Predicting Packers Opening Day Roster – Sixteen New Players to Make Team

Green Bay Packers Projected 53-Man Roster – Version 1.0 – has Some Surprises

With the college draft in the books and free agent signings nearly complete fans of the Green Bay Packers look forward to training camp and the kickoff to the NFL season.

The Packers were four-minutes away from qualifying for the Super Bowl last season where they would have been the favorites to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Although youthful this is also an accomplished veteran squad with precious few starting positions up for grabs. It would appear that only one cornerback and one inside linebacker position in their base 3-4 defense would have any meaningful competition for a starting job. In addition many of the primary backup positions are also not in play.

Fast forward to August 30, 2015, the final cut-down date, where I predict the make-up of your Green Bay Packers 53-man opening day roster – Version 1.0.  Yes, I realize that it is early for such a prediction.

First a little analysis.

The season-ending 2014 Packers roster contained 26 players on defense, 24 on offense and three special-teams-only players. Here is the break-down (Nine players are no longer with the team in italic’s):

2014 Offense (24)

QB – Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien
HB – Eddie Lacy, James Starks and DuJuan Harris
FB – John Kuhn
WR – Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Devante Adams, Jarrett Boykin and Jeff Janis
TE – Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostic and Justin Perillo
OL – David Bakhtiari, TJ Lang, Corey Linsley, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, JC Tretter, Lane Taylor and Garth Gerhart

2014 Defense (26)

DL – Datone Jones, Letroy Guion, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Mike Pennel and Bruce Gaston
LB – Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, Sam Barrington, Julius Peppers, Brad Jones, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Carl Bradford and Jayrone Elliot
CB – Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Devon House, Casey Hayward, Demitri Goodson and Jarrett Bush
S – Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo

2014 Special Teams (3)

P – Tim Masthay K – Mason Crosby LS – Brett Goode

Although Jarrett Bush might still return, though I doubt he will, that leaves only nine openings if all of last year’s players make this year’s squad barring injuries.

My projections have an additional seven players replaced: four on defense (Jayrone Elliot, Chris Banjo, Bruce Gaston and Josh Boyd) and three on offense (Lane Taylor, Garth Gerhart and Justin Perillo). If my prediction holds true there would be a total of 16 different faces on this year’s opening roster – representing a 30% turnover from last year.

Here is my 2015 Packers roster projection (New Roster Players in italic’s) :

2015 Offense (24)

QB – Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and Brett Hundley
HB – Eddie Lacy, James Starks
FB – John Kuhn, Aaron Ripkowski
WR – Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Devante Adams, *Jared Abbredaris, Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery
TE – Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers, and Kennard Backman
OL – David Bakhtiari, TJ Lang, Corey Linsley, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, JC Tretter, *Don Barclay, Matt Rotheram

2015 Defense (26)

DL – Datone Jones, Letroy Guion, *B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Mike Pennel, *Khyri Thornton, and Christian Ringo.
LB – Clay Matthews, Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Carl Bradford, Adrian Hubbard and Tavarus Dantzler.
CB – Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Damarius Randall (S), Demetri Goodson, Micah Hyde (S) and Ladarius Gunter (S)
S – Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson, Quinton Rollins (CB)

2015 Special Teams (3)

P – Tim Masthay K – Mason Crosby LS – Brett Goode
*Spent 2014 season on IR.

Offense Notes: Hundley is a future #2 but not this year…..I really wanted to add Crockett, he is the real deal, but I cannot afford him with two FB’s and I need the six wide-outs more. My wide and slot receivers provide inside-outside depth, real honest-to-goodness kick and punt returners, two who can operate in the backfield (Wildcat or jet sweep?) and legitimate weapons for 3-5 receiver sets. My TE’s are good, not great but are versatile (a key word regarding my roster) enough and provide H-Back expertise especially important should the Packers only keep one FB. My five OL starters comprise one of the NFL’s best units and my backups are versatile………both inside guys (Tretter and Rotheram) can play guard, center and some tackle making Gerhart expendable and my primary backup tackle (Barclay) has shown he can get the job done. Plus a very weak Lane Taylor is shown the door.

