Welcome to the prediction section of the offseason. Over two weeks here at Acme Packing Company, we will be presenting our overall roster predictions for the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster as it will be constituted immediately following final roster cuts. Today we continue on with the Packers’ backfield.
In the wake of Aaron Jones’ two game suspension to begin the 2018 season, the APC staff believes that the Green Bay Packers will keep three running backs and one fullback on the final 53-man roster.
The Packers’ running backs were consistently effective last season, despite a troublesome passing game. With Rodgers’ ability to open up the field again this season, more opportunities should be available for the backs to find room to run and catch opponents off guard. With defenses less inclined to stack the box, the second-year running backs should make a leap (Lambeau ones included) to create a potent offense. A late free agent could be signed to provide insurance in the early part of the season, but, overall, this unit is expected to have a similar look to last year.
Starter: Jamaal Williams
Anticipating a one-back starting lineup, Williams is in line to open the season as the team’s starter according to APC. A promising rookie season in which the BYU product rushed for 556 yards and added 262 yards receiving provides confidence that the Packers’ running game will not skip a beat without Jones. While the Packers figure to punish opponents by air with Aaron Rodgers back in the boat, Williams should punish them on the ground with 23 broken tackles a season ago according to Football Outsiders.
Injuries limited Montgomery to just eight games last season which included five starts. He rushed for 273 yards, but only averaged 3.8 yards per attempt. That was far off the pace from his breakout end to the year in 2016, but APC still expects a return for Montgomery. The fourth-year player will continue the experiment at running back in 2018, but could be a weapon if flexed out to the slot in the aerial attack.
No one could benefit more from the Jones suspension than Mays, who should battle with Joel Bouagnon for a final roster spot in the first two weeks of the season. The former draft pick is no lock to make the final roster after two fumbles in four carries as a rookie and the final cut down period could provide a worthy replacement. But as the 90-man roster stands right now, APC gives Mays every chance to make the squad.
The Packers are expected to employ a fullback once again in 2018 and Ripkowski should beat out Joe Kerridge for that role in the final year of his contract. A hard-nosed pass blocker, special teams player, and lead blocker for the Packers’ young runners, Ripkowski gets another crack on the 53-man roster.
Reserve/Suspended List: Aaron Jones
A temporary absence dampens an otherwise exciting projection for the second-year back from UTEP. When he returns, Jones should see plenty of action as a potential starter. The lightning to Williams’ thunder, Jones is the Packers’ explosive home run threat and should post several triple-digit rushing games this season along with being an increased receiving target in year two.
Released: Joe Kerridge (FB), Joel Bouagnon
It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Kerridge makes the roster out of training camp, as there is little need for a second fullback with other positions of need on the roster. Little is known about Bouagnon at this point, but training camp and preseason should provide a better indicator of his talent as either a 53-man or practice squad candidate.