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Green Bay Packers Roster Cuts: Predicting the Final 53-Man Roster

Dave RadcliffeContributor IIIOctober 13, 2016

Green Bay Packers Roster Cuts: Predicting the Final 53-Man Roster

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    By 4:00 pm ET on Monday, the Green Bay Packers, along with their 31 NFL counterparts, had to have their rosters trimmed down to 75 players.

    By Aug. 31, 22 more players will be subject to NFL roster cuts, leaving each team with 53 players—46 of whom will dress—heading into Week 1 of the NFL season.

    The Packers have logjams at several different positions on a roster loaded with talent. If they could hold onto all of their current players heading into their Week 1 clash with San Francisco, Mike McCarthy and company would be just fine with that.

    Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

    With that Aug. 31 deadline looming, let's see which 53 players on the Green Bay Packers will beat final cuts.

    Note: Players whose names are in italics will be inactive for Week 1.

Special Teams

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    Punter (1)

    Tim Masthay

     

    Kicker (1)

    Mason Crosby

     

    Long Snapper (1)

    Brett Goode

     

    Three no-brainers to kick things off. These guys have solidified their roles on the Packers special teams unit for years to come—most recently Masthay, who earned himself a four-year contract extension this offseason.

    Goode is as solid as they come in the NFL when it comes to long snappers, and Crosby has one of the biggest legs in football. 

    All three will have nothing to sweat come final cut time.

Secondary

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    Safeties (5)

    Morgan Burnett, MD Jennings, Anthony Levine, Jerron McMillan, Charles Woodson

     

    Cornerbacks (5)

    Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams

     

    Ten players from the secondary will break the Packers' roster come NFL final roster cuts for the fourth straight year, a couple of which will have vital roles on special teams.

    Bush has been a special teams stud over the past few years, but he has been a liability at cornerback. He should enter the season as the No. 2 corner opposite of Williams thanks in part to the injury to House.

    House could work his way into a starting role during the season, but for now he will have to accept a diminished role as he fights to return to playing shape after separating his shoulder, an injury that could keep him limited all season.

    Should House end up undergoing surgery, Brendian Ross—who has made some noise in camp—could snatch up a roster spot.

    I list Woodson as a safety here, although the Packers are rarely in their base defense, which is when Chuck is expected to drop back to strong safety. 

    The nickel safety position is still up for grabs—it could be either Jennings or McMillan in that role. Even second-year man Anthony Levine has made some noise, but I don't foresee him receiving much if any playing time this year.

Linebacker

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    Linebackers (9) 

    Robert Francois, AJ Hawk, Brad Jones, Jarami Lattimore, Clay Matthews, Dezman Moses, Nick Perry, DJ Smith, Erik Walden


    Certainly some difficult decisions to make with this unit, but because of his impact on special teams and tenacious ability to get into the backfield, Moses will make the final cut.

    The final linebacker spot may just come down to Walden and Vic So'oto, on whom I was pretty high early last season, but Walden—who is suspended for Week 1—has been playing like a man possessed after struggling mightily in 2011.

    Lattimore could surprise some people this season based on his performance during the preseason, plus his ability to play both inside and outside is an attractive asset.

    Francois injured his hamstring in Thursday's game against Cincinnati, so that could open the door for someone like So'oto or Terrell Manning to make the roster should Francois be placed on the PUP list.

    Of course, the biggest loss Green Bay suffered in the preseason was Desmond Bishop, who was placed on IR Monday. It's a shame this rule change was rejected.

    To me, it came down to Brad Jones and Manning for another spot on the roster, but Jones' special teams ability will give him the edge.

    Manning, who could make the 53-man roster initially with Walden out—or with Francois injured—will otherwise find himself on the practice squad.

    Lastly, Frank Zombo was placed on PUP on Monday, but that may just be delaying the inevitable for Z.

Defensive Line

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    Defensive Linemen (7)

    Mike Daniels, Phillip Merling, Daniel Muir, Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, CJ Wilson, Jerel Worthy

     

    The Packers loaded up on defensive linemen in the offseason, but does this mean they keep more than they usually do on the roster?

    Likely so. But when Mike Neal returns from his four-game suspension, Green Bay will have to reevaluate its defensive line situation.

    Or maybe they will just cut Neal to help resolve that issue. Anthony Hargrove fell victim largely in part to his eight-game suspension, with Mike McCarthy making it clear his priority was to prepare for Week 1.

    Neal could also suffer from this philosophy. I see the Packers holding onto Phillip Merling for the first four weeks to give the team added depth at D-line, but this leaves them light at another position.

