Over the course of the last two weeks, we at Acme Packing Company examined the Green Bay Packers’ roster. As part of that exercise, we provided our position-by-position predictions for who will end up on the Packers’ initial 53-man roster at the end of training camp.
Now, let’s look back and recap the roster as a whole based on our projections. Remember that this is the consolidated prediction for APC, based on compiling the projections from seven different contributors into a single list. We’ll also briefly mention the handful of players whom we expect to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
A third quarterback is unnecessary (and unlikely) when you have the back-to-back reigning MVP and a first-round draft pick with two years of experience behind him. Not much to see here.
Running backs (4)
AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor, Tyler Goodson
Jones and Dillon form one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL at the running back position, something the Packers will need to rely on given the youth and inexperience at wide receiver.
The only undrafted rookie we project to make the team on the initial 53 is Goodson, the spark plug from Iowa who can contribute on special teams and as a receiver out of the backfield. He would be a nice plug-in for Jones in certain situations, while Taylor provides a little more straight-ahead running as a backup. Look for Kylin Hill to get a chance again later in the season when he is ready to go after rehabbing his torn ACL.
Wide receivers (7)
Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins
Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure, Amari Rodgers
At the receiver spot, we kept seven players — all three of this year’s draft picks, plus last year’s third-rounder in Rodgers. Those players all make up the backup corps behind a starting trio of Cobb (the wily veteran/slot specialist), Watkins (the reclamation project) and Lazard (the enforcer and high-efficiency producer who will look to maintain that efficiency with a bigger target share). Keeping Rodgers was the narrowest battle on the entire roster.
Can the Packers really keep seven players at this position? In truth, they might not have a choice, at least not if the rookies all play well and Rodgers — who revealed on Monday that he has dropped from 218 pounds to 202 this offseason — shows better speed and decision-making.
Tight ends (4)
Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney
With Tonyan also rehabbing a torn ACL, we expected him to land on the PUP list to start training camp (which he did) and to start the regular season (which is to be determined). That leaves the Big Dog to be the starter, with the other three players rotating in with different roles and responsibilities.
Offensive linemen (9)
David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Yosh Nijman
Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, Cole Van Lanen, Rasheed Walker
The biggest question about this group now is whether Bakhtiari will be able to ever return to football, as he found himself on the PUP list with continued issues following his knee injury. Here’s hoping the best left tackle in football is able to get back to playing again; but if he can’t, look for Nijman to move back to the left side, leading Newman or one of the other college tackles to plug in at right tackle until Elgton Jenkins returns from the PUP.
Rhyan, Tom, and Van Lanen all have inside/outside versatility, while Walker is a high-ceiling, low-floor projection.
Defensive linemen (5)
Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt
Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, T.J. Slaton
We expect Wyatt to start immediately next to Clark, though the Packers’ nickel alignment could have Lowry or Reed in the starting lineup as well. Five players is enough here, though, especially with the Packers finding a second linebacker who projects as an every-down player.
Outside linebackers (6)
Rashan Gary, Preston Smith
Kingsley Enagbare, Jonathan Garvin, La’Darius Hamilton, Randy Ramsey
Behind a very good starting tandem — with an ascending star in Gary — this group faces more depth questions than just about any other position on the roster. Backing them up will be a numbers game, but Enagbare should earn a crack at being EDGE #3 along with a handful of other young but unproven players.
Inside linebackers (4)
De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker
Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie
Campbell was a revelation last season, and hopefully Walker can be this year after the Packers took him in the first round of the NFL Draft. He should be an impact player early and will push Barnes into a backup/special teams role that he’ll share with another player. We’re guessing that ends up being McDuffie, whose chops on teams earn him a spot. This could end up being a 5-man group as well if the team values another special teamer like Ty Summers over one of the depth players at outside linebacker.
Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage
Shawn Davis, Tariq Carpenter
Amos and Savage provide a great starting tandem, but what is there behind them? Davis was a 5th-round pick in 2021 who got cut from his old team because of a terrible training camp. Carpenter is a man without a position for now, who might end up as a linebacker instead. Will former 7th-rounder Vernon Scott or UDFA rookie Tre Sterling make a push for a roster spot? There’s no sure thing behind the starters at safety, so we stuck with the 2022 draft pick and the guy who has been running as the third safety in spring practices.
Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes
Shemar Jean-Charles, Kei’Sean Nixon
The best trio of corners in the NFL gives way to one of the most questionable sets of backups. If one of the top three is injured, that could spell a major problem for the Packers barring another shockingly successful in-season addition like that of Douglas a year ago.
Jean-Charles saw little time on defense last season, while Nixon has been effectively a special teams-only player for three years in Oakland. But it’s tough to find another player at the position who looks worthy of beating out either one for a spot on the 53 at this point.
Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Steven Wirtel
Crosby probably gets his swan song this season ahead of Gabe Brkic, while Wirtel and Jack Coco should have a decent battle throughout training camp to get the right to snap the football. We went with the incumbent long snapper and kicker rather than young projects.
PUP List (3)
RB Kylin Hill, TE Robert Tonyan, OL Elgton Jenkins
Although the Packers placed 13 players on the PUP or NFI lists to start training camp, we expect most of them to return in time to compete for roster spots. These three, however, are all coming off torn ACLs and may need until midseason or longer to return, and we expect the team to be very cautious with them all.
Unfortunately, Bakhtiari may well be an addition to this list if his knee is not responding positively over the next month. But because (A) our projections were due two weeks ago and (B) there’s still a chance he can return, we’ll hold out hope for him to do so.