There are many positions that are easy to come to the numbers of players the Packers will keep entering the 2009 season. There will be three special teams specialists, and for argument sake I will designate Goode as the LS, Kapinos as the P and Crosby as the K.
There will be another 50 spots which I will designate 25 to offense and 25 to defense.
In order to get to the analysis of whom will be the serious position battles I will designate many people as having spots on the roster made. If readers feel some of these are not secure, please comment on them as well.
At the QB spot, I presume the team will carry three entering the season, and Rodgers, Flynn and Brohm have the three spots locked up notwithstanding a significant injury.
At WR I forsee four spots clearly not being challenged, Jennings, Driver, Jones and Nelson.
I see 2 TE Lee and Findlay.
I see 2 RB Grant and Jackson
I see 2 FB Johnson and
I see 7 OL Sitton, College, Spitz, Clifton, Moll. Preston and Barbre.
These 20 men have spots about guaranteed. This leaves five spots on offense in a competition scenario. I project at least two more O linemen and 1 more WR will be certain additions. This will leave a balancing act for the remaining two spots.
Among the O Linemen battling for the two roster spots will be four for two with a likely spot, possibly two on the development squad. Veterans Scott Wells and Brenno Giacomini will battle draft picks Meredith and Lang. My first major projection for this year is that Scott Wells loses his roster spot to Giacomini who can back up at either Tackle position and is the 8th roster spot on the line. I also project both draftees Merideth and Lang end up on the development squad. Other linemen Randolph, Dietrich and Hartline are severe longshots at best. The only true wildcard in this competition is if the Packers get a viable trade offer for either Wells or Clifton.
Since it seems very likely the team will keep a fifth WR it seems to me there is a direct battle between Martin and Swain for the remaining spot, and at this point I give the edge to Swain due to youth and return ability for special teams. Veteran Martin becomes the second veteran to lose a spot. Swain could possibly be kept one more year on the development squad, but to me that is not likely a spot to be targeted for a WR. The other five WR on the roster: Allen, Harris, Simmons, Heckendorf, and Williams would all seem very unlikely to crack this roster, and are only here in case of an injury to one or more of the six guys in front of them.
The very toughest decisions may be the final two spots, which will be shared among RB, FB, and TE. Lumpkin is likely the RB with the most upside. With this being a likely need it drops Kuhn, Wynn and the big surprise convert LB to TE Spencer Havner into the mix for the final spot on O. Due to his outstanding play on special teams, the conversion to TE is the reason the Packers keep Havner and cut Kuhn and Wynn. Sutton the final RB on the roster or one of the previous two ends up with one spot on the practice squad. Another veteran TE Humphrey is another numbers casualty.
This is indeed a talented roster when one needs to project an OL starter Wells, a WR roster player Martin, a TE roster player Humphrey and a RB roster player Wynn all losing their roster spots, with still no room for draft picks Meredith and Lang from this year anywhere but the practice squad.
Shifting focus to the defense where I have also budgeted 25 roster spots, I have simply divided the team into three groups DL, LB and DBs without splitting the linemen into NT vs DEs or the LB into interior or outside, nor the DBs into Safeties or Corners.
It is my opinion the 53 man roster will include seven DL, nine LB and nine DB, and I have already projected an “extra” LB in third TE plus special teamer Havner.
On the defensive line it seems five spots are near certain locks. Jenkins, Jolly, Raji, Pickett, and Harrell would only miss the roster due to an injury. Veterans Montgomery, Malone and Toribo will battle rookies draft choice Wynn and FAs Muhtadi and Talley. This may be one of the most difficult position battles to project, as the body of work is not sufficient to really make informed decisions. I will go out on a limb and project veteran Montgomery shows the grit and experience and claims one of the spots. For no reason other than the fact they used a draft pick on him, I give the narrowist of margins to Wynn to claim the final DL spot with one of the remaining four: Malone, Toribo, Muhtadi or Talley getting a spot on the practice squad.
The seconday would seem to me to have eight of the nine spots locked in. Woodson, Williams and Lee at CB Collins, Rouse, Bigby and Smith at safety and Blackmon as backup and kick returner. The competition for the final spot will fall between veterans Al Harris, Bush, and Peprah and I expect a mild surprise in the Packers moving Harris before the end of camp. Peprah has the advantage on Bush as a better tackler and special teamer. Draft choice Underwood might claim a practice squad spot with Ford and Porter joining Harris and Bush seeking employment elsewhere.
The final group to look at is the LB squad. Seven guys seem to me to be locks barring injury: Kampman, Hawk, Barnett, Thompson, Matthews, Bishop and Poppinga. The other five listed, veterans Chillar and Lansanah will be pushed by rookies Jones and Obizor, while I have given Havner a special teams spot. Chillar is clearly the most polished LB in the group and is likely to be shopped in a trade, but if he cannot be moved makes the squad. One of rookies Obizor or Jones gets the final development spot, I give the edge to Obizor on size, leaving veteran Lansanah and rookie Jones out of jobs.
This scenario would leave three veterans from the defense: Harris, Bush and Havner gone from the team. It seems hard to believe that at least six veterans will lose roster spots. That fact bodes well for a much improved team.
In my scenario only three of the eight draft picks make the 53 man roster. An additional two make the practice squad and 3 are likely to be released. Only one post draft FA sticks on the practice squad. With those projections it is hard to argue that this is a roster very well stacked with talent and the future not only for 2009 but many years to come is very bright in Packerland.