Chad Toporski: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction All Green Bay Packers All the Time
McCarthy Face
How the heck am I gonna get this roster down to 53?

As I’ve perused the Packers Blogosphere and its associate comments sections, I have noticed something rather interesting. There are two types of fans when it comes to roster predictions: (1) those who list whom they want on the roster, and (2) those who predict whom Ted Thompson will keep.

These are two very different processes, because in the former, we are relying on our own sense of football knowledge. We usually have a limited perception of players, because most of our first-hand experience comes from exhibition games and not live training camp practices. (The exceptions are the veterans, whom we’ve seen in past regular seasons.)

In the latter, we are trying to synthesize preseason games with media reports from practice and our general knowledge of how Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy work. We’re not looking at who we like (though that does admittedly alter our perceptions), but rather who the Packers like. One great example of this is tight end D.J. Williams. Despite broad frustration from the fan base in regard to his performance deficiencies, the Packers seem determined to keep him on the roster. He’s been given a lion’s share of reps, and a lot of them have come with the first team offense. (Of course, one could argue they’re trying to “sell” him to another team.)

With all of that in mind, this is how I think the roster will shake out according to Thompson and McCarthy. I can’t say that my own subjectivity won’t factor into the equation, but I’ll do my best to keep it at bay. Enjoy.

Quarterback (2): Rodgers, Young

The writing was on the wall when Graham Harrell was cut. Young is the de facto backup.

Running Back (5): Lacy, Franklin, Green, Starks, Kuhn

With Harris on IR, Starks will fill in the fifth roster spot. There’s really no one left, and they’re going to need four running backs to make it through the season. Kuhn is a no-brainer for how much the Packers value him, despite some contempt from fans.

Wide Receiver (5): Nelson, Cobb, Jones, Boykin, Ross

Ross did enough on returns the past couple weeks to win the fifth wide receiver job; meanwhile, Walker didn’t do quite enough as a wide receiver despite his earlier flashes. The top four of Nelson, Cobb, Jones, and Boykin are guarantees.

Tight End (5): Finley, Mulligan, Williams, Taylor, Bostick

This is the stickiest group of them all. It was extremely difficult to keep only four, so I bumped it to five. Williams, Taylor, and Bostick have all been playing special teams roles, and Mulligan is the blocker they’ll need for an improved running game. The Packers are looking to trade someone from this position due to the depth, and I think it ends up being Quarless or Williams. For my big, bold prediction of the week, I’m going to say someone pulls the trigger for Quarless.

Offensive Line (7): Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Barclay, Newhouse, Van Roten

I really didn’t want to leave the offensive line so thin with only seven players, but I nixed Taylor in order to get Mulligan on the tight end list. As always, they’ll have a couple linemen on the practice squad as emergency back-ups.

Defensive Line (7): Pickett, Raji, Jones, Wilson, Neal, Jolly, Daniels

Who could you possibly cut from this list? Pickett, Raji, and Wilson have been the starting linemen all camp, while Jones, Neal, Jolly, and Daniels are all valuable contributors. The only question was Boyd, but he didn’t show enough to make the cut. (See the practice squad, though.)

Linebacker (9): Matthews, Perry, Hawk, Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning, Barrington, Mulumba

This was about as tricky as the tight ends. Moses was almost a lock coming into camp, but he seems to have regressed – or at least not gotten better. (He has been battling through turf toe for four weeks.) Mulumba and Neal will be the OLB backups with Moses gone. Barrington started playing with the first-team special teams unit, so he makes it.

Defensive Back (10): Williams, Shields, Hayward, House, Hyde, Burnett, Jennings, McMillian, Banjo, Bush

This is pretty clear-cut. Banjo earned himself a roster spot this preseason, while Bush isn’t going anywhere due to his contract and special teams value. The cornerback corps should make most teams jealous.

Specialist (3): Goode, Masthay, Crosby

With Tavecchio and Ramirez gone, Crosby gets the nod. His job security will be in question throughout the season, though.

Practice Squad (8): FB Amosa, LB Palmer, S David Fulton, WR Walker, OL Taylor, OL Datko, DL Boyd, QB Coleman

Is there anyone else to really add who’s eligible? Maybe OL Lewis and WR Charles Johnson. But who would they replace?

