Packers pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction

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Training camp week is finally here. The Green Bay Packers have veterans reporting on Tuesday and will then hold the team’s first practice on Wednesday morning at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay.

How will Brian Gutekunst’s roster shape up over the next month or so? The competition of camp and the preseason will help decide important roster battles. And there are certainly roster spots to be won in Green Bay, especially in terms of depth.

Here’s one last shot at a 53-man roster prediction before the Packers open training camp:

Quarterback (2)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) participate in training camp Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.

Make it: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
Cut: Danny Etling

No need to keep three with Rodgers (back-to-back NFL MVP) and Love (first-round pick entering Year 3) on the roster. Will Etling stick as the third on the practice squad? That’s the only question here. The Packers could look elsewhere for depth if Etling doesn’t have an impressive summer.

Running back (3)

Running back Patrick Taylor (27) is shown during the first day of Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp Friday, May 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.

Make it: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor
Cut: BJ Baylor, Tyler Goodson
PUP: Kylin Hill

Hill (ACL) started camp on the PUP list and is a likely candidate to start the season there. Taylor, who is now in Year 3 with the Packers and coming off a strong end to 2021, is the heavy favorite to stick as the third running back. Can one of the undrafted rookies push Taylor or tempt the Packers into keeping four?

Wide receiver (6)

Green Bay Packers’ Randall Cobb is shown during organized team activities (OTA) Tuesday, May 31, 2022 in Green Bay, Wis.

Make it: Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs
Cut: Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor, Samori Toure, Danny Davis

I think seven is a real possibility here, with Winfree and Toure as the most likely candidates to stick if the Packers keep an extra receiver. But six might be more likely, especially given the probability of the top six making the team. Maybe Rodgers is on the ropes after a rocky rookie season? And Watkins must stay healthy throughout camp. There’s always a surprise at receiver, but all signs point to these six being on the team come Week 1.

Tight end (4)

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Dominique Dafney (49) is shown during the second day of organized team activities Tuesday, May 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.

Keep: Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis, Dominique Dafney
Cut: Alize Mack, Sal Cannella
PUP: Robert Tonyan

Ideally, Tonyan would get to 100 percent before the start of the regular season and give the Packers a legit weapon at tight end in Week 1. It’s probably a long shot. The guess here is that the Packers are conservative with Tonyan’s recovery and keep him on the PUP list through camp and the start of the year. In that scenario, the Packers keep just four at tight end and hope for big improvement from a player like Deguara or Davis to start 2022.

Offensive line (10)

Green Bay Packers’ David Bakhtiari walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Saturday, Dec 25. 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Keep: David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Yosh Nijman, Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, Jake Hanson, Cole Van Lanen, Rasheed Walker
Cut: Cole Schneider, Michal Menet, George Moore, Caleb Jones
PUP: Elgton Jenkins

Bakhtiari is starting training camp on the PUP list, greatly increasing the concern over both his short-term and long-term availability. He’s still not physically able to get on a practice field. But until we know more, we’ll keep him on the roster. Nevertheless, the situation at offensive tackle is shaky. If Bakhtiari isn’t going to be available, the Packers probably need to make a veteran addition here. With depth a concern, Walker makes the cut in this prediction.

Defensive line (5)

T.J. Slaton is shown during the Green Bay Packers organized team activities (OTA) Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Green Bay, Wis.

Keep: Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, TJ Slaton, Devonte Wyatt
Cut: Jack Heflin, Jonathan Ford, Chris Slayton, Akial Byers, Hauati Pututau

The Packers would probably love to keep a guy like Heflin on the roster as the sixth defensive lineman, but the numbers just don’t work out here, especially considering how solid the top five are along the defensive front. All five could play a lot of snaps for the Packers defense in 2022.

Outside linebacker (5)

Keep: Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Tipa Galeai, Kingsley Enagbare
Cut: Randy Ramsey, Ladarius Hamilton, Kobe Jones, Chauncey Manac

I still like Garvin and Galeai as backups behind the two veteran starters, with Enagbare a near-lock as the developmental option with the most upside. The Packers would feel a lot better about this position if one of the young players takes a big step or Enagbare proves capable of providing instant impact as a rotational player.

Inside linebacker (5)

Keep: De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie, Ray Wilborn
Cut: Ty Summers, Caliph Brice, Ellis Brooks

The top three are locked in, and the Packers need a core special teamer or two out of the rest. I think McDuffie and Wilborn have the best chance of being standouts for the third phase. Brice and Brooks are intriguing undrafted free agents who could be practice squad candidates.

Cornerback (5)

Cornerbacks Eric Stokes (21) and Shemar Jean-Charles are shown during the first day of Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp Friday, May 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.

Keep: Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, Keisean Nixon, Shemar Jean-Charles
Cut: Kabion Ento, Rico Gafford, Raleigh Texada, Kiondre Thomas

The more you look at this group, the more you think a veteran addition is possible. The top three are possibly the best in football, and Nixon looks like a core special teamer, but everything else on the depth chart is iffy. A veteran with some playing experience might be required to stabilize the depth here.

Safety (5)

Green Bay Packers’ Innis Gaines runs during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Keep: Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines, Tariq Carpenter
Cut: Vernon Scott, Tre Sterling

Do the Packers even have five safeties worth keeping on the 53-man roster? We’ll find out. Davis has emerged as one of the likely backups, and Carpenter is an upside prospect with size/speed and hybrid ability. Gaines, in Year 2, might be ready to take a roster spot. A veteran might make sense here, too.

Specialists (3)

Keep: Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Steven Wirtel
Cut: Jack Coco, Gabe Brkic

No surprises here. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the eventual long snapper isn’t currently on the roster. Wirtel vs. Coco is a truly uninspiring battle for an important specialist spot.

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