Week two of the preseason is in the books and with another two to go, let’s take a look at the Packers possible 53 man roster heading into the regular season.
By Frank Bonincontri
At the halfway point of the preseason, players have either put some tape together, or need to put some tape together. How will it all line up in a few weeks? Here are my observations and thoughts through week 2 of the preseason.
I am also including potential bubble players who may be cut, cut and resigned, or signed to the practice squad.
QB (2) Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer
Cut/Bubble: Brett Hundley, Tim Boyle
There is a reason the team shipped Damarious Randall to Cleveland in exchange for quarterback DeShone Kizer. After Coach McCarthy’s infamous “The quarterback room is exactly where it needs to be, OK?” quote dropped, Brett Hundley showed us why he may not exactly be ready for the big stage just yet. A change of scenery may just be what the doctor ordered for DeShone Kizer. I would expect the team to sneak Tim Boyle onto the practice squad.
RB (3) Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones
Cut/Bubble: Joel Bouagnon, Akeem Judd
The Aaron Jones suspension does not count against the roster so the Packers will be able to evaluate Devante Mays and Joel Bouagnon a bit further. Mays will have to show his “fumbler” status from last season is not permanent. Bouagnon has been receiving plenty of work so far in the preseason and seems to be running with a purpose. One is likely off to the practice squad. The Jammal Williams ankle injury is concerning, it may prevent him from playing next week but should allow Bouagnon to make the most of his opportunity.
FB (1) Aaron Ripkowski
The “Ripper.” Enough said.
Cut/Bubble: Joe Kerridge
WR (7) Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow, J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown
Cut/Bubble: Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey, Adonis Jennings, Kyle Lewis
The Packers certainly have a battle at the receiver position. Moore was selected in the fourth round, two picks above Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown. He has done next to nothing to separate himself over the last two games. If the Packers cut him and hope to quickly re-sign him for the practice squad, another team is likely to grab him first. The team is unlikely to take that chance and would likely make Trevor Davis expendable. Jake Kumerow, on the other hand, has done everything asked as well as catching the eye of Aaron Rodgers and putting together two solid games and numerous practices.
TE (3) Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendricks
Cut/Bubble: Kevin Rader, Ryan Smith
The tight end position in Green Bay certainly got much bigger this off-season. The downside is that this group comes with some risk. At some point, Graham or Lewis will be banged up. Lance Kendricks is a serviceable replacement and the team may have another one in Robert Tonyan or Emanuel Byrd.
Offensive Line (10) David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Justin McCray, Brian Bulaga, Kyle Murphy, Jason Spriggs, Lucas Patrick, Adam Pankey, Kofi Amichia
Cut/Bubble: Byron Bell, Dillon Day, Alex Light
As the offensive line goes, so does the success (and health) of Aaron Rodgers. Free agent Byron Bell has had two bad showings since coming over from Dallas. He may end up making the team by default should Bulaga start the year on the PUP list. Injuries to guard Justin McCray (calf) during the Steelers game are very concerning, as is the development of Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs. For some reason, having the top quarterback in the league doesn’t seem to demand the highest priority of attention on offensive linemen in Green Bay. Sooner than later, the Packers are going to have to pursue big name free agents or draft the position with much more priority.
Defensive Line (5) Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Muhammad Wilkerson, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams
Cut/Bubble: Conor Sheehy, Joey Mbu, Tyler Lancaster, James Looney
Generating constant pressure from the line will be key for the Packers defense this year. The immediate push they can get up front will help keep the pressure off of the back end. Adams is looking to make a jump from his injured rookie season and the free agent addition of Wilkerson helps to teach the new defense ran under Mike Pettine. There could be an argument to keep a sixth for depth and rotation but overall, this unit looks promising.
Outside Linebackers (6) Clay Matthews, Reggie Gilbert, Nick Perry, Vince Biegel, Kyler Fackrell, Chris Odom
Cut/Bubble: James Hearns, Kendall Donnerson
Outside linebacker could be the key area of concern for this defense. Injuries to Matthews and Perry at some point during the season are almost expected. Reggie Gilbert has made quite the statement during camp and through the past two preseason games. At the camp I attended, he stood out the most and looked very explosive. The Packers have some serious tape to evaluate on the backups and could even keep a 7th over a defensive lineman. This defense needs to generate pressure from numerous areas, in multiple looks under this new scheme.
Inside Linebacker (3) Oren Burks, Blake Martinez, Ahmad Thomas
Cut/Bubble: Greer Martini, Marcus Porter, James Crawford, Naashon Hughes
The loss of Jake Ryan (ACL) hurts this unit but luckily, rookie Oren Burks has stepped up in his place. He needs to develop more punch and keep from getting stonewalled by bigger offensive lineman. Burks does possess the speed and zone ability to make plays and fellow lineman Blake Martinez led the team in tackles a season ago. Behind them, the drop off is significant.
Cornerbacks (7) Tramon Williams, Kevin King, Davon House, Josh Jackson, Jaire Alexander, Quinten Rollins, Lenzy Pipkins
Cut/Bubble: Josh Hawkins, Herb Waters, Demetri Goodson, Donatello Brown
The Packers have turned attention to this position the past couple of years and invested four top picks into the position overall. Quinten Rollins returns from an Achilles injury last season. This years top picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson appear to be locked in the rotation this season with their play-making skills and nose for the football. While Rollins could be on the outs, he may still make the team based solely on his versatility. He has taken reps at safety during camp as well as at nickel and dime corner, showing that the coaching staff does not want him on the outside. That versatility may be needed should safeties Josh Jones or Kentrell Brice exit with injury. This is another tough position to grade for the staff as well. Pipkins, Goodson, and Hawkins will likely force the team to consider additional roster spots for them.
Safeties (4) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Josh Jones, Jermaine Whitehead
Cut/Bubble: Marwin Evans, Raven Greene
The departure of Morgan Burnett (Steelers) has shifted a lot of focus to Clinton-Dix. This is his year to prove he is in the upper echelon of safeties and command his payday when he hits free agency in 2019. Brice and Jones are the thumpers of the group but have got to stay healthy. Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams has also taken reps at safety and can play the position if asked to. He is familiar with Mike Pettine’s scheme and is savvy enough to make a few plays when not asked to run with faster receivers.
Specialists (3) Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley
The packers specialist grouping, overall, seems to be set for the next few years.