Chad Toporski: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction All Green Bay Packers All the Time

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


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


  • Mojo

    So Chad you think Lee gets the nod over Gordy? Don’t see that one. Also do you think they will give up on McDonald this quickly? Else, I like your roster. I think injuries to a few scrubs tonight will also dictate who stays.

    I want to throw this out there to you bloggers. Regarding Harrell, is there a chance the Pack could convince him to go to their practice squad. Consider Flynn is as good as gone next year and if the Pack convince him he gets the first shot at being Rodgers backup, well that might be appealing to him. My understanding is that if on a PS, the player has the choice of staying or leaving if another team puts a claim in on him. Lets say another team does claim Harrell he’s not going to be competing for the starters spot but as a backup to the starter. It could be attractive to Harrell to wait a year and get first crack at being Rodgers backup. It would be up to the Pack to convince him of this. That way they could save a roster spot and keep Harrell as the third option this year. Just wondering if this idea doesn’t hold water.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      That’s a very interesting idea, technically its possible, but realistically i doubt it. I seem to recall that Brian Brohm received a couple of offers after he was cut but decided to stay on the practice squad with the Packers until mid season. The reason I think its a little unrealistic is that Harrell has no guarantees from the Packers as a practice squad player. For one if the Packers drafted a quarterback high next year and decide to keep 2 next year then Harrell is screwed. Also, assuming he wants to become a starter in the future Green Bay isn’t exactly the best place to be a backup, even if Aaron Rodgers has a 2010 Brett Farve season I don’t think the Packers will bench him, it would completely wreck the team. It’s also partially why the Colts have such terrible backup at quarterback, because what free agent wants to back up Peyton and never see the field (or be able to run the Peyton offense either). What Harrell wants is to get on the roster of a team with a quarterback problem, for instance SF, if Smith and Kapernick tank the first couple of games, the niners might get desperate and try out their 3rd stringer. Finally just in terms of money, making the active roster is a lot better than sitting in the practice squad.

      • Mojo

        Makes sense Thomas. I’m guessing Harrell’s career ambition is to be a starter not a Sorgi. Although if you can backup for 5-10 years at league minimum that’s not bad scratch.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          Yah, but I don’t think Harrell considers himself as a lifetime backup (nor would I), I’m pretty sure he wants to start at some point.

    • Chad Toporski

      Let me put it this way… If I were making the decisions, Lee would be gone and Gordy would be in like Flynn. But for some reason I think the Packers like Lee and what he does as a Special Teams gunner. I might end up changing my mind before the cuts are made, though.

      As for McDonald, I’m not sure. It seems like it’s a toss up between him and EDS. Maybe tonight will make some things more clear.

  • Oh Da Pack

    Zombo on the PUP list?

    • Steve

      I was thinking the same thing. Put Zombo on the PUP then we aren’t using up a spot on a player we aren’t going to be able to use right away anyways. By the time he can come off the PUP some other LB will be injured. Not being mean or anything, just realistic.

    • Can not put Zombo on PUP. PUP is only for players that were not able to practice from day one of training camp.

  • Chris K

    can see your reasoning on all these but 2. Caleb is def. not going to be makingit over any of these 3 : McDonald, Dominguez, or Dietrich-Smith, he was demoted to third string.

    Secondly, I cant see the Pack going with only 8 LB’s when one will miss 4 weeks +… They always have them boys on ST’s and to satrt off with one in the hole I dont believe Ted would do that even with Francois’s flexability

    • Chad Toporski

      My only caveat with Schlauderaff was his draft pick status. I’m not sure if TT honors his picks as much as he seems to, but it did sway my opinion.

      As for OLBs, I get where you’re going. But then you’ve got three options: (1) cut Zombo, (2) IR Zombo, or (3) make room for another OLB.

      (1) is definitely out of the question. (2) is a possibility, but Greene definitely wants him back. And if you pick (3), then who do you cut from another position? Therein lies the rub.