Green Bay Packers: Early Projections for the Final 53-Man Roster

Matt SmithContributor IIIMay 6, 2012

Green Bay Packers: Early Projections for the Final 53-Man Roster

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    Final cuts for the 2012 season are still far away. 

    Training camp hasn't even started yet. For that matter, neither has the Green Bay Packers' rookie camp, which is set to start on May 11.

    The draft is over, though, and rookie free-agent signings are pretty much finished. We have an idea of who'll compete for roster spots and who won't.

    Even though it might be way too early to make these predictions, here's what the Packers' 53-man roster may look like come September.

    * - Indicates a rookie.

    ** - Indicates an undrafted free agent.

Quarterbacks (3)

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    QB1: Aaron Rodgers

    QB2: Graham Harrell

    QB3: B.J. Coleman*

    While Rodgers and Harrell are set in stone as the top two quarterbacks, Coleman and recently signed Nick Hill will have to battle for the third spot.

    The third quarterback is not guaranteed a roster spot, however.

Running Backs (4)

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    RB1: James Starks

    RB2: Alex Green

    RB3: Brandon Saine

    FB: John Kuhn

    The running backs are rather unimpressive. Both Starks and Saine are pedestrian runners, with Starks being better than Saine.

    Kuhn, obviously, is the fullback.

    We'll see what Green can do and if Saine can hold off undrafted free agent Marc Tyler.

Wide Receivers (6)

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    WR1: Greg Jennings

    WR2: Jordy Nelson

    WR3: Donald Driver

    WR4: James Jones

    WR5: Randall Cobb

    WR6: Dale Moss**

    Jennings and Nelson are on the outside with Driver and Cobb sharing snaps in the slot. Jones is the third outside receiver.

    The big thing this offseason will be whether the Packers decide to carry six receivers. 

    They gave Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel raises last season and this year they signed freak athlete Dale Moss just minutes after the draft ended.

    I'm taking Dale Moss here as he's simply too special an athlete to risk getting claimed off of waivers if he has a good camp.

    Driver will have to take a pay cut down to the minimum if he wants to stay.

Tight End (4)

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    TE1: Jermichael Finley

    TE2: Andrew Quarless

    TE3: Ryan Taylor

    TE4: D.J. Williams

    Mike McCarthy loves his tight ends, but there won't be five tight ends making the roster this time.

    Finley is the clear starter while Quarless will be fighting for a spot after going down late last season to injury. 

    Taylor is more of an H-back type player and a special-teamer.

    Tom Crabtree will be the casualty here.

Offensive Line (9)

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    LT1: Marshall Newhouse

    LG1: T.J. Lang

    C1: Jeff Saturday

    RG1: Josh Sitton

    RT1: Bryan Bulaga

    G2: Evan Dietrich-Smith

    G/T: Ray Dominguez

    C2: Jaymes Brooks**

    T3: Andrew Datko*

    Chad Clifton is gone at left tackle. Saturday is in and Scott Wells is out at center. Those are the only changes to the starting lineup.

    Datko, a seventh-round pick, will be groomed, as well undrafted rookie Brooks from Virginia Tech.

    Dominguez will be an important backup, as he's versatile enough to play both guard and tackle. He's behind Dietrich-Smith but ahead of Datko.

    Derek Sherrod will begin the season on the PUP list.

Defensive Line (6)

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    DE1: Ryan Pickett

    DE2: Jerel Worthy*

    DE3: C.J. Wilson

    DT1: B.J. Raji

    DT2: Howard Green

    DE/DT: Mike Daniels*

    One of the biggest question marks for the roster is the defensive line. This is a deep group that lacks star power outside of Raji and potentially Worthy.

    The three starters and Green seem to be locks, but after that it's anyone's guess.

    Daniels wasn't drafted in the fourth round to be cut, but his build at 6'0", 291 pounds makes it anyone's guess as to where he fits.

    Anthony Hargrove was suspended for eight games earlier and Mike Neal may be shown the door after his four-game suspension.

    C.J. Wilson is on the bubble roster and then you have last year's seventh-round pick Lawrence Guy. It's too hard to predict this at this time.

Outside Linebacker (4)

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    OLB1: Clay Matthews

    OLB2: Nick Perry*

    OLB3: Erik Walden

    OLB4: Vic So'oto

    Nick Perry wasn't drafted in the first round to sit on the bench.

    He'll be given every opportunity to win the starting outside linebacker job opposite Matthews.

    Walden returns as a backup and So'oto gets the nod over Jamari Lattimore, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo.

    So'oto isn't an experienced special teams player and that may come in handy for the other candidates, but I'd put my money on So'oto making the team if I had to.

Inside Linebacker (4)

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    ILB1: Desmond Bishop

    ILB2: A.J. Hawk

    ILB3: D.J. Smith

    ILB4: Terrell Manning*

    Hopefully, Green Bay can find a way to get rid of Hawk's terrible contract. That would open a starting spot for Smith, who was serviceable last year.

    Manning could develop into a terror as a blitzer though won't see much time this year and Bishop was second on the team in sacks last year.

    Robert Francois barely misses out here because of Manning's status as a drafted player.

    Converted linebacker and undrafted free agent Sean Richardson may go to the practice squad to add some weight before being given a legitimate shot next year.

Cornerback (6)

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    CB1: Tramon Williams

    CB2: Charles Woodson

    CB3: Casey Hayward*

    CB4: Sam Shields

    CB5: Jarrett Bush

    CB6: Brandian Ross

    Surprise! While Ross was arguably more impressive than Davon House last year, he got waived because House was a fourth-round pick and he was not. This time he beats out House after a year on the practice squad.

    Williams will be the team's shutdown corner, while Woodson will move around depending on the opposing team's personnel.

    Hayward will have to battle out Shields, who took a big step back last year, for the third cornerback spot.

    Bush, yet again, lands on special teams.

Safety (4)

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    FS1: Morgan Burnett

    FS2: M.D. Jennings

    SS1: Charlie Peprah

    SS2: Jerron McMillian*

    Sadly, the team had to cut Nick Collins.

    Burnett will open as the free safety while Peprah will open as the starter at strong safety.

    McMillian, a fourth-round pick, was a surprise selection for Green Bay. Do not sleep on him though, he'll be starting by year's end.

    M.D. Jennings will likely battle with Anthony Levine for the final spot if the team decides to take Levine to camp again.

Specialists (3)

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    K: Mason Crosby

    P: Tim Masthay

    LS: Brett Goode

    This is probably the least surprising of any group as these three carry over from last year and have no real chance of being unseated.

Possible Trade Candidates

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    James Jones, WR

    A.J. Hawk, ILB

    Jarrett Bush, CB

    Charlie Peprah, S