GREEN BAY, Wis. — In the 12 days since our last roster prediction, the Green Bay Packers have played two preseason games and had five additional practices.
Now, with two preseason games to go and 10 days until the final cutdown, here is FOXSportsWisconsin.com’s latest predictions for the Packers’ 53-man active roster for the 2014 regular season.
Analysis: The battle to be the No. 2 quarterback is still ongoing, with Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien going back and forth as to which of them goes in after Aaron Rodgers. However, it’s likely that both Flynn and Tolzien make the 53-man roster this year. Five seasons have passed since the Packers last kept three quarterbacks heading into Week 1. But after what happened last season with Rodgers’ injury and the way the backup quarterback position wasn’t ready behind him, this seems like the right time to keep three. It also helps that Flynn and Tolzien have both earned a spot with solid preseason and training camp play. Plus, Tolzien can no longer be a practice-squad player, so it’s active-roster-or-bust for him.
Analysis: There was a window of opportunity for undrafted rookie Rajion Neal to earn a roster spot after an impressive couple weeks, but his hopes have been dashed considerably after a knee injury suffered in the first preseason game forced him to miss the second game and the past five practices. The rest of this group is likely set. Lacy is coming off a Rookie of the Year season and has two very capable running backs in Starks and Harris waiting to get on the field. Harris’ fumble in the second preseason game shouldn’t be enough to lose a roster spot. Remember that a year ago head coach Mike McCarthy described Harris as the starter, so there’s a little room for error.
Analysis: The biggest development since our last roster prediction is the emergence of seventh-round pick Jeff Janis. Since returning after missing the first seven practices with shingles, Janis has made a big play almost every day. Between spectacular practice catches and his 34-yard touchdown reception that showed off his remarkable speed, Janis has earned a roster spot. Plus, there’s enough buzz about Janis that another NFL team would likely claim him if the Packers tried to sneak him onto the practice squad. The decision to not keep Myles White or Kevin Dorsey would be a difficult one for Green Bay. White has shown a lot of improvement in Year 2 and Dorsey has been with several first-team special teams units. If the Packers keep six receivers instead of five, it would seem like a toss-up between White and Dorsey for that spot.
Analysis: The lower leg injury suffered by Brandon Bostick in the second preseason game will keep him out for a couple weeks. That will give time for rookie Richard Rodgers to prove that he’s ready to be the starter. Bostick’s injury also has opened a door for Jake Stoneburner, who got some practice snaps this week with the No. 1 offense. But, unless Green Bay decides that it can get by without Ryan Taylor on special teams, this should be the foursome at tight end in 2014. However, keep a close eye on Stoneburner over the final week of training camp.
Analysis: After Don Barclay’s season-ending torn ACL, there just isn’t much left for the Packers to consider on their offensive line depth chart. The starters are set and the backups have well-defined roles. Even after a very poor performance in the second preseason game, Derek Sherrod is still the next man up at both left and right tackle. Lane Taylor is the first option off the bench at guard and Corey Linsley will make the team as a reserve on the interior.
Analysis: The Jerel Worthy era in Green Bay is over after being traded to the New England Patriots. Meanwhile, the Packers would love to get Letroy Guion on the field, but he’s yet to pass his physical after suffering a hamstring injury before training camp. Guion was supposed to be the backup nose tackle, but his absence gave chances to Mike Pennel, and the undrafted rookie has delivered. This is a small group in number, but Julius Peppers and Mike Neal will spend some time on the defensive line.
Analysis: The big question here for Green Bay is whether it will keep its extremely productive undrafted rookie Jayrone Elliott, its second-year player Andy Mulumba (who’s had a quiet training camp) or its unproductive fourth-round pick rookie Carl Bradford. Elliott’s three sacks in a four-play span at St. Louis opened a lot of eyes. Mulumba was the undrafted rookie who the Packers kept last year, but he might be on the outside looking in this year. Cutting a mid-round pick like Bradford just months after drafting him is a very rare move for Green Bay, but giving him a roster spot would not be giving it to the most-deserving player. Still, the likelihood of dumping Bradford before the regular season is low.
Analysis: The difference in value between keeping a fourth- or a sixth-round pick is the difference between keeping Bradford versus keeping Demetri Goodson. The former Sweet 16 basketball star seems like a long shot to make the team based off his performance, and it’s easier to get a sixth-round pick to the practice squad than it is a fourth-round pick. Jumal Rolle has had his positive moments, but the Packers are strong one through five at cornerback. That’s especially true when considering that converted safety Micah Hyde will still spend some time as a slot cornerback.
Analysis: In recent weeks, Sean Richardson has gone from a bubble player to almost a sure thing to make the team. Chris Banjo has been involved on so many first-team special teams groups that Green Bay seems to have a plan for him. Banjo has also made his share of plays on defense. The improved play of the safeties so far has turned what was the Packers’ weakest position last season into what could be a strength this season.
Analysis: No competition in training camp for any of their three jobs makes this one easy.