby. I’m sure they are keeping the window open for Crosby in case Carlson is a disaster. But Bissacia pushed for Carlson, so I think they are going to ride or die with him.
Pat O’Donnell will have a little competition this summer with the Packers bringing in the rookie, Daniel Whalen. While it might add some excitement to special teams this camp, I wouldn’t expect O’Donnell to lose his job.Christian Borman is a lifelong Packers fan residing in the Madison area. He writes for PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter @christianborman.