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Predicting the Green Bay Packers Final 53-Man Roster – Version 3.0

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Predicting the Green Bay Packers Final 53-Man Roster – Version 3.0

Later today or tomorrow (by 3 P.M. Central) we will learn the final makeup of 53-man roster which will open the season for the Green Bay Packers at Chicago on Sunday, September 13.  Suspensions will play a roll this year as two players begin the season on that inauspicious list.

Back in May this author predicted the opening day 2015 Green Bay Packers roster  – Version 1.0 as it was posted on at the time.  That roster predicted a surprising 16 new faces would make the team – a 30% turnover rate from the previous season.

The August Version 2.0 came out with new predictions and updated with the advantage of hindsight.  That version featured 14 players who were not on last year’s year-end squad – a 26% turnover rate. 

Today, with a full body of work now in the books, we roll out our final Version 3.0.

2015 Projected 53-Man Roster – September - Version 3.0:

2015 Offense (25 to Start Season – 24 after Suspensions)

QB – Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and Brett Hundley.

HB – Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Rajion Neal.

FB – John Kuhn, Aaron Ripkowski.

WR – Randall Cobb, Devante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, (C) Myles White, and, *Jared Abbrederis.

TE – Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers,and Kennard Backman.

OL – David Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, J.C. Tretter, *Don Barclay,  Josh Walker.

2015 Defense (25 to start the season – 26 after suspensions)

DL – **Datone Jones, **Letroy Guion, *B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Mike Pennel, Josh Boyd, (C) Bruce Gaston and Christian Ringo.

LB – OLB/ILB Clay Matthews, ILB Sam Barrington, OLB Julius Peppers, OLB Nick Perry, OLB Mike Neal,  OLB Andy Mulumba, OLB Jayrone Elliott, ILB Jake Ryan, ILB Nate Palmer.

CB – Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Damarius Randall (S), Micah Hyde (S) and LaDarius Gunter (S),  Quinten Rollins .

S – Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.

2015 Special Teams (3 – no change)

P – Tim Masthay K – Mason Crosby LS – Brett Goode

Indicates 2015 roster addition from end-of-season 2014 roster.

*Indicates the player ended 2014 season on IR.

**Indicates player will begin the year on suspended list (Jones and Guion)

(C) Indicates replacement player for start of season, but roster casualty when suspended player returns (White and Gaston).

Offense Notes:

QB:  This is the easiest to predict of all of the positions - Rodgers is a superstar, Tolzien is a quality backup and Hundley has the look of someday being something special.

HB:  Rajion Neal is young, talented and can play in the backfield and receiver and has earned a roster spot – it helps he plays special teams well.   

FB: Version 1.0 I had both making the squad and am back to that position again.  It is a run for the Super Bowl this year and Rodgers needs his wing-man Kuhn one last time before giving way to Ripkowski next year.  Ripkowski has been a special teams’ demon and heaven knows the Packers need every one of them that they can find.

WR: This is where it gets sticky.  Cobb, Adams and Montgomery are a solid 1-3. Janis has the skill-set to be a Jordy-type playmaker.  It will be up to the coaches to develop him to his maximum potential.  White is up and down – makes great plays followed by head-scratchers.  Abbrederis just returned from a long three week hiatus due to a concussion and has plenty of ground to make-up. Normally that would not bode well for his chances to make the squad. Special teams’ saves him, at least for now:  primary punt return man Hyde is injured and questionable early-on, backup Randall Cobb is injured (status unknown for season opener) and simply too valuable to field punts and Montgomery is nicked-up and already over-worked.  Abbrederis gets the nod, at least until suspensions are completed and Hyde is back at full strength.  It is a close call, but the bet here is that Abbrederis brings more upside and he remains over White.

TE:  Rodgers play has earned him the number-one position even before Quarless took shooting practice in Miami.  Quarless, facing a possible suspension of his own, and Rodgers form two pretty decent counterparts. Backman has come on as of late and is a draft choice.  Henry has now lost his club cast and has been a pleasant surprise.  Perillo has been injured.  Either Perillo or Henry will ultimately land on the practice squad.

