Another Preseason is in the books. I must say, this was probably the most exciting Preseason we’ve had in a while as Packer fans. There’s definitely a new vibe to this team, it’s a bit more energetic at 1265 Lombardi Ave this time around. Perhaps this is due to the youth movement. There are 10 starting positions on the Green Bay Packers that could belong to a player that wasn’t on this team 2 years ago. But even outside the starters there is such an influx of young talent that you can’t wait to see who’s going to step up.
We saw that influx of young talent on display during camp this season. It’s going to make Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur’s job very difficult to reach final cutdowns on Tuesday. Many roster-bubble players had their moments in the spotlight, but not everyone can make it.
Here are my predictions for the Packers Final 53-man roster:
QB (2): Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
Well, here we go. For the first time in 19 seasons the Packers final roster will not contain Aaron Rodgers. It is Jordan Love time. Many are a bit surprised Sean Clifford is number 2 and not a veteran QB. But if you look back to Aaron Rodgers’ first year, he had rookies behind him as well in Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm. So, it’s almost fitting. Alex McGough I believe hits the practice squad. He’s 27 years old, not really a stash and develop for the future, but more of a stash and improve just in case.
RB (2): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon
This one kind of stings a bit for me. Last year Tyler Goodson was my third running back. I thought that he stood out enough to make it. He didn’t, so I was high on him to make it this year. Well, injury misfortune had other ideas. Emanuel Wilson made such a great push, but I think it’s only going to be for the practice squad as they should be able to stash him. Another practice squad option is Patrick Taylor. The ability to elevate a practice squad player for game day makes this easy. All three of those players I doubt gets pulled off waivers so the Packers should have their pick of their running backs. A surprise may be Lew Nichols a 2023 Draft pick. But being a late pick and injury dominating his camp, I think he’s either an IR stash or they just let him loose but keep eyes on him for the future.
WR (6): Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Malik Heath, Dontayvion Wicks, Grant DuBose
This group isn’t a surprise if you consider production in camp. The first three are locks. Malik Heath was just too darn good to let go of. If you preach hard work paying off to your locker room and don’t keep Malik Heath who brought it every single day and game, you’re going to lose the locker room. Wicks and DuBose are the young draft picks that get the spots of course. Odd man out is Samori Toure. Perhaps he can be brought back to the Practice squad but I think Wicks and DuBose could be better options.
TE (3): Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, Josiah Deguara
Musgrave is going to be special, Kraft could be excellent as well. Josiah Deguara will make it on his versatility and experience of course. I toyed with Austin Allen here for special teams, but I have this sneaking suspicion that the Packers are going to explore waivers for a special teams Tight End. There could be one out there that sparks their interest. If not, I’ll bet Allen can be brought up from the Practice squad.
Offensive Line (9): David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Jon Runyan, Zach Tom, Yosh Nijman, Josh Myers, Rasheed Walker, Caleb Jones, Sean Rhyan
The first seven are not surprising. This is an outstanding group that’s going to be a huge strength for Jordan Love and the offense. Caleb Jones, I believe is ready for his move to the 53, and Sean Rhyan looked pretty good after his rookie season mishap with suspension. He’ll make the roster and be given a deserved second chance.
Defensive Line (6): Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, TJ Slaton, Colby Wooden, Karl Brooks, Jonathan Ford
I’m beyond excited for this defensive front. I think finally this team has the talent and versatility to let Kenny Clark play wherever he’s needed on the line. Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden of course were camp highlight reels and need to be kept at all costs.
Outside Linebackers (6): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare, Lukas Van Ness, Justin Hollins, Brenton Cox
The first five are obvious. The last one, Brenton Cox Jr. I think is the one player we simply can’t let hit waivers. He has just been everywhere on the defense when he’s on the field and he deserves his spot on the roster.
Inside Linebackers (5): DeVondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Isaiah McDuffie, Tariq Carpenter, Eric Wilson
The top three are locks. Eric Wilson is a great core special teams player, so that leaves Tariq Carpenter. I believe Carpenter makes it on his versatility for one. He also seems to have excelled in the middle this camp. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used this season.
Cornerbacks (4): Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Keisean Nixon, Carrington Valentine
This definitely looks thin, doesn’t it? Well, it’s really not. I think Eric Stokes might start the season on the PUP. So, that opens a roster spot until later. Carrington Valentine, I think is going to be another one of those diamonds in the rough found by Brian Gutekunst. So many can’t believe he was a 7th rounder. Some have gone as far as to say he has the talent that he should’ve been a first rounder. Nonetheless, the camp darling is a lock. As far as further depth goes, Innis Gaines is listed as a Safety, but plays a lot of Corner. So, that’s kind of a bonus for the Corner position on this list as it says 4, but really, it’s 5.
Safeties (6): Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford, Innis Gaines, Jonathan Owens, Dallin Leavitt, Anthony Johnson Jr.
I might be a little nervous with this group. Savage being inconsistent and the leader is worrisome. This could be far-fetched, but I’m hoping for a breakout from Anthony Johnson Jr. He seems to have that closing speed that is ideal in a safety. He made a lot of good plays in camp, and who knows, we could have another late-round rising star on our hands.
Specialists (3): Anders Carlsen, Daniel Whelan, Matt Orzech
Yes, Anders Carlsen has had a shaky camp. But you have to admit, he had two huge kicks in game situations that he absolutely nailed. I think he’ll have his moments, but he’ll become a good kicker. It was just announced not long ago that Pat O’Donnell was released by the Packers. Color me surprised. Daniel Whelan was formidable competition, but I think he out-kicked his coverage at times. O’Donnell is a sure-handed holder for Carlsen with experience. But I guess if there’s a year to try a new punter along with a new kicker, it’s this year. Releasing O’Donnell also saves the Packers some money they can use elsewhere. Here’s to hoping Whelan shows us he’s worthy of the position like Anders Carlsen has.
If you’re playing along at home, you may notice my numbers only equal 52. This is because I have a strong belief that the Packers are going to go waiver fishing for a Special Teams player. My gut says Tight End to replace Tyler Davis. Sure, this could be done by Austin Allen, but if Davis were healthy, I don’t think Allen is even considered to make this roster at all. Maybe even a Safety or Corner. Either way, I think the Packers are going to be flexible and could look to snag a player off waivers if they have some good special teams experience. Then, they will round out their 53.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.