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Point of Veau: Quality of Packers' Depth Is Deteriorating

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Point of Veau: Quality of Packers' Depth Is Deteriorating

Early in the Ted Thompson regime in Green Bay, there was a time when he used to cut below the mandated 53-man limit on the final training camp deadline and fill out the Packers roster with castoffs from other NFL teams.

You might remember 2006 as a particularly notable year, when the Packers eventually trimmed down to 50 and then added three young players released from other teams: safety Charlie Peprah, cornerback Jarrett Bush and offensive lineman Tony Palmer.

The decision to add Palmer was nothing special, but in Peprah and Bush, the Packers found two contributors for several seasons in Green Bay. Peprah was the starting safety on the team that won Super Bowl XLV while Bush has been the team's special teams playoff captain for three years running.

In 2008, the Packers cut punter Jon Ryan and linebacker Abdul Hodge a day after the final cutdown date to eventually add Derrick Frost and long snapper Brett Goode.

The Packers had to suffer through two seasons of Frost and Jeremy Kapinos as their punter, but that eventually opened the door Tim Masthay, who has done a solid job of holding down the fort since that time. And as for Goode, he's been the long snapper for the past five seasons and has yet to screw one up.

Since those early days in the Thompson era, it's usually been other teams that have been raiding the castoffs from the Packers.

The Packers haven't had to scour the waiver wire in recent seasons, at least at the beginning of September, because they've done such a good job finding undrafted rookies to plug the holes.

Just last season, four undrafted rookies made the team coming out of training camp: wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, offensive lineman Don Barclay, linebacker Dezman Moses and safety Sean Richardson. The year before that safety M.D. Jennings and linebackers Jamari Lattimore and Vic So'oto made the team coming out of camp.

But it would appear the Packers are returning to a time when the bottom of the roster isn't quite as deep as it has been in recent seasons.

Make no bones about it, the top of the Packers roster is as deep as it's ever been, and that's a good situation to be in. With players like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Josh Sitton and others populating the top of the depth chart and in the prime of their careers, the Packers are sitting pretty.

But when it comes time for the deadline to be down to to at least 53 players on Aug. 31, the Packers may be looking for help from elsewhere in the NFL.

Here's a brief look at each position on the roster, ranked by from most-likely to least-likely to add help from the waiver wire...

  • Safety: Beyond Burnett, McMillian and Jennings, it's difficult to see the Packers keeping any other of the current safeties on their roster. Having a healthy Sean Richardson would help. They might roll the dice and go into the season with only three safeties with Jarrett Bush as an emergency backup.
  • Kicker: Crosby has obviously had his struggles, and while Tavecchio has done an okay job during training camp, his leg strength comes as a concern. Another team's castoff might be better than both of them. Could "Kickalicious" in Detroit be an option?
  • Offensive line: When Bulaga went down to injury, the depth at tackle predictably went down a notch. The Packers appear to be in good hands with Bakhtiari, but they might want to add another backup tackle to develop, especially with guys like Sherrod and Tretter on the PUP list. Even a backup center isn't out of the question.
  • Outside linebacker: Matthews, Perry and Moses are fine, but none of the rookies on the team are locks to make the roster. Palmer, Mulumba, Savage and Reed have had their moments, but there might be better players on other teams. Perhaps the Packers could make Neal the fourth outside linebacker if they decide none of the rookies are up to snuff.
  • Quarterback: The Packers desperately need a No. 2 quarterback, and they might even find a better option cut from another team, but it would be a major risk to have a Week 1 backup that's only been with the team for a week. There's a better chance they add another team's castoff to the practice squad.
  • Tight end: Andrew Quarless and Ryan Taylor might make good additions to the team, but they have to be healthy in order to fight for a job. Both their roster spots are in jeopardy.
  • Inside linebacker: While there's maybe not top-flight talent at inside linebacker, at least they go six deep with Hawk, Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning and Barrington.
  • Wide receiver: The top three of Cobb, Nelson and Jones are top-notch. There's a drop off after the top three, but the Packers probably don't need help from other teams.
  • Cornerback: The only way the Packers would need help at cornerback is if the injuries to Williams and Hayward continue to linger. Otherwise it's one of the deepest positions on the team.
  • Running back: With the additions of Lacy and Franklin in the draft, there's a lot of good, young talent at the running back position.
  • Defensive line: There's no reason the Packers have to go looking for help from anywhere else with Jones, Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Neal, Daniels, Jolly and Boyd. They might even get a midseason infusion of talent if Worthy can come off the PUP list.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Can you explain the concern over Tavecchio's leg strength? The 54 yarder he kicked today looked like it would have been good from at least 62 yards.

Brian Carriveau's picture

It has to do with Tavecchio compared to other kickers in the NFL. Also has to do with his kickoffs, which is a relative weakness. He certainly doesn't have the weakest leg ever, but I've seen better.

Jamie's picture

Based on reporting during the Family Night Scrimmage, Tavechoo's kickoffs were on par both distance and hangtime wise with Crosby. Small sample, but makes me wonder if this is being somewhat exaggerated.

zeke's picture

Of course if leg strength were the only issue, Crosby wouldn't be in danger of losing his job. And while it's a fun YouTube video to watch, if forced to choose now I would take Tavecchio over Harvard Rugland just based on experience. I guess that's what the rest of preseason is for, though.

