I talk to a lot of Green Bay Packers fans that have more of a life than me and only know the starters on the Packers. Those fans all want to know the same thing, that one thing they should be watching late in preseason games. That has made me want to write about who is going to be on this team going into the regular season! Writers do this every year and at least on the margins of the roster, it can be hard to predict.
I am going to do my best after a couple of weeks of practice and 1 preseason game to predict what this team is going to look like in September. I, unfortunately, cannot be at every practice to see what is going on every snap but from the media personalities I follow and watching the first preseason game, I think that I have a good idea what is going on with the Packers roster. Players that are marked with an asterix are the likely starters (if healthy) in base personnel.
Offense: 25 Players
Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers*, Deshone Kizer
I personally think that the Packers are going to only keep two quarterbacks on the roster this year. Last year the Packers kept three all season but only had Tim Boyle active for one game the entire year, and he did not play a single snap in that game. Even with the injury to Rodgers last year and with Tim Boyle on the roster the Packers still went with Kizer. Fast forward to preseason week one of 2019 and the Packers started with Kizer for the first half of the game. Kizer with a 61.5% completion percentage in this game, Boyle had 60%. Both players had a very similar yard per attempt average; Kizer with 7.8 and Boyle had 8.0. Lastly, Deshone Kizer threw for one TD and a passer rating 111.7, Boyle threw for two TD’s and a passer rating of 125.0. Statistically, I think Boyle had a slightly better game but I think Tim Boyle is really going to have to outplay Kizer to get the nod for QB2. Watching this game I did not notice a huge difference between the 2 players and that is why I think Kizer will make the team over Boyle!
Runningbacks (3): Aaron Jones*, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams
This one is very easy for me, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are a lock to make this roster and are going to be big contributors for the Packers in the 2019 season. I also think Dexter Williams is very close to a lock to make this team, the one thing that I thought has been weird throughout the preseason process is that Tre Carson is getting first-team reps before Dexter Williams with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams out with hamstring injuries. I think Dexter proved in the first preseason game against the Texans that he deserves to be considered RB3. Dexter has shown a lot of ability running the football, has shown some juice catching the football. If he can go out and prove that he can be a solid pass protector I think we might see him leap from Jamaal Williams on the RB depth chart.
Fullback (1): Danny Vitale
I am going to be completely honest with you, not that long ago I did not think that the Packers would use one of the 53 on a fullback. Vitale has fully changed my mind on this and I now think that he is a lock to make this roster! He has shown that he can do just about anything he can run the ball, run block, pass block, and pass protect. As an opposing defense, you typically know what is going to happen when you see a fullback on the field but Danny Vitale is so unbelievably versatile for a fullback that the Packers can do so much with him and he is going to be a huge asset for them!
Wide Receiver (6): Davante Adams*, Marquez Valdes-Scantling*, Geronimo Allison, Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Kumerow, Darrius Shepherd
The most intriguing position battle in camp is most certainly the WR position. The interesting thing about this battle is, it’s really for the last two WR spots on the roster. My personal locks for the roster are Adams, Valdes-Scantling, Allison, and St. Brown. If you listen to the Packers Trilogy Podcast you know that I have been very hesitant on if Kumerow will actually make the 53 man roster. After the first preseason game and the first two weeks of hearing that Kumerow makes plays every day I am officially on the bandwagon and Jake Kumerow is going to make this team. To round out this group I think Darrius Shepherd will be WR6 to start the season. Again if you listen to the Packers Trilogy Podcast I have been high on J’mon Moore, but he continues to have big-time drop and I think he is playing himself off this team. The other well-known player among Packer fans is Trevor Davis, I chose Darrius Shepherd over him because I feel like he is showing a lot more potential on the offensive side of the ball and Shepherd is returner #2 on this team so I think it is more important to carry the guy that can positively impact games on special teams and offense, not just special teams.
