Thomas Hobbes: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction All Green Bay Packers All the Time

I’m sure I’m going to be looking at this next week and wondering what the hell I was thinking, but below is my prediction for the starting 53 of the 2011 Green Bay Packers.

I tried to follow a couple of rules when making the roster:

  1. Drafted players almost always make the 53; only 6 drafted players (about one a year) have failed to make the roster during Thompson tenure.  This years draft had a lot of picks so I’m guessing Thompsons cuts two, Ricky Elmore and Lawrence Guy so I tried to keep everyone else.
  2. I tried to replace players with similar roles, for instance I think Caleb Schlauderaff plays very similar to Jason Spitz which is why I chose him over some of the other linemen.  Schlauderaff might not be the best player right now, but he has potential and the Packers have already shown that they like that kind of player (since they kept Spitz for 5 years), not to mention that he was drafted (see rule 1).
  3. I also tried to keep players as an insurance policy against 2012 free agency.  Again Schlauderaff adds some depth behind Josh Sitton should the Packers somehow end up being unable to keep him.


Quarterback -3: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

No question that the Packers can’t get away with stashing Harrell on the practice squad, he’s played decent enough to be the backup quarterback on some teams (and maybe even the starter at San Francisco).  Also the Packers need insurance against Matt Flynn next year so the Packers will have to keep 3 quarterbacks on their roster this year.

Running Back -4: Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green, John Kuhn

Nothing really ground breaking here, though I would probably put Ryan Taylor as the backup fullback.  Quinn Johnson in my opinion was never that bruising blocker that he was supposed to become and his forte really doesn’t mesh that well with the forte of the Packers.

Wide Receiver -6: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Chastin West

Really the only question is if the Packers are going to keep 6 wide receivers and it might very well come down to that.  In my opinion Chastin West stays over Tori Gurley; the Packers have never been that big on tall wide receivers (outside of Jordy Nelson everyone is around 6 feet) and while blocking punts is a great skill, blocking punts on one of the worst special teams in the league during practice probably won’t translate well to real games.

Tight End -5: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree

In order to keep 5 tight ends and 6 wide receivers I ended up taking a spot away from the secondary, which is definitely a little unusual.  My feeling is that tight ends make better special teams players (which is what the 3rd string players are going to be doing for the majority of the time) than cornerbacks because of their body type; they are fast enough to get down the field but also strong enough to block and shed tackles and Tom Crabtree is a very good special teams player, which gives him a spot.  D.J. Williams hasn’t impressed much during game day but has excelled in practice and probably will gain a spot on the assumption that he’ll keep improving, and of course he was drafted.

Offensive Line -9: Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, Scott Wells, T.J. Lang, Chad Clifton, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Nick McDonald, Caleb Schlauderaff

The starting line is pretty solid, but after that it becomes a little murky.  Sherrod is a lock simply based on his draft status and Newhouse figures to be the backup swing tackle for at least the beginning of the season.  In the interior McDonald beat out Evan Dietrich-Smith last year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it again (then again I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it goes the other way either).  Schlauderaff has the potential to play both guard positions having played right guard in the preseason and left guard in college and was drafted which usually means that he gets a spot.


Defensive Line – 6: Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Mike Neal, Howard Green, C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn

This was pretty much the squad from last year and no one new made much of a push to warrant a spot.  I could see the Packers adding some depth here via free agency (gasp) and maybe replace Wynn; Wynn is a pass rushing specialist, which means that the Packers might not be comfortable playing him on the first 2 downs, also defensive linemen typically age pretty well (Green is 32 and Pickett is 31) so there are going to be a lot of veterans looking for a job and there are plenty of defensive tackles that could convert to pretty decent ends.

Linebacker – 8: Clay Matthews III, A.J.  Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Erik Walden, D.J. Smith, Vic So’oto, Robert Francois, Frank Zombo (with either Brad Jones or Jamari Lattimore taking his place should be get sent to IR)

I’m not exactly sure what the Packers are going to do with Zombo; if he’s only out a couple of weeks then it makes sense to keep a spot for him, but if it takes a month to heal and another month for him to get back into shape and into the lineup, that’s half the season right there and it might be better just to put him on IR.  It also always seems like one underdog always makes it in the linebacker core and this year I think its So’oto who probably is more ready than Lattimore right now but Lattimore probably has more potential.

Defensive Back – 9: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Sam Shields, Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, Josh Gordy

In my opinion Brandon Underwood deserves no place on the Packers, for one he’s a terrible person off the field and second having a player who is constantly in danger of being in jail instead of being on the field is huge a risk (add to that he’s never been that great in coverage, as he’s been moved to safety).  Jarrett Bush seems to be wildly inconsistent in coverage and considering his athleticism and range, I feel that safety is probably his more natural position (which just so happens to be where Underwood played). Josh Gordy I think makes the team since he has more experience with the defense after spending last year mostly on the practice squad.  Given the choice between Pat Lee and Tom Crabtree, I think Crabtree is a better special teams player, which is probably what both of them would be doing.

