First off, as with every year that I do this, I would like to say upfront I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t pretend to able to prognosticate 53-man rosters any more than I can delve in the mind of Ted Thompson. That being said, this is still a fun yearly exercise and I’m sure we’ll all have a good laugh at my expense about this next week. Anyways, I wrote an article last year about the 10 points of making a 53 man roster and I’ve tried to follow my own advice.
Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young
The Packers typically keep 2 quarterbacks on the roster with a 3rd on the practice squad, and with Graham Harrell cut and no longer practice squad eligible, Vince Young becomes the de facto backup. I’d say it’s a 50-50 split as to whether they keep Coleman on the practice squad; my take is his quick demotion after Family Night signified that he didn’t show enough to warrant further development, and if the Packers were truly trying to “hide away” Coleman’s talent’s they would have kept Harrell for the last preseason game to bury Coleman’s playing time. But barring any other surprise options they might have to wait for the draft to find their next developmental quarterback.
Running Back (4): Eddie Lacy, Alex Green, John Kuhn, Johnathan Franklin
Lacy is obviously now the starting running back with DuJuan Harris on IR, and the rest of the stable is rather murky. Green probably gets the first chance to be Lacy’s backup even though he’s probably more of a 3rd down back as the Packers aren’t going to drop a high draft pick that quickly and he has the alibi that knee apparently never healed enough to make him a viable runner last year. Kuhn stays due to his acumen in special teams, pass protection and security blanket for Rodgers. Franklin rounds out the group mostly because of his draft status at this point, he hasn’t adjusted to the NFL as quickly as the other rookies, but he might be a decent option later in the season as he gains more experience. Starks in my opinion has been the odd man out this whole offseason, after Franklin was drafted Starks was the runner placed on the trading block over Green and Starks was the last running back in during the “dress rehearsal” 3rd preseason game and didn’t log a rushing attempt.
Wide Receiver (6): Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross, Tyrone Walker
The Packers again stay with 6 wide receivers, which now is more important as they have less known talent at wide receiver with both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver gone. The big 3 of Cobb, Nelson and Jones are locks to for sure and Boykin was the next man up all offseason while Nelson and Cobb nursed injuries so he’s likely to stick as well. Jeremy Ross gets a spot mostly due to special teams, I’m not entirely sure why people are so high on Micah Hyde as a returner, he’s only returned one punt for 13 yards. Tyrone Walker rounds out the unit, becoming this year’s version of Jarrett Boykin.
Tight End (5): Jermicheal Finley, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Matt Mulligan
Outside of Finley, the whole tight end situation is a little bit of a mess; Quarless looks like he’s back from his knee injury and might be the most well rounded tight end the Packers have. Brandon Bostick has had a solid offseason and protects the Packers from the potential loss of Finley next year. Ryan Taylor sticks to out the group mainly for his special teams prowess and again has an injury alibi to explain his quiet preseason. Mulligan rounds out the group takes the place of departed Tom Crabtree as mainly a blocking tight end (though Crabtree evolved into way more). DJ Williams finally gets cut after displaying so much promise, the Packers have been trying to get something out of Williams all offseason (he logged the most snaps of any tight end) but it just isn’t working out, he’s been the worst tight end by far this offseason. However if the Packers are still convinced they can get something out of him he probably takes Taylor’s place.
Offensive Line (7): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, TJ Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse*, Greg Van Roten
The starters have played well together and I don’t foresee any surprises. Where the picture becomes more muddled is with the two backups: for swing tackle I think Newhouse is really their only option and has gone through training camp playing both left and right tackle on the 2nd team offense. However, I feel it’s finally time for Derek Sherrod to rejoin the team and Newhouse will be dropped in favor of Sherrod once he comes off the PUP. For the interior, it’s pretty much a coin flip as to who has had the best performance so far with the two leaders being Greg Van Roten and Patrick Lewis; I’ll predict that the Packers choose experience and go with Van Roten.
