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Jacobson: Totally unnecessary 53-man roster prediction

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Jacobson: Totally unnecessary 53-man roster prediction

-- You read the title correctly. I don't care if it's May.

The reality is, we're all on the brink of organized team activities and the Green Bay Packers have had one of the more interesting offseasons in recent memory -- even more interesting than last year's after hiring Brian Gutekunst as Ted Thompson's successor as general manager. It's just as impossible as it is pointless to speculate on what this roster is going to look like in September.

...but I'm going to do it anyway.

Quarterbacks (2)

Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer

Running backs (4)

Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams, Danny Vitale (FB)

Wide receivers (6)

Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, J'Mon Moore, Trevor Davis

Tight ends (3)

Jimmy Graham, Jace Sternberger, Marcedes Lewis

Offensive line (11)

David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Billy Turner, Bryan Bulaga, Adam Pankey, Lucas Patrick, Elgton Jenkins, Cole Madison, Justin McCray Jason Spriggs

Offense (26) notes:

* Three running backs seems like a healthy number in a Matt LaFleur offense, zone blocking scheme and all. There's no reason to believe Danny Vitale won't be the Packers' starting fullback four months from now considering little has been done to prove otherwise.

* Sorry, cult heroes. Robert Tonyan and Jake Kumerow don't make the Packers' final roster -- at least in this version. Bringing in Sternberger as a third-round pick as well as retaining both Graham and Lewis feels like that's the nail in Tonyan's coffin; four tight ends feels like overkill. As for Kumerow: That's a crowded, talented room of wide receivers. One that a 27-year-old journeyman just doesn't fit in.

* The Packers kept eight offensive linemen on the opening-day roster in 2016, 10 in 2017 and nine in 2018. 11 may feel like a lot, but there's a lot of interior talent on this roster right now -- which feels hard to believe considering that was the offensive line's weakest link last season -- and in LaFleur's scheme, having a variety of different flavors capable of doing different things is exactly what the doctor ordered. 


Defensive line (6)

Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster

EDGE (4)

Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kyler Fackrell

Linebackers (4)

Blake Martinez, Oren Burks, Ty Summers, James Crawford

Cornerbacks (6)

Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Josh Jackson, Tramon Williams, Ka'Dar Hollman, Tony Brown

Safeties (4)

Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos, Josh Jones, Ibraheim Campbell

Defense (24) notes:

* I fully expect Ibraheim Campbell to eventually pass his physical and rejoin the team at some point. He looked good in his limited action last season, not to be confused with Eddie Pleasant. I'm talking to myself because I constantly confuse the two.

* It killed me a little inside to cut Raven Greene.

* The Packers are hoping -- er, expecting -- for a big jump from Oren Burks this season. If that wasn't already obvious by them neglecting the inside linebacker position until the seventh round when they landed Ty Summers last month. Throwing a rookie into the fire in the middle of the field isn't the smartest move to make, so they better hope Burks is able to not only stay upright but figure things out.

* Don't be surprised if the Packers end up releasing Tramon Williams. The classic, late veteran release that wouldn't shock anyone, but wouldn't exactly be something people see coming either. I kept him on the roster here simply because the Packers clearly value him as a veteran voice in a young defensive back room, as well as his ability to fill in both at cornerback and as a free safety, i.e., when he replaced Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the middle of last season.

* If you haven't caught on by now, James Crawford is making this roster solely based on his special teams ability.


Kickers, punters, long snappers (3)

Mason Crosby, J.K. Scott, Hunter Bradley

Special teams (3) notes:

* Mason Crosby is your kicker until further notice. Sam Ficken is probably a really nice guy, and while Crosby struggled in 2018, I don't see a scenario where Crosby loses his job.

* Hunter Bradley is also your long snapper until further notice. ... Until the Packers bring back Brett Goode by week three.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

leehouse's picture

You have 7 receivers but only list 6, which puts the total of your roster at 52 currently

paxbak's picture


Coldworld's picture

Three TE plus a fullback. Vitale could very well be a good piece. He catches well and fits LaFleur’s historical type, but is he good enough? Last year we saw so little of him. Is that a role for which Lewis is penciled in for? Vitale could equally be stashed on the PS probably.

Conversely, who is Graham’s back up? If Sternberger is seen as an in-line prospect do we want him to have a different usage to Graham? I do. Tonyan is a more obvious role fit for me. Furthermore, Tonyan and Sternberger are likely to be needed next year.

