Green Bay Packers: First 53 Man Roster Prediction

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My first 53 man roster predication of the year. This is post mini-camp, pre training camp. Something fans seem to forget when putting together a 53 man roster is that it NFL teams do not just pick the 53 best players. Since 1/4 of the players on a roster are going to be role players. They will need guys to play special teams, guys who can back up at multiple positions, and a balanced roster. So with my prediction I try to follow those rules. You can find the current roster here.

QB(2):

Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

I would love for them to keep Kurt Benkert. I feel he has #2 quarterback potential, but it just doesn’t make sense in this day and age. I’m pretty sure they would love to have him back on the practice squad.

RB(3):

Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor

The top two are super easy. Jones and Dillon will see the lions share of snaps/carries. The battle will be for the #3/#4 back. With Kylin Hill coming of the ACL tear he will end up starting the season on the PUP and I feel Taylor offers the best of both worlds for the #3 spot. He can do a bit of everything and he still has some upside. Goodson and Baylor should have shots at being on the practice squad.

WR(6):

Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers

A lot of people want to keep Samori Toure and I get it, but right now I don’t see a spot on the roster for him. He struggles with press coverage and he is more of a slot receiver. The Packers already have two slot receivers. LaFleur rarely uses four receiver sets. Also with the lack of experience at wide receiver on the roster its expected they will lean on their running game and use their backs in the passing game. Toure can play special teams but so can Doubs, Lazard and Watson. So I see Toure spending a season on the practice squad getting stronger.

TE(4):

Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis, Dominique Daffney

This group was another easy group to figure out. Lewis is your blocker, Deguara is your hback, Davis is kind of the do it all guy, and Daffney is the hback/full back type guy. Robert Tonyan starts the year on the PUP. Out of the other two tight ends on the roster I think Wolf probably has the best shot at being back on the practice squad.

OL(10)

David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Yosh Nijman, Sean Rhyan, Cole Van Lanen, Zach Tom, Jake Hanson, Rasheed Walker

The only debate with this group was whether to keep 9 or 10. Hanson and Van Lanen were the border line guys. With Jenkins likely starting the season on the PUP I think they go with 10 and probably Van Lanen gets cut. Every offensive lineman on this roster has positional versatility outside of Bakhtiari, Nijman and Walker. Walker could learn guard though.

Offense(25)

DL(5):

Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, TJ Slaton, Devonte Wyatt, Jarran Reed

A number of people want to keep 6 and I get it, but there is no need. The Packers rarely run a three DL front. I don’t see the reason for keeping Jonathan Ford. He is a pure nose tackle and the Packers already have three guys on the roster capable of playing that position. He would just be a waste of a roster spot. They should easily be able to place him on the practice squad. Wyatt and Clark are the pass rushers. Reed and Lowry are kind of the do it all guys and Slaton is the developmental guy that can play some NT and provide a little pass rush.

Edge(5):

Rashawn Gary, Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare, Randy Ramsey, Jonathan Garvin

Gary, Smith, and Enagbare are all locks to make the roster. After them it comes down to what type of edge rushers do the Packers want as their #4/#5 guys. Historically it seems they like to keep at least one for special teams duties. That is why I kept Ramsey and Garvin because of the guys left he probably has the most potential.

LB(5):

De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie, Ellis Brooks

Campbell and Walker will be the starters. Barnes is still good enough to see some time though. He has also shown he can play special teams and could see an increase in snaps there with a reduction of snaps from scrimmage. McDuffie is there purely for special teams. Brooks is a down the road developmental guy. He started just two years at Penn State, but also played a lot of special teams his first two years so he can contribute there while developing.

DB(10):

Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Keisean Nixon, Shemar Jean-Charles, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Vernon Scott, Tariq Carpenter, Raleigh Texada

I feel the top five corners are pretty much locked in at this point. Obviously Alexander, Stokes, and Douglas are your top thee. Nixon and Jean-Charles are both solid special teams players who look to be better slot corners than outside corners and the Packers lack a true slot in the top three guys. Nixon is the better corner at this point though and will see a decent amount of time in the slot with Jaire, Savage and Douglas also seeing time there. Texada is the young guy with upside who can pitch in on special teams

At safety, of course Amos and Savage are your starters. It seems Barry doesn’t use a lot of “big Nickel” or 3rd safety packages. Scott is probably the best safety on the roster when you look at the rest. He also has experience on special teams. Carpenter is a safety/linebacker hybrid who will probably see some time at both, but will spend most of his rookie season on special teams.

Defense: 24

ST(3):

Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Jack Coco

Crosby and O’Donnell are locks for obvious reasons. I went with Coco because Wirtel was terrible last year and I think they try to make a clean sweep outside of Crosby. There is the possibility that the long snapper isn’t even on the roster at this point.

NFL Draft: Thoughts on Packers Day Two Picks

The Packers went all defense on day one and now seemed to switch on day two and go all offense. The Packers again exclusively took players from my offensive draft board. So, lets get to my thoughts on the Packers day two picks!

I will give my thoughts on the picks and what the probable plan for them is, and how they will fit the Packers offense. My day one thoughts are here as well. You also can find a list of their draft picks here.

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Christian Watson:

The Packers traded away both their second round picks — #53 and #58 — to get up to #34 for Christian Watson. If you go by the Rich Hill chart, the Packers gave up 197 points to get to #34 which is worth just 175. So, the Packers obviously overpaid. Not a huge overpay, but an overpay regardless. My point is that is a lot to give up for a player who is probably two years away from being a significant contributor to the offense.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a team in win now mode. If Green Bay was in a rebuild then that would be okay, but they aren’t. There is some bust potential associated with Watson. The player who he plays a lot like is Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

He is not, I repeat not Deboo Samuel. They are completely different players with different skill sets. Just because he did some things at NDSU that the 49ers do with Deebo does not mean he is a similar type player. He also dropped seven balls in 2020, but cut it to four in 2021. If they had drafted a player who was more pro-ready, say an Alec Pierce, or had even kept Davante Adams then you could let him develop.

Now, on to how he will fit into the offense. He is very raw as a route runner and played in a very simple offense for receivers where they did not have to make a lot of sight adjustments or things like that. So, I expect the Packers to bring him a long slowly.

Day one he walks in he is the best kick returner on the roster. He will return kicks and be the best kick returner they have had in a very long time. They will try to find ways to get him the ball, mostly on slugo, post, and, fade routes. Maybe some crossers. Expect him to end up around fourth in snaps and with numbers similar to MVS’s rookie season. We may still see Green Bay add another vet, and probably at least one more draft pick.

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Sean Rhyan:

Sean Rhyan was a little bit of a surprise pick. Luke Butkis recently said in his press conference that they wanted to bring in a couple more tackles. While Rhyan started three seasons at left tackle at UCLA, he is destined for guard in the NFL.

He has 32 1/2″ arms. Ideally a tackle has 34″ arms, but the Packers have shown they will go under it. Specifically Bryan Bulaga had the shortest arms of any tackle drafted by Green Bay since Ted Thompson. Bulaga though had 33 1/4″ arms. Will the Packers cross train him at tackle and guard? Yes. But guard will be his primary position.

Even though he tested out as an elite athlete for a guard (9.35 RAS), he doesn’t play up to his testing. He is not a terrible athlete on film. Rhyan moves well, just not as well as his testing suggests. Off his film you would think he was a 7.75-ish RAS guy. But he is big, mean, and strong. The former Bruin is a good run blocker and improving pass blocker. Kavon Thibodaux did give him trouble this past season. He allowed 13 pressures and one sack in 2021.

Offensive linemen who are taken early usually are penciled in as starters as a rookie. I would expect the same with Rhyan. They will probably let him, Yosh Nijman, Cole Van Lanen, and Royce Newman battle it out for the right guard and right tackle spots in camp, but it’s just a formality. Rhyan will start at right guard and Newman will be a swing offensive lineman.

I would expect there to be growing pains like any rookie starting offensive lineman. But, he should provide a more physical presence than Newman, who even though his arms are short looked better at right tackle than guard at Ole Miss. I expect Rhyan to develop into a high level guard, probably similar to a Josh Sitton-type player.

NFL Draft: Thoughts on Packers First Round Picks

My thoughts on the Packers first round picks. So to start off, I was wrong. I never thought they would draft an off-ball linebacker in the first round. As we all know they haven’t done that since AJ Hawk. I thought there was a good chance they would draft one. I just didn’t think it would be in the first. Both players were on my Packers board. I will also have full scouting reports up for Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt tomorrow.

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Quay Walker:

Obviously most people were surprised by the pick. There had been rumblings the last week or so that he would end up as the first linebacker drafted. But no one thought it would be to the Packers in the first round. Then yesterday we started seeing mock drafts with the Packers drafting him, and it was a number of “connected” people within the draft community.

It was thought that it might mean something. The Packers under Ted Thompson really had no value on linebackers. Brian Gutekunst seemed to follow this with only drafting Oren Burks in the 3rd round, and no other linebackers on day one or two. So, there is another threshold of Ted that he broke. He did stick to their athleticism thresholds though.