Tight Ends (4): Jimmy Graham*, Marcedes Lewis*, Robert Tonyon, Jace Sternberger
This is another straightforward and easy decision for me. Matt LaFleur is going to use a lot of two TE sets and is going to use three TE sets from time to time if that is the case, you need at least four tight ends on the roster and these are easily the choices for this team. I know that a lot of Packer fans are down on Jimmy Graham but I still think he is a useful NFL player and will start this season as the team’s number one TE. That is not to say that he will end the year as our number one TE, hopefully, there are big steps from Jace Sternberger and Robert Tonyon and they can become more involved in the offense and they are TE 1&2 for next year and beyond!
Offensive Linemen (9):David Bahktari*, Lane Taylor*, Corey Linsley*, Billy Turner*, Bryan Bulaga*, Eltgon Jenkins, Cole Madison, Alex Light, Justin McCray
As of this moment, I think that the starting line is the set and they are all locks to make the roster in my humble opinion. Lane Taylor was the only one of the presumed starters to play in the first preseason game of 2019. After the game, Matt LaFleur told reporters that the reason that Lane started was that he is in a battle for the starting left guard spot. It was not said explicitly but I believe that Eltgon Jenkins is the one that is in the battle for the starting LG role. Jenkins split time with Taylor earlier this week in practice, so it looks like alone with the presumed starting five. Jenkins is a lock to make this team as he is currently pushing for a starting spot on a good offensive line. The other three players I have are Cole Madison, Alex Light, and Justin McCray. Madison has not had a particularly good camp, but after a year off from football that should be expected, the Packers were and still are really high on him and I think he makes this team. McCray is listed as a guard but he is extremely versatile and I think that really makes it hard to cut him because he can play all over the offensive line. Lastly is Alex Light, I did not think he was extremely likely to make this roster three weeks ago but now hearing that the Packers have released Jason Spriggs it makes a lot of sense for the packers to bring on a young guy that can hopefully at the very least turn into a swing tackle for you. Billy Turner will likely kick out for that role in 2019 but if Bulaga is not resigned and Turner becomes the RT of the future it is nice to have someone to be that third tackle that you feel comfortable with.
Defense: 25 Players
Defensive Linemen (6): Kenny Clark*, Dean Lowry*, Montravious Adams*, Tyler Lancaster, Kinsley Keke, James Looney
Outside of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and David Bakhtiari, there is not another player on this team better than Kenny Clark, he should get an extension soon to prove that fact. Dean Lowry is a solid player, his recent contract extension proves that the Packers think that too. To me, the releasing of Mike Daniels speaks to what they think of not only Dean Lowry but the rest of this DL depth chart. Montravious Adams has looked really good so far and camp and when there is three DL on the field I suspect that Adams will be the third linemen on the field. Lancaster proved that he can be a solid rotational level player and will be a valuable part of the rotation looking forward. Kinsley Keke was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and the Packers have high hopes for him. Keke played well in his first game for the Packers, and for me made him a lock to make this roster due to play. Lastly, I am not sure about keeping six defensive linemen but the way that James Looney showed out Thursday night against the Texans makes me think he is going to be a tough player to cut.
Outside Linebackers (5): Za’darius Smith*, Preston Smith*, Rashan Gary, Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert
Za’darius Smith has been better than advertised and alongside the other outside linebackers and that deep defensive line rotation, I really think he is going to be worth every penny the Packers spent on him. Preston Smith is going to make this team, he hasn’t been spectacular this offseason/preseason but he is solid and does his job. Paired with the players around him, he will still be a solid/good player on this defense. The 12th overall pick, Rashan Gary has been as advertised and is going to be a successful NFL player, he could be a star in this league if he puts in the hard work to go along with insane physical tools. Kyler Fackrell was the leading sack getter for the Packers last year. I do not think Fackrell is a good number one option for any team, but on this team, he is likely the number four option and showed last year he could be a good rotational pass rusher. Lastly, the next best edge rusher on the roster is Reggie Gilbert and with a consistent rotation of four players you need some depth and that is what Reggie Gilbert is going to provide for the 2019 Green Bay Packers.