Specialist -3: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Crosby just got paid so he’s a lock.  Masthay has played ridiculously well so he’s a lock.  Goode hasn’t been heard of (which is what you want in a long snapper) so he’s a lock.

Practice Squad -8: Brandon Saine, Kerry Taylor, Tori Gurley, Sampson Genus, Lawrence Guy, Ricky Elmore, M.D. Jennings, Jamari Lattimore

The Packers traditionally keep a couple wide receivers, presumably so that their backup quarterbacks will have more targets to throw to.  Elmore definitely hasn’t made the transition to 3-4 OLB but since he was drafted he will be given every chance to improve.  Lattimore has the lateral ability that teams covet but at the moment lacks the size or strength to hold up against the run, but that’s nothing a year on the practice squad and hitting the weight room can’t solve.  The Packers are probably betting that after the concussion no one will try to steal Guy off the practice squad so they will try to stash him away (but given the injury history of the defensive line he might be activated soon than later).  Brandon Saine I think is a pretty decent back but the Packers don’t have the space to keep him.  Finally Jennings has had his moments in the preseason but again the Packers probably don’t have space for them.




Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


31 thoughts on “Thomas Hobbes: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

  1. Pretty much the numbers i came up with, with the exception of my list having 9 linebackers and only 8db’s. But the other way around sounds MUCH better.

    I agree with this list 100% and really HOPE the packers go with it.

    1. lol well now you have jinxed it and well have Quinn Johnson, Brandon Underwood , Pat Lee and Justin Harrell back on the roster

  2. Good thinking but watchign Ray Domniguez, he is better than Caleb Schlauderaff and much better than Sampson Genus!! You missed out there!

    1. Yah but Schlauderaff was drafted so by default he ahead in the running. Personally I haven’t heard much about Schlauderaff either for good or for bad and to me that means that he’s not so bad that someone else is heads better than him, so since he’s drafted he’ll stay

  3. Thomas, I rate your roster slightly better than that of Zach’s earlier today, we’ll see who’s closer. I’ll ask you you same question I asked Zach, “Don’t you agree that TT bases these decisions more so on ‘potential’ rather than ‘experience’ with the younger guys”? It appears you at least somewhat agree as you’re keeping a lot of young guys here. I do think you’re putting too much emphasis on being “drafted”.
    I would however take Dominguez over Schlauderaff at this point, simply by performance. Either way the other goes to the P.S.
    And I think your P.S. is a mess! Elmore is history and Gurley won’t last to make it there, someone will grab him. Taylor, well, he’ll last, but has he shown enough? Shaky might have more upside as to potential.
    Nice Job!

    1. And Thomas, I’d keep Gurley over West, you can’t teach 6’4″ with an 86″ wingspan! Nope, can’t teach that!

      1. Outside of Jordy Nelson, no wide receiver drafted by Ted Thompson during his time in Green Bay has been over 6’1″. Personally I just don’t think that the Packers really need a “jump and high point” receiver, that’s what the tight ends do in the offense. Also as far as I know Ted Thompson has always attempted to keep his draft picks in the fold, whether that be on the roster or the practice squad. Keep in mind that the transition isn’t easy and Elmore only had a month or so, he was drafted and Thompson probably isn’t going to give up so easily on him.

  4. Great list, but you only have 23 guys on defense (6+8+9=23, not 24). So you either get Quinn Johnson, another OL (Dietrich Smith?), another DB (Pat lee), or Zach had it right earlier with another LB (Lattimore or Brad Jones and Zombo).

  5. Okay…so Gurley blocks punts against our weak special teams. There are other weak special teams, we’re not the only one. So let’s say he would only have one block during the season. When was our last? How many blocked punts are game changers? And, as Bubbaloo said, 6’4″/86″…and with great collegiate hands (what’s with the drops?). I think he has more to offer this year, and more in the future, than West. West is good, but another Swain. Eternally a 4th/5th guy at the most. Gurley could be more than that.

    1. There were something like 2,400 punts in the nfl last year and I think 16 were blocked, so that’s a .66% chance every time the other teams kicks, are you really going to keep a player just for .66%?

      1. Funny math. It’s 0.66% as an NFL average and I have 2450 punts and only 12 blocks, which makes the percent even lower. Some may think that only helps your case, but it shows the value of Gurley even more. Is one player worth it if he alone can block 1-2%? And Gurley has demonstrated the ability to be much more proficient than 0.66%. If an average team sees 76 punts, 1-2% proficiency is one block. And GBs defense is anything but average. But it’s not just the block. It is the possibility of the block…the rushed punt that wins field position. I want other teams to fear our returner Cobb, fear a block, fear the special teams play in general. Those small things win games.