Defense Notes: I am one man too deep on the DL and Thornton only makes it because he carries a third round investment. The remainder offer a stout inside plus outside-edge-rush strength to run either 3 or 4 man fronts. Thornton’s spot bumps a linebacker that I like- Jayrone Elliot – but I add a new starter in Ryan and inside-outside versatility in Hubbard and Dantzler (who runs a 40 as fast as our top two DB draft picks). I also have players who can play both safety and CB – Randall, Rollins, Hyde and Gunter. Hard-working and physical Gunter adds great size at 6’ 2”.

Dark Horses I really like: John Crockett (RB), James Vaughters (LB), and Cody Mandell (P).

Veterans I wish I could keep: Jayrone Elliot (LB), Josh Boyd (DT), Andy Malumba (LB), Joe Thomas (LB), and Nate Palmer (LB).

Still on the Bubble: John Kuhn should Ripkowski prove to be a quick study and reliable blocker. Khyri Thornton should he not dramatically improve from last year. Tim Masthay if he cannot regain his confidence and form, and Demitri Goodson if he cannot show that he has fully transitioned from basketball to football by taking a giant year-two step forward. Finally there is James Starks who could lose out to impressive all-purpose rookie running back John Crockett.

The roster features three players recently signed as undrafted rookies; one on offense (Rotheram) and two on defense (Gunter and Dantzler).

I built my roster with a definitive goal of upgrading the special teams. Mission accomplished. The new contributors reflect greater intensity, size, speed as well as overall athleticism. There are many multidimensional players allowing for plug-and-play versatility on game day. It also includes every draft choice from the past two seasons as is the Ted Thompson method of building a roster.

This was a very hard roster to trim. There will be many more players deserving of a roster spot than will there be openings – an affirmation of just how talented and deep this team is. Top-to-bottom the Packers are the most complete team in the NFL.

Perhaps there will be a tweak or two on Version 2.0, but I really like my current final roster. It has the look of a strong Super Bowl contender.

54 thoughts on “Predicting Packers Opening Day Roster – Sixteen New Players to Make Team

  1. Nice try. I like how you mixed all of the roster spots… Of course, we would like to avoid any player to be put on season ending injury list, but you never knows… Also, I will put Jayrone Elliot before Adrian Hubbard and Joe Thomas before Tavarus Dantzler, both of them can be placed on PS for possible needs during the season… Also, I think Tim Mastay will not keep his job… Of course, Andy Mulumba will always be Packer in my heart because of his wonderful plays on one leg in 2013 wild card game…

    1. Having watched Dantzler’s film, I am beside myself with excitement and view him as a guy who will challenge to be the top back up at ILB, and who might challenge for starters time. I know, a little over the top, but the guy has great film. Now we have to wait and watch them play. I would put Elliott before Hubbard as well, unless he shows that he still cannot play the run.

      1. I’ve been a proponent of keeping an athletic “chaser” on the final roster at ILB. I listened to a podcast the other day where the analysts felt the Packers really didn’t need one (Barrington and Ryan can do it, they said). Still, Dantzler looks like an instant ST contributor and could develop into a speedy defensive playmaker (DeAndre Levy?).

      2. Well, of course this is our impressions regarding players. But coaches knows much better if not for any other reason, but because they see them every day in practice…
        Nevertheless I think there will be lot of good and very good players out there when Packers will announce 53 roster..

        1. Now, now, I did say we have to watch the guys play, and the coaches have to watch Dantzler in particular because he played at a small school against inferior opponents, and the coaches have to judge him against NFL quality personnel. Dantzler’s film is dazzling, tho! If we keep Crockett, we could have Taz and Daz!

      3. I like Dantzler’s film too, but in the clips I watched, no one was blocking him. Do you have some film with him shedding blocks?

        1. On the long highlight reel of Dantzler, I told my friend I try to exclude the unblocked plays (of which you are correct, there are many) and look at what’s left.

          What’s left to my eyes is a picture of a player who never gives up on plays, works the LOS laterally from sideline to sideline looking for the seam, and when he finds it, absolutely explodes with sudden burst to the ball carrier.

          This is based purely off of the ever-dangerous highlight film, but Dantzler looks like a rare athlete with off the charts burst, seemingly great instincts, and what stood out most to my eye was his change of direction skills and the strength to take down ball carriers who would otherwise blown past him with a strong hands and a last ditch attempt arm tackle.

          I’m excited to see this kid compete against NFL talent and see what shakes out.

          He looks like he could play inside or out. I would see him as an edge rusher first, inside as needed.

