Roster Prediction 2.0 - Callahan Out, Gilbert In
Midway through the Packers’ preseason slate, it’s time to take another look at the roster. Here’s my take at who’s going to be on the final 53, which looms less than two weeks away.
Quarterbacks (2) - Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley
My original prediction included Callahan as part of this group, but the first two preseason games put Hill above him, yet not on the 53 man roster. Callahan has a lower ceiling than Hill and their athletic difference have shown up starkly through the first two games. Hopefully Hill can make it to the practice squad.
Running backs/fullbacks (4) - Ty Mongtomery, Aaron Ripkowski, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones
No notable changes here, but I don’t feel this group is settled. Joe Kerridge is extremely well-regarded among the coaching staff and contributes on special teams. The numbers would work if the Packers chose to keep a fifth back, but if they do, it’s probably going to be Kerridge and not another running back. Seventh round pick Devante Mays probably heads for the practice squad.
Wide receivers (6, plus one suspension): Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, DeAngelo Yancey, Trevor Davis, Jeff Janis (Geronimo Allison eligible for a Week 2 return)
Allison showed why he’s not in danger of losing his spot on the roster this week in Washington. Long, lithe, and slippery, he’ll be welcomed back when his suspension ends.
Beyond Allison, things get messy. Malachi Dupre could end up on injured reserve if symptoms of his concussion linger, but even assuming that happens the Packers have an intriguing four-way battle for the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart. Yancey, Davis, Janis, and Max McCaffrey each have their merits, and McCaffrey’s cameo on the punt return team is nothing but positive for his roster chances. Stay tuned on this group.
Tight ends (3): Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Richard Rodgers
Nothing to report here. The Packers like their multiple tight end packages and even Richard Rodgers remains a contributor there. Barring a sudden surge from a younger prospect or a serious injury, this group is settled.
Offensive line (9): David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Jahri Evans, Bryan Bulaga, Jason Spriggs, Don Barclay, Geoff Gray, Lucas Patrick
The third quarterback spot occupied by Joe Callahan in our last prediction now changes to an offensive lineman. Don Barclay’s injury showed my worrying over center depth was not totally unfounded, so Lucas Patrick gets a roster spot as a result. I could be talked into either Geoff Gray or Kofi Amichia as either a member of the 53 man roster or the practice squad, but I like Gray’s size, athleticism, and guard background better than Amichia’s right now.
Defensive line (6): Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry, Kenny Clark, Ricky Jean Francois, Montravius Adams, Brian Price
Six could be too many, but the numbers work with the roster as it stands. Lowry’s knee injury and Adams’ ongoing-but-improving foot issues may change the calculus down the road, but this is a deep, solid group for now.
Outside linebacker (6): Clay Matthews, NIck Pery, Kyler Fackrell, Jayrone Elliot, Vince Biegel, Reggie Gilbert
Last time I had Johnathan Franklin as the last linebacker on the roster, but I’ve swapped him for Gilbert based on his performance in the first two preseason games. That’s hardly settled, though, and this group could change if Vince Biegel ends up on the PUP list to start the season.
Inside linbacker (3): Joe Thomas, Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez
Special teams ace Jordan Tripp misses the cut on this one, but if you wanted to keep five outside linebackers and retain Tripp’s kick coverage acumen, you’d get no argument from me.
Cornerback (6): Davon House, Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall, Kevin King, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins
This group comes down to a battle between two polar opposites and a slew of undrafted free agents. Right now, I think Josh Hawkins and his blazing speed beat out Ladarius Gunter and his size. Lenzy Pipkins has made the most splash plays in this year’s group of undrafted corners, but the coaching staff could easily be swayed towards Donatello Brown, who has also been fairly solid. The practice squad will have no end of options for good-sized, athletic corners.
Safety (5): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Josh Jones, Marwin Evans, Kentrell Brice
The Packers are spoiled for choice at safety. In 2013, the active roster included such luminaries as M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian. Both started at times that year. On this year’s roster, the Packers could get to their seventh safety and still probably have a better prospect than either Jennings or McMillian.
Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, Justin Vogel, Brett Goode
The Packers didn’t bring Goode back to push Derek Hart. He’s got the spot. Vogel could still find himself in Tim Masthay’s position from a year ago, but right now we have no reason to assume he won’t make the roster.