If Tonyan has any potential, and I think he does, I think he makes it. I do think there is a likelihood that Vitale will too if his preseason play justifies it and LaFleur wants that type of blocker.

That makes it tough to keep seven receivers. Injuries aside that bodes ill for Kumerow. There is no way they cut Moore unless he flames out completely in camp. Too much upside.

On the D, I think the LB mix is the hardest to predict. Partly due to new bodies, partly because we don’t know how Pettine wants this group to be used behind Martinez or overlap with rushing and safety roles. At the moment you have no other speed rusher on the outside beyond Fackrell. That seems unlikely. It’s also possible that Fackrell plays as much from the inside as on the outside in his rushing role. Is that an argument for Donnerson or another OLB or for a summers type player? This might be the only valid slot for Josh Jones. I believe he will secure a spot here. Can Carpenter actually play ILB?

You have Jones at safety. If Campbell is healthy I like him, but we also have a number of quasi LB types, including the recently picked up Mike Tyson as well as Jamerson and UDFAs that seem to be box safeties. Any of them could step up. Significantly, some of these players appear to offer short area coverage abilities at a higher level than Josh Jones has to date.

Which brings me to Safety. I do not believe that we will go into the season with Josh Jones and a box safety behind Amos and Savage. He simply looks lost. He got beaten out by Bruce, and Brice was hopeless with his back to the QB. Sadly though, Jones has been worse. Greene makes it in my view unless he regresses. In which case, one is looking at a player like Brown shifting back or a FA.

Overall, I think that what we will see is the end of the pure special teamers. That means that I think Carpenter is on the hot seat. Most likely Jones moves to take his spot and Greene into Jones’. Which brings me back to Davis.

Approaching the latter part of his rookie contract, Davis has contributed nothing as a receiver. He has not even looked the part in pre-season play. I believe that he is unlikely to make the team if anyone with upside convinces the team that they are competent to return. A returner simply has to be in the field and that is a legitimate question with Davis.

Although good when running, he has had mental lapses and never scored on Special Teams. With attrition likely at WR, and a promise of more varied player usage, it is time to replace Davis with someone who can provide credible game day depth as well as return or play gunner. There are a lot of candidates for gunner, including Hollman, who will have to add ST virtuosity to potential to justify a role. One could make a strong argument for one of the themes of the later draft and UDFA strategy was to acquire a number of raw athletes with ST attributes. I believe the Packers think the same is now true at returner.

There are some wild cards out there. My favorites are Nijman. If he is not as raw or is more amenable to training he may be better than any other tackle on the roster not currently starting. In any case, I doubt he makes the PS on upside alone. Another is the CB Redmond. If he has really recovered, he was appraised as a top 20 talent and went in the third even though he was going to miss his whole rookie season. If he still has it, he could be an awesome dark horse!

Rak47's picture

I have to agree Coldworld, Yosh Nijman imho, will make the roster over either Pankey or Patrick. Every year there are at least a couple of roster surprises and I don't expect this year to be any different. There will be someone to make the roster who is considered a longshot. I also think Lazard has a chance over Trevor Davis.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Yeah he allotted 7 WRs but failed to list Kumerow, who will make the team.

Gilbertbrown4lyfe's picture

He also mentions 11 Offensive linemen and only lists 10..

Lphill's picture

I am concerned about Burks if he was so injured last season why was he playing at all . I still think the Packers are thin inside . I do like Summers , maybe he will surprise.

paxbak's picture

I still remain with the thought that Oren Burks was not a good draft pick - Watching his college film - I have never seen a MLB make fewer plays - hopefully I am wrong.

Coldworld's picture

He had an injury to his shoulder that limited what he could do. Played really only on ST after it became clear it was impeding him. If he doesn’t match up, Jones would be a logical option.

As to Burk’s college career, he moved around, so what plays were you focusing on? His stats and reviews show a player moving from true safety to LB. he clearly has some rawness as a result (his draft predictions were all over the place) but his play speed and coverage ability as a LB show through.

Here is the Bleacher Report, one of the more negative takes with a sixth round grade, summary:

“A very athletically gifted linebacker with a ton of experience in different schemes. However, all the changes on defense left Oren Burks without a true position and puts him behind fundamentally. He will fit in well with a team that runs multiple sub-packages and is looking for a good coverage linebacker with special teams upside. Burks will be a late-round selection to develop and play on special teams in the meantime.”

It is way too early to give up on Burks if that is true, particularly given his injury. Mel Kiper had Burks as his favorite ILB prospect! I think we will see improvement and hopefully benefit from his time in an NFL coaching environment.