OL:  The five starters are locks and very impressive when they are able to perform together as a healthy unit.  Tretter is a solid backup at center and guard.  Walker has had an impressive camp and looks like he could play either guard or tackle.  Coaching favorite Don Barclay shook off the rust after looking dreadful early in the pre-season and will regain his roster spot after showing his versatility up and down the line. Lane Taylor's play has improved and could stick if injury concerns remain with the starters or the teams decides to keep nine offensive lineman.

Defense Notes:

DL:  This group opens the season once again as a question mark. Even the return of Mike Daniels from injury last week was less than awe-inspiring.  Raji has been just OK as have Jones and Guion – both of whom will begin the season on the suspended list.  Boyd is probably your opening day starter opposite Daniels.  Christian Ringo, who has come on as of late, is a draft choice and sure to stick. Physically imposing Mike Pennel may have had the best camp of any of the D-lineman and has shown the versatility to play inside or out. Gaston who at times has looked good makes the squad until the suspensions end, but still finds himself on the practice squad.  Of note is that Ted Thompson finally pulls the plug on former 3rd round draft mistake Khyri Thornton who has demonstrated that last year’s under-whelming performance was not an aberration but a permanent life style.

LB:  It appears that your starters will be Peppers, Palmer, Barrington and Matthews – with Neal and Perry first off the bench when Matthews slides inside.  Despite looking bad in coverage vs. the Eagles  Barrington has earned the inside job with steady play and he will undoubtedly get coverage help once the season begins and DC Dom Capers takes the wraps off his entire defensive packages.  Jayrone Elliott and Andy Mulumba have again impressed and are becoming valuable special teams’ players.  Ryan hasn’t progressed as far as some had hoped but just needs seasoning and coaching to become a solid contributor.  James Vaughters has shown plenty to like but becomes a numbers casualty and ultimately ends up on the practice squad.

DB:  Sam Shields and Casey Hayward will start on the perimeter although Hayward has been less than impressive to date.  Fortunately rookies Randall and Rollins have looked strong and will play considerably in the nickel and dime formations while pushing Hayward for the starting position.  All undrafted free agent LaDarius Gunter does is make plays and looks to have a promising future.  2014 draft choice Demetri Goodson can’t stay healthy and will probably end up on season-ending IR in hopes that he can come back strong and compete next year.

S:  The starters, Clinton-Dix and Burnett are set as quality starters even if Clinton-Dix needs more fundamental work on tackling. Versatile Micah Hyde can play the slot, safety and is a valuable special teams’ contributor. Richardson has been very ordinary if not disappointing after the Packers countered a free agent offer from the Oakland Raiders during the offseason – the guaranteed money means he sticks. Banjo makes it on his valuable special teams play and Goodson’s injury misfortune.

Special Teams Notes:  Long snapper and kicker are solid.  Punting – not so much.  For now the Packers will go with inconsistent Tim Masthay recalling the rewards that they reaped by sticking with Mason Crosby during his 2012 troubles. However if Masthay cannot regain his confidence and work his way out of this long funk soon, he won’t have a job come October.

The final version 3.0 returns to the May prediction of 16 (17 counting Abbrederis) new faces predicted to make the team who were not on the squad at the end of the 2014 season.


NOTE:  The above roster predications were made prior to the Packers final game of the pre-season.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

LeagueObsrvr's picture

I hope you're right about the TE Backman. I've got a really good feeling about that guy.

HankScorpio's picture

I think Miles White is higher on the pecking order than Jared Abbrederis. Abbrederis looked pretty good yesterday and has more long-term upside but he just hasn't show that much in a Packer uniform to date. Some time on the PS will do wonders for Abbrederis

I remain firmly anti-Starks. Football is a young man's game and especially so at RB. Save the money and go with Crockett or Harris. Hopefully avoid all the nicks and dings that have gone with Starks over the years. *ducks for cover from incoming vegetables*

The biggest change from last year is at CB. I like the talent back there. I hope the youngsters get over being youngsters quickly. 3 rooks at CB is a concern, especially early.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I won't throw anything. It's Friday. Lol.

