Green Bay Packers Final Roster Prediction Before Cut Downs

Aug 28, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

Training camp practices are done, and the preseason is complete; we’ve now seen everything that we are going to see, and with that, the Green Bay Packers have to trim their roster from 80 players down to 53 by 3:00 CST on Tuesday.

So for one last time, I’ll make my final 53-man roster prediction for the Green Bay Packers, with a few changes from my most recent projection after taking in Saturday’s game against Buffalo.

Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

Previous prediction: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

The Green Bay Packers could choose to roster three quarterbacks if they really like Kurt Benkert and are fearful that he won’t make it to the practice squad, but for a team that is all-in with Super Bowl aspirations, that roster spot can be better spent elsewhere.

Running back (3): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill

Previous prediction: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill

The running back room has been pretty well set for a few weeks now, as we knew that Kylin Hill was going to be RB3 after a very good showing this summer. Again, the question was whether Green Bay would want to roster four running backs as they did in 2020, but with this three-headed monster, that’s a roster spot that should be utilized on another position.

Wide receiver (6): Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor

Previous prediction: Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor

The first five players listed have been locks all summer, and when the news broke that Devin Funchess was headed to IR, that all but secured Malik Taylor’s spot as the sixth receiver. And if you still had doubts, he should have put any of those questions to bed with his performance against Buffalo.

Reggie Begelton had a solid preseason finale as well, but with all the pass-catching options on this team at receiver, tight end, and running back, seven receivers seems unnecessary, plus Taylor has been more impressive during the preseason and has more special teams experience.

Tight end (4): Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney

Previous prediction: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney

My line all summer with the tight end group is that this is an easy decision to make initially since Jace Sternberger is suspended the first two weeks–which means that he doesn’t have to be on the initial roster, and the Green Bay Packers don’t have to decide between four or five tight ends.

However, I’ll now add that given Sternberger’s play coupled with the recent comments from tight ends coach Justin Outten, that when his suspension is up, he still won’t be placed on the roster.

Offensive line (10): David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Billy Turner, Jon Runyan Jr, Lucas Patrick Dennis Kelly, Yosh Nijman, Ben Braden

Previous prediction: David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Billy Turner, Josh Myers, Lucas Patrick, Ben Braden Jon Runyan, Royce Newman, Dennis Kelly, Cole Van Lanen

We come to our first adjustment. I took Cole Van Lanen off the 53-man and added Yosh Nijman. While it was a rough debut against Houston for Nijman, he rebounded quite well against New York and Buffalo, allowing just one pressure over those two games while playing both left and right tackle.

One of the big question marks entering this game was Ben Braden, who was out of the running at guard, which could put his roster spot in jeopardy. However, I believe he’s shown enough over these two games at right tackle to warrant a roster spot, plus he can kick inside if needed.

When it comes to Cole Van Lanen, I think a year on the practice squad to gain more functional strength and to work on his pass-pro technique would greatly benefit him, but I’ll add the caveat that I do think there is the possibility that after being placed on the roster, Dennis Kelly could be moved to IR, which would open up a roster spot that I’ll venture to say goes to Van Lanen.

And if you still believe that Lucas Patrick should be cut, I recommend watching Jake Hanson at center on that drive before half. Even if Patrick is a backup, he still brings a lot of value with his experience and versatility.

Interior defensive line (5): Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke, Dean Lowry, TJ Slaton, Jack Heflin

Previous prediction: Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke, Dean Lowry, TJ Slaton, Tyler Lancaster

Hand up; I absolutely should have taken Jack Heflin on my previous prediction. My thinking was with Lancaster back at practice, the Green Bay Packers — who, as I already mentioned, are all-in on this season — would choose his experience over the relatively unknown Heflin. However, Lancaster was then out the following practice and didn’t play against Buffalo.

Heflin plays with a ton of effort, does the dirty work, and tallied six pressures along with nine tackles this preseason. He’s absolutely earned a roster spot.

Edge rusher (4): Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Jonathan Garvin

Previous prediction: Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Chauncey Rivers

The reason that I went with Rivers initially was that he consistently flashed during practice, and between him, Jonathan Garvin, and Tipa Galeai, he had taken the most special teams snaps–which is still true following the Buffalo game.

But I’ve now switched to Garvin for a few reasons. The first being his upside as a pass-rusher, the high praise that OLB Coach Mike Smith recently gave him, and his strong performance against the Bills starting offensive line. While Smith told reporters that the fourth edge rusher role would be determined by special teams — an area that Garvin needs to improve upon — with the potential for Za’Darius to miss Week 1, my guess is that Green Bay values defensive upside a little more than maybe what they did three weeks ago.

And speaking of Za’Darius potentially missing Week 1, with the new practice squad elevation rules that allows teams to elevate two players each week, I’m not worried about rostering five edge rushers.

Linebacker (5): De’Vondre Campbell, Krys Barnes, Oren Burks, Ty Summers, Isaiah McDuffie

Previous prediction: De’Vondre Campbell, Krys Barnes, Oren Burks, Ty Summers

I added to the linebacker position and subtracted from cornerback to make the numbers work.

Ty Summers is perhaps the most interesting decision on this roster when it comes to gauging what the Green Bay Packers think of him. My thought heading into the final game was that Summers was still on the bubble and in need of a strong showing. However, he didn’t even play, and to my knowledge, he wasn’t injured.

So my guess is that the Green Bay Packers had seen enough of Summers and are comfortable giving him a roster spot. On the flip side — and to play devil’s advocate — if Summers was healthy but was still held out because the Green Bay Packers had no intention of putting him on the final roster, why wouldn’t they have just cut him earlier in the week? Maybe that’s what ends up happening, but that doesn’t make much sense to me.

When it comes to Isaiah McDuffie, I had left him off because he had missed such a large portion of training camp on the NFI list. But nine tackles and a sack later, he showed that he’s deserving of a roster spot. He should also be an immediate special teams contributor.

Cornerback (6): Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes, Chandon Sullivan, Shemar Jean-Charles, Kabion Ento

Previous prediction: Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes, Chandon Sullivan, Shemar Jean-Charles, Kabion Ento, Isaac Yiadom

It was a rough showing for Kabion Ento against Buffalo, especially as a tackler, but when comparing him to Isaac Yiadom, his body of work is still more impressive. He’s flashed numerous times this summer and provides special teams help. He’s also cheaper and under team control longer than Yiadom, which are two important factors.

The reason I kept Yiadom initially was not for his ability on defense but rather his special teams experience with almost 500 career snaps. But after Saturday’s game, I was more impressed with what McDuffie could add to that unit — even if the two have different responsibilities — and to this defense in general.

Yiadom was targeted eight times by the Bills and allowed six receptions at over 13 yards per catch, according to PFF ($$).

Safety (5): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Henry Black, Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines

Previous prediction: Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Henry Black, Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines

Gaines has struggled with missed tackles the last two weeks, but I’m still sticking with him over Christian Uphoff. Gaines saw 148 snaps this preseason, while Uphoff was on the field for only 77. Gaines had 35 special teams snaps while Uphoff had 20. Maybe that’s just how things played out, but I find it telling.

I also thought that Gaines flashed more often this summer than what Uphoff did. Uphoff appears to be the popular pick for the fifth safety spot, but I’m going against the grain on this one.

There is also the possibility that both end up on the roster if Vernon Scott is placed on IR.

Special teams (3): Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley

Previous prediction: Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley

While I wish there were some decisions to make at punter and long-snapper, that isn’t the case. This doesn’t mean that changes can’t or won’t be made at some point this season, but for the time being, Scott and Bradley are on the roster.