    2. I agree about Thomas I actually think he could be the starter this year if Bradford don’t step up, But Hubbard if he can play bup to his potetial will be a beast on the outside and a Pep replacement in the next year or so

    3. I don’t know Croatpackfan, Hubbard has been in Green Bay since February putting in work. McCarthy had some positive things to say about him too. Elliot was pretty good ST player last year, one of the few but I think Hubbard will make a big jump this year. Like everybody I’m really excited about this season, this team is loaded with talent!

  2. Jeff – nice job with the roster version 1.0. I hope that Crockett makes the team even at the expense of Kuhn, especially if Ripkowski can get the job done. Or if Ripkowski ends up on the PS. This is probably Stark’s last season in GB and Lacy has had 2 concussions. Crockett provides solid insurance in case of injury and can evolve into the starting RB if necessary. Unless he flops during training camp I would hate for the Packers to lose him to another team. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. I agree: unless he looks completely lost in camp, I don’t see any way Crockett makes it to the PS if he doesn’t make the final 53, and even though Kuhn has been able to carry the ball and be the emergency RB in the past, I have a hard time thinking the Packers keep two FB.

      1. I don’t think that they will keep two FBs either, although MM likes Kuhn because he doesn’t fumble. But it’s a young man’s game, especially at RB. Either way I hope that Crockett sticks. Thanks, Since ’61

    2. I don’t see the pack keeping two fullbacks on the 53. But I do see them keeping 3 RBs even with Cobb and TM as alternative runners.

    1. McGinn and others have said that Hubbard has added significant muscle in the offseason (apparently he came into Packers camp last summer needing to add strength). Still, scouts knocked his instincts and his hot-and-cold motor coming out of Alabama (and that he suffered from ego). Maybe he’s got his head on straight. He sure looks the part.

  3. Now we just have to pray the injury bug doesn’t hit during training camp. I’m knocking on every piece of wood I can find.

    1. Yes, some of these roster decisions will shake themselves out due to injuries. Last August I wrote that the 2014 team had as much talent as many of GB’s super bowl teams, but I still thought it had some dead wood on it. This year’s team could have more talent, with even the PS having multiple guys who can play in the NFL now, and some more with developmental upside.

  4. Discussions about individual players are fun, but probably are premature until we see some of these guys play. So I’ll deal more with structure.

    2 RBs: Starks is made of glass, & Lacy gets concussions. A 3rd, workhorse type RB is necessary. Candidates includes Crockett and Rajion Neal. I’d have liked a scat back type, but don’t see room for that. The extra roster space might come from FB or WR.

    NT: 3 NTs, Raji, Guion and Pennel, is excessive, especially at a devalued position. Perhaps Guion can play DE, which would ease the loss of Boyd. If you dump Boyd, you’d better think Datone is A) going to make a jump, otherwise we can watch teams run right over him for big chunks of yardage; B) not made of glass, and C) that there is a back up at DE in Guion/Boyd for Datone and Daniels. I’ve written before that one of Raji and Guion might get cut for cap purposes, but that assumes Pennel shines, and Pennel seems to be on the bubble due to his decline in snaps over the course of the season. Assuming we keep 6 DL, I’m not thrilled with having half of them (Raji, Guion, Daniels) in contract years. I think so little of our DL that I only have Daniels as a lock. I’d be tempted not to let Thornton practice at all so he can be put on PUP,

    As to individuals, I question Backman, Hubbard, Ringo and Thornton. The 1st three look to me to be PS candidates. (I’ve been meaning to look at Ringo’s film as a knowledgeable buddy of mine is high on him.) As to Thornton, who knows? I was intrigued by Gaston, for that matter. We played with 4 DL last year (few injuries, again) in Daniels, Guion, Boyd and Datone, nicked up or not, reaching for Luther when necessary.

    1. Regarding NT, are we sure that Guion does not start the season with a suspension?

      I can see carrying an extra NT on Day 1 if Guion needs to be on the 53 to stay on the roster but will go on the suspended list on Day 2.

      In your list of DL from last year you also forgot Datone Jones. We never carried less than 6.

      1. Apologies. I see that you do have Datone, my bad.

        Though I still think we may start the season with 7 DL this year, both due to contracts and because there is a lot of talent at the position.

        In part it will depend on what kind of talent TT and MM think they can get onto the PS — for example, if Gaston and Hooks are both promising there is less need to keep Pennell on the 53.

