Now that the dust has settled in the major offseason occasions, it’s time to look at who we will see on the football field this season. The NFL Draft has come and gone and free agency is just coming to a slow stop. Although some acquisitions could still be made, and for the most part we can pick apart a roster’s current depth and predict who will outlast the summer, and who will end up on a practice squad or out of the building.
The Green Bay Packers are very solid in most of their main starter roles, no big questions regarding a first string wide receiver or quarterback. For the most part, it’s deciding where all the twos and threes will end up that’s tricky.
I believe Deshone Kizer will show out this summer with his former Notre Dame teammate Equanimeous St. Brown to help him get in rhythm. Kizer was traded for the number one cornerback of the 2017’s Packers team, a position that has been problematic over the past few years for them, so clearly he means something to the organization.
Kizer will take this opportunity seriously, as he may even be seen as the future of Green Bay under some unforeseen circumstances, so the role could be his if he shows out. As for Hundley and the half season he put in last year, it makes sense that Hundley stays on the roster, as he was a decent quarterback who showed flares of potential, and could very well be a trade option for Green Bay moving forward.
Running Backs: 4
Aaron Ripkowski (Fullback)
It’s admittedly hard to put Ty Montgomery at 3, as he showed that when healthy, he is a great running back, but Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams proved to be such a good one-two punch I can’t imagine they won’t be the two feature-backs. I believe all 3 backs will be used a similar amount, but Montgomery will be used in a less-traditional way, lining up as a slot receiver and whatnot, giving the offense an important wild card. Montgomery may even be the most useful back on this team, he just likely will not receive the majority of the carries and be some kind of workhorse back. There hasn’t been competition for a fullback position for a while, and with John Kuhn in his second year out of Green Bay, Aaron Ripkowski should continue to be an uncontested piece of the offense as a checkdown option or a blocker at the fullback position.
Wide Receivers: 7
Equanimeous St. Brown
I can only see 2 of this year’s 3 rookie wideouts making the cut, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling seemed like he had the least chance of doing it. J’mon Moore is the safest of the rookies to assume will be on the roster, as he is a solid player, drafted the highest of the three receivers, and has the most potential to prove he is worthy of a spot. Equanimeous St. Brown is, as previously mentioned, playing with a former college teammate, which I believe is enough of an opportunity to allow him to show some skills and to give him the edge by that cut off date. Trevor Davis is enough of an asset on special teams alone to make the roster with the loss of Jeff Janis, and Michael Clark has some talent that can’t be overlooked by Green Bay’s staff.
It is possible that the Packers only save 6 roster spots for receivers, in which case it’s fair to say that Clark, Davis, or even St. Brown could end up off of the final roster.
Offensive Linemen: 10
The Packers generally go into the season with about 8-10 offensive linemen, as it’s good to keep that position fortified. Generally having enough depth for a starter and backup for each position on the line is a decent way to go, especially when injury is already an issue.
Bryan Bulaga is currently not projected to start week one, coming off of his ACL injury last season, and I imagine the Packers’ recent pickup Byron Bell was meant to patch up that hole in the line, or offer some depth. Cole Madison, Green Bay’s 5th-round draft pick, will likely make the cut. He has received praise about his physicality and his quick learning despite the fact that WSU’s offensive scheme basically only ran four plays.
This section of the roster is pretty standard, protect your quarterback with as much skill and depth as possible, especially considering how banged up Green Bay’s offensive line usually is.
Tight Ends: 3
It is usually a good idea to go into a season with at least 3 tight ends, as there are some situations where you can potentially see up to two on the field, and you keep one more to be safe. Graham, being one of the best tight ends in the NFL will start, and Marcedes Lewis, who yielded great production last season with Blake Bortles at quarterback, will likely secure the number two spot. Lance Kendricks will provide solid depth underneath the two tight ends, but he likely will not surpass the 10 touchdown tight end, Jimmy Graham, or the great veteran blocking tight end, Marcedes Lewis. Kendricks at this stage in his career probably shouldn’t be higher than a No. 3 tight end.
Barring some sort of disaster, Crosby will still be knocking them through the uprights this season for Green Bay. There’s not much to say about JK Scott and Bradley Hunter, with little to no competition at the long snapper and punter positions, it’s hard to imagine these players won’t start after Green Bay spent draft picks on them.
The Packers actually have some interesting players to watch out for at the cornerback position, while the top 5 corners can really take on any form, this is how I imagine they will be ranked in the defensive scheme.
Tramon Williams and Davon House will bring a much needed veteran presence into the locker room, and hopefully it will rub off on the rest of the very young and boisterous secondary. House and Williams, Green Bay’s starting cornerback tandem back in 2011, have some catching up to do, and hopefully they can help the new talented corners (who are mostly first and second-round draft picks) exceed their level of play, and raise this year’s secondary as a whole to a higher level in general. House and Williams will likely take on roles within the secondary to help anchor the defense, but their age will likely keep them from having to carry the load of covering number one wideouts this year.
The Packers’ secondary has a lot to handle this year, having to play against Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Julio Jones, and the Vikings’ receiving core twice. The most likely way to keep these tasks under control is to mix the veterans up with the rookies and second year players and hope they can mesh well.
Defensive Line: 5
Pretty standard defensive line set-up here. Mike Daniels is the best player on this line, Kenny Clark is a young player who is proving himself, and Mohammed Wilkerson is a good, veteran player who will feature on this line. Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams are good players who will definitely find themselves on the roster.
Inside Linebackers: 3
The Packers no longer have a need at inside linebacker, they seem to be pretty strong here now. Blake Martinez led the league in tackles last year, Jake Ryan is a great cover-linebacker, and Oren Burks is a promising third-round pick. Very little competition to be seen here. There will likely be a rotation of all three of these solid linebackers.
Outside Linebackers: 4
Not much to say here either, Matthews and Perry are a great edge rushing duo, but they can’t be expected to carry the weight of the load. Biegel has a one-hundred percent chance to make the roster, and Donnerson will likely make the roster too in case any of the three aforementioned names can’t stay fully healthy. Donnerson was drafted in the seventh round, and was one of only two picks spent on edge rushers. Defensive end James Looney was also picked up in the seventh round, though I do not see him making the cut for defensive linemen.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Losing Morgan Burnett this offseason, the Packers will have to go with Josh Jones as starting strong safety, which isn’t a problem. He played well last year in his rookie season. The depth behind him and Clinton-Dix is the problem.
Last year there were two veterans and a solid backup at the safety position. Now there’s a veteran, a solid backup, who will likely transition well into a starting position, and two 2016 undrafted free agents who have their strengths, but are mostly unproven. Brice has good athleticism, and can deliver a hard hit, but his coverage is questionable, and Evans is mostly a special teams body. The Packers will likely go with these four as they really don’t have many options at the safety position.