Every year, someone comes out of nowhere to end up on the active roster. Although the Green Bay Packers’ roster seems a bit easier to predict this year than past seasons, there could still be a few surprises in store.
The fourth preseason game always holds surprises, and plenty of players have made a 53 based on a big game in the exhibition finale. Here’s what the APC staff had to say about potential surprises this week.
(Editor’s note: these picks were submitted prior to the Packers’ trade of Brett Hundley the and subsequent reports that the team hopes to keep Boyle.)
Evan “Tex” Western: RB LeShun Daniels
I really liked what I saw out of the former Iowa running back in limited action (16 snaps) a week ago -- Daniels ran with power and made a few nice cuts, and I think he looked much better than Joel Bouagnon has all summer long.
With Jamaal Williams likely resting up for week one and Ty Montgomery nursing an injury (plus Aaron Jones being suspended for the first two regular season games), there should be plenty of snaps to go around between the team’s depth running backs -- Daniels, Bouagnon, Bronson Hill, and recently-healthy Devante Mays. I think Daniels breaks a few tackles, puts up a few nice runs, and shows some pass-blocking chops to beat out the other backs to earn a backup job...at least until Jones returns.
Paul Noonan: Tim Boyle
The Packers made a mistake last year in keeping Brett Hundley. Hundley was a long-term developmental project, but after a few games it became clear that he was awful, and everyone regretted the absence of Taysom Hill. It’s entirely possible that Hill is worse than Hundley, though not very likely, but even Hill’s contributions to special teams would have added more value. There’s a lesson here, and that lesson is to keep the best player regardless of how you got them. Boyle has no pedigree and wasn’t particularly good in college, but he’s already shown better in-game skills, instincts, and arm strength than Hundley or DeShone Kizer. Kizer may turn into something, someday, but generally speaking quarterbacks who play as poorly as he did don’t develop enough to be useful.
The reasons to keep Hundley and Kizer are all based in the sunk cost fallacy. Boyle may be terrible, but at least we’re not sure yet.
Wendi Hansen: Tim Boyle
I know. I KNOW! I’m surprising myself by putting Boyle’s name on the list. When once a very strong advocate of a two-man QB roster, I went and rewatched the footage from the Packers first preseason game of the year. That, combined with his consistency during practice this season kind of has me warming up to the idea of him wearing an official green and gold jersey. The truth is, Boyle has an arm. He’s quick on his feet with a running game that reminds me a lot of Rodgers. Given the fact he will get more playing time on Thursday, this might be his chance to seal the deal. Or, at the very least, confirm a spot on the practice squad.
Shawn Wagner: Adam Pankey/Raven Greene
If you would have asked me about six weeks ago, listing offensive line swingman Adam Pankey here would’ve been a fairly large surprise. The Packers added experienced veteran Byron Bell after drafting Cole Madison and developing former draft pick Kofi Amichia. Yet, after one of the most disastrous offensive line games I can remember (even Mike McCarthy noted as much), Pankey is winning my final spot on the offensive line over Kyle Murphy and Kofi Amichia.
If I’m going with a more moderate surprise, it’s Raven Greene at safety solidifying a spot in game four. Without a clear runaway favorite emerging at safety between Greene, Marwin Evans, and even Quinten Rollins, the former stands a chance to be one of this year’s undrafted holdovers. Although his name hasn’t been as frequently heard as I thought it would be this preseason, Greene forced a fumble versus the Raiders and was a playmaker in college. His ability to learn and grow as a special teamer as the season wears on while being a true safety gives Greene a spot over the disappointing Rollins and forgotten Evans.
Jon Meerdink: Trevor Davis
Even after Mike McCarthy’s surprisingly effusive praise for Davis this week, it still would be something of a surprise if he made the roster having taking barely a practice rep all summer. But given that Davis’ clearest path to the 53 is through a solid special teams performance, showing he can still make an impact as a returner and a gunner on the punt team could be enough to do it. Of course, Davis making it would likely mean one or more of the Packers’ rookie receivers (or Jake Kumerow) is on the outs. That’s a tall barrier, but with support from the coaching staff, Davis could have an inside track.