  5. Sorry but there is no way a second round pick does not make the roster so Rollins will be there

  6. This draft class was solely meant for special teams even though McCarthy has said they don’t do that. There is a lot of new ST players that are not as good as the regular defense/offense players so who do you put on the 53? do you want a great ST but a lower defense/offense? or do you stay strong on offense/defense and not improve the ST’s it’s why MM is the coach and we are just fans he will choose the best of all 3 worlds and make the 53.

    1. Every draft class is about ST… Most of the rookies who made team is mainly ST players…

  7. I will never understand Packers fans’ infatuation with Adrian Hubbard. He was an underachiever at Alabama and has done absolutely nothing at the NFL level. Elliot outplayed him last preseason by leaps and bounds… not. even. close.

    The only thing Hubbard has EVER “done” is be 6’6.

    How many 6’6″ OLB’s are successful? As much as everyone seems to want/believe that Hubbard will morph into the next Peppers – there has been no evidence at Alabama or in Green Bay that this is ever going to happen.

    He demonstrates inconsistent effort, lacks a solid base, and shows no “snap”. An average athlete at the NFL level.

    Mulumba and Elliot are superior players.

    1. As for Hubbard, it’s only one Preseason game to go on but I saw more from him than many others. Give him a shot. Need a nasty dude on d.

    2. I agree Cow. People love Hubbard’s height. Size is intimidating to fans but not to players unless you are Julius Peppers which he’s not.
      I said this before and I’ll say it again. I am expect big things from Jayrone Elliott this season. He could really take off this season. You put yellow shoes on this guy and the no. 68 and you’ll swear you are watching L.C. Greenwood.
      Ted

    3. Elliot could be our starting ouside backer this year if Matthews plays more inside depends on Jake Ryan and how he turns out on the inside.

  8. Too many WR at the expense of not enough RB. Pick one between Janis and Abby, sorry. Also too many DL at the expense of LB. We started the season with 5 DL and added Gaston in December. Julius can play DE so that versatility would allow for 6 DL and 10 LB.

    1. I think what you’ll see is Montgomery playing running back at times especially on third down passing situations. The dude’s going to be used all over the place more than Cobb ever was.
      Ted

  9. crockett on the 53 and ripkowski on the ps….we would lose crockett if he ends up on the PS. rather lose ripkowski

  10. Hundley goes to the PS and willingly stays there. He’s smart enough to stay at QB university for a year to further his career.
    There has to be a 3rd RB. Pencil in Crockett.
    No way they carry two FB. Unproven rookie goes to the practice squad. Plays next year as Kuhn is let go. Chance of getting stolen is slim… especially if the player thinks he has a job sewn up next year.
    6 WR? Don’t think so. Abbrederris is on the outside looking in unless he’s the starting PR. He can stay on PUP or PS. The former walk on may jump if someone comes knocking. TT has let 5th spot WR and CB be unprotected before.

    That’s 2 spots available now.

    1. QB University? IF you’re talking about McCarthy’s QB school, who’s he graduated that’s made it? Brohm, Coleman, Graham, even Vince Young didn’t last here. Can’t give McCarthy all that credit for Rodgers–he’s a special athlete and McCarthy doesn’t have any candidate from his QB school that’s even on a roster anywhere. Hate to rain on the party, Hundley’s a project for McCarthy to train for a trade later on. Think the LB core will be better with Elliot and Hubbard over Nate Palmer or Mulumba and nothing says pencil in Bradford at a spot right now. At RB, expect Kuhn would get nod over Ripkowski, who’s a PS prospect unless he has the biggest camp since William Henderson. I think Pack WILL find a way to keep Crockett short of injury especially with Starks on a one year contract again but I don’t really foresee McCarthy using Ty Montgomery in the backfield like he did Cobb, he’s ST’s for right now and some WR experience at times. Unless one of these two rookies outshine GB’s secondary contract players–don’t expect much from them early, just because they have a “G” on that helmet, it doesn’t mean Capers will use them extensively early in season. IF this defense can produce in first few games of season when McCarthy’s teams are notoriously slow starting, we’ll get a bigger picture on any improvement they’ve made especially at LB and secondary.

  11. Pretty sad that he writes for all grenades bay packers and cannot even get half the names right. Only 2 running backs? And 2 fullbacks? You really think Hubbard is going to make it? And Gunter over Banjo is just ridiculous.

    This was this biggest waste of time ever….

  12. Hubbard at Alabama had zero motor. Big time under achiever. Will be a late cut after TT gives him all the opportunity to succeed.

  13. Either Crockett or Raijon Neal will make it as the third RB. To keep only 2 RBs and 2 FBs in the modern-day NFL is ludicrous. Rotheram will be cut if you feel the need to keep 2 FBs on the active roster. Joe Thomas will stay, Dantzler will go PR unless he can beat out Bradford at ILB.

  14. One interesting thing is that none of the commenters (except me, tangentially) wrote anything about Boyd being dumped. If I had to do it, I would say Daniels is a lock, Raji, Guion, Boyd and Datone are good bets, with Pennel, Thornton, Ringo on the bubble, and Gaston as a long shot fighting for the last spot (unless they keep 7).

  15. Everybody loves to see an undrafted guy make the team, and there’s no question that TT does pretty well in the UDFA market. But I think we need to cool our jets a little bit. Very, very few of these guys will ever amount to squat.

    Let’s take a look at Thompson’s successes. (I’m just going by memory here, so help me out a bit.)

    OFFENSE:

    Kuhn was undrafted, but you can’t really count him because he played 2 years in PIT before coming to GB.

    You’ve got EDS and Barclay… two very marginal interior linemen.

    Anyone else of note? Last year (other than Kuhn and his 200 or so snaps) we had Boykin, Lane Taylor, Dujuan Harris, Bostick, Gerhardt and Perillo. All of those guys suck.

    DEFENSE:

    Ted actually has done better here.

    Tramon Williams was actually signed by HOU as a UDFA, but was cut at the end of his first camp. We’ll give TT the credit anyway. That was a great pickup.

    Shields was UDFA – right now, you’d have to say he isn’t any more than an average starter.

    Unless I’m forgetting someone, that’s pretty much it. Last year we had Lattimore, Pennel, Richardson, Robinson, Elliot – all hype and no real production.

    Maybe I’m forgetting someone – or even a bunch of them – but the point is, Where are all these so-called “gems” that get uncovered in UDFA? Guys go undrafted for a reason. It’s usually because they aren’t very good.

  16. I say Ringo is a practice squad guy. I’d be pretty surprised to see Josh Boyd get bumped out.

    Another on the bubble that could be a surprise cut is Nick Perry. Him not getting his 5th year option exercised is the death knell of his Packers career.

    Thornton and Bradford are on the bubble too. They must improve after last year’s rocky start.

    1. If Ringo can convince the coaching staff that he is a reliable long snapper, they might keep Ringo over the 30 yr old Brett Goode and gain a position player at a bargain basement price. That’s a good sized “if” though…

  17. Normally, I do not commit but this analysis has major issues. Boyd, Elliot are not going to get cut. Thornton is a bust. Ripkowski is on the practice squad. GB goes with 3 HB’s They are only going with 6 lineman and no more in this passing league today.

  18. It’s possible that Don Barclay could get cut. Remember, he blew out his ACL and missed all of last year. The Packers signed him to the 1.5M restricted tender, but that is not guaranteed, and he would be a UFA after next season. If his knee isn’t right, or if a guy like Rotheram turns out to be a player, Barclay and his 1.5 million could be gone. The Packers would probably also have to be convinced that Tretter can play tackle.

    If I had to guess, I’d say he’ll make the roster, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk by any means.

  19. You might be right, holmes. I thought they were saying he was a defensive end, who ALSO handled the long snapping (a DE/LS, if you will). Anybody know if the guy actually did snap in college or not?

    I completely agree with you that the Packers think he can play on the line, and that he wouldn’t have been drafted purely as a snapper. My point was that if he does snap, and does it as well as Goode, why not keep the cheaper guy who can also play a position?

    1. I knew what you meant man. My point was that both TT & Ringo were asked the question by the press and both responded that they had no idea why the position of long snapper was associated to the player as he has never done it. It would be odd for a DL player to do it anyway. I agree with you that if he DID actually long snap(which the player himself has denied), retaining him for versatility and value would certainly be a wise consideration:) Go Pack!

  20. Jayrone Elliot could be one of our starting OLB this year in Matthews goes inside no way he is released too much talent

Comments are closed.