As we approach the final preseason game of 2012, it’s time to take a first crack at predicting the Packers 53-man roster to start the season. Once the preseason game against the Chiefs is in the books, we will publish a table with predictions from the entire staff here at AllGreenBayPackers.com (so you can mock us all from one convenient place).
Depth is the most underrated aspect of a championship caliber football team. While we’re all focused on the quarterback (both the starter and backup) and other glamour positions, teams with championship aspirations are worrying about their fourth-string cornerback and backup offensive linemen. If a starter goes down, can someone step in and prevent everything from falling apart?
My 53-man prediction doesn’t differ much from Jersey Al’s, but that’s kind of what you get when predicting the 53-man for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll be embarrassingly wrong about a few of these, so there should be plenty of opportunity to mock and ridicule me.
Quarterback (2): Rodgers, Harrell
Unless it’s a conditional late-round pick, I’d rather stick with Harrell than trade for a retread backup QB. And keep Vince Young away from Wisconsin, please.
Running Back (5): Benson, Green, Starks, Saine, Kuhn
I want to see James Starks step up here. I think we’ve all wanted to for a while now. You can’t tell me that Benson is more talented than Starks. I refuse to believe it. But injuries make that point moot. If Starks can’t stay healthy, he doesn’t do the Packers much good. There have been rumblings about Starks getting cut. I don’t see it. I still think the Packers see something with No. 44 and are willing to give him another season.
Wide Receiver (5): Jennings, Driver, Nelson, Jones, Cobb
So much for ending the Driver era and starting the Gurley/Boreal era. I haven’t seen anything that tells me Gurley or Boreal are ready to take Driver’s place. More importantly, I don’t think the Packers have, either.
Tight End (4): Finley, Crabtree, Williams, Taylor
Don’t be surprised to see Crabtree, Williams or Taylor get some looks at fullback as well.
Offensive Line (8): Newhouse, Lang, Saturday, Sitton, Bulaga, Dietrich-Smith, Wells, Datko
I wouldn’t mind having Datko spending a season on the practice squad, but I don’t know if he’d slip through before another team signed him. Don Barclay has made some noise during camp, but I think Wells’ versatility makes him a better option.
Defensive Line (7): Pickett, Raji, Wilson, Worthy, Daniels, Muir, Merling, Neal (SUS)
I see seven defensive linemen in the Packers future. If they only keep six, I’d guess they cut Merling and keep another offensive lineman..
Linebacker (9): Matthews, Perry, Moses, Walden, Hawk, Smith, Francois, Lattimore, Manning
On paper, this group looks a lot better than last season. Matthews is Matthews. Perry should be better than post-arrest Walden. Moses is a wild card; anything he gives is a bonus. We’ll see how Walden does with the arrest behind him. Hawk will continue frustrating everyone. Smith’s No. 1 priority should be to single-handedly improve the Packers’ tackling. Francois, Lattimore and Manning should study tape of the 2010 team and learn all about the next-man up philosophy in case more injuries hit.
Defensive Back (10): Woodson, Williams, Bush, House, Hayward, Shields, Burnett, McMillian, Jennings, Richardson
Sam Shields will not get cut. Let’s stop talking about that. The big question is the extra safety slots. Pick two of these three: Jennings, Richardson and Levine. Based on what little I’ve seen, I’d go with The Doctor and Richardson.
Specialist (3): Crosby, Masthay, Goode
No debate here.
Practice Squad (8): Coleman, Cooper, Boykin, Van Roten, Barclay, Guy, Ross, Levine
Can the Packers sneak Gurley and Boreal on the practice squad again? I don’t think so.
PUP: Sherrod, Quarless, Zombo
I think we’ve seen the last of Zombo on the field in a Packers uniform.
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .