In 2019, the Green Bay Packers’ roster looks very different from how it appeared at the end of the 2018 season. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and a role on the team’s regular season 53-man roster. Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the roster position-by-position and reveal our compiled predictions for the 53-man roster.
This year, the Packers will have some challenging cuts, particularly in the defensive line room. The team brings ten players to training camp, but APC’s contributors eventually settled on six as the magic number at the position. Four contributors kept six players on their individual 53-man rosters, with three each going with five and seven.
With either two or three starting spots available — depending on your definition of the Packers’ “base” defense — that leaves the team with quality reserves all across the line. Here’s how APC sees the position group breaking down.
Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels
This year, APC is projecting a starting lineup that looks more like the alignment that the Packers tend to use on 75 percent or more of snaps. That specifically means two down linemen, which is Mike Pettine’s current preference, either with five or six defensive backs.
The top two options for a two-man line on base downs will undoubtedly be Clark and Daniels. Although Clark can man the nose tackle position, he’s just as effective defending off the shoulder of the guard in a 3-technique alignment. Expect to see him lined up there in most situations, unless an obvious run situation is present, which would slide him back over the center.
Meanwhile, Daniels remains a disruptive player so long as he can remain healthy. He has dealt with some nagging injuries each of the past two seasons and recently turned 30 years old, so with an expiring contract this may be his final go-around in Green Bay. That may give him some extra motivation, however, though it will be interesting to see how heavy a workload he receives.
Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster
Lowry will likely remain the team’s top option at 5-tech when choosing to align with three down linemen, but since that is a rarity, APC credits him here as the team’s first backup defensive lineman. Keke should be able to contribute as a 3-tech right away as well, and it would take an impressive collapse for the fifth-round draft pick to miss out on the active roster — particularly if the team sees him as a potential heir to Daniels.
The back end of the position group fills out with Adams and Lancaster, two very different players. Adams has impressed coaches and teammates in spring practices, looking more explosive and capable of getting into the backfield than at any point in his prior two years. Lancaster, meanwhile, gives the Packers a run-stuffing option in the middle. APC’s voting gives him one of the final spots on the roster, presuming that he will take a step forward as a pass-rusher this summer.
Fadol Brown, Eric Cotton, James Looney, Deon Simon
Brown was the only member of this group to receive some votes on the roster, with a few of APC’s contributors keeping him on the 53 as a seventh defensive lineman. He would surely be a potential practice squad candidate along with Looney, who we see missing the cut once again in his second season.
With the team having a glut of interior rushers, there just isn’t a place for Cotton to contribute. Meanwhile, the Packers have their backup nose tackle in Lancaster, forcing Simon on the outside looking in.
Stay tuned on Tuesday as our focus shifts outward to the outside linebacker group.