    Perhaps tight end? Four tight ends compared to five doesn't exactly leave the Packers vulnerable. Stay tuned.

    Expect Neal to replace Merling in Week 5 and Pickett, Raji and Worthy to be the main trio fighting in the trenches.

Offensive Line

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    Offensive Linemen (8)

    Don Barclay, Bryan Bulaga, Evan Dietrich-Smith, TJ Lang, Marshall Newhouse, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton, Reggie Wells


    It was hard to scrap together eight names to fill out this group, but injuries have left Green Bay thin at offensive line.

    Things would look better if Derek Sherrod were healthy, and the fact that he's on the 75-man roster and not the PUP list—for now—is a welcome sight.

    But my final prediction for offensive line does not include Sherrod because I don't believe he'll be ready for the first few weeks of the season. Once he is ready to return, it will likely be Wells who is told to pack his bags.

    EDS also has starting experience and is someone the team can fall back on should injuries persist, but beyond that, the Packers don't have much of a security blanket.

    From left to right, Newhouse, Lang, Saturday, Sitton and Bulaga are a pretty steady front five. Let's hope nothing changes in that regard.

Tight End

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    Tight Ends (4)

    Tom Crabtree, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Taylor, DJ Williams

     

    Speaking of units decimated by injury...

    With Andrew Quarless on the PUP list, the Packers will start the season with four tight ends. They might also end the season with four tight ends.

    Green Bay enjoyed the luxury of five tight ends and the depth that came with it last season, especially for the help it provided special teams. Taylor, Crabtree and Quarless were all regulars on kickoffs and punts.

    During camp, Crabtree has been getting more looks in the passing game, but that was more of a product of the injuries sustained at tight end. That role will be reprised by Finley.

    Williams is also more of a pass-catching specialist, but—you guessed it—injuries have held him back, and he didn't get a chance to prove himself during camp.

    In fact, injuries have been so bad at tight end that linebackers Vic So'oto and Erik Walden were filling in on the scout team early this week—ironic considering the two are likely battling for one roster spot.

    By Week 1, these four should be healthy enough—I think—to suit up and have an impact.

Wide Receiver

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    Receivers (5)

    Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson

     

    James Jones' time as a Green Bay Packer may be running out due to recent trade rumors—specifically involving the Dolphins—but there doesn't appear to be any substance to these rumors.

    However, Jones hasn't exactly been high on Mike McCarthy's list over the past year or so.

    Combine that with Donald Driver's time running out, and Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley are perhaps only a year away from suiting up in the green and gold during the regular season.

    Their injuries and shaky performances—not to mention the talent ahead of them—will prevent them from making that leap this season.

    That could lead to other teams snatching Gurley and Borel up from the practice squad. Let's hope not.

    These five make up perhaps the best receiving corps in the NFL and are locked in to be Green Bay's wideouts come Week 1.

    And in no way is that depressing. 

Running Back

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    Running Backs (5)

    Cedric Benson, Alex Green, John Kuhn, Brandon Saine, James Starks

     

    Contrary to a season ago, the Packers will keep five players at running back on the 53-man roster, one of which is fullback John Kuhn.

    The addition of Cedric Benson may have something to do with that.

    Prior to the addition of Benson, no Packers tailback had more than two years of experience in the NFL. That seems to leave Saine as the odd man out, but his talent is something the Packers would like to hold onto.

    Green should make some appearances on third downs, and Starks can spell Benson every now and then, but if Benson's performance last Thursday was a sign of things to come, then Green Bay's running situation is good to go.

    I can't believe I'm uttering those words.

    Look for Saine to be inactive for most of the season, Kuhn to be fully healthy by Week 1 and Benson to be the guy behind Rodgers.

Quarterback

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    Quarterbacks (2)

    Graham Harrell, Aaron Rodgers

     

    Sorry, BJ Coleman.

    Throughout the preseason, Harrell's performance has been subject of criticism, causing some grumblings that the Packers would go out and look for a new backup for Rodgers.

    Those talks seem to have died down somewhat, but with names like Colt McCoy and Matt Moore—and now Vince Young—seemingly available, it's hard to believe Green Bay won't at least do some inquiring.

    How about a straight up swap: Matt Moore for James Jones? A kid can dream.

    For now, it's Rodgers and Harrell, and should Rodgers tragically suffer physical harm, Packers fans may be in for a rude awakening.

     

    What are your thoughts on who the Packers will keep/part ways with? Chime in below with your thoughts or get the conversation going with me on Twitter.

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