PUP: Worthy, Tretter, Richardson, Sherrod

No one new can get added to the PUP after Tuesday’s roster moves. Any other injured players would have to be put on IR if moved from the active roster.

IR: WR Cunningham, OL Bulaga, WR Dorsey, RB Harris, LB Reed

Barring an unforseen injury, no one else will get added to the IR list. There is still the option of a “Designated for Return” IR player to be added later on.


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


76 thoughts on “Chad Toporski: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

  1. Good list. I’d bet they keep only 4 TE’s. Maybe Taylor or Bostick gets the ax? Bostick could be on the practice squad, which would leave room for either Walker or Taylor at OG.

    1. I had them keeping 4 TE for a while before switching my mind at the very end. So hard to predict that position, especially with the possibility of a trade.

      1. QB = 2 Rodgers,Young
        FB = 1 Kuhn
        RB = 3 Lacy,Green,Franklin WR = 5 Nelson,Jones,Cobb,Boykin,Ross
        TE = 5 Finley,Mulligan,Williams,Taylor,
        OL = 8 Bakhtiari,Sitton,EDS,Lang,Barclay,
        Newhouse,Van Roten,Taylor
        LB = 9 Matthews,Perry,Hawk,Jones,Manning
        DL = 7 Pickett,Raji,Jolly,Wilson,Daniels
        DB = 10 Williams,Shields,Hayward,Burnett

      2. Chad, like your picks…the over/under for Accuracy on your picks is 48…Enjoyed reading your column…

    2. Bostick is already getting looks from other teams so he is unlikely to reach the practice squad.

    3. I really don’t think that
      Bostic would make it to the practice squad,since there has been trade inquiries about him.

  2. Pretty good list, I think. The other things I wonder about is if there are places for Josh Boyd and Nate Palmer somewhere.

    The Packers have 5 free agent DL next year – Raji, Pickett, Neal, Jolly, and Wilson. Boyd has played well and it would be nice to have another veteran or two going into 2014. They probably lose him if they try to sneak him onto the practice squad.

    Palmer has looked good also. There’s probably less risk of losing him, but he sure seems like someone to develop at OLB.

    1. I don’t know… sometimes we overvalue our own players because we get so used to seeing them and hearing about them. I think Boyd can make it safely to the practice squad. I don’t think any team would see him as good enough yet to be on their own 53.

      1. Pena got picked up (at least temporarily) by New England. Boyd is way better than Pena. I doubt he clears waivers. But, we may find out for sure.

        1. True, but there are two things to that:

          1) Pena plays a much different position on the line, and

          2) he’s not guaranteed to make the 53-man roster.

          Guys picked up on waivers after the final cuts are required to go on the 53-man roster. Other teams can’t pick them up for PS purposes.

          But yeah… we’ll see for sure. May even be a moot point depending on what the Packers think.

          1. Players picked up on waivers do not have to go onto the 53 man roster. That is only after the regular season has started and all teams have their practice squads set. Waived rookie players can sign with whatever team they want for the practice squad.

            1. Yes they do… Once they clear waivers, then they are free to sign with any practice squad they want. But if a player is on the waiver list, then any team picking him up has to activate him to the 53.

              Obviously, a player who has cleared waivers most often signs with his original team, especially rookies. They’ve got the best chance of being elevated because they’ve been training with that team and know the playbook.

        2. WTF—aaron, while you were posting I was writing the same thing below. Great minds think alike.

  3. Chad: I find your prediction of Dorsey going on IR and Charles Johnson not making the roster or the practice squad interesting, if not controversial. So much for our 7th round WR picks! Would your opinion change if Johnson excels in the last pre-season game against KC? I hear that finally he’s healthy enough to play.

    1. Well, Dorsey already is on IR, and from what I hear, he’s actually been waived by the team, too.

      They both got the short end of the stick when they got injured. I don’t think Johnson can show them enough to be placed ahead of Ross or to be a 6th WR. But I definitely think they might find a place for him on the PS.

      Sometimes the picks just don’t work out and you have to cut your losses… especially with 7th rounders.

      1. TT will use a 2nd or 3rd round to pick up another WR in next years draft. Unless one of these guys get to PS (which I doubt) they were camp fodder. Unfortunately for everyone (team included) they both had injuries.

  4. Pretty good outline. Upon review of the O-line keepers, I don’t get a good feeling about Rodgers staying on his feet – maybe using his feet. Despite the investment, our O-line gets weaker each year.

