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.