Packer Update

Predicting the 53-man roster

Packers need to find room on the final roster for talented rookie offensive lineman

While others have been predicting the final roster for weeks, we’ve patiently waited until today to take our best shot. And while things could certainly change between now and Saturday, here’s the way we see it:

Quarterbacks (2) – This is easy. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn on the active roster and Graham Harrell goes to the practice squad. The former Texas Tech standout lacks a strong arm, but he showed vast improvement over the course of the summer and deserves a chance to further develop under coach Mike McCarthy and assistant Tom Clements.

Running backs (2) – Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson are locks. Kregg Lumpkin should be No. 3 if GM Ted Thompson decides to keep a third player at this position. We wouldn’t. Fullback John Kuhn could get the team through a game in an emergency and Quinn Porter – or somebody else – can be stashed on the practice squad for long-term security.

Fullbacks (2) – Kuhn and Korey Hall fit the offense and contribute on special teams. Quinn Johnson does neither. Keeping two fullbacks isn’t a problem – especially when you consider that any of the tight ends could fill in at this position if needed.

Tight ends (5) – Jermichael Finley is a lock, but choosing among Donald Lee, Andrew Quarless, Spencer Havner and Tom Crabtree won’t be easy. Each player adds something different to the mix. We’d keep five and go with only four wide receivers since all of the backup tight ends are better players than Brett Swain.

Wide receivers (5) – Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson might be the best group of wide receivers in the league. None of the contenders for the No. 5 spot have stepped up this summer, and with Finley’s ability to split out wide, the Packers could definitely get by with only four players at this position. The only way we’d keep a fifth is if Jason Chery does enough in his audition as a returner on Thursday night to force his way onto the roster.

Offensive linemen (10) – Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Mark Tauscher, T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga are locks. Marshall Newhouse has improved throughout the summer and deserves to make the team. Releasing him would be as big a mistake as letting Jamon Meredith go a year ago. The final two spots should go to Jason Spitz and Evan Dietrich-Smith, but we’d look to trade Spitz and keep the younger and healthier Dietrich-Smith. There’s no room and no need for Breno Giacomini and Allen Barbre.

Defensive linemen (6) – Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji and Mike Neal are locks and arguably the only players truly deserving of a spot on the final 53. Justin Harrell is the next best defensive end and will probably make the team, but he didn’t finish strong. Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson, Ronald Talley and Anthony Toribio are just guys. Give Wynn a slight edge for the sixth and final spot, but you’d like to think GM Ted Thompson can acquire a better prospect after final cuts.

Linebackers (8) – Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop are locks and Brady Poppinga looks to be safe for another season. The coaches seem to really like Frank Zombo and he’ll probably stick, but we’d keep only seven players at this position. Since Chillar can play outside in an emergency, why not put Zombo on the practice squad and hold on to a better player at another position? If the Packers decide to keep an eighth linebacker, that person should come from outside the organization.

Defensive backs (10) – Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Brandon Underwood (if healthy) and Derrick Martin are locks and Sam Shields is close to it. Pat Lee has had a disappointing summer, but he’s a former second-round pick who’ll probably get one more season to prove his worth. Will Blackmon hasn’t shown much on defense, but he’s the best returner on the team and should be safe if his knee is OK. Jarrett Bush, Charlie Peprah or a safety acquired after final cuts will be the 10th defensive back. We’d be willing to carry **Al Harris on the active roster if there was a chance he could be ready to play early in the season.

Specialists (3) – Kicker Mason Crosby and long snapper Brett Goode are locks. Punters Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan have been dead even throughout the summer, but Masthay may have pulled ahead at the end.

*Players in bold are projected to be part of the 53-man roster

**Harris was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday, so we removed him from the 53-man roster and replaced him with WR/KR Jason Chery.

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16 Comments to "Predicting the 53-man roster"

  1. bubbaone says:

    I agree w/ you. I’ve been saying for a couple weeks they should keep all 5 TE’s. Who are your 54th and 55th picks in case they trade Spitz, Lee, etc?

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Swain (or Chery with a big game on Thursday) and Lumpkin were the 54th and 55th players on my original 53-man roster.

  2. DaveK says:

    Agree with most everything. A few things I differ:
    – J. Harrell doesn’t make the 53. He can’t stay healthy. Wynn has played better and Wilson has more potential. I just don’t agree that he is the best next lineman after the first four.

    - I think they keep 9 O-lineman and Evan D.S. is gone. They keep a 5th WR named Chery.

    - The personal dept of the Packer’s have no ability to understand/motivate/coach/evaluate punters. They finally realize this short-coming and flip a coin. Chris Bryan wins the coin flip.

  3. lars says:

    Justin Harrell is “just a guy” as well. Tell me what he’s done in 4 years to deserve to be handed a roster spot, outside of his draft status? He hasn’t made a single play. Nada.

