Tomorrow, NFL teams will have to make their cuts to get their rosters down to 53 players meaning more than 20 players will be released from each team. It will be a life-changing event for some players while others will yawn and take their paycheck.
For the Packers, many important decisions will have to be made on defense. With the transition of the 3-4 defense being unsteady, the choices for back-ups will be extremely important to ensure the Packers keep the best athletes and fits for the scheme.
Here’s who I think makes the cut for the 53 man roster, by position.
Quarterbacks (Total kept at position, running tally) (starters in italics)
Who Makes the Team?: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Brian Brohm (3,3)
Pretty much a no-brainer here for the Packers as they keep the same three quarterbacks that were on the roster last season. Rodgers is poised for a breakout season and is the heart of the franchise, while the two youngsters have shown promise during their two seasons in the NFL.
Flynn is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered in the second preseason contest, but the odds of him hitting the IR while the Packers pick up another quarterback is unlikely due to Flynn’s role as the holder on field goals and extra points. If healthy, Flynn is the Packers’ backup while Brian Brohm holds clipboard duties.
Brohm progressed somewhat in the Titans game and had good control of the offense, but does not project to do much this year. Still, the second-round pick out of Louisville has potential left in him and will make the team without question.
Who Makes the Team?: Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, Deshawn Wynn (3,6)
Grant is hoping to return to his 2007 form when he broke onto the scene to lead the Packers to the NFC Championship game before falling off in 2008. He has stayed healthy in preseason and looks ready to go along with an improved offensive line.
Brandon Jackson has been quiet this preseason, but is still the Packers’ second most talented running back. They invested a second round pick into him and like what they see from him as a third down back.
One of the most intriguing position battles on the team is that of the third running back. Wynn, Tyrell Sutton, and Craig Lumpkin all have a shot at making the team, but the veteran Wynn is likely to win out in the race.
Sutton has showed good form this preseason, but Wynn’s ability to play special teams and return kicks is better than Sutton’s. One of the two remaining backs should find a spot on the practice squad.
Who Makes the Team?: Quinn Johnson, Korey Hall, John Kuhn (3,9)
Since Mike McCarthy took over calling plays for the Packers, they have featured some of the thickest offensive sets in the league. At times, they will go with two fullbacks, two tight ends, and a running back out of a wishbone formation, while other times they are able to spread the formation out while still having two fullbacks in the game.
These three fullbacks are good enough that they will all make the team for the Packers instead of one being scooped up by another squad.
Johnson is an absolute bruiser in the trenches while Hall catches balls nicely out of the backfield. To finish off the three-headed monster, the Packers feel comfortable giving the ball to Kuhn on run plays.
If a player is kept at a different position, Kuhn’s days might be numbered. However, I have a feeling that the Packers will enter the year with these three talented blockers.
Who Makes the Team?: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Ruvell Martin (5, 14)
One of the easiest positions on the field to predict in terms of the first four players, but maybe a harder one if you include the fifth and possibility of a sixth spot. Jennings and Driver are an excellent one-two combo, while Jones and Nelson are up-and-coming young stars.
The fifth spot will come down to Ruvell Martin or Brett Swain, but I believe Martin will win out the job again.
Swain has been a good practice squad player and has continued to improve on his skill set giving him a legitimate shot to make the team this year. Jake Allen has also played well. If the Packers were to go with six wideouts for some reason, the two of them would duke it out.
Who Makes the Team?: Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee (2, 16)
When Tory Humphrey was sidelined for the year with a broken arm, the Packers were forced to settle for two tight ends this season. One of the biggest potential breakout players for the Packers this season is Finley, who might not start but will see the majority of reps at tight end.
He is a matchup problem for every defense, and is becoming an outstanding receiver. Lee is Mr. Reliable for the Packers and can do a little bit of everything. He will be in the game primarily to block, but can stretch the field if not accounted for.
Last year, the tight end position was nowhere to be found for the Packers. With such a good receiving corps, it’s hard to get noticed. However, this season the Packers will look to get more production out of their young talent.
It’s important to note also that Spencer Havner, who makes the team on defense, goes both ways and can also play tight end for the Packers. His ability on special teams is the reason he is on the team, but he can play some outside linebacker and tight end as well.
Who Makes the Team?: Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton, Allen Barbre, Jamon Meredith, T.J. Lang, Breno Giacomini, Scott Wells (9, 25)
The offensive line is set in stone with the first five players on the list. The backups are starting to sift out from the players who will be cut.
Meredith and Lang have showed good promise as rookies and will likely fill in for Clifton when he decides to hang his cleats up (Meredith to LT or Lang to LG while Colledge moves to LT).
Giacomini had been in the running for the starting right tackle position, and while he did not do enough to earn the spot he will still make the team. Wells is a coin flip to make the team, but his veteran leadership will probably do enough to secure him a spot. That and Tony Moll’s struggles this preseason.
There you have it. 25 spots down, 28 to go. I will post the defense predictions tomorrow if I can do it early enough before the cuts are made.