It’s finally here. Football is almost back. August 1st, we get the Hall of Fame game and I’ll be glued to my TV for the first half before I realize its preseason football. However, I’ll still watch the whole game.
Our beloved Packers are kicking off training camp today (rookies reported on July 22nd) so I wanted to give a little preview of each position, who I believe is a lock, whose battling for a spot on the roster, and whose a long shot. This isn’t a roster projection by any means, although my locks will probably fill out most of the roster, this is for the people who like to watch the preseason games in full, and want a few players to keep track of in the third and fourth quarters of these games.
For a note, when I mention guys who are battling, I’m not only saying they’re fighting for a spot against other guys at their position, but they’re also fighting against the other guys battling for a roster spot. The Packers might want to really keep 7 WRs, but that 7th WR might not be as valuable as an extra offensive linemen or defensive linemen. So in that example, WR7 didn’t necessarily only lose his spot to another WR, but he also lost it to a guy at another position. I think too many times fans simple focus on guys battling within their position, when in reality they’re also battling other fringe players which is why Special Teams play means so much in the NFL.
Offense (19 Roster Locks)
Quarterback (2 Locks)
- Locks: Aaron Rodgers, Deshone Kizer
- Zero surprises here. Kizer is a lock simply because of what the Packers gave up to get him. It’s only the third year in the league for Kizer and he’s got anew coaching staff to guide him. No matter what he looks like, he’ll be the #2.
- Camp Arm: Tim Boyle, Manny Wilkins
- There’s zero chance the Packers keep 3 QBs on the 53 man roster. Boyle will be targeted as a practice squad guy for the Packers. Wilkins will get some snaps in the 4th quarter of some preseason games. He’s here to just learn and be an arm to use during camp.
Running Back/Fullback (3 Locks)
- Locks: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams,
- Jones and Jamaal Williams are the #1 and #2 guys going into camp. Dexter Williams will make this squad as a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield, plus the Packers spent a 5th round pick on him. Barring him being absolute dog shit, Dexter Williams will make this team.
- Battling: Danny Vitale (FB)
- I put Vitale in battling not because I think Johnson would beat him out for a roster spot, but because FB might be a position that gets cut for depth somewhere else. TE and WR are sure to be packed positions for the Packers, and you can never have enough DL or OL. FB might the position that gets trimmed down first.
- Long Shot: Tra Carson, Malcolm Johnson (FB)
- For Johnson, see what I said about Vitale. Tra Carson will compete with Dexter Williams for that third spot, but I think Williams is better and this Packers coaching staff spent a pick on Williams, not Carson.
Wide Receiver (4 Locks)
- Locks: Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown
- All these guys are obvious to me. All four played the most at the WR position last year, while MVS and EQS have the most chemistry out of the young guns with Rodgers. Everyone is talking about an MVS breakout but I’m looking forward to EQS and how he’s going to progress from year 1 to year 2.
- Battling: Jake Kumerow, J’Mon Moore, Trevor Davis, Teo Redding
- Kumerow, Moore, and Redding will be the main guys fighting for that 5th and 6th WR spot. Yes, I think the Packers keep the 6 WRs. Trevor Davis will be there too, but if the new coaching staff thinks as much of Davis as a punt returner as the previous staff, then that’s going to give Davis an edge to be the WR6 on this roster while also being a key Special Teams player. The key battle to watch here is Kumerow and Moore. Kumerow has more chemistry with Rodgers, so I’ll give him the edge.
- Long Shot: Allen Lazard, Jawill Davis, Darrius Shepherd, Malik Taylor
- All of these guys are camp bodies for the most part, unless one splashes on Special Teams. Davis does have some return history in the NFL, but he’s gonna really have to show something to make the team.
Tight End (3 Locks)
- Locks: Jimmy Graham, Mercedes Lewis, Jace Sternberger
- Graham is the receiving TE, Lewis is the blocking TE, and Sternberger is the new rookie. Lewis might be the guy that takes Dan Vitales spot. If Lewis is lined up at FB in the preseason, that could be a sign of things to come.
- Battling: Robert Tonyan
- Tonyan has a good chance to make the team, he flashed last year and had that nice TD catch against the Seahawks. Tonyan can separate himself from Graham and Sternberger by becoming a better blocker than those two. If he does, he will make the roster and could also line up at FB to steal Vitale’s roster spot.
- Long Shot: Evan Baylis, Pharaoh McKever
- Common theme here, these will be two camp bodies that will have the ability to showcase what they can do late in games.
Offensive Line (7 Locks)
- Locks: David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Billy Turner, Bryan Bulaga, Elgton Jenkins, Corey Linsley, Jason Spriggs
- Basically we have our starting OL here, backup T in Jason Spriggs, and backup G/C in Elgton Jenkins.
- Battling: Justin McCray, Cole Madison, Lucas Patrick
- McCray, Patrick, and Madison will probably in battle for that 8th and 9th spot. Maybe the Packers keep 10 OL but that’s unlikely to me unless they really like all three. If Madison, who missed all of last year, shows any signs of being a good player I think he gets the nod over McCray and Patrick who’ve already shown what they can do in the NFL.
- Long Shots: Anthony Coyle, Larry Williams, Adam Pankey, Gerhard de Beer, Yosh Nijman, Alex Light
- I think de Beer should make the team just based off his last name, but we know that won’t happen. A few guys here will have a chance for the practice squad but they’re all camp bodies.
Defense (19 Roster Locks)
Defensive Line (5 Locks)
- Locks: Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Montravious Adams, Tyler Lancaster
- Glad I waited to publish this blog because of the Dean Lowry contract extension, and the new of Mike Daniels getting cut. I think all five of these guys are a lock to make the team. Lancaster showed a lot of promise last year, Keke is the rookie, Lowry is now the starter opposite Clark, and Adams is another guy that will provide depth.
