Breaking Down the Green Bay Packers' Roster After the 2014 Draft
After three days of drafting and 48 crazy hours of undrafted free agency, the Packers have locked up a loose camp roster.
Along with nine draft picks, the Packers signed 12 undrafted free agents. While everyone might have a different impact, we'll go position by position to not only show you how the depth chart lines up for the rookies but also for the incumbent veterans.
Yes, even the special teamers.
With the re-signing of Matt Flynn and the undrafted addition of rookie Chase Rettig, the Packers' quarterback situation doesn't seem much different than it did at the end of the 2013 season.
Aaron Rodgers is still the man. Despite recent injury history, he is in no danger of losing his starting job. With his new, large contract, one would expect he's the quarterback of the future for a long time, too.
Many expected Mike McCarthy to address the quarterback position in the draft, taking a developmental quarterback to be the third passer on the roster or even push Matt Flynn for the second spot on the team. Instead, the largest move the team made at quarterback this offseason was to re-sign Flynn, who was brought to Green Bay midseason in 2013 and filled in as a starter during Rodgers' injury.
The question with Scott Tolzien is simple. Will the team value his potential enough to give him a spot on the 53-man roster? We're not sure at this point, but he was on the team last year. With a more stable backup behind Rodgers, could that lead to Green Bay only holding two quarterbacks? If Tolzien wants a job with the Packers in September, he needs to flash in the preseason.
Chase Rettig was a four-year starter at Boston College but is likely a "camp arm."
RB: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Rajion Neal (R), LaDarius Perkins (R), Michael Hill
FB: John Kuhn, Ina Liaina
Not a position of need heading into the draft, the Packers re-signed James Starks and starting fullback John Kuhn this offseason.
Likely the starter in 2014 as he was in 2013, Eddie Lacy has some injury concerns but is by far the most talented back on the team. Better suited for a power scheme, he may be one of the reasons for the Packers leaning more toward power in 2013 than in previous years.
James Starks, an injury-prone back who helped lead the Packers through a Super Bowl run his rookie year, is likely the second running back on the roster, passing over Johnathan Franklin on the depth chart just like 2013.
Franklin had a decent rookie year, but his costly fumble against Cincinnati may have lost the game for the Packers. For him to see the field more, he needs to hold onto the ball to ensure touches.
DuJuan Harris was the starting running back for the Packers before an injury sidelined him for 2013. With talented SEC coming in through undrafted free agency, Harris, Rajion Neal, LaDarius Perkins and Michael Hill are likely all battling for one roster spot.
While Ina Liaina is on the roster, he's probably a camp body to rotate reps with John Kuhn, who is most likely going to hold onto the starting role.
Likely locked up as the first, second, and third receivers heading into camp, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin are slated to hit free agency after 2014. While they likely all won't hit the open market, there's a reason why the Packers targeted three receivers in the draft.
Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis should be locks to make the roster after being selected in the 2014 draft. Adams is more of a James Jones future replacement who may take a year to get to get to that level.
Abbrederis is a savvy route-runner who may contribute earlier than expected. His upside isn't as high as Adams', though, which will likely be the motivation to get Adams more reps.
After that, many players are fighting for a roster spot. Kevin Dorsey was a seventh-round pick in 2013 but essentially took a redshirt year on injured reserve. Jeff Janis was a seventh-round pick this past weekend but is a project who may need time on the practice squad before touching the 53-man roster.
Chris Harper was drafted in 2013 but not by the Packers, who added him to the 53-man roster as a free agent. The former quarterback didn't make much of an impact his rookie year, though. Alex Gillett and Myles White are returning camp roster members who made an impression in the 2013 preseason.
Lineup: Richard Rodgers (R), Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Justin Perillo (R), Raymond Webber
With the loss of Jermichael Finley, the Packers needed to find a new starting tight end for 2014. Late on Day 2 of the 2014 draft, they found him.
Richard Rodgers was drafted in the third round as a tight end after having to convert to wide receiver to accommodate California's new offensive scheme. The son of a coach, he's shown he's willing to give up some pride to see playing time. An intelligent, sure-handed route-runner, he could make an instant impact in 2014, which is likely why the Packers "reached" on the pick.
