A Mid-preseason's Dream...or just another guess at the 53

Thanks to all who gave the first 53 a warm welcome.  Now that two preseason games are in the books it's time to take another look at who could be on the 53.  Since the last gaze in the crystal ball there have been some injuries, some dynamic plays, and some shaky performances.  But who is one step closer to being a part of Packer history and who is just going to be history?  That's what we discuss here....

A few new twists to the listing will be made this time around.  To try and capture who I believe are on the bubble (but also talk about who I think would make the team if the cut downs were this instant) I added a "Bottom 53" and "Top 54" list.  Each of these are basically what they sound like, the Bottom 53 are the guys who are making the roster by the skin of their teeth....but are the first to go if the right guy is released from another team.  The Top 54 are the opposite, they are the guys who are so close to the roster, and guys who might make a push to make it with the right play in these last two games.

I am also breaking from my normal rule about guessing the practice squad by creating a PS wishlist.  I don't know if these are the guys who will make it, if they will catch on somewhere else, or that the Packers even want them hanging around....but if I had all the power in the world these are the guys I would like to see there.

On a whole this roster will look similar to last time but I do want to note a couple big picture things early on.  It seems there were three guys who put up big offensive performances between the two games: Brandon Saine, Graham Harrell, and Chastin West; and crap did I want to say they made the roster after each of their big games.  After taking a day or two to collect my thoughts though that's mostly changed, but I do have one of them making the team (and it might not be the one you think).  

Right now I'm treating the Frank Zombo injury as if he is making the team and taking a spot.  It's too early to tell roster-wise what's going to happen, but if he wasn't injured he would be on the 53 and if he can get on the field soon enough they will want him to contribute.  If he can't make it then I think his spot is claimed by another OLB of some level of talent so it's not like his injury is going to clear up room for some of the more interesting roster battles at TE or WR.  

The Offense (26 players)

Quarterbacks 2. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn.  

That's right no Graham Harrell.  After his performance last Friday I really wanted to say he earned his spot, but after reflecting on it I don't think it happens.  The main reason why is simply because of what Harrell would be right now...specifically the best damn third string QB in the league.  But is Graham Harrell a true back up QB yet (or rather a true #2)?  I don't think so.  

I also doubt that a team would go out of its way to really pick up a guy who isn't ready to be a true number 2 yet either.  There aren't many teams that are going to take the time to coach up a younger QB on the hopes he'll grow into their back up role....maybe some day be the starter.  Too many teams have either drafted that guy already, or if they are shopping for QB's they are shopping for the now...not then future.  Add in the fact that of the two preseason games only one really showed him in a light where there would be a threat to him leaving.  The other had him fumbling anytime someone brushed his shoulder.  Harrell's close, but I don't think he's in.

Halfbacks 3. Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green.

As much as I like the idea of four HB's to cover for injury, I just think the talent at WR and TE pushes the numbers down here.  I like Brandon Saine, but he hasn't had that truly stand out performance yet where I think another team will take him.  I also think that, unlike Brandon Jackson, Alex Green could be an every down back should the need arise and Starks and Grant both go down.  At that point the Packers can fill out the running back spot with Saine of the PS (if he makes it) or nabbing another guy off someone else's PS a la Dmitri Nance.

Fullbacks: 1.  Jon Kuhn.

Quinn Johnson is gone because he's not playing special teams better than other challenging for his spot.  He's not pass catching.  He's just one dimensional.  I'm sure he catching on somewhere and maybe becomes the next Vonte Leach.  Good for him, but that doesn't make this Packer's unit.  Being the Jack of all trades that Jon Kuhn is  makes it with all the talent (and ability to fill in for all that good stuff Johnson does) at TE.

Offensive Line 9.  Chad Clifton, T.J. Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Brian Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Marshall Newhouse, Nick MacDonald, Evan Dietrick-Smith.