But I do disagree on the Starks/Abby situations.

Starks is a huge threat when not the primary back, but can still get a nice share of carries. He's a gifted runner with break away speed while also being bruiser (no pun).

With Abby, I wasnt able to watch the game, but I just feel he is a gem. If he sticks with only 1 game on tape that will speak volumes. If he doesn't stick, I'll never speak on Abby and what could have been never again.

I agree with the CB group though. You know what I'm interested in finding out -- is if there will be ton of man to man/ bump and run to avoid zone communication breakdowns.

Nick Perry's picture

I agree with your comment on Starks and Abby though I think Neal will cut into some of Starks touches this year. I love Neal! I wouldn't and couldn't blame the Packers if Abby didn't make the 53 man roster, especially if they keep 5 WR. But with Nelson out and no real 3rd TE worth keeping Abby could make it to the 53, especially if they keep Kuhn and "The Ripper".

HankScorpio's picture


Good point about the lack of depth at TE being a reason to keep 6 at WR. They're not going to find a straight-up replacement for Jordy. They're going to need a lot of guys to step up a little bit. Having more guys makes that more likely.

lou's picture

Crockett has been impressive but the fact is this is a team looking to go all the way an when healthy Stark's has delivered every time, even when having to carry the entire load as a rookie in the Super Bowl season. In addition he has significantly improved catching the ball and in blitz pickup. For a team with no salary cap issues and legitimate hopes for a championship, the last thing they need to do is pinch pennies and give up on a proven veteran. Backs like Neal and Crockett will be available next year as well.

Amanofthenorth's picture

Starks is 28 and has a Super Bowl ring. You don't throw away a veteran and fine football player now.

RCPackerFan's picture

I just posted on another article that I wouldn't be surprised if Abbrederis would make it over White. I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Last night White looked good catching the ball, but he also caused an Interception by stopping his route. Also, his blocking is really bad, and he doesn't offer much on special teams. The 4th - 5th WR has to play special teams.
That is where I see a bigger difference between Abbrederis and White. Abby gives them another punt returner, which like you said in the article Hyde is injured, Cobb is injured (and I dont think they want to out him back there anymore), and Montgomery is banged up.
Also the little things I think Abbrederis is better at. Blocking, route running, assignments.

While I think Abbrederis probably should start out on the PS due to him missing so much time, I can see him making the 53, based on his special teams ability, and his higher upside.

Dan Stodola's picture

"While I think Abbrederis probably should start out on the PS"

Continue to say the PS is the perfect place for him. White has done more to deserve a roster spot than Abbrederis has. Keep White on the team and if at some point during the season Abbrederis looks better than White you can make the change.

If Abbrederis was the primary PR that would change, but he's at best the 4th option.

RCPackerFan's picture

I have thought until last night that White was ahead of Abbrederis. I just see more other things out of Abby then White.

Another thought I had, with 2 suspensions looming, do they keep 6 WR's to start the season?

DrealynWilliams's picture

"I just see more other things out of Abby then White"

Like what?

RCPackerFan's picture

I see more little things that don't go on the stat sheet. Like blocking. White is horrible. Abbrederis was pretty good last night (when i watched him).
Abbrederis is a better route runner, and more assignment sure. That INT last night White stopped his route. A player that has been on the team for 3 years shouldn't make that mistake.

Everyone saw White's TD catch in the corner of the endzone, but Abbrederis was the one that drew the coverage away from White. Which tells me he was getting open a lot prior to that play. According to Wilde he said that Abbrederis was open a lot just didn't get the ball thrown his way.

Special Teams Abbrederis can return kicks/punts. They might need another PR with Hyde hurt, Cobb hurt, and Montgomery banged up.

If it is a competition between White and Abbrederis, I think they go with Abbrederis. He has more upside.

L's picture

Nobody's been saying this, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers pick-up a Kick/Punt returner specialist from another team's castaways while looking to get Abby onto the PS.

