Predicting the Last 5 In, Last 5 out for Packers' Final 53-Man Roster
Getting the final roster down to 53 players will be extremely difficult for the Green Bay Packers this year. In fact, it'll be the hardest it's been in years.
The reason for this is that the Packers are loaded with talent all over the field. Many forget that Green Bay was considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender last year until injuries decimated the roster. With everyone healthy this year, the Packers will have a hard time getting down to the final 53-man roster.
What's ultimately going to determine which players make the team and which ones barely miss out are two factors: Potential and youth. When deciding on whether or not to keep a player on the final roster, Green Bay is always going to choose the younger player with more potential.
Let's break down which players will be the last five in and which will hear the unfortunate news that they just missed out on making the Packers' final roster.
Last In: Rajion Neal, Running Back
With running back Johnathan Franklin gone from the Packers with a career-ending neck injury, Green Bay has some potential depth issues at the position. Sure, it's loaded up top with Eddie Lacy and James Starks, but behind those two is a huge question mark.
That's where a a player like rookie Rajion Neal could prove to be extremely valuable. He's a solid all-around running back who could produce should both Lacy and Starks get injured. He might even be talented enough to push injury-prone DuJuan Harris for the No. 3 job on the depth chart.
Franklin's loss hasn't been given the notice it truly deserves yet. However, Neal will help lessen the blow by being one of the final five players to make the final roster.
Last In: Colt Lyerla, Tight End
Everyone wants to assume that Colt Lyerla is a lock to make the final roster. Unfortunately, that simply isn't the case.
It all depends on how many tight ends the Packers actually want to keep on the roster. They already have three guaranteed to make the team in Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and Richard Rodgers. Behind them there are two veterans, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner, and two undrafted free agents, Lyerla and Justin Perillo.
Of those four players who aren't locks to make the team, the Packers will only keep two at the absolute most, and that might even be a stretch. However, Lyerla's upside and fit in the Packers offense should ultimately push him ahead of guys like Taylor, Stoneburner and Perillo.
Lyerla will be a part of the Packers for the 2014 season, but he'll do it by barely sneaking onto the final 53-man roster.
Last In: Josh Boyd, Defensive Tackle
With B.J. Raji moving back to defensive tackle and the Packers bringing in Letroy Guion as a free agent, second-year player Josh Boyd has become a forgotten name.
Boyd played sparingly last year, but he showed just enough talent and potential to intrigue the Packers. In just 117 snaps played in 2013, Boyd was able to create five quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
There's still plenty of room for Boyd to grow and develop, but the Packers definitely need him to bring depth to the defensive tackle position. If Raji has another down season like last year and Guion proves to be a free-agent miss, which are both realistic possibilities, Boyd could see plenty of playing time.
It might seem like overkill to keep three defensive tackles on the final roster, but the position was so unproductive last year that it makes sense heading into the 2014 season.
Last In: Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker
One of the biggest undrafted free agents the Packers brought in was Alabama's Adrian Hubbard. It was a major surprise he went undrafted, but those in Green Bay are likely thankful he did.
While Hubbard will be one of the last five to make the roster, he's got a legitimate chance at becoming a key contributor as a rookie. Hubbard's combination of length and athleticism make him a potential terror off the edge.
With fellow outside linebacker Nick Perry missing all of OTAs and minicamp with an undisclosed injury, the door is definitely open for Hubbard to rise the depth chart. He may not overtake Julius Peppers as the starter, but he could carve himself a role as the pass-rushing specialist on third downs.
Hubbard needs to become more polished as an all-around player before he's given serious playing time. However, his ability to get after the quarterback should get him on the field rather quickly as a rookie.
Last In: Sean Richardson, Safety
With the safeties being so weak last year it might seem like a surprise that Sean Richardson is one of the last five in. However, the Packers might not keep as many safeties as everyone thinks on the final roster.
The reason for this is because of cornerbacks Micah Hyde and Jarrett Bush. Both are near locks to make the roster and both can play at either cornerback or safety. In fact, Hyde has been playing with the first-team defense at safety during OTAs.
While Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix figure to be the starters at Week 1, the Packers might only need to keep one other "true" safety on the roster. That player should ultimately be Richardson, who can make tackles in the open field and create turnovers.
By keeping only Richardson, the Packers can bring in more depth at other positions of need. Look for Green Bay to roll with only three safeties on the final roster and for Richardson to barely win out that last spot.
Last Out: Myles White, Wide Receiver
There is no doubt that one of the last players to not make the roster is going to be a talented wide receiver. The Packers have so much depth at that position it isn't even fair.
However, deciding on which receiver would be one of the last five out was difficult. Myles White ultimately won, or lost, out due to the higher overall ceiling of the players ahead of him on the depth chart. Both Jeff Janis and Chris Harper, his two biggest competitors for the final receiver spot, are loaded with potential and big-play ability.
The Packers have already seen what White can be, and while there's plenty to like there, it simply won't be enough to keep him around this season. Look for White to get picked up quickly after he's released and be somewhat productive with his new team.
Last Out: Justin Perillo, Tight End
Justin Perillo might not make the 53-man roster, but he's a prime candidate to be a member of the practice squad in Green Bay.
While Perillo lacks elite athleticism, his all-around abilities as a receiver and blocker make up for it. He's got soft hands, the skills to make receptions in difficult positions and isn't afraid to block in either the run or pass game.
Unfortunately, the Packers simply have too much talent already at tight end. If Perillo can spend a year on the practice squad becoming a bigger threat as a receiver, he should have a good chance at making the roster next year.
Last Out: Jerel Worthy, Defensive End
This is absolutely going to be the most shocking pick for a player to not make the final roster. It was only two years ago that the Packers moved up in the draft to select Jerel Worthy.
However, injuries have completely derailed Worthy's career. During his two years with the team, he's only played in 16 total games and recorded 15 total tackles. Last year he missed all but two games for the Packers.
While there's no doubting Worthy has the talent to make the final roster, he's simply too unreliable with his health. With the Packers expecting big things out of Datone Jones and Mike Daniels, along with the drafting of Khyri Thornton, Green Bay simply doesn't have the roster room for Worthy.
There's no doubt Worthy will find his way onto another roster, but until he can prove he can stay healthy for an extended period of time it'll be hard for him to catch on anywhere.
Last Out: Demetri Goodson, Cornerback
Few picks were as head-scratching as the one the Packers made when they selecting Demetri Goodson in the sixth round. Goodson is an extremely raw prospect, and little saw him making any type of impact during the first few years of his career.
Furthermore, the Packers already had decent depth at cornerback with Hyde, Bush, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward. So the pick simply didn't make much sense.
That's why it really shouldn't be a surprise at all for Goodson to be one of the last five players out on the final roster. His skills aren't at the place where he can contribute this year, which is what the Packers need on defense.
The most likely scenario is that Goodson finds himself on the practice squad, where he can get plenty of reps at the cornerback position. After a year on the practice squad, Goodson will have a much better chance at making the final roster in 2015.
Last Out: Chris Banjo, Safety
We've already discussed how the Packers could only keep three safeties this year. This means a veteran like Chris Banjo will likely find himself on the outside looking in when Week 1 rolls around.
Banjo was a decent contributor for the Packers last year, playing in all 16 games. However, it was clear throughout all of last season that Banjo was never going to be more than a backup in Green Bay.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but the Packers simply don't have the roster space to keep a career backup player. They'd be much better off keeping a raw player who could eventually become a starter than a player like Banjo.
This decision will ultimately be a tough one, but it's the right decision for the franchise moving forward.