BrianD's picture

The wind was at the kickers' backs today.

Mike47smith's picture

I seriously don't understand why everyone says CB is one of the DEEPEST positions on the team. To me for a position to be consisted DEEP they have to instill a high level of confidence. I love Tramon, but since he hurt his shoulder he hasn't been the same. Shields is fast and getting better, but he makes too many mistakes to be #1. Hayward is nice and could blossom, but after that who is everyone so confident in??? This unit has given up an EXTREME amount of yards and WAY too many big plays over the last couple yrs.
I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, I'm really not, but I am worried that it's going to be the same old story with the secondary this year.

ArodMoney's picture

Thats every team in the NFL though. No team goes 4 deep with quality cornerbacks and I assure you there are teams that would trade one of their starting corners right now for Davon House.

Stroh's picture

Really? The Packers are practically the envy of almost every NFL team when it comes to CB. Williams is a proven quality starter even w/ the shoulder issue. Shields is probably one of the best #2 CB in the league, your seriously undervaluing him. Hayward proved what he is capable of last year and should at the least continue to perform at the same level. House has starter talent and just needs to refine a couple things to become a starter. As it is, everyone of them can start for 1/2 or more of the teams in the NFL.

Kevin's picture

Outside linebacker seems like it has the least amount of depth. Especially with CM3 and Perry being somewhat susceptible to injury.

Evan's picture

OLB depth is my biggest concern, too.

trvs's picture


haha idk if he will make it, but I liked his story. Could be a hidden gem with some more experience to build upon.

QOTSA1's picture

OLB depth has been a concern of mine since the Packers switched to a 3-4. OLB is one of the most important positions in a 3-4, and after drafting Matthews the Packers really hadn't invested in the position until Perry last year.

And what do they have behind Mathews and Perry this year? A bunch of undrafted free agents and a 6th round pick who probably should of gone undrafted.

Mike47smith's picture

Good article though!

Jamie's picture

RB, CB, ILB depth seems deeper, some positions seem the same, some seem less deep than prior years. Depth is maybe shifting to other positions vs diminishing in general. Just a thought...

Fish . Crane's picture

can Tavechoo hit from 37?

Lucky953's picture


The TKstinator's picture

Safety: Banjo. Yeah, baby!

Chad Toporski's picture

I think there's two forces at work here:

1) The cyclical nature of rosters.

2) The distribution of players across positions is changing. The increased depth at running back, defensive line, and cornerback offsets the decreases at offensive line and other positions.

Stroh's picture

Injuries are the only thing preventing quality depth on the OL. The Packers have 3 of the top 7 or 8 that are on PUP or IR. Doesn't really have anything to do w/ a cyclical nature, just an injury situation. Take 3 of the top OL off even the best OL groups and depth is going to become a concern.

Chad Toporski's picture

In the case of the O-line, you are absolutely correct. Bulaga, Sherrod, Datko, and Tretter all being injured really hurts the tackle position.

Evan's picture

Datko is hurt?

Evan's picture

Somehow totally missed that.


packsmack25's picture

I think we should wait until we're closer to cut-down day to evaluate the depth.

4EVERGB's picture

It is a worry. They say it's preseason. I don't buy it for one second. Not for one second. Trying our rookies? That's what every team does. Come on. Great teams have talent seeping out from every pore. Lots to go around. It doesn't matter if it's rookies or 10 year veterans. They win. They win. Look at those teams in this years preseason. They can't help but win because they have so much talent. They don't care, but they have so much talent they can't help but win. Us......17-0. Nice. Thank you. Felt good. I know.... it's preseason and soon we will be at the Super Bowl. Buy That? No. Let's use some cap. Good idea. No. But it's all we have left.

James C's picture

Last year the packers lost to the chargers in the first preseason game 13-21. Rodgers was 2 for 8 passing for 16 yards and had an int and a lost fumble. The preseason means nothing and without game planning and preparation, any team can look bad.

packsmack25's picture

These were the reactions after the first preseason game in the Super Bowl season:

It means nothing.

hump's picture

ok, lets get f#$%ing real.SAFETY!!!! i suffered through the 70s and 80s watching players on the packers with body types and football savvy like md jennings and jorron mcmillian, they dont look like or act like or play like NFL caliber players. zero football i.q. and i highly doubt either would start for any decent major college defense PERIOD!!!! am i exaggerating Brian? burnett can play, put hyde back there and see what happens, he can cover better than jennings and tackle better than mcmillian!!! PLEASE!!!something!!!

PackerBacker's picture

Dude, that's way too many exclamation points for the pre-season. You need to chill out and enjoy the ride a little. They will be fine. They have enough talent on one side of the safety position and through the CB group to compensate for less than excellent play from the second safety position. At worst, they need an average player there. I think that MD or McMillian can both be more than average players.

Darrin's picture

The Bears just signed Derrick Martin for chrissakes. So I'm not too worried about depth in Green Bay.

hayward4president's picture

The bears still suck

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