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Mike McCarthy's Ultimate Roster

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Mike McCarthy's Ultimate Roster

Around this time every year you can find a surplus of 53-man roster predictions for every team throughout the NFL. Predicting the opening day roster isn’t only a fun exercise, it’s a rite of passage from training camp to the open of the NFL season. Will Jeff Janis make the team? Will Green Bay keep seven wide receivers? Which young, unheralded rookie will surprise by breaking camp with the team? These are all fun questions that will answer themselves over time.

Since Zach Jacobson already did a stellar job of predicting the future here: (, I wanted to take a look at who would make Mike McCarthy’s ultimate 53-man roster. I could have gone a few ways with this:

1. Select the best 53 players who have ever played for McCarthy—based on overall talent

2. Select the best 53 players statistically, only counting the years they played for McCarthy

3. Select the best possible 53-man roster if Green Bay had to win a game tomorrow

Ultimately I chose option three. I wanted to put together the team I’d want to see on the field if the Packers were playing a game tomorrow. So with that decision it’s worth pointing out that some players may have played little to no time under McCarthy; but they bring a specific skill or talent to help the team win. Finally, special teams were also a consideration in the process.

So without further delay, here is Mike McCarthy’s ultimate 53-man roster:


Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre

No need to keep more than two—these two Hall of Fame quarterbacks are all any coach could ask for. The big question would be… who’s the starter?

Running Backs: Ryan Grant, Ahman Green, Eddie Lacy, Ty Montgomery

This group would provide you everything you want in a stable of running backs. Montgomery may not have the longevity, but his ability to split wide will give defensive coordinators nightmares. Overall you have two steady backs in Grant and Green, a power back in Lacy and a receiving back in Montgomery. All will complement each other perfectly.

Fullback: John Kuhn

This was one of the tougher decisions. McCarthy has coached three very good fullbacks in William Henderson, John Kuhn and Aaron Ripkowski. Kuhn gets the nod here for his ability in short yardage and in pass protection.

Wide Receiver: Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, James Jones

None of these players are going to excel at special teams, which is a bit of a problem, but it would be insane to keep anyone in this group off the list. The wide receiver groupings in the four and five wide sets would be unstoppable. 

Tight End: Martellus Bennett, Jermichael Finley, Jared Cook

The toughest decision is going to be determining a primary formation to work out of. The three, four and even five wide receiver sets are going to be tough to stop, but getting at least two of these tight ends on the field is going to be insanely tempting. If I’m McCarthy, I want to get a two tight end set of Finley and Bennett on the field as much as possible.

Offensive Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, Mark Tauscher

Here’s another embarrassment of riches. The training camp battle between these four would be absolutely intense. No matter who won the starting spots, it would be safe to say Rodgers and Favre would be well protected off the edge.

Offensive Interior: TJ Lang, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, JC Tretter, Scott Wells, Daryn Colledge

The depth at this position wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but we’ve seen a starting lineup of Lang, Sitton and Linsley play very well together. This leaves the roster a bit short-changed with only three true guards but I wouldn’t be too worried since Tretter or Bulaga could move to guard in a pinch.


Edge Rusher: Clay Matthews, Aaron Kampman, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Nick Perry, Julius Peppers

Dom may have a difficult decision choosing which scheme he wants to play. Kampman, Kabeer and Peppers all are best suited in a 43, as are many of the defensive tackles. Either way these edge rushers would give him a ton of flexibility and should have no issue wreaking havoc on opposing offenses.

Interior Linemen: Mike Daniels, Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly

I, for one, would absolutely love to watch both Daniels and Jenkins play together in their prime. Both are absolute disrupters on the interior and would consistently be penetrating offensive backfields. This group offers a good blend of pass rush, as well as enough beef to holdup in the run game.

Linebacker: Nick Barnett, Desmond Bishop, AJ Hawk

This was the toughest position to fill out because after these three players there simply isn’t anyone worth adding to the roster. Brad Jones, Brandon Chillar, and Jake Ryan all could make arguments but none add a ton of overall value to this team. I felt comfortable sticking with three knowing that Morgan Burnett and Clay Matthews could both play here as well.

Cornerback: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Al Harris, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde

Green Bay would be able to matchup with any receiving corps in NFL history with this group. With the positional versatility and unique skill sets that these six defensive backs possess, there isn’t a defense, scheme or play that Dom couldn’t call.

Safety: Nick Collins, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Atari Bigby

I think it’s safe to assume that Morgan Burnett would be getting plenty of play at ILB with this team while Clinton-Dix and Nick Collins would form one of the most athletic and intimidating safety duos in the NFL. The range that Clinton-Dix and Collins could cover would be ridiculous. Bigby was a huge special teams’ contributor during his time with Green Bay, which helped him make this list.


Kicker: Mason Crosby

Punter: Jon Ryan

Long Snapper: Brett Goode

Specialist: Jarrett Bush       

It would have been hard to leave Bush off of this team since he was the best special teams player during McCarthy’s time in Green Bay. That’s worth something, and frankly, he deserves to make this 53-man roster. He would never see the field at cornerback, so he is making this team specifically to aid the special teams units. The rest of the specialists are no-brainers and easily the best at their positions during McCarthy’s reign.

Overall you can see why the Packers have had the sustained level of success that they’ve had during Mike McCarthy’s tenure. There are plenty of Pro Bowl caliber players on this list and not many holes on the roster. There were certainly some difficult cuts to make and you’d love to see a bit more depth at linebacker, but overall I feel very comfortable with these specific 53 players making the cut.


Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and appears weekly on 107.5 The Fan in Green Bay to breakdown film. This past season he was an analyst on Green Bay Nation on WFRV TV in Green Bay. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder; follow him on Twitter at @sconniesports.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

JohnnyLogan's picture

A.J. Hawk... just shows how poor our LB's have been during the McCarthy era. And Capers could screw up even this Defense. Capers and Hawk have probably accounted for at least 2 fewer SB's if not more.

Oppy's picture

Hawk was a solid player who did exactly what was asked of him for the most part.

egbertsouse's picture

Except cover anybody. I once read a McGinn article (I think) in which an unnamed asst coach for an opposing team said on 3rd and long, if Hawk was on the field, the play was automatically to throw to whomever he was covering.

Finwiz's picture

Finally somebody that's as cynical about Capers and this defense as I am. I didn't get the point of this article.

Since '61's picture

This article is a good indication of how difficult it is to build and keep together a great team in this era of the NFL. Between injuries, salary caps and free agency it's nearly impossible to keep a SB winning team together for more than 2-3 seasons. Just look at how many players from this roster would still probably be playing for the Packers if not for injuries and the salary cap.
Favre would be done either way but Rodgers would be my starter after 2007 and Favre would be the backup to finish his career. If Johnny U and Joe Namath could finish as backups so could Favre. Green was pretty much done when MM got him so for me it would Monty and Lacy as the starters. My Fullback would be Henderson. WR group is fine. TEs agree on but Finley was a premature injury casualty. OTs agree. Interior Line, agree but Tretter, Sitton and Lang are cap losses. Agree on Edge rushers but Kampman and KGB were cap losses. Interior DL, Jenkins cap loss, Raji early retirement, and Jolly lost to off field problems (a sign the times). Linebackers: 2 out of 3 lost to injuries and Hawk makes the list by default. Love the CB group, especially compared to what we have now and 3 of them could still be playing in Green Bay. But Woodson, Harris, Hyde and Hayward were cap losses, Shields lost to injury, Williams lost to injury and then to the cap. Hyde, Hayward and Shields could still be playing in GB. Safeties, excellent group. Collins might still be playing but was prematurely lost to injury and Bigby was a cap victim. That's 20 players out of 53 lost to the cap and injuries. Many as I said could still playing in GB or would have played until 2014- 2015 and likely would have helped us to win another one or two SBs, especially Collins, Woodson, Bishop, and Finley. If the Packers were able to keep this roster together I'm confident that we would have seen the dynasty we were all expecting post 2010 SB. Just too many losses, especially on the defensive side. Very frustrating as we all know too well. Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

Completely agree 61. The loss of Nick Collins really cut the heart of the packer defense. A once a generation talent gone on a nothing hit. I think most fans do not understand the impact the CBA has had on the game. While FA was necessary (players life spans seem to be even shorter now) the instability created has harmed the league at all levels. What TT has done as GM in this era, building and rebuilding the packers core group, is nothing short of remarkable. And for those who think that is easy, I bring you the Cowboys, the Ravens, the Panthers, and yes, a certain team to the north of us. Good article, great response.

Finwiz's picture

Wow - what a revelation - losing Nick Collins really hurt the Packers.
Thanks for clearing that up 7 years later. I didn't know that.
LOL. Breathing air is good too - and water - very important.
Good Lord.

Finwiz's picture

Sorry but I don't understand the premise, relevance or necessity of an article like this. It isn't reality.
It's fantasy land.
All I care about is who is playing well today, and who isn't.

Bearmeat's picture

Wow. That's a madden team right there. The only position that isn't fantastic is ILB.

PS: Rodgers starts.

dblbogey's picture

We could start Favre at ILB. It would be an upgrade.

William Dickson's picture

What,no fantasy league this year...bummer,it's fun playing you guys

Oppy's picture

Atari Bigby is a head scratcher for me. I'd actually take Charlie Peprah over Bigby- and that's not an endorsement of Peprah.

Also, I hands down take William Henderson over John Kuhn. Kuhn was a fine FB, but Henderson's ability to make people miss out of the backfield on dump off passes seals it for me- The first defender to henderson knew he was going to hurdle, and they still couldn't seem to ever make that first tackle.

This was a fun list, btw.

stockholder's picture

?- Bubba Franks . Not Adams, (Twilight zone if he's in)

Andy Herman's picture

Franks had one really bad, injury riddled season under McCarthy. You are saying Davante Adams shouldn't make the list? I'm curious which WR you think should take his place?

stockholder's picture

True, but Bennet hasn't played a down yet. You could even put Kendrick there. 2. Why would you want Adams in the four set when the others are so good. Adams is not Nelson, Jennings,Cobb or Driver. I still don't get the push for Adams. He's the most pertected WR I've ever seen by MM. Not to mention A-Rod. I hope he can make me a believer this season.( Someone that is fearless over the middle and catches everything.) I don't judge a Wr on YAC. IT's How clutch he can be. What I'm saying is that it's easy to put a guy ahead on a Depth Chart. Especially in Green Bay now. I think we all learned that when Driver had to sit the bench in his final year. Let's take Nelson and Cobb off the field and see what happens. Bet A-Rod throws to Monty!

JDK52's picture

Now that is one loaded roster. Pick your poison!

Seriously though, we've enjoyed an awful lot of good talent in the past decade. Such a shame more of them couldn't stick around.

Arthur Jackson's picture

There is nothing in the article saying it is defined by how well a player was playing for McCarthy so Jeff Saturday is the starting center hands down. Also I would take Lane Taylor over Tretter since the McCarthy and the Packers had the same choice and took Taylor.

egbertsouse's picture

Wow, more support for the myth that Jarrett Bush was a top-flight ST player instead of a marginal one on a horrible ST.

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