As an exercise, I wanted to try to pin down just how many roster spots are available on the Green Bay Packers’ roster heading into the draft. The definition of “roster lock” is hard to define, though, particularly in this era where void years and post-June 1 trades and/or designations are not uncommon. Could left tackle David Bakhtiari be traded, for example? Sure, but the team has already converted his salary into a signing bonus in 2023 and it’s overwhelmingly likely that he’s on the roster in September.
For this approach, we’re just going to consider “roster locks” players who are extremely likely to make the upcoming squad, as virtually anyone can be moved in today’s NFL.
QB: Jordan Love
RB: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon
WR: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs
TE: Josiah Deguara
OL: David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., Yosh Nijman, Zach Tom
Assuming that Yosh Nijman eventually signs his one-year restricted free agent tender, I would expect that the entire preferred starting offensive line would return in 2023, along with swing tackle Zach Tom — who started five games as a rookie last season. Beyond those six, I think spots are up for grabs because of how many young players the team is rostering at the moment, including Royce Newman and Sean Rhyan — mid-round draft picks who haven’t started their careers off on the right foot in Green Bay.
At the skill positions, I think that the core of Jordan Love, Aaron Jones, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are no-brainers. Even though A.J. Dillon and Josiah Deguara are in the last years of their contracts, which could make them trade bait depending on how the draft plays out, I feel pretty good about them making the team with how thin the roster is currently at the running back and tight end positions.
DL: Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, TJ Slaton
OLB: Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare
ILB: Quay Walker, De’Vondre Campbell
CB: Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Keisean Nixon
SAF: Darnell Savage
There isn’t much depth in the front seven of the Packers’ defense. Outside of the projected 3-4 starters, I don’t think there’s a single defensive lineman or inside linebacker who is a “roster lock” even with our liberal definition. At outside linebacker, the only depth roster lock is Kingsley Enagbare, who very well could be a starter if Green Bay doesn’t take a first-round edge rusher later this month with Rashan Gary coming off of an ACL tear.
Cornerback is probably the team’s deepest position, depending on whether or not Eric Stokes will be able to recover quickly from his season-ending ankle injury. Safety, on the other hand, is another story. Darnell Savage is the only roster lock at the position, largely because of his fully-guaranteed fifth-year option that is virtually impossible to get rid of.
P: Pat O’Donnell
The kicker position for the Packers is basically vacant. Long snapper is expected to be a true camp battle between 2022 starter Jack Coco and 2023 signing Matt Orzech this summer. After Green Bay paid out Pat O’Donnell’s bonus earlier this offseason, it does appear as though his job is safe going into next season.
Excluding specialists from the 53-man roster, that gives us a count of 50 total spots for offensive and defensive players. Based on our flexible definition of roster locks, we have named 25 positional players to the 2023 team. That means that half of Green Bay’s roster spots could be up for grabs between now and final cuts, a drastic difference from where the roster has typically been at under both general manager Brian Gutekunst and Ted Thompson before him.
We very well could be headed into the most important camp and preseason, just in terms of roster construction, that the Packers have seen in some time.
Let us know if there’s a player that you would add or remove from the list of “roster locks.” Join the conversation by scrolling to the comments below.