The NFL Draft just finished. The newest class of Green Bay Packers rookies haven't even arrived in Green Bay let alone practice, in pads.
Obviously jobs aren't going to be won and lost until these players actually have a chance to prove themselves on the field, but that's not going to stop us from wildly speculating, however.
Here's the 2014 edition of your way-too-early 53-man roster prediction and some thoughts about each position group.
Yeah, Aaron Rodgers' roster spot is safe. The only question is whether the Packers keep two or three quarterbacks on their roster, and it will be an interesting battle throughout training camp because Scott Tolzien has no more practice squad eligibility. He's either on the roster or out the door.
The Packers are surprisingly bringing in three undrafted running backs for either tryouts or to sign to a contract. That raises some questions about how Johnathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris are recovering from their respective injuries from last season. The most intriguing of the undrafted players is LaDarius Perkins, who is fractions shorter than 5' 8" but he's lightning quick and has kick return experience.
The best battle in training camp—bar none—will be at wide receiver. The incoming rookie class will be fighting with the likes of Myles White, Chris Harper and Kevin Dorsey for the last few roster spots. It would appear there's a good chance the Packers keep as many as six wide receivers this year.
The elephant in the room at the tight end position is whether the Packers will consider re-signing Jermichael Finley. But based upon his delicate injury concerns and the team addressing the position on Day 2 of the draft, they may choose not to re-sign him.
The four tackle and guard positions are pretty much set in stone, although it will be interesting to see if Derek Sherrod is finally far enough past his 2011 injury to mount a serious challenge. Barclay is valuable as a player that can back up nearly any position along the line. The real battle takes place at center, where two unproven players will battle for a job in the starting lineup.
The Packers haven't ruled out bringing back Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly, but it's not exactly looking optimistic that they'll return. Whether they've wanted to or not, the Packers have gotten smaller on the defensive line, but they've also gotten quicker. Jerel Worthy has his work cut out for him if he's going to make the roster.
One of the deepest positions on the roster, there's no shortage of potential impact players at the outside linebacker position. Both Peppers and Neal provide defensive line flexibility and there's some speculation whether Bradford could potentially play inside linebacker. Two rookies that made the roster last year—Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer—will have to step up their game to make it once again. Hubbard reportedly has to pass a physical before officially joining the team.
With no true inside linebackers selected in the draft, it's pretty much status quo at the position. You have to wonder if Matthews and Bradford will be used as interior blitzers. Undrafted rookies Jake Doughty and Joe Thomas will have an opportunity to win a roster spot, but they'll have to earn it.
The prediction is that the Packers will keep the same six cornerbacks on their roster as last year, but there's lots of athletic youngsters ready to duke it out for perhaps one roster spot—Demetri Goodson, James Nixon, Jumal Rolle, Antonio Dennard.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Keeping only three safeties on the roster may seem to be too few, but Hyde and even Bush can basically become corner/safety hybrids. Because of the lack of depth, you would have thought the Packers would bring in a more highly-regarded undrafted rookie, but Tanner Miller stands a chance if he can play special teams. Don't count Chris Banjo out either.
The Packers are bringing a couple specialists in for tryouts, but they'll be longshots to be given a contract.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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