Now to Quay Walker as a player. He has some similarities to Eric Stokes in that he is super athletic, came out as a junior, and was seen as a player who is still a little raw and needs some work before he reaches his potential. He should team with De’Vondre Campbell to form a very highly athletic duo while he develops. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shared those duties with Krys Barnes early on. This will also allow them to use a lot more base defense, especially if he can show solid coverage skills.

He shows a lot of hustle on film, and is always around the ball. Those are good qualities to start with. He might even play special teams early on, where he could be a demon. This pick also puts a limit on how long Campbell will be in Green Bay. If Walker develops as hoped, then I don’t see Campbell being a Packer for more than two more years. Walker then takes over as a lead guy.

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Devonte Wyatt:

The Packers traded away one Devonte — or in this case, Davante — and draft another. Wyatt was always one of my favorite defensive linemen in this draft. He fit the Packers almost to a T, except of course the age issue. The former Bulldog can team with Kenny Clark to form an elite due that can both stop the run and rush the passer.

He also adds a complement to Clark as a pass rusher, with Wyatt winning with his explosion, speed, and agility versus Clark’s leverage, strength, and drive. Clark is seen as a “slow burn” pass rusher, whereas Devonte wins fast/quick. He immediately becomes the second-best defensive lineman on the roster. Early on he will probably rotate with Jarran Reed. That is something the Packers like to do. They like to bring their rookies a long slowly as the season goes.

Wyatt does have the off-field issues that popped up recently, even though they were from 2020 and were in the news. Some people just read the headlines and automatically assumed he beat his girlfriend or something like that. But if you read the report it wasn’t that type of thing.

Was he in the wrong? 100% and it should have never happened, but he didn’t hurt any one or point a gun at anyone. People do make mistakes, and the Packers tend to lean conservative when it comes to off-field issues with draft picks. So if they gave him the go ahead, I have full confidence in Gutekunst that it was just a dumb mistake made by a young kid. I also expect the Packers to have him on a “short leash” and told him as much.

Final Thoughts:

While I personally would have drafted a Tyler Smith or a Jermaine Johnson over Walker, I understand why the Packers took him in the first round. Of course, I love the Wyatt pick and think he will have the bigger impact in year one and could even have a bigger impact in year two, as well. Walker will be the Packers future at inside linebacker with Campbell turning 30 soon and the Packers not usually keeping guys past 30. I won’t give this draft a grade. Its three years too soon, but I will say so far I like it!

Will they now be called the Green Bay Bulldogs? If they draft George Pickens tomorrow, they might!

How Will The Packers Approach The Draft?

Packers NFL Draft
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With the 2022 NFL draft coming up in April there are two ways in which Packers GM Brian Gutekunst may approach it.

But first, let’s establish some facts. Gutekunst has drafted 37 players in his time as GM since 2018. There was a pattern to his first three drafts.

The Packers NFL Draft Approach in 2018-2020

As some Packers fans know, there was a draft pattern that developed over his first three drafts from 2018-2020. 22 out of 25 picks had RAS (Relative Athletic Score) scores of 8.0 or higher. A number of high-profile Packer bloggers caught on to that and mentioned it in their writings.

With that being said, let’s preface this before people start freaking out about RAS. This is not to say the Packers are going on http://ras.football, typing a player’s name in, and if their score was over 8 they put him on their board. The Packers have their own draft methods that none of us are privy to. But that pattern does show there is something similar they are looking for in players: athleticism and RAS.

What is RAS?

Each player gets a number assigned to them after they do all their workouts at the NFL Combine or their pro day. All their workout numbers are put into a formula and it comes up with a number. It is a 0-10 number. It is a scale of how athletic that player is in relation to his peers at his position. A 10, of course, would be the elite of the elite athlete, and a 0 would be a very poor athlete.

Another fact to establish: Does Brian Gutekunst and the front office / scouts know what RAS is?

Most definitely. It would be na├»ve to think they didn’t. Teams have been known to purchase draft guides. Teams also will interview a prospect’s elementary school teacher. The draft is a huge investment for teams. They want to get as much information as possible to eliminate as many mistakes as they can. Also, the creator of RAS, Kent Lee Platte, has stated he has had NFL scouts contact him before. So teams do know about it.

What happened in 2021?

Packers 2021 NFL Draft Class RAS (source: ras.footall)

If we look at the 2021 draft, it seems like there was a bit of a switch in the Packers’ philosophy. Out of the seven picks who had RAS scores, only three scored an 8.0 or higher. Tedarrell Slaton was close with a 7.96. Even if we include him, that is four out of seven. A bit of a departure from previous years. So the question becomes “what happened?” Was there a major switch in how the front office approaches the draft?