  5. Very close to my thoughts, except I don’t think they keep Ross over Walker. I think maybe they may go with one less RB and one less at Tightend. I see Miller getting a spot on the D-line.

    I think our O-line is in better shape than many think. Eddie lacy will do a lot to keep pressure off Rodgers, both by keep defenders honest and by delivering powerful block when he stays in to protect. I think many aspects of the team will be improved by a respected running game, I really hope that Lacy has what it takes to be the Guy.

    1. Slocum seems to have been happy with Ross’ improvement at returning lately, and he’s been getting a lot of the initial reps ahead of other players. We also haven’t heard a whole lot about Walker, which makes me think he’ll become a good PS candidate.

    1. That was my initial roster. Took a lot of contemplation before I changed it, and even now I doubt that decision.

  6. I dont think there going to keep 4 inside linebackers (Francois, Lattimore, Manning and Barrington) I think Lattimore or Manning is gone.

    1. Can’t say that I agree… Packers need a back-up at each of the positions. Each ILB carries a slightly different role and can’t really be backed up by just one player.

      1. Chad, do you really like Lattimore that much to keep him say over Boyd. I know the Packers use these two lineman formations and saw you thought Boyd would not be claimed off PS. I think those fools in Purple would grab him in a second, just to name one. I know he plays on ST, but I’m sure someone else could pick up his spot. Mannings not going anywhere, not this year , not yet.

        1. Me personally? I don’t really see Lattimore as important enough. But going by his use on the special teams and knowing that that’s where McCarthy picks his final roster spots from, I think he has a legitimately good chance of making the roster.

  7. Good list, but I think the KC game will determine at least one roster spot. I think MM will target Charles Johnson enough to make a choice. If he catches everything that’s catchable, he’ll make the team. I don’t think they will keep nine linebackers.I think they’ll cut one.

    1. Totally agree on the KC game. It’s hard to make predictions this far out because a lot can happen in just a couple days.

    2. I will be shocked if they don’t at least PS Johnson — you don’t just let go of a guy with his measurables because he was injured all camp long, especially when you spent a draft pick on him. I confess that I don’t watch the preseason games so I might have missed something, but I’ve never read anything about the safety Fulton you listed. I’d say it’s almost a certainty they’d keep Johnson on the PS over someone like that.

      1. C. Johnson, being injured most of camp, has the odds stacked against him to make the 53-man roster. Am not impressed with Ross, as to being anything other than a return man. His receiving skills are suspect-at best. Expect a surprise or two in regards to who we keep at WR and TE.

  8. I think you are pretty close Chad.

    I’d be tempted to cut FB Kuhn and TE D.J. Williams. In their place would be DT Boyd and LB Palmer.

    There is no hint that the Packers agree with Kuhn going, so I am unlikely to see my projection come true.

    Williams has been uninspiring ever since he was picked.

    I’m still not convinced Crosby’s kicking woes are behind him, but he will be the man there, unless he has yet another meltdown. If he does slip again, it could be anyone there, including Tavecchio comin back.

    1. Thanks, Turo. Unfortunately, I think we’re all going to be pretty close, since it’s always the last few spots that are the hardest to predict.

    2. Chad’s current breakdown is 24 offense, 26 defense, 3 ST. Your scenario would be 22/28/3…no way is this happening.

      I definitely could see Kuhn and Williams cut BUT I see them replaced by Quarless and an OL (probably Taylor).

      Unfortunately I was correct in predicting Harris’ knee could cause him to end up on IR. So here’s my latest…Lattimore and/or DJ Williams get traded.

      If Pena couldn’t make it through waivers (Patriots) then Boyd definitely will not.

      1. Good point BubbaOne, I should have looked at the total numbers, the Packers definitely will.

        I could see a 23-27 split happening though, so maybe Quarless instead of Williams is the call. That means only two of Barrington, Boyd, Palmer make it to the final 53.

    3. Just read that Crosby took a substantial pay cut with added performance bonuses. That would seem to make him a lock…Preferred Tavecchio…Crosby was dead last in kicking in 2012…Why would he improve, as much of kicking in the NFL is confidence and that starts in the head…Hope I am wrong…Turophile, I am behind you on cutting Kuhn and Williams to retain Boyd and Palmer or Boyd and an 8th O-Lineman…

  9. I can’t see them keeping Starks. Other positions are just too deep with better overall players. To keep a 4th RB who can’t stay healthy, hasn’t outperformed anyone in camp and certainly can’t play fullback, ST or any other position… I just don’t see it.