Nick Perry's picture

Other than keeping Davis at WR and possibly keeping BOTH Pankey and Patrick I think that's about what the Packers 53 man roster will look like.

Even though he was a 4th round pick I think Moore HAS to show huge improvement over last season to stay on the 53. He showed nothing last season where at least Kumarow showed he could catch the ball. Pretty vital in the process of WR evaluation. Even if Jake doesn't make it do the Packers try and find a better KO/PR/WR than Davis?

I still think the Packers at least try and find another veteran RB or possibly WR once cuts start happening.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The Packers also seem to like Light quite a bit. I have no opinion other than the stuff I've read.

Coldworld's picture

Patrick was back up center. In addition to the fact that they appear to like Light, McCray’s versatility and his being the least adaptable candidate probably place Patrick on the outside looking in.

I think this group may be overweight anyway. I think there could be one less and that it’s possible that there are no depth holdovers if Nijman is kept or only one if he isn’t.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

In other words, a lot of guys who are possibilities but have never grabbed the bull by the horns and earned the job.

So, a bunch of guys who the team sort of likes makes the roster look promising until the team has to choose which one or two to keep. They choose Spriggs and Bell out of that seemingly nice 5 player group and those two stink up the joint all year.

Let's hope someone becomes the obvious choice. I been writing for years that keeping 7 WRs isn't a sign of strength: it just means the team does not have 5 or 6 obvious NFL-quality WRs.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

"Totally Unnecessary" but I do within hours after the draft, again after the UDFAs come on board, again, and, again, and again. :-D
Your current roster is almost the same as mine, but given this staff's use of TEs, I see keeping a fourth, probably Tonyan, and ten OL is just too many. They will keep one or two on the practice squad instead. I see Kumerow being cut, and the Greene/Campbell battle is one to follow. I'm favoring Boyle over Kizer, but we'll see. Davis and Moore have a lot to prove--I personally would cut both right now, but I think at least one of them shows enough in pre-season to make it.

Sol's picture

I am not sure what the final 53 man roster will look like but I am very excited about how management has took control, New GM, New Coach, and major up grades to the Defense and Offensive Line. The whole team is younger and faster with just the right amount of veterans sprinkled in to make a real run.

I looking forward to our team being able to make our third downs and stop the other team form making their third downs, much better rate than past years.

Donster's picture

Davis wasting a roster spot again this season? I don't think so. Can't run a route to save his butt. J'mon Moore has to have a prove it training camp/pre-season games to make the roster. If Moore doesn't, replace Moore and Davis with Allen Lazard and either Jawill Davis or Darrius Shepherd. Shepard will be the UDFA that beats the odds to make the 53. Kumerow will make the WR battle very interesting, and as much as I like the kid, I think he gets edged out.

Packer Dave's picture

I would think that Tonyan would stay with two TEs probably gone after this year. He'd have Davis' spot.

The rest seems logical except that Jones should be full time ILB in Crawford's spot. Then Greene stays.

Donnerson is another guy I think could contribute but who would be cut then? I'd rather have Vitale if it comes down to it...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

It at least gives Tonyan a bump. It may be that GB wants to move on from Graham. Lewis be over the hill in 2020: I am not so sure he isn't over-the-hill now.

I'd put Tonyan in the better than average bet to make the team. Lewis with his $1.6M cap space savings has at least a small chance to get cut.

sam1's picture

I don;t see Spriggs and DeKizer on final 53 at all! You might as well have a store window mannequin backing Rodgers!

PatrickGB's picture

Not bad for a roster. But eleven on the Oline is too many. Otherwise it’s a fair assessment. Injuries are going to play a factor as well.

Guam's picture

At WR I would chose the winner of Kumerow/Sheppard over Davis. I believe Davis has little upside at this point while Kumerow/Sheppard might.

At O-line I would keep Light and cut Pankey and Patrick. I think Light showed more in limited play last year than either Pankey or Patrick. 10 O-linemen is too many.

I would consider keeping Tonyan in place of the 10th O-lineman. We will likely cut Graham and Lewis next year and Tonyan wasn't bad in his limited playing time last year.

I would move Josh Jones to ILB in place of Crawford (practice squad) and keep Raven Greene at safety instead.

Fun to speculate and I am probably wrong on all counts...…..:)

RCPackerFan's picture

I can definitely see this being our 53.

I do wonder about them keeping a FB. I don't know if LaFleur wants a true FB. But I can definitely see him on the 53.

