Move over Mock Draft enthusiasts- it's time for something far more significant to the impending season and far more Packer pertinent. I am, of course, talking about predicting the final 53-man roster the Green and Gold will go into the regular season with.
While Mock Drafts are usually based on a lot of speculation and guessing, predicting the 53 man roster is based on-- well, a little less speculation and guessing. There is still a certain degree of guess work, to be sure, but I find it's much easier for you and I, the fan, to come to reasonable conclusions based on performances thus far in camp, preseason games, and coaches' comments, as opposed to relying on how long a prospect's wingspan is or how fast they can run around a cone 6 times. Additionally, this is a far more meaningful exercise, as it is entirely Packers-orientated and also highly relevant- these are the guys that will be playing for Green Bay this year- not raw talents that probably won't even make much of an impact on the upcoming season, or any season for that matter.
Who they'll cut: no one
The shakedown: Flynn has been one of the more impressive players this preseason. He has showed solid command of the offense when given his reps, and is beginning to expand his play-making ability down the field. While I can't say I'd be completely comfortable with him at the helm if Rodgers went down, he's on his way to being a respectable #2.
Despite his horrible performances thus far, and the fact that a 7th round pick is making him look like a JUCO back up, former 2nd round selection Brohm will certainly be on the team, barring some absolutely disastrous displays in the last two games. Thompson invested heavily in the former Louisville slinger, and although he hasn't been impressive to this point, it'd be hard to imagine TT abandoning such a high pick so early, a de facto acknowledgment that he screwed up.
And no, I don't think Rodgers will be cut.
Who they'll cut: Kregg Lumpkin
The shakedown: Grant, Jackson, and Wynn are locks. Grant is looking like he did in 2007, Jackson is a reliable second man, and Wynn has improved in so many ways since last off-season.The real question is what do the Packers do with Sutton and Lumpkin?
Sutton, the undrafted rookie from Northwestern, has clearly looked better than Lumpkin, himself a guy who caught on with Pack after being passed in the draft. Sutton has torn up the field in the two exhibition games so far, albeit against reserves. All Lumpkin has managed to do is draw attention to an apparent fumbling problem. But even after establishing Sutton as the favorite over Lumpkin, questions still remain. Do they need four backs? Can Sutton possibly make it through waivers to the practice squad? Can Lumpkin?
In the end, I think Sutton has drawn enough attention to him that it's hard to imagine some desperate team out there not snatching him up as a #3 or 4 back if the Packers choose to take the chance of holding him for the practice squad. I think Ted Thompson and Co. like him enough that they'll make room for him on the final roster, but if not, they're really hoping he makes it through waivers. If Sutton does end up getting nabbed by someone else, perhaps Lumpkin could end up on the eight man squad.
Who they'll cut: John Kuhn
The shakedown: The selection of Johnson in the 5th round this year was a little surprising to those of us who weren't familiar with the kid. Didn't we already have two quality FB's and didn't we take efforts to ensure Kuhn didn't depart for Arizona? Then when you take a look at Johnson, you realize why he was drafted, even with two other starting caliber guys on the team.
Johnson is an absolute beast. If he was wearing a jersey number in the 60's, 70's or 90's, you'd think he was some type of lineman. Although Hall and Kuhn have been decent lead blockers, neither of them hold a candle to Johnson's potential. He is a true bruiser who simply likes to demolish backers and DB's. The tell-tale signs thus far indicate that he is a sure thing for the 53 man roster.
That leaves us with Hall and Kuhn, two solid guys who do a variety things for the Packers, whether in the backfield or on special teams. The difficult thing about this decision is that both are so darn similar in nearly every way, it's hard to pick one over the other. In the end, I think Hall wins out, based on his slight edge in the athleticism department.
The shakedown: If you would have asked me this a week ago, I probably would've had Martin on the cut list. Swain and Allen had made serious progress in training camp, and their big play ability was the talk around camp, especially in the case of 6'4 Allen. A very vanilla guy like Martin was all but forgotten in the mix. However, since then, neither of the young challengers has made any impact in the preseason games, which included a very poor outing by Allen against the Browns. In the end, I think McCarthy and TT will favor Martin's consistency and run-blocking ability over the more dynamic, but unproven younger guys, hoping to land them another year on the practice squad. But this will be extremely close to call, and is probably one of the more interesting story-lines as the cuts near. A lot could change in the next two weeks.