- Long Shots: Fadol Brown, Eric Cotton, James Looney, Deon Simon
- Brown as the best chance to crack the roster out of this group but he’s got a lot of the work to do. The other three are more camp bodies. Simon and Cotton were signed late in 2018 and Looney was a 7th round pick last year for the Packers who played in 3 games.
Outside Linebacker (4 Locks)
- Locks: Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kyler Fackrell
- Fackrell shined for the Packers last year, registering 10.5 sacks. The Smith bros were signed as FA this year, and they’ll start. Gary was the 12th pick overall.
- Battling: Reggie Gilbert
- I’m 80% sure Gilbert makes the roster but if the Packers decide to add more depth somewhere else, he could be a hard roster cut. he splashed in preseason last year but didn’t carry that over to regular season.
- Long Shots: Kendall Donnerson, Greg Roberts, Randy Ramsey, Brady Sheldon
- These guys are all very young and will need to play MUCH better than Gilbert during the preseason if they want to make the roster. All four can make the roster if they play well on special teams also, but very unlikely.
Inside Linebacker (2 Locks)
- Locks: Blake Martinez, Oren Burks
- Martinez is the starter, and even if Burks gets beat out to be the other starting ILB, he’ll be on the squad.
- Battling: James Crawford, Ty Summers, Curtis Bolton
- Crawford was a long shot to the make the squad last year but he did. Summers was the Packers 7th round pick this year that is very athletic. Bolton went undrafted this year but the Packers picked him up. Bolton is probably the most athletic of these three guys and did have 4.5 sacks last year for Oklahoma which could give him the upper hand on Crawford or Summers. In reality, Burks probably has to do little to be the starter opposite Martinez, but Burks and these three guys are all battling for that spot in camp. One of these guys is going to get cut at the end of the camp. Special Teams play during the preseason is going to be crucial for each guy.
Cornerback (5 Locks)
- Locks: Tramon Williams, Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Josh Jackson, Tony Brown
- Tony Brown is probably the surprising name here for some but I love what he showed last year. He’s a big physical corner that just needs to sure up some mental lapses he had. Brown is the #5 guy here but he’s a lock to me barring a fucking meltdown. All the other guys need to stay healthy.
- Battling: Ka’Dar Hollman
- Hollman is a 6th round pick from this year, he’s big, and played press man coverage well in college. He has a great shot to make the team, just needs to prove he can pick up Pettines defense and show he can play some Special Teams.
- Long Shots: Will Redmond, Javian Hamilton, Chandon Sullivan, Nydair Rouse, Kabion Ento
- These guys are camp bodies mostly. Redmond played some Special Teams for the Packers last year, maybe he makes the team that way but there’s about a 5% chance for that.
Safety (3 Locks)
- Locks: Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage Jr., Raven Greene
- Amos and Savage are the starters. Raven Greene played well for the Packers after being thrust into playing after injuries and shitty S play. Greene isn’t the most athletic safety but he’s a solid backup.
- Battling: Josh Jones, Natrell Jamerson
- I don’t think Josh Jones is on this team come September. He can’t play safety even though he has a ton of talent, and I don’t think he wants to play that hybrid S/LB position. Maybe Pettine can change his mind to stick it out in Green Bay. Jamerson is the next guy up and maybe the Packers keep 5 safeties. Jamerson can play some slot also which gives him value.
- Long Shots: Mike Tyson, Tray Matthews
- Both guys are camp bodies.
- Wild Card: Ibrahiem Campbell
- I put Campbell here because before he tore his ACL, he played very well for the Packers. The reports are that both are interested in getting a deal done once he can pass a physical. If Campbell does come back, that leaves Jones or Jamerson the odd man out. However, this decision might not happen until closer to Week 1.
Special Teams (2 Roster Locks)
Snapper (2 Locks)
- Lock: Hunter Bradley
- Battling: Mason Crosby
- For the first time in a very long time, Mason Crosby is going to have some competition in camp. Crosby hit under 82% of his field goals last year, including that brutal game against the Lions where Packer fans were calling for his head after he missed four field goals. For the rest of the year, Crosby missed three field goals and missed a few PATs.
- Long Shot: Sam Ficken
- I decided to separate these two because Ficken is probably gonna have to hit 100% of his field goals to win this job. He went 1 for 3 last year, making a 34 yard field goal while missing from 28 and 46.
Punter (1 Lock)
- Locks: J.K. Scott
Returners (Don’t take up a roster spot)
- Battling: Trevor Davis, Dexter Williams, Jaire Alexander, Tramon Williams, Jamaal Williams
- Davis is the only guy on edge of the roster here which is interesting. Alexander and Tramon are both capable returners, but you probably don’t want either of those two being the starting PR, Alexander cause he’s a starter and Tramon because he’s and older player. That really leaves Davis to get a spot simply because he’s the best PR on the team. We’ll see if this Packers staff tries someone else off the wall we haven’t thought of.
- Dexter and Jamaal are most likely going to be the KR, along with Davis if he makes the squad. Dexter returned some kicks at Notre Dame early on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the main guy from Week 1.
So I have here 40 roster spots that are locks to make the team, plus the Kicker which makes 41 roster spots filled. I believe then there are 12 roster spots up for grabs during this training camp. Some guys have obvious better shots than others like a Robert Tonyan. However, if you take a look back at the guys who have been listed as battling, only 1 or 2 guys at each of those is going to make the team which means there are going to be some pretty tough cuts the Packers have to make.
Again, it’s not only they’re battling against guys at their same position, but guys who are also battling for the roster spot. I’m sure the Packers would love to keep McCray, Patrick, and Madison but one of those guys is probably gone because they need to fill depth elsewhere.
Go Pack Go.