Amanofthenorth's picture

Homer stench. White is explosive and agile. He cuts like a cat. Just wait.

EdsLaces's picture

I think Wisconsin fans say Abby and everyone else says White haha.

RCPackerFan's picture

lol, probably true.

I am trying to view this from Thompsons position and how he has done things in the past.
Most everyone is saying Abberderis is cut, and I'm just laying out reasons why I think they may keep him.

They maybe will keep him or maybe will let him go. We shall see...

Oppy's picture

I think if you put all the active WR's on the roster in a vacuum and judge them strictly on their skill set as receivers(excluding factors like STs), White is more advanced and NFL ready than Montgomery, Janis, or Abbrederis.

My 1-6 WR corps for 2015 would be Cobb, Adams, White, Abbrederis, Montgomery, Janis. White is, IMO, right here, right now, the guy I'd want on the field on any given down to compliment Cobb and Adams. Montgomery has promise but is still green and the Packers typically take their time with rookies even when talented. Abberderis, while in many respects a rookie from a play time perspective, has a full year of nose-in-playbook and is an exceptional route runner, which IMO gives him the "Right now" advantage over Montgomery. Janis, while physically gifted, is still generally speaking not a very good route runner and lags behind Abberderis and rookie Montgomery in understanding/execution of the offense. That's a no-go typically for MM and #12 if you are looking for regular season reps in any sort of consistent fashion.

Now, when looking at STs value and blocking, Abbrederis, Montgomery, and Janis all bring great value, Abby showing good to great skill as a return man, Montgomery being billed the same (though he hasn't really shown it in live action yet), and Janis being a decent to good gunner and a straight up weapon in terms of blocking punts and field goals. As far as blocking is concerned, the knock on White has always been his size, but there were a number of downs yesterday where White was TENACIOUS in his blocks on the perimeter. Size will probably always be an issue, but temperament definitely is not. He is a willing blocker, and that's more than you can say for a great deal of WRs and TEs in the league.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Please, someone please show me or tell me what the Pack see in MLB Palmer? Or did he win that spot by default?

croatpackfan's picture

He played well as he played with large club on his hand!

DrealynWilliams's picture

Lol, surely you're joking....right? No?

Oppy's picture

He's not joking.

Nate Palmer was quickly shaping up into one the developmental success stories this off season before he messed up his hand and had the club put on- which as brett mentions below- still didn't entirely slow him down.

II don't know if he makes the roster, but if he does, interested to see him get some live reps in an NFL game and see what shakes out.

Either way, there are far more players that should be slotted ahead of him in the "what the heck do they see in this guy" line than Palmer.

Brett Bolzenthal's picture

All Palmer has done this summer is impress scouts. I watched him inside the training camp fences and even with only 1 hand he picked off several balls, batted down a few more with his club, had what would have counted as sacks on the QB I'd not for the red shirts they wore. He also learned to use his speed more when he couldn't use his hands to combat offensive lineman. I can't wait to see more of him without the club!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thanks for that analysis, BrettB. I viewed Palmer as the back up thumper to Barrington (though the depth chart has Palmer at the other ILB spot).

Not sure if my thinking is sound, but I like the idea of Joe Thomas as a coverage ILB. I would like to secure him to the PS. Vaughters can probably play both OLB and ILB for those looking for versatility.

croatpackfan's picture

After watching last preseason game, I think MM & TT has a very, very hard job to do... Tere is only few candidates who will be easily cut off... I can see Packers go with 5 RB/FB and 6 WR to the season, as every of mentioned WR (behind Randall and Davante) gives different skill sets and benefits with different plays! My opinion is that it will be 25/25 O v. D... Or it will be 24/26, but than expect some interesting moves from TT....

porupack's picture

Pretty good list Jeff, and solid rationale;
I agree they have to key Abbredaris because of the aftermath of Jordy and questionable return of Cobb. So they'll have to start with him on the 53....maybe cut after game 2 if he doesn't come along.

