Our predictions for the Green Bay Packers’ final 53-man roster continue today as we shift our focus from the defensive line to the outside linebacker position. While a few of these players who are classified as linebackers will undoubtedly put their hand in the dirt on occasion, they will be expected to rush from a standing position more often than not.
Green Bay has numerous veteran options at the position, and we at Acme Packing Company believe that the team will enter the season with seven players on the roster at the position. The versatility of several of these players will ensure that all of them see playing time in some fashion, however, despite the quantity.
On the Roster
Starters: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers
It is entirely possible that Matthews will still spend a bit of time inside, pushing Perry (or any number of the backups) into a starting role, but let’s deal with the two veteran stalwarts. Matthews will continue to destroy anything that’s put in front of him, or attempts to run to his left or right, and generally make life easier for everyone else, including Peppers. This is likely Peppers’ last season and last shot at a ring, and even if he ends up in a more limited role I expect him to leave everything he has in the tank out on the field, and more importantly, still hit double digits in sacks.
Backups: Nick Perry, Datone Jones, Jayrone Elliott, Kyler Fackrell, Lerentee McCray
If nothing else, this is a young, hungry group with something to prove. Jones needs to impress after switching positions and with free agency looming, Perry has to stay prove he can stay healthy and effective with free agency looming, Elliott needs to show he can be productive on a more consistent basis. Fackrell may be the rookie, but he’s the same age as Elliott and just a year younger than Datone Jones and Lerentee McCray. He may be the most well-rounded and talented of the group, and despite his standing as a rookie I would not be surprised if he ended up out-snapping all non-starters this season. McCray may be a special teams stalwart, but there is some boom/bust potential should the opportunity present itself. This is an extremely competitive group of players and no amount of breakout or bust would surprise me.
To be released
With such a deep bench in existence, cracking the 53 is an uphill battle for any outsider. Gilbert is a long shot with limited athletic ability. He managed a fair number of tackles for loss while in college, which has gotten him this far, but if he gets any farther, it would be a surprise.