Outside of the battle for that #5 spot, things aren't too exciting. The top four make-up one of the best wide out corps in the league. Jennings has emerged as the go-to-guy but Driver certainly isn't fading away into the sunset. Meanwhile, Jones appears to be back in '07 form, when he broke onto the scene as a big play producer during his rookie year. Nelson sure ain't a bad option at #4.
Heckendorf and Harris aren't much to speak of. Heckendorf, Wisconsin's own, has proven to be a very technical route runner and has sure hands to boot. He just might lack the athleticism needed to make the squad. However, if neither Swain nor Allen land on the practice squad, Heckendorf could be the guy.
Who they'll cut: Evan Moore
The shakedown: With the emergence of Finley and the season ending injury to Frischknecht, the TE situation isn't too complicated. Lee and Finley are clear keepers, and Havner has proven to be a suitable TE, while also being the team's best special teamer and an emergency line-backer as well. Evan Moore has come along nicely, but there just isn't room on the 53 man roster for him. He's got one more year left of eligibility for the practice squad, so if he makes it through waivers, expect him to end up there.
The shakedown: This decision was made a little easier by the release of Duke Preston, a bit of a shocker. Preston, although he hadn't really made any push to crack the starting 5, appeared to be a reliable and versatile back-up. Apparently not.
With Preston out of the picture, I think a spot opens up for Jamon Meredith, an athletic freak who fell to the fifth round in the draft for "character issues." Don't get on Steve Spurrier's bad-side, or he'll make you go 3 rounds lower than your talent merits.
Of course, the most notable player to be on my "cut list" is Moll, who has started 18 games with the Packers. However, Moll has regressed dramatically in my eyes, and has been surpassed in value by rookie Lang and second year man Giacomini. I think the Packers would rather keep Meredith and cut Moll than run the risk of losing Meredith to waivers before they could sign him to the practice squad.
With regards to other guys I'm predicting to get cut, they're all potential practice squaders, given their youth.
And, as Brandon said yesterday, releasing Preston is almost a surefire signal that Wells is not going to be shopped around.
The shakedown: Although Montgomery has appeared to transition to the 3-4 end position acceptably, I don't think Green Bay sees him as any kind of long term option there. Enter Wynn, who although a bit undersized for the position himself, has been a better than expected performer in training camp.
Only keeping 5 defensive linemen may seem like far too few, but do remember we're playing the 3-4. Additionally, when we do go the nickel package with a four man front, Kampman and Thompson can be considered as d-linemen, as they'll be playing with a hand on the ground as ends. So think of it as 5 +.5 +.5.
Of the rookies cut, at least one of them is bound to practice squad-ed, although the Packers may look for discards from other teams. Really, the only one of them I've heard positive things about has been Talley, a nicely sized DE out of Delaware.
The shakedown: Easily the Packers deepest position, they have some solid starters and some really talented guys backing them up. The competition within this position group is going to be intense, as they have probably 8 guys with starting ability. Bishop and Chillar have stolen the headlines at camp and are seriously threatening to take reps away from Barnett and Hawk. Poppinga, who I thought would not survive the transition to the new defense, appears poised to start. Although that could simply be posturing if the Pack decide to deal him, which I think remains a possibility.
Thompson started training camp as the odds on favorite to be the starter at ROLB, but injuries have held him back. Speaking of, Jones has rebounded quite nicely from his and is making a push to make the 53 man roster. His ability on special teams will probably be the deciding factor.
Obiozor has been an intriguing player thus far and a bit of LB coach Kevin Green's project. I think he's got great athleticism and some real potential, but he's too raw at this point to make the 53 man cut. However, the undrafted rookie is probably a practice squad lock if he makes it through waiver frenzy.
Sulak was a 6th round pick, but got cut by the Raiders even before camp started, a very rare occurrence indeed. If Obiozor isn't an option to place on the 8-man practice squad, the Pack may consider keeping Sulak on to take a longer look at him.
The shakedown: Woodson, Harris, Collins, Bigby, and Williams are clear keepers. The solid play of free-agent acquisition Smith will land him a spot, while also placing Rouse on the IR after he suffered what may be a partially torn hamstring. Blackmon will make the team on return abilities alone, while Bush will (unfortunately) be back due to his solid special teams play. And Underwood will make the cut due to the uncertain health of dime back Lee.
Who they'll cut: Durant Brooks
The shakedown: Easiest one yet: Brooks is out with a hip flexor and Kapinos has punted well in his absence. A sure way to lose a punting competition is to miss several days with an injury while your opponent makes his case.
Well there it is, my predicted Packer's 53 man roster after all cuts are made. Let me hear some feedback.