There’s a lot of factors that make a 53-man roster prediction an exercise in futility. One is injuries. For example, it’s anyone’s guess whether the Packers will choose to place Derek Sherrod on the reserve PUP list or try to get through the first couple weeks of the season on the 53-man roster. The injury situation at inside linebacker has also made for some difficult choices.
There’s also the possibility that the Packers could choose to pick up players released by other teams off waivers, in which case they’d have to make room for them. Then there’s the suspension to outside linebacker Erik Walden. It’s possible the Packers will simply keep 52 players on their roster in Week 1 simply so they don’t have to cut someone when Walden is eligible to return in Week 2.
Finally, the trade winds are blowing around wide receiver James Jones, in which case, that could alter who the Packers keep at wide receiver.
With all those things in mind, here’s my final and official roster prediction for the Packers…
Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell
Running Backs (5)
Cedric Benson, Alex Green, John Kuhn, Brandon Saine, James Starks
Wide Receivers (6)
Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Tori Gurley
Tight Ends (4)
Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor
Offensive Line (8)
Marshall Newhouse, T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Reggie Wells, Don Barclay
Defensive Line (6)
B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, C.J. Wilson, Daniel Muir, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels
Outside Linebacker (5)
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Dezman Moses, Brad Jones, Erik Walden*
Inside Linebacker (4)
A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith, Rob Francois, Jamari Lattimore
Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward, Davon House
Charles Woodson, Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian, Sean Richardson, M.D. Jennings
Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode
*Last five in: M.D. Jennings, James Starks, Brad Jones, Tori Gurley, Brandon Saine
*First five out: Diondre Borel, Jarrett Boykin, Andrew Datko, Terrell Manning, Anthony Levine
*Practice squad prediction: B.J. Coleman, Andrew Datko, Terrell Manning, Diondre Borel, Jarrett Boykin, Brandian Ross, Greg Van Roten, Lawrence Guy. Obviously, if any of these players are placed on injured reserve or claimed off waivers by another NFL team, they won’t be on the Packers’ practice squad. A couple more candidates include Vic So’oto and Tommie Draheim.
*Tackle Derek Sherrod is predicted to be on the reserve/PUP list, joining tight end Andrew Quarless and outside linebacker Frank Zombo.
*Mike Neal will begin the season suspended for the first four games and won’t count against the roster during that time.
*The Packers essentially cut down to below 53 players because Erik Walden is suspended for Week 1. I can’t see the Packers keeping 53 players only to cut someone a week later. Unless… they use Walden’s open spot to pick up a waiver wire player.
*If the Packers happen to trade James Jones, that could open some room to either Jarrett Boykin or Diondre Borel.
*Andrew Datko will either be placed on injured reserve or signed to the practice squad. Either way, he wouldn’t be part of the 53-man roster.
*What the Packers do with James Starks is a tough call. Maybe he’s a candidate for the new injured reserve rule. Maybe he’s placed on injured reserve, missing the entire season. Maybe he’s kept on the 53-man roster. Maybe the Packers decide they can’t rely on him and cut him outright.
*I do not foresee the Packers using the new injured reserve distinction on Desmond Bishop, but James Starks and Davon House could be an option. Or they could choose to wait and see in case another player gets injured in the first few weeks of the season.