Green Bay Packers 2012 Roster Projection: Defensive Line

June 12, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (79) during the team's mandatory minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Nest to the wide receiver projection, this might be the most contentious. Because Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove will not count against the 53-man roster to start the season, the Packers might open the season with less defensive lineman than they had last year. They could also keep a couple of youngsters that they don't intend on giving much time to. It's a bit of a crap-shoot.

Roster locks: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett - Pickett's starting job might go away late in the season as young players progress, especially considering his age, but he has a roster spot locked down and will be a starter to open the season. Raji is obviously the best player on the defensive line.

Job security - Ironclad: 'Ironclad' might be a bit of a stretch for Pickett, but it's pretty close. He's not going to be losing time to Jerel Worthy or Mike Daniels in Week 1, and he's obviously not going to be losing any time to Neal or Hargrove in the beginning of the season.

Rookie contributors: Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels - Dom Capers is not exactly fantastic with his words. He seriously uttered this quote about Daniels: "The thing that jumps out at me is the way he plays the game." Generally, that's what you look for in football players!

Jokes aside, we know what Capers means. Daniels has a high motor and he's noted for being a very hard-working and intelligent guy. He has the physical tools to play in the NFL and he led Iowa in tackles for a loss and sacks last year. I don't expect him to struggle to make the team. Worthy is obviously a lock to make the team and should play progressively more as the season goes on if he's as good as we (and the coaching staff) think he is.

Job security: Very good - Worthy is a lock to make the team, and I'd be stunned if Daniels didn't make it as well.

Backups: Daniel Muir, Jarius Wynn - This is the point of contention. I'm sure that there are some fans of C.J. Wilson and Lawrence Guy out there, and I'm sure some of you think that Phillip Merling might finally make the most of his talent. I thought Wynn was solid last year, though, and I'm comfortable with him as a backup DE to start the season. I don't know a ton about Muir, but with Howard Green gone, the team needs a backup nose tackle (even though Pickett can play it in a pinch). He'll make the team unless Johnny Jones has a stellar camp and preseason.

Job security: Shaky - These guys are not proven commodities and there are other players gunning for their jobs.

Suspended: Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal - These guys don't count against the roster limit to start the season. I think Wynn makes the team for Week 1, but who knows how long he keeps his job with these guys lurking.

PUP or Practice Squad: Johnny Jones - Without an accomplished backup nose tackle, I think the team will hope to keep Jones on the practice squad if he doesn't beat out Muir for a roster spot.

Cut: Lawrence Guy, Phillip Merling, C.J. Wilson - Honestly, I don't think any of these guys is out of the running for a roster spot. It's not like Wynn is a superstar. There's going to be a very tough four-way battle for one spot in camp, and based on what I know at this moment, I like Wynn to beat these three guys. It'll be close, though.

Roster spots remaining: 20

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QB projection | HB projection | FB projection | WR projection | TE projection | OL projection | ST projection

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