There’s really no such thing as the “final 53-man roster,” unless you count the players the Packers take into their very last game of the season. So let’s not call whatever roster the Packers end up with today the “final” 53. It’s an initial roster, one that will grow and change over the course of the next four or five months.
Who’s going to be on that initial 53? As we’ve pointed out all along, it’s less a mystery than we might be led to believe. Most of these roster spots have been settled since the end of this spring’s draft, if not long before. The vast majority of this roster has been carried over from last season.
Still, a few position battles played out over the course of the offseason. Below is my best guess at projecting how these different realities all play out together.
QB (3): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Kurt Benkert
I wouldn’t keep three quarterbacks on this roster, but I think the Packers will talk themselves into Kurt Benkert. If he leaves, it should be via trade.
RB (3): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill
No surprises here. Kylin Hill was clearly the best running back beyond Jones and Dillon.
WR (6): Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor
In a position group with five locks, it’s hard to really come up with any surprises, and the battle for the sixth spot ended up being a dud. Juwann Winfree was hurt before he could really make an impact, Devin Funchess hurt himself making his only real roster push, and Equanimeous St. Brown was more or less hurt for the duration of camp.
TE (4): Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney
Injuries and a pending suspension for Jace Sternberger wiped out any real competition at tight end. Dominique Dafney was nominally in competition with Daniel Crawford and Isaac Nauta, but both were eliminated due to injury. This group will start the year in essentially the same place it ended last year.
OL (9): Elgton Jenkins, Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Billy Turner, Lucas Patrick, Ben Braden, Cole Van Lanen
We know the Packers have a bevy of good options at both tackle and guard, so this call comes down to how many linemen they’ll keep relative to other positions — a question of how many versus who. I’ve got Cole Van Lanen making it on the assumption that David Bakhtiari will be on the PUP list to start the year, but it seems Bakhtiari is trending toward short-term IR instead. If that’s the case, things could get wild toward the bottom end of this list. Be ready for anything!
DL (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, T.J. Slaton, Jack Heflin
Five defensive linemen doesn’t seem like enough, but I don’t know where else the Packers cut to make room for someone like Tyler Lancaster.
EDGE (5): Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Chauncey Rivers
I wanted the fifth edge rusher to be Tipa Galeai, but Rivers has outplayed him. That’s a pretty impressive effort from Rivers considering when he joined the roster.
ILB (4): DeVondre Campbell, Krys Barnes, Oren Burks, Ty Summers
I think the Packers would like to keep Isaiah McDuffie on the 53, and it surely wouldn’t be a surprise if they did, but it’s a numbers issue again. Campbell and Barnes have big roles on defense, Burks is a core special teamer, as is Summers. Does McDuffie knock one of them out of a job?
CB (6): Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, Shemar Jean-Charles, Kabion Ento
The late-acquired Isaac Yiadom might take a spot from Kabion Ento, but I think Ento has more coverage upside and is a better athlete.
S (5): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage Jr., Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines, Christian Uphoff
The Packers have enough talent to justify keeping six safeties, but as with other positions, it’s a numbers game. Innis Gaines beats out incumbent Henry Black, while Uphoff joins Jack Heflin as the second undrafted rookie to make this year’s squad.
Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, JK Scott, outside long snapper
Position battles for JK Scott and Hunter Bradley didn’t yield any real results, so the Packers will likely look at the league-wide cut list for potential prospects there. I think Scott has a better shot to stick than Bradley, who will be replaced by an outside candidate before Week 1.
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