A Way Too Early Roster Prediction
Who am I kidding? It's never too early to make a prediction on who's going to make the final roster. We don't know much about the rookies yet. We don't know what veterans are going to fade through camp. We don't know about the undrafted free agents.
What we do know is that predictions are fun, and totally unfounded predictions are always hilarious to look back on later. Let's give it a shot.
Quarterbacks (3): Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien, Matt Flynn
Analysis: No real surprises here. I think Mike McCarthy and Company would really like Tolzien to win the number two job. He has a higher ceiling and probably has a bigger future with the Packers than Flynn.
Running Backs/Fullbacks (5) Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, LaDarius Perkins, John Kuhn
Analysis: On a total gut feeling, I think the Packers could keep four true running backs in addition to John Kuhn. Today, that random fourth back is mighty-mite LaDarius Perkins, who makes DuJuan Harris look big by comparison.
Receivers (6) Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Kevin Dorsey
Analysis: The Packers' three holdovers from last season have their spots locked up, as does second round pick Davante Adams. Abbrederis has always proved doubters wrong, and it would not be at all surprising to see him overcome any size or speed limitations to snag a spot. Last year's seventh round pick bumps Jeff Janis (who's already missing too much practice) for now, but that spot is very fluid. Be careful Kevin.
Tight Ends (4) Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostick, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor
Analysis: Richard Rodgers locks up the top spot, but Bostick and Quarless give versatile, veteran support. Taylor could be supplanted by Stoneburner or Perillo if they show something resembling his special teams acumen. The Colt Lyerla redemption project heads to the practice squad for now.
Offensive Line (8) David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, J.C. Tretter, T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga, Don Barclay, Corey Linsley, Derek Sherrod
Analysis: Again, no real surprises here. The five starters are all but set in stone and Don Barclay is the top backup at both tackle and guard. Corey Linsley provides great strength at center, and Derek Sherrod has just enough potential left to justify one last shot.
Defensive Line (7) B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton, Jerel Worthy, Mike Pennel
Analysis: Beyond the top five names, it's a bit of a crapshoot. Worthy remains a question mark. Mike Pennel is enormous. Letroy Guion is a free agent acquisition, but the Vikings didn't exactly put a huge amount of effort into keeping him. Some roster churn seems probable.
Linebackers (8) Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Carl Bradford
Analysis: This is where extremely early predictions go awry. Notice that there's virtually changeover from last year, aside form Julius Peppers joining the group. There's no Andy Mulumba, no Nate Palmer, no undrafted free agents either inside or outside. If you were to skim a roster spot from the running backs, it'd go here. I could also see the team cutting down on defensive linemen in favor of a lighter, faster scheme. Who knows? I guarantee that this is one of the position groups I have completely wrong, but that's what these things are for!
Cornerbacks (5) Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jarrett Bush
Analysis: Not too complicated here. Micah Hyde's slide to safety makes this a relatively easy group to predict. As much as the Packers might like to see someone jump into Jarrett Bush's spot, I don't think there's someone who can unseat him just yet.
Safeties (4) Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson
Analysis: Burnett is the only guaranteed starter here, but Hyde and Clinton-Dix are both assured roster spots. Richardson remains an intriguing prospect because of his physical gifts, but his roster spot is far from guaranteed.
Specialists (3) Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode
Analysis: No competition means no turnover in this stable group.
Overall, I feel pretty good about this prediction, but there are almost surely a couple areas where this roster isn't quite perfect. Looking back now, keeping four running backs may not be a luxury the Packers can afford. Linebackers and linemen make the 3-4 go, and there are only 15 in this group. We'll make another prediction in a couple weeks.