    1. I understand your argument, but I think the pure numbers are against you. If one or two RBs get injured, then they’d really be cutting it close.

      I actually had Starks off of my list until Harris got put on IR. That injury changed a lot of things.

      1. Can’t see them keeping Starks either. In all of MM’s years as coach the combined number of players for the RB,FB & TE positions has been 9. Williams, Taylor,Ross,Bush,Francois,Manning & Kuhn are on almost every special teams unit ( if not all). And Bostic is on many also. Unless Mulligan’s elbow injury is bad – he makes it. He is also the back-up snapper to Goode. Quarless is hurt – could be traded to Oakland. Bostic will replace Finley next year – so they’ll want him to play this year.

        1. JT…great, well thought-out comment!…Am with you on having a high regard for Bostic, as well as Manning…Kuhn I believe will be cut…unless he takes a pay cut…He has next to no running skills, no speed, and we would be better served keeping a fifth TE…We have better, cheaper, younger options for special teams players…

      2. Think they will put a RB on the PS to start the season. Then they could bring them up if someone got hurt.

    1. No… Masthay is the punter, Goode is the long-snapper, and Crosby is the kicker.

  10. Chad et al,
    What’s the over/under on number of trades?

    (remember a few years back TT finagled a conditional 7th round pick for LS J.J. Jansen)

    1. Remember when he traded Tony Moll for Derrick Martin? That was amazing, getting someone to give something up for Tony Moll.

  11. I’m not saying you are wrong about the LB’s because all the back up ILB’s have good cases but a 6-3 split would seem to me to be unbalanced with Jones likely to be a 3 down player and the back up OLB’s more likely to see defensive snaps in a rotational role. I may have that wrong but I would get Palmer on the 53 and cut one of the ILB’s possibly Lattimore good on special teams as he is.

    DJ Williams is interesting. To play Devil’s advocate he may have had little impact in the receiving game but it seems to me the vast majority of his offensive regular season snaps have come as a run blocker often as an auxiliary FB a role he does decently despite being undersized. With the reduced depth at WR this year we may see the need for a second receiving TE which may give him more chances ?

    You sense there are more twists to come in getting this roster to 53 !

    1. I’m totally on your wavelength, BTF, I wish I would have read your post before I posted mine..

      I also agree about DJ williams. As much as I pull for QUarless, I understand his injures were grave and he might never be the same guy with the same potential he once had. That being said, keeping Williams seems like a non productive move- almost like keeping a player not because he’s worth keeping, but simply because another player has looming questions hanging over him.

      Williams has been extremely consistent in his time in Green bay.. consistently inconsistent. Undersized and prone to blowing routine catches, I personally don’t think he’s earned a spot.

      1. Both of you guys make good cases, and I could definitely see either happening… Again, this is what makes those last few players so tough to nail down. And I’m sure MM and TT are going through the same thing – but with more on the line for them.

        1. Ted’s got a sweet gig, he certainly doesn’t want to blow it.

          Where else will they pay you to do keg stands of Milwaukee’s Best (light) before you stroll out to do a presser where you continually clown the reporters in dead-pan style?

          Ted’s no idiot. He knows he’s in the gravy, and he’s not passing the boat.

    2. Don’t be surprised if Hawk gets cut. He is only a 2 down player. Don’t think it will happen as TT hates dead money on the salary cap. They will hope & pray that Barrington makes it through waivers to the practice squad.

  12. List Mike Neal as an OLB. That extra DL spot goes to Jordan Miller. He’s flashed big time and this team needs a back up NT for the future with Pickett aging, and maybe even a starter in the near future if Raji doesn’t re-up, which is a real possibility.

    Scratch Lattimore from the LB corps.. He’s been a good fill in, but Francois is much better and the thought is Manning’s ceiling is high.. Nate Palmer has flashed a little bit, although he’s going through the DE/LB transition, Greene is crazy about him. Maybe the Packers squeeze him into the 53, but I’ll concede he’d probably make it past waivers and through the year on PS.

