With the Green Bay Packers at the midpoint of the preseason schedule and fewer than two weeks to go until the deadline to cut the active roster down from 90 to 53 players, it’s time for another round of predictions.
The last time we did a consensus APC roster prediction was just before the start of training camp, and our revised predictions demonstrate that the bulk of the team’s roster positions appear solidly decided already. However, we do have a few changes worthy of note, particularly on the offensive line and at cornerback.
Here is our on-the-record prediction from ten members of the writing staff for the Packers’ 53-man roster at the midpoint of the preseason. Players who did not appear on the roster in our previous prediction are shown in italics.
Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley
After Joe Callahan earned a few votes before training camp began, APC was unanimous in leaving him off the roster this week. His poor performance against Washington and less-than-impressive showing in the first game against the Eagles even call into question whether he should be the #3 option ahead of Taysom Hill; indeed, every writer who predicted a practice squad put Hill on it instead of Callahan.
Running Backs (4)
RBs: Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones
FB: Aaron Ripkowski
Also receiving votes: Joe Kerridge (1)
This was a nearly-unanimous vote, with only one writer (yours truly) predicting that the Packers will keep Kerridge. My motivation there was that the team could keep him on as a special teams stalwart, and because he has played numerous snaps with the second-team offense in the first two preseason games.
All told, Montgomery and Williams are locks, and Jones probably ensures his spot if he can keep making plays. Will the Packers keep a fourth tailback? Right now it doesn’t appear that Devante Mays or Kalif Phillips have done enough to earn a spot on the 53.
Wide Receivers (6)
Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey, Jeff Janis
Suspended: Geronimo Allison
Also receiving votes: Max McCaffrey (5)
This was one of the toughest positions to assess, as Allison’s week one suspension opens up a spot for perhaps a seventh wideout to sneak onto the opening-week roster. Allison will surely be back on the team when he returns, especially after his nice performane against Washington.
APC overwhelmingly feels that Davis will make it (in part thanks to special teams considerations) as well as Yancey due to his fifth-round draft stock. That brings the decision down to Janis or McCaffrey, and Janis got the tiebreaker. His experience in the organization and special teams contributions keep making him a breakout candidate, and overall we bet that he’ll be the final pick. Here’s a comment from our Peter Bukowski on a comparison for Janis that’s particularly relevant given Janis’ nice game against Washington on Saturday:
Janis is like that girl you date who is really beautiful, but you're just not really that into her. But then she does something like get just the right gift on your birthday and you're like, ‘OK, I'll hang on a little longer.’
Tight Ends (3)
Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Richard Rodgers
This group remains a unanimous prediction. There’s not much to discuss here.
Offensive Linemen (9)
David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Jahri Evans, Bryan Bulaga, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, Kofi Amichia, Lucas Patrick
Also receiving votes: Geoff Gray (2), Don Barclay (1)
With Barclay’s ankle injury appearing pretty serious, we’re guessing he makes his way onto Injured Reserve before the end of camp. That would likely force the team to keep Patrick as a backup center, while draft picks Spriggs, Murphy, and Amichia make the squad over a few undrafted players.
Spriggs has struggled mightily at left tackle through two preseason games, but since he is last year’s second-round pick (and because the Packers traded up to get him), there’s no way he’s going anywhere for now.
Defensive Linemen (6)
Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Ricky Jean Francois, Montravius Adams, Brian Price
Also receiving votes: Christian Ringo (2)
The defensive line is in a bind due to the timing of Montravius Adams’ injury. If the team feels he can still contribute this season, he will have to stay on the 53-man roster to start the year — that’s the case even if the Packers want to place him on Injured Reserve with the hope of using a return designation on him. With that in mind, the team would likely have to keep another lineman to maintain their depth at the position, and Price is currently our pick over Ringo for that spot.
Outside Linebackers (5)
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott, Kyler Fackrell, Vince Biegel
Also receiving votes: Reggie Gilbert (6)
Gilbert fell just outside the cutoff this time after making it before. This is the case for a few reasons but mainly due to the numbers game at other positions. He may be a victim of injuries at other positions requiring the Packers to keep extra depth (see: DL, CB). One writer projected that Biegel will start the season on the PUP list, however, which would free up that fifth spot for Gilbert.
Inside Linebackers (4)
Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas, Blake Martinez, Jordan Tripp
This group remains the same as before, though Tripp’s injury on Saturday may put that a bit in question. If it’s serious, a trip to IR would not be out of the question; that would probably put the Packers in a position to keep just three ILBs (since they do have Burnett and Jones contributing at the position as well) and hold on to a bubble player at another spot.
Davon House, Kevin King, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins
Also receiving votes: LaDarius Gunter (4)
This was another position where the last two players were separated by just one vote Gunter’s camp has been less than stellar, to say the least, and Pipkins earned the tiebreaker vote. He was excellent against Philadelphia (largely out of the slot), and showed some physicality — if a bit of recklessness — by stopping a Washington receiver dead in his tracks, then suplexing him to the turf after the whistle. The six-foot Pipkins also helps to supplement the size that the Packers would lose by cutting Gunter, and he brings much better speed (4.46 40-yard dash vs. Gunter’s 4.69 at the Combine), suggesting that he will have a higher ceiling.
Hawkins has done enough to count himself as having a pretty solid chance of making the team for now, and he contributes on both defense and special teams. He may be called on early in the season if House and Randall can’t get back on the field quickly.
Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Josh Jones, Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans
This group remains the same as we projected prior to camp, though now Evans is a unanimous pick. He has been arguably the Packers’ best player on the second or third team defense through two games, and he has probably played better than even Brice so far. None of the other safeties appear to be challenging for the 53 at this time.
K Mason Crosby, LS Brett Goode, P Justin Vogel
With Goode back in the fold, APC is betting on his veteran presence getting him the job out of camp over rookie Derek Hart. He narrowly missed being our pre-camp pick anyway, even though he was not on the roster.