Inside Linebackers (3): Blake Martinez*, Ty Summers*, Curtis Bolton
Blake Martinez is a very good player and is going to be a good-to-great contributor this year. Martinez gets unnecessary heat from Packer fans, yes he is limited and cannot cover well but he is good at quarterbacking the defense and stopping the run! I am and have been extremely high on Oren Burks, but during the first preseason game against the Texans, Burks reportedly tore his pectoral muscle. If this is confirmed that likely means that he will not play in the 2019 season. I do not think the ILB is a vitally important position in Pettine’s scheme, he showed that last year when he would rather play Martinez and a safety as the inside linebackers to help with pass coverage. This means that I still think the Packers only keep three inside linebackers, Pettine will continue to use safeties as linebackers. I think that seventh-round pick Ty Summers will make this roster, he did have some good plays against the Texans. Another player that you may not have heard a lot about is Curtis Bolton. Bolton played for Oklahoma in college and really had some good plays specifically in coverage and that fits extremely well in today’s NFL. Even though I do not have him on this list I think with the injury to Oren Burks, James Crawford was a very good special teams player for the Packers last year. I think he could make this team if he steps up and proves that he can make some plays on the defensive side of the ball in addition to the solid special teams play.
Cornerbacks (6): Jaire Alexander*, Kevin King*, Tramon Williams, Josh Jackson, Tony Brown, Ka’dar Hollman
Arguably the single most important position on the defense and this is one of the deepest cornerback rooms I have seen in Green Bay in a long time. If Kevin King gets and stays healthy and Jaire Alexander stays healthy this defense is going to be a lot of fun to watch because these are two very good players and wouldn’t shock me if they are in the pro bowl. Not to take away from the rest of the group, Tramon is a proven player that is going to be solid for you even though he is on the wrong side of 30. Jackson, Brown, and Hollman have a lot to prove but it is very evident that there is a lot of talent there and I cannot wait to see what they do in the 2019 season.
Safeties (5): Adrian Amos*, Darnell Savage*, Raven Greene, Ibraheim Campbell, Josh Jones
This position benefits from Mike Pettine’s scheme, he really enjoys having three safeties on the field at once so that tells me that he would prefer to have five safeties on the roster. Amos and Savage are going to be your traditional starters on Sundays. This says a lot about Darnell Savage, coming into camp this was his job. He proved a lot on the field in college and OTA’s but what is more impressive is the glowing reviews from teammates and coaches on how fast he picked the defense up and the NFL doesn’t seem to be too much for him. Raven Greene is the next guy on the depth chart, he is going to play a lot and has been playing well so far in camp! The Packers have signed Ibraheim Campbell, Campbell played well for Green Bay last year. The safety position was awful last season but Campbell was the lone bright spot and if he is ready to play after his ACL tear from last year this could be a very helpful addition. Lastly, Josh Jones and the player that makes the most sense to play the hybrid safety/linebacker role. Even though he requested a trade, I think that Jones wants to play football and he will play this year for the Packers. Mike Pettine loves to use safeties so I do think that you will constantly see each and every one of these players on the field in the 2019 season.
Specialists: 3 Players
Long Snapper (1): Hunter Bradley
They drafted this guy last year to be a long snapper, no question he makes this team. Plus he looks to be better than he was last year.
Punter (1): JK Scott
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and he has improved from his rookie season? JK Scott is going to be the punter for the Green Bay Packers.
Kicker (1): Mason Crosby
Sam Ficken was brought in for competition but ultimately I think he is too inconsistent and Crosby is still a useful NFL kicker. I think it would be a mistake to move on from Crosby, just ask Bears fans if they wish they would have kept Robbie Gould.