    I know the Packers trust their scouting and try to give players time to ‘figure it out’, but I’m not so certain that Datko makes the PS this year. Last year, he just looked scared of putting any work on his shoulder. This year it sounds like he’s just not good enough to compete.

    1. I agree with most of this. I’d rather see Boyd than Jordan Miller. I hate to say it, because he’s been so good for so long, but with the depth at the position: is Ryan Pickett in danger of getting cut?

      On TE’s: I’m just curious what Ryan Taylor can do that Quarless cannot. You like his ST ability, but even he hasn’t been healthy this preseason. I’d like to see what Quarless can do if he ever gets healthy.

      Lattimore has had a high ceiling for 3 years now. Barrington seems to be the more complete player after his first training camp.

      I completely agree on Datko. At the beginning of training camp I called him a bum. The guy just has to bend at the waist. No way he’s earned a spot on the PS. I hope they find someone better than Van Roten after the cuts next week, too.

      1. I actually like Van Roten a lot; although it’s clear he’s not a natural snapper.. A bunch of his snaps were extremely low to Young last week, and he had one or two try to take off on him as well.

        However, I do think he has a place on the team. He needs to develop, but he’s got some athleticism and a knack for run blocking in space (based on college footage).

        I really do hope Quarless returns to the player he was and could be, but I know it’s a long shot. Turned from a sub-par blocker into a beast over one offseason simply because he was asked to improve and he set his mind to it, also is very underrated as a receiving TE at the middle level of the field.

      2. I asked Silverstein in a chat that question about Pickett – he said no way, no one does what he does better.

        1. Really? Why does he never make the Pro Bowl?…and never a mention of him for All-Pro…and yet, he has played with the ones all preseason, am surprised TT has not tried to get his high salary reduced, ala A.J. Hawk…

          1. John, there’s a reason he plays with the ones all pre-season, there’s a reason they’re not trying to reduce his salary.

            He really, trully, actually is a very good defensive lineman. He’s an extremely talented NT.

            Here’s a challenge: Video tape (err… DVR?) the season opener. Watch the game how you usually do. Then, go back and watch Ryan Pickett. -Exclusively-. Every snap. Understand that his job is typically to make sure two offensive lineman absolutely must block him so they can’t block someone else, and understand that for the most part, a big part of his job is to hold. his. ground.

            After you’ve watched every snap Pickett plays, go back and watch, let’s say, BJ Raji or CJ Wilson when they are double teamed. Raji isn’t a fraction of Pickett in those situations. Wilson isn’t bad at all, but again, he’s no Pickett.

            There’s little else I can communicate to help you see it. You’re just going to have to watch for yourself.

        2. Thanks for checking Zero, you’ve confirmed what I’ve already determined for myself.

          I know it sounds lousy, but a lot of fans could increase their enjoyment and understanding of the sport immensely if they quit reading stat sheets and start watching football. Read a bit about the x’s and o’s, and listen closely when coaches and players speak.

          Most fans watch the football. People would be amazed what they are missing by doing that.

  13. Excellent thinking – Packers will pick someone else up on waivers as they will lose a few of the practice squad guys in my estimation.

  14. I fully expect TT to pick up or trade for a backup center. The team has supported EDS as the starting center but his play has been rather uninspiring. If EDS goes down, Van Roten is an emergency backup at best; he’s somebody to finish off the game until the Packers pick up a veteran center between games. I don’t hate the guy, yet I could see EDS benched by the end of the season. It’s a shame to see Tretter go down so early, as he’s the high ceiling developmental prospect the team needs so badly at the center position.

    1. Great comment. Also, have a low opinion of EDS and am not sold on TJL nor MN. Let’s be real: our O-Line last year was sub-par…that means some players were sub-par: EDS, TJL, and MN…Why not retain an 8th Offensive Lineman, either Lane Taylor or Patrick Lewis?

  15. ED’S was dominated in Seattle. I’m afraid of what Justin Smith will do to him. Lets hope Lacy can at least make it past line of scrimmage to use his power.

  16. Don’t know the players like most of you seem to, but I would be surprised if the pack don’t pick up one, maybe two off the discard pile as the teams get down to 53. Some of the better teams always have to let go of a quality guy for cap reasons or they just have excess at a position & have to let the “odd man out”, go. that will screw up all the predictions.

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