GREEN BAY – There is almost certainly zero chance this will be the Green Bay Packers' 53-man roster.
Let’s get that out of the way first, just to be clear. There’s bound to be a move or two – or three … who knows? – that deviates from the prediction below. It is almost impossible to predict the Packers' active roster with exactitude.
That doesn’t mean we can’t try.
Ultimately, it comes down to general manager Ted Thompson's evaluation. But with the preseason behind us, the benefit of hindsight can allow for a best guess. Here’s a projection of the Packers' 53-man roster on the eve of the NFL’s cut-down deadline.
Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley, Taysom Hill
It’s dangerous to use history as an indicator. Each season, each 53-man roster really is its own. With that said, the Packers were too scared of losing Joe Callahan last season to expose him on waivers, deciding instead to force him onto their 53-man roster. And Hill is a better quarterback prospect now than Callahan was then. So the guess here is Mike McCarthy asks Ted Thompson to keep three quarterbacks once again, and the Packers general manager obliges.
Running backs (5)
Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, Devante Mays, Aaron Ripkowski
Joe Kerridge has done enough to warrant a spot on the active roster, but two fullbacks on the 53 is a luxury. The Packers carried two fullbacks last season, but only after their running back depth chart was decimated. This season, they drafted three rookie tailbacks, and each exited their first camp healthy. The Packers want to avoid becoming too thin in the backfield again this fall. If they keep four half backs, they’ll only keep one fullback. Kerridge still has practice squad eligibility.
Wide receivers (5)
Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis
The Packers will keep six receivers once Geronimo Allison returns from his one-game suspension, forcing them to make a move elsewhere. Janis and Davis have established themselves solidly on the 53. The question is whether the Packers would keep four receivers on their 10-man practice squad. Rookies DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre could be headed there, and Max McCaffrey and Michael Clark have shown promising potential.
Tight ends (3)
Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Richard Rodgers
Tight end remains the easiest call on the roster. There’s a big gap on the depth chart after Rodgers.
Corey Linsley, Don Barclay, Lucas Patrick
The Packers can’t expect Barclay’s ankle injury to be ready by next week, when they open against Seattle. He’ll likely return sometime in September, so placing him on injured reserve would waste one of their two return designations. Despite his struggles, he remains the Packers' best option to back up Linsley. The Packers can’t enter a game with only one center. If Barclay is unable to play against the Seahawks, they’ll be forced to carry an extra offensive lineman. A source said Patrick cleared concussion protocol Wednesday. It's close between Patrick and Justin McCray, but Patrick has been in the system one year longer after spending last season on the practice squad. The guess is his experience breaks the tie.
Lane Taylor, Jahri Evans
Barclay could play guard, as could Patrick and McCray. So the Packers are covered for backups here.
David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy
Yes, it’s a lot of offensive tackles, but this is the one position on the offensive line you don’t want to be caught shorthanded. Spriggs has had a disappointing camp but is too talented to release. Murphy has some positional versatility, able to play guard in a pinch.
Defensive line (6)
Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Ricky Jean Francois, Brian Price, Montravius Adams
Montravius Adams’ return from foot surgery is still a few weeks away. Per NFL rules, he would need to be placed on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible for one of the two return designations, but injured reserve could eventually be an option as soon as Saturday's deadline clears. The Packers prioritized adding depth to their defensive line this offseason, and it appears they were successful. Price gets the nod over Christian Ringo because he fits the Packers’ need for a backup nose tackle behind Clark, while Daniels, Lowry and Jean Francois would all play three-tech defensive tackle ahead of Ringo.
Inside linebackers (3)
Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez, Joe Thomas
If the Packers keep Montravius Adams on their initial 53 so he's eligible to return, Jordan Tripp could be the odd man out. The Packers like Tripp, believing he could be a leader on their special teams, but a concussion casts his current status in doubt. Even if Tripp doesn't make the initial 53, it's possible he'll be added at some point.
Outside linebackers (5)
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Ahmad Brooks, Jayrone Elliott, Kyler Fackrell
With Ahmad Brooks on board, the Packers' outside linebacker depth chart becomes more clear. Reggie Gilbert would be the choice if they want to keep six, but he has practice squad eligibility. Rookie Vince Biegel is likely to start the season on PUP, meaning he'll miss at least the first six weeks.
Davon House, Kevin King, Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall, Josh Hawkins, LaDarius Gunter
Gunter’s lack of speed always will limit his upside, but he’s a gamer. On one series Thursday, he had a sack and then intercepted Rams quarterback Dan Orlovsky two snaps later. He’s more reliable at this stage than Lenzy Pipkins and Donatello Brown, rookies who likely will find a spot on the Packers' practice squad. Hawkins has had a nice camp, showing growth since last season.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Kentrell Brice, Josh Jones, Marwin Evans
Another easy position to call. The Packers' best position on their roster (other than quarterback, where you’ll find a two-time MVP) goes five deep, and each can play.
Mason Crosby, Justin Vogel, Brett Goode
The starting punter job was Vogel’s to lose entering camp, and he hasn’t lost it. He likely sealed the spot with a strong showing against the Rams. Though inconsistent, Vogel has showcased the powerful leg that made him the top punter in this rookie class. Goode is a cat with nine lives. Each time the Packers try to move on, he keeps coming back. This year, he beat out Derek Hart in camp.