Andrew Quarless has missed significant time due to injuries, but if he starts the front half of the 2014 season, it will surprise no one. He was re-signed this offseason, likely as a hedge to the bet that Ted Thompson made to not target a big name in free agency.
Brandon Bostick began to break out at the end of the season as a pass-catcher and may rise up to the second tight end on the roster if the summer works out for him.
For Jake Stoneburner, Justin Perillo and Raymond Webber to make the roster, they'll have to show special teams ability to compete with Ryan Taylor, a high-impact ace on punts and kicks.
OT: David Bakhtiari (LT), Bryan Bulaga (RT) Don Barclay, Derek Sherrod, Aaron Adams, Jeremy Vujnovich
OG: Josh Sitton (LG), T.J. Lang (RG) Lane Taylor, Andrew Tiller, Jordan McCray (R)
C: J.C. Tretter, Corey Linsley (R), Garth Gerhart
This is one of the first times that the offensive line has been solidified before camp. Aaron Rodgers probably looks at this roster and smiles.
With Evan Dietrich-Smith moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, sophomore J.C. Tretter will likely take over as the starting center.
The four other offensive line spots are locked up: left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Josh Sitton, right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
The second-string linemen must display versatility. Rookie draft pick Corey Linsley practiced at tackle and guard at Ohio State before taking over at starting center. Don Barclay is a flexible right tackle who can play either of the guard spots, too.
After those two, there are many one-dimensional players. Derek Sherrod, the Packers' former first-round pick, was injured for almost two full seasons, which led many to question if he'll make the 2014 team. Lane Taylor, the sophomore lineman, is a pure guard. Garth Gerhart is likely a center-only player.
Aaron Adams, Jeremy Vujnovich, Andrew Tiller and Jordan McCray have outside shots at making the roster, as many would consider them to be camp bodies.
DE: Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Jerel Worthy, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton (R), Carlos Gray (R)
NT: B.J. Raji, Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel (R)
With Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett still on the free-agent market, the Packers have had to replace two of their biggest and best defensive linemen from 2014.
In free agency, Ted Thompson made a rare signing, bringing in Letroy Guion, who in all likelihood is going to be an undersized nose tackle behind B.J. Raji and potentially get some strong-side defensive end snaps.
In the draft, the Packers took Khyri Thornton, a defensive tackle from Southern Mississippi in the third round. In undrafted free agency, they picked up Carlos Gray, a defensive end from North Carolina State, and Mike Pennel, a nose tackle from Colorado State-Pueblo.
While Mike Daniels is a talented under-tackle type of player, he's a bit miscast in this 3-4 defense. With two 2013 starters off the roster, he'll likely be thrust into the role. Opposite him will likely be Datone Jones, the 2013 first-round pick from UCLA.
Daniels and Jones are both more nickel types than typical 3-4 linemen. While it's not projected that Jerel Worthy and Josh Boyd will start, it wouldn't be surprising if they made a run for the starting spots in training camp.
Worthy was a second-round pick in 2012 who has had to fight through an injury that has kept him off the field. Coming into his third year in the league, he needs to show some value if he wants to hit that second contract. Also thought of as more of a 4-3 player coming out of college, he is likely a strong-side defensive end.
Boyd was a late-round pick in 2013 but did start seeing the field toward the end of the season. The king-sized lineman is more of a traditional 3-4 starting end. Like Worthy, he's more likely to end up on the strong side in 2014.
Behind those four defensive ends, 2014 rookie Khyri Thornton is likely to come in and give the starters some breathers in 2014, but he isn't likely to have a large impact in his rookie season. Carlos Gray, the undrafted end, is unlikely to make the 53-man roster.
At nose tackle, the pecking order seems clear. As a starter, the newly re-signed B.J. Raji will start in the role he's best suited for. Behind him will be Guion, who played for the Minnesota Vikings in 2014. Behind him will be camp body Mike Pennel.
OLB: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Carl Bradford (R), Mike Neal, Nate Palmer, Andy Mulumba, Adrian Hubbard (R), Jayrone Elliott (R)
ILB: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Sam Barrington, Jamari Lattimore, Victor Aiyewa, Joe Thomas (R), Jake Doughty (R)
As far as the pass-rushing rotation goes, the first three outside linebackers on the depth chart seem set. Clay Matthews, the Pro Bowl edge player, is by all means is a clear-cut starter. After that, there are some hazy lines, however.