Defensive Line (8): BJ Raji, Ryan Pickett, Datone Jones, Johnny Jolly, CJ Wilson, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Mike Neal*
The Packers go heavy this year; on average the Packers have kept 6 defensive linemen so 8 sounds crazy, but I’m putting Mike Neal as a DL and taking one spot away from the linebackers so really the Packers are only keep one extra. As I’ve stated before, safety and defensive end are two of the most important positions in a 3-4 defense (not nose tackle and outside linebacker) and the Packers need to keep a healthy rotation going. Raji, Pickett and Jones are locks to make the team, and CJ Wilson is probably the teams best run stuffing DE so he’ll stick as well. Johnny Jolly is this year’s surprise keeper; I think the Packers secretly were rooting for him to make it back and he didn’t disappoint with a fantastic preseason showing. Mike Daniels continues to beat all the odds as an undersized 3-4 DE and makes it as the Packers 4th rotational rush DL behind Raji, Jones, Neal (who may not get many opportunities as he’s going to be playing outside linebacker in those situations). Josh Boyd nabs the last spot over Jordan Miller, who has also had a good training camp along with Boyd, but all things being equal Boyd gets the spot since he was drafted.
Linebacker (8): Clay Matthews III, AJ Hawk, Brad Jones, Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Robert Francois, Terrell Manning,
Matthews III, Hawk, Jones and Perry are naturally all locks to make it as the starters. Mulumba is this year’s “All Oneida Linebacker” following the footsteps of Dezman Moses, Vic So’oto and Frank Zombo. Speaking of Moses, he’s been hobbled by a toe injury all offseason and I’m guessing the Packers try to stash Moses on the IR and replace him with Palmer (though Moses did play last night so I’m not sure if they can justify the IR). For the backups in the inside, Francois has looked the most polished of any of the backup linebackers and Manning looks to finally be making a impression after losing last year with a stomach injury.
Defensive Back (10): Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarret Bush, Morgan Burnett, MD Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo
The “starters” of Williams, Shields, Hayward and Burnett are all locks to make the team. MD Jennings has played better than Jerron McMillian so far, but neither have really separated themselves to make much of a case to be the other starting safety so the Packers will carry both again. Preseason sensation Micah Hyde will make the team and probably be molded into the Charles Woodson “slot corner/strong safety” player that the Packers enjoyed having for so many years. Davon House has had perhaps the worst offseason of anyone this year, but bounced back well in St. Louis after a disastrous game against the Cardinals and hopefully the Packers will see the Cardinals game as a aberration rather than an impending sense of doom. Old reliable Jarrett Bush makes the team again as a special teams ace and actually didn’t have all that bad of a preseason playing corner (to all the people who think he won’t make it onto the roster as a 1 dimensional special teams player, he’s made it on the Packers team every year so far by being a 1 dimensional special teams player). Chris Banjo nabs the Packers last backup safety position, outside of Micah Hyde he’s played the most snaps of anyone and has acquitted himself admirably in both run and pass defense.
Specialist (3): Tim Masthay, Brett Goode, Mason Crosby
Not much to mention here; Ramirez booted himself off camp (and then turned in a dumpster fire of a performance during his only practice going 6 for 16) and Tavecchio was released during the 75 man cut down. Add to that Crosby’s salary restructure (which should have been done the moment Dan Carpenter and Rian Lindell were released) essentially locks Crosby as the teams kicker, but gives them the flexibility to call back Tavecchio if Crosby melts down again. Tim Masthay and Brett Goode have been rock solid and had no competition during training camp and are assured spots on the team.
Practice Squad (8): BJ Coleman, Lane Taylor, Charles Johnson, Myles White, Patrick Lewis, Sam Barrington, John Amosa, James Nixon
As I mentioned before Coleman might be the default PS QB even if the Packers don’t think highly of him. Usually the Packers don’t cut so many drafted players, but with a glut of 3 seven round players, there were just too many raw players to keep everyone. Barrington and Johnson probably didn’t do enough to make the team, but on the plus side neither one made much of a splash, so stashing them on the PS should be relatively easy. The Packers love keeping wide receivers on the PS as well so Myles White gets another spot. Patrick Lewis essentially functions as the Packers 3rd emergency center should EDS get injured and GVR not be up to the task. I’ll throw Nixon in not because I know anything about him, but all the other ALLGBP staff seem to love him, so that’s something.
PUP: Derek Sherrod, Jerel Worthy, Sean Richardson, JC Tretter
No surprises here, every player was added to the PUP in order for the Packers to get to the 75 man roster limit. Sherrod might be the only player with a shot of playing this season, Worthy’s injury was so late it’s unlikely he’ll have the time to get into game shape, Richardson is still dealing with the neck fusion surgery that ultimately ended Nick Collins’ career and JC Tretter broke his ankle during rookie minicamp and doesn’t have much experience to fall back up.
IR: Bryan Bulaga, Kevin Dorsey, DuJuan Harris, Jarvis Reed, Dezman Moses
Again no surprises.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.