With the preseason wrapped up, the Packers are now faced with the task of trimming their roster to 53 by 3 p.m. CDT on Tuesday. Here’s my best guess as to how they will build their initial team.
Quarterback (3) — Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Kurt Benkert
One of the pressing questions entering final cuts will be whether or not Benkert is worth a roster spot, or if the Packers can sneak him through to the practice squad. I have a hard time believing he wouldn’t be claimed off of waivers, and I think Green Bay wants to keep him around, even if it requires using a valuable roster spot.
Running Back (3) — Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Kylin Hill
This is one position where the Packers might be able to make up for keeping an extra quarterback. Jones and Dillon always figured to be featured prominently in the offense, but Matt LaFleur has to be wondering how he can get Hill on the field every now and then based on what the seventh-round rookie put on tape during the preseason.
Wide Receiver (6) — Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor
The first five were always going to make the team — the bigger question was how many the Packers would keep beyond that. Taylor impressed in preseason action, catching 14 passes for 185 yards.
Tight End (4) — Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney
You could make a case for three here, but LaFleur loves versatile tight ends who can double as H-backs and essentially eliminate the need for a traditional fullback. Dafney flashed both offensively and on special teams last season, which strengthens his case.
Offensive Line (10) — David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Billy Turner, Jon Runyan, Royce Newman, Ben Braden, Lucas Patrick, Dennis Kelly, Yosh Nijman
The million dollar question along the offensive line is whether or not the Packers keep Bakhtiari on the PUP list to start the year. Doing so would require him to miss at least the first six games, meaning a late-October return at the earliest. As of today, the team has given no indication publicly of when they expect the All-Pro to return, but given he tore his ACL on New Years Eve, one could assume he might be ready to go before that week seven benchmark.
Defensive Line (5) — Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke, Dean Lowry, T.J. Slaton, Jack Heflin
Not much explanation needed here. Heflin, the undrafted rookie from Iowa, makes the squad by virtue of being younger and cheaper than Tyler Lancaster.
Outside Linebacker (4) — Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin
I waffled between including Tipa Galeai here, but in the end it’s more likely the Packers give him a chance to refine his raw ability on the practice squad. Za’Darius Smith is dealing with a back injury that could put his week one availability in doubt, meaning Garvin could see some meaningful snaps in New Orleans.
Inside Linebacker (4) — Krys Barnes, De’Vondre Campbell, Ty Summers, Oren Burks
The middle of the defense is probably going to be an adventure once again this season. The Packers are hoping Campbell will bring something new to the group, and we’ll have to wait and see how Joe Barry intends on utilizing his inside backers in games that matter.
Cornerback (6) — Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean-Charles, Chandon Sullivan, Kabion Ento
Even though Stokes will inevitably experience some growing pains, I think the top three here are going to be formidable, assuming the Packers spend most of their time in nickel. Jean-Charles and Ento should provide special teams help, too.
Safety (5) — Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Henry Black, Vernon Scott, Christian Uphoff
More than any other position, I wonder if this might be one where the Packers are actively following the transaction wire to see if they can find a diamond in the rough among the rest of the league’s roster cuts. The top four a pretty locked in, but the team might wonder if they could find a slight upgrade from Uphoff.
Special Teams (3) — Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley
The Silver Fox is back for his 15th season in the green and gold and showing no sign of slowing down after going 100% on field goals in 2020. Scott and Bradley are also present.