Nick Perry was a 2012 first-round draft pick and a starting outside linebacker when healthy in the past. You'd think he'd be the incoming starter, but the Packers made their biggest signing since Charles Woodson this offseason when they brought in Julius Peppers. A former All-Pro, he may be able to play on the left side of the line—where Perry seems to be ineffective—which allow Perry to have fresh legs off the bench and rush from a multitude of spots.
Behind the big three are Carl Bradford and Mike Neal. Neal originally started his Packers career as a defensive lineman but switched to outside linebacker in 2013. Bradford, an undersized 2014 draft pick, is unknown as a commodity and may even play a bit of inside linebacker.
In the third tier of the pass-rushers on the roster, there are two second-year players and two rookies.
Nate Palmer was a 2013 draft choice and was used sparingly in 2013. Like Palmer, Andy Mulumba wasn't used much in 2013, but he did make the roster as an undrafted rookie.
The two new additions, Adrian Hubbard and Jayrone Elliott, likely have an uphill battle to make the roster. Many assumed Hubbard, who declared early from Alabama, was going to be drafted, but after he fell out of the draft, the Packers took him. He was a 3-4 outside linebacker for Nick Saban. Elliott, a sleeper from Toledo, Ohio, played defensive end in his college career.
At inside linebacker, A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones are likely to keep their starting roles from 2013. With no major moves at the position, the power structure remains the same.
The longtime starting linebacker and former first-round pick, Hawk will remain the starting defensive fullback for the team, while Jones will keep his weak-side job and attempt to clean up tackles.
Behind them, Sam Barrington, a young but recently injured player, could make an impact if he sees the field. The issue is that he won't likely do so unless one of the starters suffers an injury. He and Jamari Lattimore, who was brought back for 2014, will both likely add a large contribution to special teams, even if they don't see the field on defense.
Victor Aiyewa (remaining from the 2013 roster), Joe Thomas (a productive undrafted rookie from South Carolina State) and Jake Doughty (a four-time all-academic selection from Utah State) are fighting for one roster spot in training camp, if that.
Boundary CB: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Demetri Goodson (R), James Nixon, Antonio Dennard
Slot CB: Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Ryan White (R)
Safety: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (R), Morgan Burnett, Chris Banjo, Sean Richardson
With the major move of re-signing Sam Shields this offseason and the drafting of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, the secondary looks a lot better than it could have at this point in the process.
At the outside corner, Shields is a lock, while Tramon Williams was moved from inside to outside at various points in the 2013 season. Behind Williams, Davon House would likely be the next boundary cornerback, as Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde, 2012 and 2013 draft picks, respectively, are best suited for the slot.
However, both Williams and House are slated to hit free agency in 2015. With that idea in mind, the Packers may ease Hayward, who made a tremendous impact in his rookie season in 2012, into the starting role, if they should choose to part with Williams and House for 2015.
Behind those players on the roster is Jarrett Bush, the special teams ace who was the starting outside cornerback to open up the 2012 season. Although he's likely not an impact player in a defensive rotation, Demetri Goodson might make the roster over him. In all likelihood, Goodson, James Nixon, Antonio Dennard and slot cornerback Ryan White will be battling for one roster spot, if that.
At safety, Morgan Burnett, a recurring starter, and Clinton-Dix are most likely the starters heading into the 2014 season. Behind them, Sean Richardson could get playing time in the three safety "bat" roles that Dom Capers uses. Chris Banjo started to get playing time later in the season and will likely be a quality backup who contributes on special teams. With only four safeties on the roster, they will likely land on the 53-man squad.
K: Mason Crosby
P: Tim Masthay
LS: Brett Goode
With nothing new here, there's not much to express about the special teams unit.
Mason Crosby has had an up-and-down career as a Packer. After receiving a big extension, he had to restructure his contract and compete to hold down his job. He seems to be doing fine now and is headed into camp as the only kicker on the roster.
Tim Masthay, the "Ginger Wolverine," continues to be one of the best punters in the league. Impacting field-position battles on a game-to-game basis, he and may be the most talented member of the special teams unit.
Brett Goode is the recurring long snapper in Green Bay whom no one has heard of, which is the highest compliment for a long snapper. A special teams ace, he'll continue to make the special teams corps in 2014 and beyond.