    % TE’s is a dumb as 3 FB’s. On a pass first team you have to have 5 WR’s (at least.)

    Lumpkin, yes. QB’s yes. OLine, yes. LB’s—you have to have more than 7. Eight at least and maybe 9. Zombo is a mortal lock.

    -And, the worst for last. jarret bush makes this team and will continue to play in GB as long as TT is GM. ;-))

  4. Archie says:

    Donald Lee will go and Quinn Johnson will stay.

    Korey Hall is on the bubble, along with take your Lumpkins.

    Swain and Blackmon go on IR while Chery makes the team.

    Justin Harrell in major jeopardy unless he shows up Thur nite.

    Will Peprah or Levine take Blacknon’s spot?

    Would love to see them clean house at LB. Francois is a keeper. Maybe Joseph, Obizor and Zombo too.

    OL – we know the suspects – only question is 8 w/o Spitz or 10 with him.

  5. Monty says:

    Did anyone see the trade Baltimore made with Seattle for Josh Wilson, Seattle’s best CB, for a fifth round draft choice in 2011? Ted WAKE UP!!! This is the kind of trade we need to be making, especially since Schinder is in Seattle…..after Charles Woodson, none of our CB’s are that good, sorry but T Williams is a nickel back at best, he gives up too many big plays and the rest, well you said it, SShields is still learning the position and they want to make HIM the nickel back? Lee should be cut, as I stated earlier one of Ted’s 2nd round busts, Underwood is injured and needs more time. Without another veteran CB our secondary is gonna be burnt toast all season!! I totally agree about Zombo, while he is a feel good story, he really didnt show much in the Indy game besides the one play and its time to say good bye to Justin Harrell..as all the fans that booed that draft day when Ted came out on stage knew, B U S T …..Go Packers!!

    • Monty says:

      Again, I rest my case about Ted Thompson (of course Ol’e Ted would say “We like our guys”)

      Thompson’s had a pretty good draft this year and last, but Ozzie and the Ravens getting Josh Wilson from the Seahawks for a 5th round pick would have been a very smart move. You can make a trade once in a while, Ted. And I’m not talking about trading something called Tony Moll for a little used special teams player.

      • Aaron Nagler says:

        Like trading a 6th round pick for the most productive running back in the NFC since he became a starter? A trade like that would be AWESOME.

        We talked to Bedard on the show last night about this very thing, specifically the Schnieder connection. His thought was that the Packers probably did talk to Seattle but they didn’t think Wilson was worth a 5. I have no problem with that.

        • Michael Rodney says:

          Considering the Schneider connection and the Packers lack of depth at CB, it’s impossible to believe that Schneider didn’t call Thompson about Wilson. I’d be surprised if the fifth-round pick would scare Thompson away. That’s not much to pay for young CB with starting experience and good return skills. I’m guessing that Thompson just didn’t like Wilson as a player. Hopefully, there’s another CB out there that he likes better and can get before the end of the weekend.

          • Aaron Nagler says:

            Do you think he’ll target corner or safety? I know people think the sky is falling at corner but I actually like the guys they have there for the most part. The guys behind Collins and Burnett however scare the hell out of me…

            • Michael Rodney says:

              The depth at both positions scares the hell out of me. Just think, Sam Shields (or Brandon Underwood) and Derrick Martin (or Charlie Peprah) are one turned ankle away from starting. I’m more concerned about CB only because the No. 3 player will be on the field do much. Hope you’re right about the young CBs. I just don’t trust any of them to hold up once teams begin targeting them in the regular season.

      • Mike says:

        Makes me nervous too, yet it’s the deeper (even though mediocre) than any other NFC North team. Lions secondary is aweful, same with the Bears and the Vikings are completely dependant on their defensive line for a rush, the secondary is decimated. If they stay healthy with the depth they have they are no less talented in the backfield than the Saints of last year (25th against the pass, hot at the right time) or the Cardinals from the year prior, each going to the SB.

  6. ken says:

    Has anyone ever had 5 TE’s on their roster? I just don’t see Crabtree really being worth a roster spot. Good pratice squad candidate, but a roster spot?

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Good question. But in this day and age, carrying 3 fullbacks is probably even more unusual than keeping 5 tight ends.

      I tried to dismiss Crabtree a number of times, but he’s a pretty good football player. I could see him as the No. 3 TE behind Finley and Quarless next season.

      • Aaron Nagler says:

        He’s the toughest call on the 53 for me. Really good player. My hunch would be they try to stash him but I can’t imagine he wouldn’t get picked up. We’ve seen a lot of teams git hit with injuries at TE this preseason.

        • Michael Rodney says:

          I’d find a spot for Crabtree. They might not need him this season, but he could be a really solid No. 2 or 3 in the near future. Agree about probably not getting him through waivers, and even if they did, he wouldn’t last for very long on the practice squad.

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