Training camp is still months away, but in reality, most of the roster is already set. Between players returning from last year and this spring’s draft picks, there are only a few spots on the final 53 man roster up for grabs.
That should make predicting the roster a fairly straightforward exercise, but there are a few interesting questions yet to be answered. How many wide receivers will the Packers keep? How will the offensive line shake out? How will the Packers’ defense look under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry?
We won’t know the answers for some time, but why let that stop us from speculating? Here’s our first crack at predicting the Packers’ final 53 man roster.
Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
Analysis: Yep, we’re going there. Aaron Rodgers is going to be on the Packers’ roster at the end of training camp. The incentives are simply too strong for both sides to get a deal done to really believe yet that Rodgers is going elsewhere. Blake Bortles is an interesting distraction, but unless things really go sideways with Rodgers, he’s just going to be a camp arm. Jordan Love should be the number two quarterback this year.
Running backs (3): Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Kylin Hill
Analysis: The first two spots on the running back depth chart are slam dunks, leaving just one spot really up for consideration. Patrick Taylor, who spent most of last year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list could get a nod here, but Kylin Hill is probably a better option as a receiver, so he gets the spot.
Wide receivers (6): Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor, Equanimeous St. Brown
Analysis: As we predicted in our earlier analysis, Devin Funchess looks like the odd man out here. He’s not fast enough to justify bumping MVS off the field, and he’s redundant to Allen Lazard. With Amari Rodgers filling the Tyler Ervin role, that leaves Funchess fighting with Malik Taylor and Equanimeous St. Brown for a roster spot. Both Taylor and St. Brown offer more special teams value than Funchess, so the veteran ends up elsewhere.
Tight ends (4): Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney
Analysis: The first real surprise comes here as the Packers part ways with 2019 third-round pick Jace Sternberger. Between injuries, Robert Tonyan’s emergence, and the arrival of Josiah Deguara, Sternberger has been reduced to spot duty. Outside of the well-seasoned Marcedes Lewis, Sternberger is also the least athletic tight end on the roster. Given the lack of an available role and the minimal upside he presents, it’s probably time to move on.
Offensive linemen (9): Elgton Jenkins, Billy Turner, Lucas Patrick, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., Royce Newman, Simon Stepaniak, Cole Van Lanen, Yosh Nijman
Analysis: The safest assumption concerning David Bakhtiari is that he’ll begin the season on the PUP list as he rehabs his torn ACL. That leaves the Packers a little light at tackle, but given their bevy of interior options, they can make it work by keeping Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner outside. Second-year man Simon Stepaniak completes his injury-related comeback and makes the roster, as do all the Packers’ 2021 offensive line draft picks. Josh Myers will start at center. The Yosh Nijman experiment continues.
Defensive linemen (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster, T.J. Slaton
Analysis: The Packers still have depth issues on the defensive line, but there are no more reinforcements coming. Underwhelming though this group may be, it’s largely going to wind up being the same as last year. Only newcomer T.J. Slaton (all 350 pounds of him) changes things up on this unit.
Edge rushers (5): Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Randy Ramsey
Analysis: The Smiths and Rashan Gary are absolute locks, and the Packers haven’t made significant additions here. They’ll bring back two high ceiling/low floor prospects in Jonathan Garvin and Randy Ramsey for one more shot.
Inside linebackers (4): Krys Barnes, Kamal Martin, Ty Summers, Isaiah McDuffie
Analysis: Brian Gutekunst said after the draft that he’d like to add veteran help at inside linebacker, but he hasn’t so far. That being the case, he’ll run it back with two second-year players as his top two men at the post in Barnes and Martin, while banking on Summers and McDuffie, both late-round picks, to bolster the unit should they be needed. Everyone at this position should bring some special teams acumen, particularly Summers and McDuffie.
Cornerbacks (6): Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, Shemar Jean-Charles, Ka’Dar Hollman
Analysis: Kevin King’s offseason return all but locked in the top three spots on the depth chart, and Eric Stokes’ arrival via a first-round pick this spring made it four. Fifth-rounder Shemar Jean-Charles is more capable than Josh Jackson, so the 2018 second-round pick finally makes his way out of Green Bay. Ka’Dar Hollman brings athleticism to the back end of the unit and to special teams.
Safeties (6): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Will Redmond, Vernon Scott, Henry Black, Christian Uphoff
Analysis: Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage may be the best safety tandem in the league, so the top end of the depth chart is secure. Beyond that, this could fall in any order. Will Redmond returns, but unless he takes major strides his position here is vulnerable. Young safeties Vernon Scott, Henry Black, and Christian Uphoff all bring athleticism, versatility, and special teams value. Uphoff, an undrafted free agent this spring, even offers some return ability.
Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Joe Fortunato
Analysis: The Packers have nominal competition at each of their three specialist positions this summer, but outside of Hunter Bradley, the incumbents should emerge victorious. Joe Fortunato will take Bradley’s spot, which shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise; the Packers seem to have been attempting to replace him ever since they drafted him in the seventh round in 2018.