There have been some rumblings about how TT protects his draft picks.  I get that, I totally do, but this year I think we see more than the normal amount get cut.  Much of this has to do with the Lockout and the shortened practice time these rookies got.  As a result their technique is off and they are just behind a deep and talented roster.  This is the fate of Caleb Schauderaff.  It's also the reason I believe Sherrod lost at LG, and may lose at backup LT.  It doesn't mean the guy isn't talented or that these players may not make a push next year (assuming Schauderaff makes the PS), but that the deck is stacked against them this year.  EDS makes it due to his backup work at center, and extra help at important since (while last year we were drowning in interior linemen) this year we seem to be drowning in tackles.

Wide Receiver 6.  Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Chastin West.

I'd like to think that I'm not just enamored with West's performance last week. bit I might be...I'll admit it.  West seems to be reasonably good as a gunner, and really stepping out as a WR (not that we need another one, but you never know).  Aaron Rodgers like him, and thinks that's he's talented to boot.  More important than all of that though is the fact that West knows the system and the playbook.  He spent last year on the PS, and a bit of time on the roster, so he knows what's expected how to go about his business, and can add that slight bit of a veteran approach over some of the younger guys...and more of a dynamic receiving presence than Brett Swain.  Swain's injuries through the preseason don't help any either.

Tight Ends 5.  Jermichael Finely, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor.

One of the most disappointing things about last week's roster discussion with the Jon Ryan award was how many people were totally fine with five TE's.  I think people are just accepting that with the talent and promise there that's probably how this is going to go.  I actually thought about only having four and cutting Quarless just to shake things up.  That said I do think he's the odd man out if they do go with four.  Quarless hasn't lit it up, but hasn't really been terrible either.  He's battled injuries, and I'm sure many still remember his long bouts of the dropsies last year.  He has to over come that and show he can by the most complete TE on the roster if they do decide to go with four.

The Defense (24 players)

Defensive Linemen 6.  B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Howard Green, Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn.

Not too many surprises here unless the Wilson or Neal injuries turn into something very bad.  Lawerene Guy is one that doesn't make it though.  Alas he just went down early in camp and never seemed to get back out there so right now I don't see him making the team.

Inside Linebackers 4.  A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith, Robert Francois.

I really don't know what to make of K.C. Asiodu.  He came in and began with the starting special teams unit, but I have not heard a lick about him since they signed the guy.Since he's not making much noise and Francois is that type of player who just never goes away, he just keeps hanging on I think Francois gets the nod.

Outside Linebackers 4.  Clay Matthews, Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, Erik Walden.

If I'm right and these are the four we need to be very worried about injuries at this position.  Jones is out currently and Zombo may be gone for the season or he may be ready for the first game of the year.  No one knows yet.  Due to the potential lack of depth these injury spots are going to be filled by by Vic Soo'to and Jamari Lattimore if Zombo does end up on the IR.  They would just need the bodies.

Cornerback 6.  Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Davon House, Josh Gordy, Jarrett Bush.

The moral of the story is that Jarrett Bush lives to fight another day.  The good news is that Pat Lee doesn't.  Gordy actually overtook Bush last week as the dimeback with the ones, and didn't play too badly.  House has also looked good in his limited time so far and once he gets healthy expect time to make the team as well.  Since Bush does his special teams thing, and can suck at both corner and safety equally I think he makes the team another year...much to the regret of many a Packer fan.

Safety 4.  Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Charlie Peprah, M.D. Jennings.

The other good news is that Brandon Underwood will join Pat Lee in the discard pile.  I really want to add Anthony Leivine to the mix this year, but I just don't see it.  He's been gone with concussions and before his concussion I didn't see that much added by him. I don't know about you, but I always seem to see M.D. Jennings around the ball and making a play out there.  I think he's in...barely.

Special Team Specialists 3. Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brad Goode.

Yup, these guys will do.

The Bottom 53 (in no particular order)

West, EDS, Francois, Bush, Taylor, Wynn, M.D. Jennings, Gordy

The Top 54 (in no particular order)

Asiodu, Guy, Tori Gurley, Graham Harrell, Brandian Ross, Saine

PA's PS Wishlist:

Tori Gurley, Shaky Smithson, Lawrence Guy, Caleb Schauderaff, Brandian Ross, Vic Soo'to, Graham Harrell, Brandon Saine.

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