The answer is no. The old saying applies here “A leopard can not change its spots.” Gutekunst, and the vast majority of the scouts, hail from the Ted Thompson / Ron Wolf tree. If you go back and look, Thompson and Wolf valued athletes. So then what happened?

The answer

The 2021 draft was a continuation of their “all-in approach.” If you look at a number of the players drafted in ’21, they are guys with a lot of experience. Guys with a high floor. Guys who could fill certain roles, but maybe didn’t have the athletic upside of previous draft picks — but also didn’t have the same ‘bust potential’. Let’s talk about some examples:

Josh Myers:

The Packers drafted him over the more highly thought of Creed Humphrey. The same one who scored a 10 on the RAS scale and was thought to be the #1 center in the draft. Many wondered why. The reason?

Higher floor and experience in the same zone-blocking scheme the Packers run. Humphrey played in a man scheme. So the Packers valued Josh Myers’ NFL zone-blocking readiness to Humphrey’s potential, even though he scored out as a lesser athlete.

Amari Rodgers:

Amari Rodgers tested out pretty average. Which seemed weird, since all the wide receivers Gutey had drafted before all scored over 8 on the RAS scale. The Packers also traded up for him. Nico Collins and Anthony Schwartz were still on the board. So then, why did they draft someone so different from previous receivers?

Similar reasons to Myers. He had a lot of experience at a big program and could fill a very specific role, even if his athletic limitations put a damper on his upside. He could return punts and play slot. Cobb wasn’t on the roster at the time, and they wanted someone to come in and fill that role as a rookie.

Shemar Jean-Charles:

Shemar Jean-Charles was another “all-in” pick, even though he tested out below average in athleticism and was a bit on the small side for their usual defensive back picks at 184 pounds (they usually draft guys 190+). There were guys who scored a lot higher in athleticism and even size. Players like Brandin Echols, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Rodarius Williams, and Rachad Wildgoose. The reason they took Jean-Charles?

Again, experience and fit. He had a lot of special teams experience, and that is what he was drafted for. He may never be more than a #4 corner and special teamer, and that’s fine because that is what they drafted him for.

Isaiah McDuffie:

While not the average to below-average athlete some of the others are, McDuffie is still an outlier for a normal Gutekunst linebacker pick. Gutey’s, and even Thompson’s, MO at linebacker has been guys with solid size — in the 6’1+ 235+ pound range.

McDuffie falls a bit short of that at 227 — and a pumped up 227 at that — where his frame is pretty maxed out. His upside is probably limited due to his size and poor agility. But again, that’s not why he was drafted. He was drafted to play special teams, and maybe be a #4 linebacker.

Finally to the Options:

Which option the Packers take relies on one person: Aaron Rodgers. Whether he’s back or he retires / is traded will tell us which approach the Packers and Gutekust likely go with.

“All-in” approach

With this approach, we will probably see a similar draft to 2021. A few highly-athletic players with upside, and a number of ‘role players’ or ‘pro-ready’ type guys to fill specific roles and help the team get to a Super Bowl in 2022.

The Rebuild approach

This is if Rodgers is gone. If he is gone, the Packers are not a Super bowl contender in 2022 — and probably not even 2023. So why take a bunch of guys with limited upside who won’t grow with your young roster? If this happens we will see the Packers return to their approach from 2018-2020.

Green Bay Packers 53-man roster prediction

This is my first roster prediction a week into camp. You can find the Packers 90 man roster here:https://www.packers.com/team/players-roster/ I will put up a second one at the end of camp right before cut down date. Lets get to it!

Quarterbacks-(2)

Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

Kurt Benkert has become a cult hero among Packers fans. We all wish they would keep it. I just don’t see it happening though. He is very much a practice squad candidate. Rodgers and Love are self explanatory. I don’t think I need to say much beyond that.

Running backs-(4)

Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill, Patrick Taylor

I went with four because I do not think Hill or Taylor would make it through waivers. Also with Sternberger being suspended the first couple games they could hang on to an extra player and then hope to sneak him onto the practice squad a couple weeks later. Jones an Dillon will be running backs #1 and #2. They will see the majority of carries. Jones does have an injury history so we will probably see the #3 back get some carries at some point.

Tight End/Hback-(4)

Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney

With Sternberger being suspended the first two games this is a pretty easy call. Tonyan is the lead dog. He is a do it all tight end. Lewis is your blocker. Deguara and Dafney are your versatile Hbacks. Dafney has also shown some special teams prowess. Once Sternberger comes off the suspended list it will be interesting to see what the Packers decide to do.

