The Packers’ initial 53-man roster is complete and they’ve filled out their practice squad. Though this year’s team doesn’t have many surprises, not every move the team had made over the past couple of days was completely expected, either.
So what was our biggest surprise? Here’s what our writers had to say.
Tyler Brooke: Christian Uphoff
Although he was an undrafted free agent, Uphoff is someone I thought had a real shot at making the final 53-man roster. I was high on him coming out of Illinois State with his size, strength, and versatility at the safety position.
I envisioned Uphoff carving out a role as a special teamer while developing into a role player in the secondary. Hopefully, he can land on the practice squad, because he’s someone I think has a real future in this league.
Jon Meerdink: Both incumbent backup safeties making it
It’s not that Vernon Scott and Henry Black are bad, but it was surprising to see both of them make the roster over challengers Innis Gaines and Christian Uphoff.
Both Scott and Black played uninspiring roles on defense and special teams last year and didn’t do much to set themselves apart in the preseason this year, though they made their share of solid plays. Still, it’s a little surprising that both ended up on the roster when the Packers had two players with at least as much upside (if not more) pushing behind them. Odd!
Shawn Wagner: Ben Braden
Braden received rave reviews throughout the late spring and early summer, and at one point was running with the first-team offense at tackle. Maybe the writing was on the wall when Braden was no longer in the running for a starting guard position last week, but it seemed like versatility was an advantage in Braden’s favor. Clearly, the Packers were more comfortable at this point with a similarly-skilled Jon Runyan, as well as truer tackles Yosh Nijman and Dennis Kelly as backups at tackle with David Bakhtiari landing on the PUP List. The Packers have struggled to find reliable reserve centers behind rookie Josh Myers, but keeping Jake Hanson over Braden was eye-opening to say the least.
Tex Western: They actually did it
Corey Bojorquez just made so much sense for the Packers. JK Scott had continued on the inconsistency train through his fourth training camp, leading many - our own Paul Noonan, among others - to speculate that Bojorquez would be a perfect fit in Green Bay. His tremendous success punting in cold weather in Buffalo seemed to make it a no-brainer.
But when have the Packers ever made the no-brainer decision? I fully expected that the team would stick with Scott through the final season of his rookie deal rather than make a move to acquire Bojorquez. Then they did it - and all it cost them was a slide back from the 6th to the 7th round of the 2023(!) draft. If Bojorquez performs anything like the guy who punted for the Bills last year, this will have been highway robbery by Brian Gutekunst and will go down as one of his finest fringe roster moves.
Paul Noonan: Jake Hanson
What Tex said. But also, why exactly is Jake Hanson on this team? The obvious answer, that you need a backup center, isn’t quite so obvious when you consider that both Elgton Jenkins and Lucas Patrick can fill in for Josh Myers if needed, and keeping the more versatile Ben Braden would have allowed for that to happen. Aside from all of that, Hanson wasn’t good, repeatedly botching snaps, stepping on quarterbacks, and mucking up drives. His blocking may have been fine, but it certainly wasn’t outstanding, and it’s not as if there’s a ton of draft capital locked up in Hanson.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a late-round rookie do less to play himself onto a team, and the position would have been better used elsewhere.