I can see them keeping 4 TE's. Tonyan definitely can make the 53. Perhaps he would make it over Vitale?

For WR. I think the final spot will come down between Davis and Kumerow. Does Davis find a bigger role in this new offense with a new staff? We have to remember this is a new system and philosophy. Maybe they will find more ways to use his speed. Kumerow is a guy that shouldn't be counted out. He was really coming on last year.

A few under the radar type of guys I'm looking forward to seeing. Allen Lazard, Jawill Davis, Fadol Brown, Kendall Donnerson, Raven Greene, Natrell Jamerson. Do they emerge as players to earn a spot on the 53?

B-Pack's picture

The lack of overall depth and talent on this roster has been put on display the last 2 years.... Spriggs, Davis, Jones, Kizer, Pankey and even Graham (1 year) have all been given opportunities - all have failed in my opinion. We need to move on from these players and infuse this team with more talent.

Why not Kumerow? Why not Tonyan?... if they flop ,they flop. They have showed enough to get a larger opportunity...,can’t do any worse than Davis and Graham... there is more to gain than there is to lose.

Gilbertbrown4lyfe's picture


Gilbertbrown4lyfe's picture

Who ever disliked this can fuck them self. :)

fastmoving's picture

Moore has a way better skills set and a highter ceeling. And Kumerow is much older.

Gilbertbrown4lyfe's picture

All 12 of ya can go fuck ya self ;)

Let's see if J'mon can catch a ball first before we start saying he's better then Kumerow.

Dzehren's picture

Based on this 53 man roster, I see the packers drafting offense early and often next year while also adding
a prototypical ILB.

Coldworld's picture

Some see Summers as having that potential. Despite his speed, at this point he is actually supposedly better against the run. There is also a UDFA, Bolton who many liked for his potential as well as Brady Sheldon.

Sheldon was an ILB in college that we picked up in season. Another RAS type from a small school but with an impressive record. “6-5, 220-pound Ferris State alum ... ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the Central Michigan pro day with a low of 4.47. That 4.52 40-time would have been a linebacker combine best if you remove Jabrill Peppers who figures to play safety at the NFL level. His vertical of 37.0 would have been tied for second at the combine among linebackers and his 10’5” broad jump and 4.24 short shuttle would have both been top five.”

Bolton is another UDFA with a good RAS seen as being a potential diamond by some. Again a college OLB, I believe he is seen as an ILB by the Packers. Packerswire notes the following when he came in for a predraft visit:

“Pro Football Focus ranked him as one of the best blitzing off-ball linebackers in the draft class. He also tallied 54 total stops (defined as a tackle resulting in a situational defeat for the offense), although he missed 26 tackles and gave up a catch rate of over 83 percent in coverage.

At his pro day, Bolton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, hit 38″ on the vertical and 9-11 in the broad jump, put up 17 reps on the bench press and finished the three-cone drill in 7.18 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.36 seconds.

There may be a type emerging here, fast, slightly lighter ILB types: Summers, Sheldon, Bolton and Burks. All seen as too small on the outside, Fackrell is 245 and the smallest OLB from last year.

These players have a body type that falls through the draft cracks and a number come from smaller schools but all have elite measurables. It is possible that GB seed this type as the future and that it expects one or more of these to be real prospects despite their draft status (Burks aside).

This doesn’t mean that I am arguing that these are roster candidates for this year. These players may be PS developmental candidates, other than Burks, but it could mean a very tough competition for ILB depth that may surprise. It also speaks to a really tight ST fight, which is great. It may speak to future players on D too. It’s going to be an interesting camp!

Dzehren's picture

Nice observation on the ILB position.

B-Pack's picture

Also will be interesting to see how the Undrafted rookie free agents and hold over PS guys potentially impact the roster.

Ramsey, Bolton, Greg Roberts, Fadol Brown, Donnerson will be the ones to watch on D. Someone above mentioned Will Redmond.... I think he could be one to watch as well.

On offense... Lazzard, Shepard, Nijman and Coyle could factor in

croatpackfan's picture

Zachary, I need to say this: Totally necessary 53-man roster prediction, but way too early!

Necessary, because many have a lot to say about article...

stockholder's picture

Vitale, Pankey, Lewis, And Crawford, Are my cuts.

Ferrari Driver's picture

Perhaps you are correct, but I hope not. I like Jake K. and hope he makes the 53. Also Lewis is 35 and going down hill. We can do better.

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"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
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