This year is really a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. If the roster limit were 54, the decision would be a lot easier to make across the board. As it stands, the desire to keep six very talented wide receivers and five outstanding tight ends is what has put a wrench in the whole thing. Add to that the necessity of keeping Graham Harrell or risk losing him to another team, and things become murky.
You’ll notice below that the concession I ended up making was with the defensive backs. Yes, Dom Capers and the Packers like to have ten DB’s on the roster, but since no one has really stood out to claim that tenth spot, how much would they really be losing by trying to stash guys like Gordy, Levine, and Jennings on the practice squad?
Jarrett Bush’s “ability” to play both cornerback and safety will help make this move possible.
Because let’s face it, the Packers could lose more to the waiver if they short change another position. And having depth on the practice squad is still depth when it comes to season-ending injuries.
It’s probably the riskiest of all the concessions to make, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities.
Quarterback (3): Rodgers, Flynn, Harrell
The only question here is Graham Harrell, and I don’t see anyway the Packers cut him. With Flynn on his way out the door, the Packers will need some continuity at the back-up quarterback position.
Running Back (4): Starks, Grant, Kuhn, Green
The big cut here is Quinn Johnson. While he showed potential, it was never fully realized. There’s just no use for him in this offense.
Wide Receiver (6): Jennings, Driver, Nelson, Jones, Cobb, Gurley
With Driver getting older and Cobb already nursing some bruised knees, there could be some immediate need for a sixth wide receiver. Gurley gets the nod over West for his Special Teams abilities, which are always a tie breaker. If the Packers could trade West, it would be an ideal situation. Otherwise, they lose him to waivers.
Tight End (5): Finley, Taylor, Crabtree, Quarless, Williams
The Packers will keep all five tight ends, as they each have significant potential. Finley is a lock, and Taylor has made himself invaluable lately in the offense and on special teams. If Green Bay goes with only one fullback, then Crabtree’s blocking skills will be needed. Quarless and Williams, while similar in use, are both draft picks that I don’t see Ted Thompson giving up on so soon.
Offensive Line (9): Clifton, Sitton, Wells, Bulaga, Lang, Sherrod, Newhouse, Dietrich-Smith, Schlauderaff
Who really knows what the offensive line depth chart will look like beyond Newshouse? Dietrich-Smith and Dominguez are the best guesses at this point. I could see McDonald or Dominguez supplanting either or both.
Defensive Line (6): Pickett, Raji, Neal, Wilson, Green, Wynn
Not too many questions here. I think Lawrence Guy has some promise, but he’s not quite ready yet. Give him a year on the practice squad.
Linebacker (8): Matthews, Hawk, Bishop, Walden, Francious, Smith, Zombo, So’oto
Good-bye Brad Jones. So’oto has shown himself to be a more reliable outside linebacker, and Erik Walden and Frank Zombo are pretty much guaranteed to be on the team. The only risk is if Zombo is put on injured reserve, in which case I could see Jones making the cut.
Defensive Back (9): Williams, Woodson, Shields, House, Lee, Collins, Burnett, Peprah, Bush
The depth behind the starters at defensive back are as cloudy as the offensive line position. There are no clear-cut favorites yet, and it may very well come down to the final preseason game. Lee still has gunner potential on special teams, and House is a draft pick that showed potential before his injury.
Specialist (3): Crosby, Masthay, Goode
Practice Squad (8): Saine, Taylor, Dominguez, Guy, Lattimore, Gordy, Donaldson/Ross, Levine/Jennings