Wide Receivers-(6)

Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree

Before the Cobb trade I would have said the top five were probably locked in and they were not going to keep six. Now with Cobb and the camp that Winfree is having and his ability to play special teams I see them keeping him around for special teams duties and of course if there is an injury or two he could slide in and play some offense. I see them keeping him over EQ and Funchess exactly because of his ability to play special teams which is what the #6 receiver would have to be able to do. Since none of the top five receivers play special teams. Outside of kick and punt return with Rodgers and Cobb.

Offensive Line-(9)

David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Lucas Patrick, Billy Turner, Jon Runyan Jr, Dennis Kelly, Ben Braden, Royce Newman

What they do with Bakhtiari and the rest of the group will be interesting. Do they put him on PUP? and how many linemen do they keep? 8? 9? 10? I feel they will roll with Bakhtiari on the initial 53 man roster, then move him to the IR so he will miss the first three games of the season. With him on the IR for three weeks I wouldn’t be surprised if they resigned Yosh Nijman, or a Cole Van Lanen for those three weeks.

Jenkins has been great so far in camp at left tackle. Myers has taken every snap at center with the 1st team so far. He’s a lock right now for the starting center. There has been talk about Patrick getting cut or traded because he would save money on the cap. I can’t see it happening. With a rookie at center they need his versatility and veteran experience he can impart on Myers. Turner has that four position ability. His best position is right tackle though where I think he will spend the whole season. Runyan Jr will probably start the season as the left guard until Bakhtiari gets back. Kelly will be the Packers swing tackle. Braden and Newman will provide guard/tackle depth.

Defensive Line-(5)

Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster, TJ Slaton

I feel like this group is pretty much set. Clark is one of the better defensive linemen in the league. Keke should be the #2 guy next to him, but it will probably be Lowry with Keke being the #3 guy. Lancaster and Slaton can both play the nose. Slaton should allow Clark to get off the nose a little bit more and get some 1 on 1 match ups.

Edge defenders-(5)

Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Jonathan Garvin, Tipa Galeai

I feel the group was pretty set until Ramsey’s injury. Since none of the Packers top three edge rushers play special teams and last years 7th round pick Garvin played very minimal special teams the Packers need someone who can play special teams. Galeai is probably the best special teamer left after Ramsey’s injury. The Smith bros and Gary will take up the vast majority of snaps on the edge this season.

Linebacker-(4)

Krys Barnes, De’Vondre Campbell, Kamal Martin, Ty Summers

So far in camp it has been Barnes and Campbell as the top two. Martin has the talent to start, he just needs development. Summers has been a special teams ace and has shown some improvements on defense. Burks is around the same level of special teams player that Summers is, but Summers is better from scrimmage and is cheaper. McDuffie has missed all of camp so far on the NFI list. I feel he either gets better and gets in at the end of camp and ends up on the practice squad, or his injury lingers and he ends up on the IR.

Cornerbacks-(6)

Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean-Charles, Chandon Sullivan, Kabion Ento

Jaire is Jaire, not much needs to be said there. Same with King, he is who he is. He is still probably the 2nd best corner on the roster right now. Stokes has struggled in camp which was expected. He never played corner until he got to college and he was only a two year starter at that. So he will need time. Sullivan has been the Nickel all through out camp, outside of a few snaps Jean-Charles has taken. Sullivan has look good in camp so far. I do not see him relinquishing the nickel job. Jean-Charles should see most of his time on special teams. Ento has flashed this camp and the last two training camps as well. Hopefully he can stay healthy. Hollman and Samuels will be his main competition for the last spot.

Safties-(5)

Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos, Henry Black, Vernon Scott, Will Redmond

Savage and Amos should continue to be one of the better starting safeties in the league. Savages game really took off once they moved him closer to the line and occasionally played him in the slot. I expect that to continue. That leaves who will be the 3rd safety? When Savage is playing near the line or in the slot I expect it to be Redmond. He is the only back up capable of playing free safety. He also is a good special teams player. Although the Packers could slide Amos over to free and bring in either Black or Scott and put them at strong. So far in camp Black has been ahead of Scott. He has been the safety in their big nickel package.

Special Teams-(3)

JK Scott, Mason Crosby, Hunter Bradley

Not much to say here. The Packers cut Bradley’s competition, so he is a lock there. Preseason will bear out the punter job, but I just don’t see Winslow beating out Scott. JK will be on a short leash though. Crosby is Crosby. No way in hell Molson would be able to beat him out. Molson wasn’t even that good of a college kicker. The Packers will probably keep a punter on the practice squad though.

There you have it. My 53 man roster prediction. I think that leaves the Packers with a pretty talented and deep roster. There will be some guys that are cut that won’t make it through waivers.