I agree with Hankscorpio on Starks. he has too many 1-2 yard gains, and his running style doesn't contrast enough with Lacy. RNeal on the otherhand has a more shift and slash and speed, so he will make bigger impact on rotation IMO. I think Starks should go.

What strikes me as impressive of Jeff's 53 is the versatility of Dbacks, LBs and OL, and thus each group can save a man-position due to the combos. It is impressive in getting more within the 53.

the_clinic's picture

Hundley as the #2 QB, Blanchard to PS. Flynn will be available for emergencies.

Oppy's picture

Blanchard was already cut and I don't think he has any PS eligibility left (he's been in the league a few years already with a few different teams).

You've also forgotten Tolzien, who incidentally in terms of performance had already passed by Flynn as of last year's preseason.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Practice Squad Needs/position (using Jeff's roster):
1 QB (kept 3 on 53, Blanchard is too good if available),
0 FB (2 on roster),
1 RB (Harris - potential)
1 TE (Probably Perillo, maybe Henry);
1 OL (1: Lane Taylor is better, don't see a worthy OT),
0 WR (6 on the 53, like Pinkard but no room);
1/2 DL (Hooks now, Gaston later - I'd cut Boyd week two instead of putting Gaston on the PS though)
2 OLB: (Vaughters - just too much promise, Rasco)
2 ILB: (Bradford and Joe Thomas)
1 DB: Glover-Wright

Blanchard and Bradford might land on someone's 53. If I have 1 or 2 extra spots on PS, I'd add Ebbele first, Hubbard 2nd, then Henry, Rotherham, Fanor, Kowalski.

Quarless seems problematic to me. I see a possibly long suspension coming down, just don't know when. For that reason, I think keeping one TE on the PS is necessary, and two not out of the question.

John Galt III's picture

Jeremy Vujnovich may make PS. Our OL is way too banged up not have him there. We have (3) QB's - that's enough

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Vujnovich > Ebbele is reasonable.

EdsLaces's picture

People talking about getting rid of Starks ....they're joking right? Contrast well enough with Lacy? Yeah it'd just be so terrible to have 2 Eddies. We need more contrast!!!

jyros's picture

Surprise releases: Kuhn, Boyd & Abbrederis.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nice Roster, Jeff. PS above was actually harder to do.

I'd like to keep Lane Taylor. Not sold on Tretter or Barclay at OG. I'd keep 2 TEs & 2 more on the PS due to Quarless' probable long suspension. Backman can't block at all, he's not even good at chipping. Rodgers can't in-line block either. Quarless is hit or miss. If you can't stomach 2 TEs, then it's Abby versus Taylor. Taylor is PS eligible, not sure he clears waivers tho. I'd keep Abby given Hyde's injury and ST value.

I'd keep the same 6 DL you do, but I am not real happy with them. I see 1 spot for Boyd, Ringo and Gaston eventually. When Datone returns I'd cut Boyd outright. When Guion returns I'd put Gaston on the PS. Subject to change based on actual performance.

Banjo makes it due to STs and because Richardson can't play FS at all & is a lousy SS. GB can slide Banjo in at FS to keep Hyde at slot. Hyde replaces Burnett? Goodson's injury prevented him from showing much. So, IR or waive injured.

PS Targets in order of talent/need: Blanchard, Perillo, Backman, Taylor, Harris, Ebbele or Vujnovich, Vaughters, Bradford, Thomas, Rasco, Hubbard, Taylor-Wright. Rotherham, [Gaston later]. There are >10 since I think Blanchard, Lane Taylor, Bradford etc. sign with other teams.

Oppy's picture

I don't think Datone Jones had actually done enough of anything yet in his career for me to flatly say when he returns I'd cut another player outright- even a light rotation guy like Boyd.

Datone is a player in a "prove it or lose it" contract situation year. The Packers declined to pick up his option. That sends the message that they aren't quite sold on him yet.

idgafkurt's picture

Lane Taylor makes the team. He's been very solid this preseason. I'd take add him and waive White or Abby, otherwise, this seems like a pretty good guess of the roster.

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