Making The Cut 2.0
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
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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