Jersey Al: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction
As we approach the final preseason game of 2012, it’s time to take a first crack at predicting the Packers 53-man roster to start the season. Once the preseason game against the Chiefs is in the books, we will publish a table with predictions from the entire staff here at AllGreenBayPackers.com (so you can mock us all from one convenient place).
Looking over the candidates for this year’s 53-man roster, I’m feeling like it will be an easier task than it was last year. There were more wide-open spots at the bottom of the roster last season, as can be evidenced by Jamari Lattimore, MD Jennings and Vic So ‘oto all making the final roster as UDFAs.
Quarterback (2): Rodgers, Harrell
Despite what Ted Thompson says, the packers have done a masterful and purposeful job of hiding BJ Coleman from the prying eyes of the rest of the league. Last week he got a whole 5 minutes of playing time at the end of the game, and the Packers proceeded to have him predominantly hand off the ball. You’re not fooling us Ted… Coleman goes to the practice squad and Harrell is the backup, unless the asking price for Colt McCoy gets into the conditional late-round pick area…
Running Back (5): Benson, Green, Starks, Saine, Kuhn
In 2010, the Packers kept 3 fullbacks and only 2 running backs. In 2011, they kept only 4 running backs, total. So, it’s kind of obvious the type of short shrift they have given this position in the past. This year, a new wind is blowing at Lambeau Field and I’m not referring the South End Zone changes. The Packers brought in Cedric Benson as a guy who can consistently pick up yards if defenses continue to sit back with two deep safeties. It’s rather shocking that James Starks is now the most likely of the four running backs to not make the roster, but I just can’t go there.
Wide Receiver (5): Jennings, Driver, Nelson, Jones, Cobb
Last year, I predicted the Packers would keep six wide receivers (Tori Gurley as #6) As much as I was convinced that 2012 would now be the year that Tori Gurley would force the Packers to keep 6 receivers (Driver is NOT getting cut and Jones is NOT getting traded), I have seen little from him to convince me he has earned a spot. I never quite got the Diondre Borel hype from day one, and his recent case of the dropsies in the Bengals game may have written his ticket out of Green Bay. Boykin has shown more promise than both, and will go to the practice squad. Borel and Gurley go elsewhere and the Packers keep 5.
Tight End (4): Finley, Crabtree, Williams, Taylor
This might be the easiest position group to predict. Lock it in…
Offensive Line (8): Newhouse, Lang, Saturday, Sitton, Bulaga, Dietrich-Smith, Wells, Datko
The Packers kept 8 offensive linemen to start the season last year, which I thought was a risky move, but they did eventually bring up Ray Dominguez from the practice squad, so I’m going with the same approach. Especially since with the combination of Reggie Wells and Evan Dietrich-Smith, they can have all three positions covered with two guys, with Datko as a backup at either tackle position.
Defensive Line (6): Pickett, Raji, Wilson, Worthy, Daniels, Merling, Neal (SUS)
As this preseason started, I was fairly sure this would be the year the Packers keep 7 defensive lineman. With all the new additions and Capers’ expressed desire to get more energetic play (juice) out of the group, I expected more of a rotation to keep everyone fresh. While I still expect that, I’m going back to the standard six DL, taking into account Mike Neal being available after game four. I have abit of an upset her, with Philip Merling beating out Dan Muir for the last spot. Nobody’s been talking about Merling, but I think I’ve seen some good things from him on tape, and he does bring some “juice.”
Linebacker (10): Matthews, Perry, Moses, Walden, Hawk, Smith, Francois, Lattimore, Manning, Jones
The unfortunate injury to Desmond Bishop is to the great benefit of Terrel Manning, who the Packers loved in the draft, but has been slow to look like an NFL linebacker. There were other teams that were hoping to land manning, so i don’t think he would survive a trip to the practice squad. Instead, I’m sending So ‘oto there, who is still too raw to make a 53-man roster, but has enough potential worth keeping for another year. Lattimore has been a very pleasant surprise on his move to the inside, and Moses is living up to the OTA hype. Add Nick Perry, who will start at LOLB and I’m certain get better and better as the season rolls on ashe piles up the much-needed reps from a two point stance. It’s a solid group.
Defensive Back (10): Woodson, Williams, Bush, House, Hayward, Shields, Burnett, McMillian, Jennings, Richardson
I’m looking at five cornerbacks, four safeties, and Woodson as a combination CB/S. The five cornerbacks are set (unlike many people, I don’t think for a second that Sam Shields will get cut). The final two safety spots will go to either Anthony Levine, MD Jennings or Sean Richardson. While Richardson could be safely put on the practice squad, Levine has practice squad eligibility left also. Mostly for those reasons, I select Jennings and Richardson.
Specialist (3): Crosby, Masthay, Goode
Practice Squad (8): Coleman, Cooper, Boykin, Van Roten, Barclay, Guy, Ross, Levine
I think we’ve seen the last of Gurley and Borel, as they could get picked up by other teams. If neither of them stick, I think Boykin is the obvious third choice.
PUP: Sherrod, Quarless, Brooks, Zombo
Sherrod would probably not be active for the first few games anyway, so might as well put him on PUP and save the roster spot. Good chance Zombo is given an injury settlement and cut.
IR: Bennett, Dominguez, Bishop, Lair, McCabe
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.