        1. But is a player who makes a big play >1% worth a roster spot? Obviously if the team had the space to carry him, then they would but special teams frankly isn’t as big of a contributor to the overall game as the other two teams anyways, it only accounts for about 16% of the value of a team, so really, <1% is really even less than that. Does he have worth as a wide receiver? Yes, but I still think Chastin West is better, but I can see both sides of that debate.

          1. I think West is currently better as a WR since he knows the offense better. Give Gurley the chance to learn the offense…while doing so as a special teams player. That is if you were going to keep a 6th WR. Gurley’s value is potential starter (or 3rd/4th receiver at least) and current special teams demon. West provides you with a 6th receiver with potential to be a 4th at most. West plays special teams…but without offering much. If we’re talking 6th receiver, give me potential starter with a niche on special teams.

            1. West was also tried out at returner and while he didn’t blow the world away, he didn’t screw it up either (like Smithson or Biorel) and when a special teams success is just fielding the ball correctly, that’s at least someone they can use should Cobb be out for whatever reason.

          2. I think we’re talking at least one block out of him. That 1% is likely a game changer. How did chicago win some games, while the Chargers lost some? And the thought that special teams is less than 1/3 of the team is exactly the same mentality that leads to it being the weakness of the team. Worth a roster spot? Again, if we’re keeping 6 WR, yes.

  6. Crabtree out. Another DB in (maybe Underwood).
    I don’t think Schlauderaff makes the 53.
    Gurley instead of West.

    No way Elmore is on the practice squad. And no way either West or Gurley clear waivers. I think another OL on the PS – next year OL will need 2 or 3 new guys.

    1. Actually you just nailed my last minute change of heart. As unusual as it is, my feeling is that crabtree is a better special teams player than either Underwood or Lee and at that level of the depth chart, special teams play is probably more important than actual positional play.

      Again Elmore was drafted and Thompson has never given up on a drafted player after one year, they have always made it to the practice squad. I know he hasn’t been that good, but Thompson saw enough potential to draft him and I’m betting he will stick to his guns.

  7. So Brad Jones isn’t going to make the team? Seems very unlikely. I agree that So’oto and DJ Smith are great new additions at LB and that Elmore will get no where near the 53, he just played terrible.
    Oh and Dietrich-Smith will get the nod over Caleb Schlauderaff.

    1. Schlauderaff was drafted, hence my nod over Dietrich-Smith. Thompson should know what he has with Dietrich-Smith already (and cut him last year as proof) and obviously Thompson sees something in Schlauderaff or he wouldn’t have drafted him.

  8. I think you’re much more on target than Zack or Kris. I agree QJ is taillights and TT will keep 6 WR’s (may be Gurley instead of West) and 5 TE’s.

    I do agree w/ others Dominguez over Schlauderaff. I think Brad Jones is history and Lattimore needs a year in the weight room and will end up on the PS. I think LB (or maybe OG) is where TT pulls a Tony Moll/Derek Martin type trade. Or he signs a cut player.
    I think Chris Campbell ends up back on PS along w/ Guy, K. Taylor, Saine, Lattimore, Schlauderaff,
    Jennings, Gurley (if they keep West). W/ the team only carrying 9 DB/s I would like to see a CB on PS…Hmm, decisions, decisions.

    1. more than anything i love your DBs. agree with what a lot of people are saying about schlauderaff. I have read that he has been completely dominated in the one on ones.

      take elmore off of your practice squad and insert brandian ross. i would actually like to find a way to keep ross on the active roster, but it would be tough.

      TT needs to find a back OL that can long snap. it is crazy that every NFL team has to use a super valuable roster spot for such a specialty. if i have a son and he is over 250lbs he is going to every long snapping camp in the country. if he is under 250lbs he is going to every punting camp in the country. yeah, it is not about what he wants, it is about what I want.

    2. I’ll keep going back to it, but Thompson chose to invest a draft pick in Schlauderaff and I’m thinking that Thompson doesn’t know enough about him to cut him just yet. Yah the DB issue is a tough one, I definitely imagine seeing a DB or maybe 2 on the PS if it actually went down with that, though I don’t know who gets booted off as a result

  9. I just can’t see the Packers only keeping 4 outside linebackers knowing that Zombo will probably miss the first month of the season. I could see them letting Jones go once Zombo is healthy, but they would be pretty thin at olb with just Matthews, Walden and So’oto

    1. Francois can play OLB also. If Zombo misses only a few games I could see them going with only 4 OLBs. But, it’s not ideal

    2. Actually I’m not terribly sold on Francois but he is pretty versatile but if you swap him with another OLB, then you are going in to the season with only one backup at MLB, which has just as many spots as OLB in the base defense, and I can’t really see that happening

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