Continuing our series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster prior to training camp, Acme Packing Company examines the inside linebackers and reveals the pre-camp predictions for the team’s 2017 53-man roster. Ten APC contributors submitted full roster predictions, and we will present the consensus predictions drawn from those individual guesses over the next two weeks.
The number of inside linebackers retained for the Packers' opening 53-man roster has varied through the years. 2017 projects to have four, a decent amount considered "safety" Josh Jones should spend a significant portion of his snaps playing as an off-ball linebacker.
Projected starters: Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez
The same tandem that started for the Packers in Week 1 of the previous season, Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez project to retain those roles in 2017. Ryan appears on the verge of cementing his status as the group's leader, especially if he takes a sizable leap in play as a third-year player. Martinez simply needs to show more consistency and avoid the injuries that bogged down his rookie campaign.
Projected backups: Joe Thomas, Jordan Tripp
Joe Thomas could see a significant number of snaps again in 2017, especially if Martinez continues to show lapses in coverage. The hybrid safety-linebacker Jones looks like the biggest obstacle in that department. As for Jordan Tripp, special teams remains his best path to a roster spot, but he probably needs to show something more on defense to fend off the other competition.
Missing the cut: Cody Heiman, Derrick Mathews
The leap from Division II to the NFL might prove too much for Cody Heiman as a rookie, especially when accounting for the position change. However, his athleticism should keep him in the conversation for a spot on the practice squad. Derrick Mathews seems to have only an outside shot making the team, but a full offseason with the Packers does aid his hopes.