At the outset of OTAs, it's common to see wild projections for how many players a team will retain at a given position. The Green Bay Packers are no exception. The identities of the 53 players that will make up Green Bay's opening week roster won't be revealed for some time, but the same doesn't necessary hold for projecting the raw numbers.
While the breakdown of the roster changes slightly year to year, long-term patterns emerge that prove useful when projecting the Packers' 53. Most head counts rarely vary by more than one, and where the team invested its draft picks and free agency dollars often provides critical clues.
So what's a fair forecast for each position group on offense? Let's evaluate.
(Note: For the sake of simplicity, each breakdown assumes no injuries)
Total offense: 24 players
For each of the past four years, the Packers' Week 1 roster has featured 24 players on offense. While that consistency doesn't guarantee that 24 offensive players make the team heading into the 2015 regular season, the total doesn't appear likely to change.
Quarterback: 3 players
The easiest position to project on the entire Packers roster, quarterback will play out in one of two ways: (1) Scott Tolzien wins the No. 2 job behind Aaron Rodgers and the team uses a roster spot on rookie Brett Hundley, or (2) Hundley beats out Tolzien and Green Bay elects to keep only two quarterbacks on the roster. Given that the knock against Hundley in the draft was his perceived inability to contribute in Year 1, the former seems the more likely scenario.
Tailback: 3 players
The Packers kept three true tailbacks at the outset of 2014, and only once over the last four years have they retained more (2012). Eddie Lacy and James Starks are the locks to make the team, with second-year back Rajion Neal competing against rookies John Crockett and Alonzo Harris for whatever spots remain. Given the team's likely commitment to an extra quarterback and, perhaps, fullback, it's hard to forecast more than three total tailbacks starting the year with Green Bay.
Fullback: 2 players
It's still amazing to think that during their Super Bowl-winning season in 2010, the Packers entered Week 1 with three fullbacks on the roster. Since then, only John Kuhn has made the 53 at the position, though that could change this year. Green Bay spent a sixth-round pick on Oklahoma's Aaron Ripkowski earlier this month. He'll need to prove himself on special teams to make the roster, but the team obviously feels he has long-term potential as Kuhn's successor.
Wide receiver: 5 players
Given the current wealth of options Green Bay has at wideout, some believe six players should ultimately make the roster. While the talent may warrant that number, the roster breakdown doesn't. With three quarterbacks and two fullbacks projected to make the team, the front office has to cut from another position. The Packers could slim down at tight end, but that could have a detrimental effect on an already subpar special teams unit. Likewise, the team probably doesn't want to start the year with seven offensive linemen à la 2012. Though keeping five wide receivers likely costs Green Bay a coveted player, at least one should find his way to the practice squad.
Tight end: 3 players
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy loves tight ends, but he'll probably have only three to work with come Week 1. Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers are shoe-ins for the 53, and at least one other ends up on the team as primarily a special teamer.
Offensive line: 8 players
As with most teams, the Packers generally active just seven offensive lineman on game days. However, they usually hold onto eight during final cut down. The five starters -- David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga -- are locks to make the 53. Utility reserves Don Barclay and JC Tretter should make it to the regular season as well. Unless the team decides that Lane Taylor, Garth Gerhart or any of the other offensive linemen are not rosterable talents, they will ultimately retain eight.