Making The Cut 2.0

There’s still one preseason game to be played before final cuts next Tuesday, so things can and will change in the next six days. But here’s how I see the 53-man roster as of today:


QUARTERBACK (2)

Aaron Rodgers
Jordan Love

As long as Love exits Saturday’s game versus the Bills healthy, media darling Kurt Benkert will probably begin the season on the 16-man practice squad. Is there a chance the Packers could choose to keep him on the 53? Only if they’re scared that another team would claim him off waivers. Such a scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think.

 

RUNNING BACK (3)

Aaron Jones
A.J. Dillon
Kylin Hill

Hill locked down the No. 3 job weeks ago. Dexter Williams and Patrick Taylor enjoyed good summers and are worthy of being on a 53-man roster. If they don’t get claimed on waivers, both are legit candidates to be signed to the practice squad. It isn’t going to happen, but I’d keep four running backs and use Williams as the No. 1 kick returner.

 

TIGHT END (4)

Robert Tongan
Marcedes Lewis
Josiah Deguara
Dominique Dafney

Unless Gutekunst wants to placate Rodgers further, it’s hard to imagine his buddy Bronson Kaufusi beating out Dafney for the No. 4 job. Dafney is an ascending and versatile young player, while Kaufusi is a 30-year-old former defensive lineman who’s still learning how to be a tight end. The practice squad is the perfect place to further that education.

 

WIDE RECEIVER (6)

Davante Adams
Marques Valdez-Scantling
Randall Cobb
Allen Lazard
Amari Rodgers
Malik Taylor

Injuries complicate things here. Devin Funchess and Juwann Winfree were enjoying strong camps, but neither has practiced in weeks. In the meantime, the less talented Taylor has been both available and productive. That should earn him a spot on the 53, but I’m writing his name in pencil. I expect Funchess to be traded, cut, or placed on IR.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Elgton Jenkins
Billy Turner
Josh Myers
Royce Newman
Lucas Patrick
Yosh Nijman
Jon Runyan
Ben Braden
Cole Van Lanen

Let’s start by assuming David Bakhtiari remains on PUP. Is there a chance he could begin the season on the 53? Sure, but it seems more likely that the Packers will be very cautious with their $100M left tackle. After the first four names, anything is possible. I thought Dennis Kelly was a lock to be on the 53 a few weeks ago, but now I’m not so sure. An injury and a slow start to camp suddenly make him vulnerable. I wouldn’t risk placing Van Lanen on waivers.


DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Kenny Clark
Kingsley Keke
Dean Lowry
T.J. Slaton
Tyler Lancaster
Jack Heflin

If the Packers decide to keep only five at this position, I’m beginning to think Heflin could knock Lancaster off the 53. The two are similar players, but Heflin is younger, cheaper, and has more upside. Right now, I’m keeping both. Willington Previlon would make more sense because he offers a different skill set, but he just hasn’t done enough yet.

 

LINEBACKER (9)

Za’Darius Smith
Rashan Gary
Preston Smith
De’Vondre Campbell
Krys Barnes
Oren Burks
Jonathan Garvin
Ty Summers
Isaiah McDuffie

Assuming Za’Darius Smith’s back injury isn’t serious, the first five names on this list are locks to be on the 53. Then it gets murkier. Burks and Summers should feel fairly safe, but I wouldn’t be buying a house just yet. Nobody has stood out as the No. 4 outside linebacker, but Garvin is a draft pick, and he’s probably been a little better than Tipa Galeai. Monday’s surprising release of Kamal Martin opened the door for McDuffie or maybe even Ray Wilborn.

 

DEFENSIVE BACK (11)

Jaire Alexander
Eric Stokes
Darnell Savage
Adrian Amos
Chandon Sullivan
Kevin King
Isaac Yiadom
Henry Black
Shemar Jean-Charles
Vernon Scott
Innis Gaines

The first six names are locks. I’m uncomfortable keeping Kabion Ento off the 53, but I just think Yiadom is better right now, and Jean-Charles will be better in the future. Flip a coin between Scott, Gaines, and Christian Uphoff, and don’t be surprised if the Packers add a veteran safety to replace Will Redmond, whose season is now officially over.

 

SPECIALISTS (3)

Mason Crosby
JK Scott
Hunter Bradley

There will likely be better punters than Scott available after final cuts, but unless the former fifth-round pick shanks another 20-yarder on Saturday, I don’t see Gutekunst cutting the cord. Bradley is another inconsistent draft pick whose performance the past three seasons hasn’t earned him the relative security he enjoyed this summer.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. AJ McCarron tore his ACL and is done for being Matt Ryan’s backup. I thought maybe Gutekunst could fleece a 7th round pick in a trade back to Atlanta for Benkert. Then they signed Josh Rosen. I certainly wouldn’t waste a roster spot for Benkert. But he’d be perfect for the practice squad.

    As much as Matt LaFleur says he wants to run the ball, I’d keep four RB’s. I’d move on from Marcedes Lewis but assistant HC will have none of that. Something tells me Funchess will be traded although I’d keep him and Malik Taylor. Even if that means keeping 7 WR’s.

    I doubt the let Kabion Ento walk. And think they’ll only keep two out of three from Henry Black, Vernon Scott, and Innis Gaines. With Ento taking the other spot.

    Dennis Kelly could stick for awhile until Bakhtiari returns but I think your pretty close.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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