I have neglected this blog for quite a while, and will probably continue to do so as the Brewers suck and it's summer, but I wanted to get this thought down. Now that free agency and the draft are complete, I have to say this is the most excited about a Packer team I have been going into a season since the season after the last super bowl win. That season they went 15-1, and it's not hard to see why they are one of the 3 Vegas favorites to win it all this year in addition to Seattle and New England. I'll start with a few numbers and names, then a look at what this ridiculous roster may look like.
The Packers had the #1 scoring offense in the NFL last season. They return all 11 starters from that team. The only backups they lost were Boykin, Flynn, DuJuan Harris, and Brandon Bostick. All players with little to no production last year who they cut or chose not to bring back. They also add back Barclay and Abbrerderis who would have likely made the roster last season if they hadn't gone on IR before it started. In the draft they added a WR in the 3rd round, a QB in the 5th, a TE in the 6th, and a FB in the 6th.
The defense is the question mark, but I feel like they should be a lot more like the better than average defense they were at the end of last season, than the run defense sieve they were at the beginning. They return 10 of the 11 starters that were playing at the end of the year. The only starter lost was Tramon Williams, however they also lost House, and cut Hawk who both started or played significant snaps during the year. They cut Brad Jones and did not resign Bush, or Lattimore who played limited roles. They add back Raji who would have been a starter but was on IR all last year. They added CBs in the first and 2nd rounds, an ILB in the 4th, and a DE in the 6th.
The Packers were a game away from the super bowl, and return 21 of 22 starters, all 3 specialists, and 44 of 53 roster players from that team. Injuries will happen, but if this team stays relatively healthy they will be great. Here is a way too early look of how the roster may pan out. I'm not a scout, this is just how I would like it to work out as a fan.
There are 30 players that are going to be on the roster barring injury, and another 7 that are very likely to be. They first group includes the 11 offensive starters (I include 3WRs and no FB as starters so Adams counts here) and Montgomery. On defense it includes Raji, Guion, Jones and Daniels on the DL, Barrington, Ryan, Matthews, Neal, Perry and Peppers at LB, and Burnett, Clinton-Dix, Richardson, Hayward, Sheilds, Hyde, Randall, and Rollins at DB. The 2nd group includes Tretter, Barclay, Quarless, Kuhn, Starks, and Hundley on offense and Boyd on defense. Add in the 3 specialists that will likely be back and that means 40 of the roster spots are pretty set already. That leaves just 13 spots and some of those have got people lined up already. Every year there are some undrafted rookies that make the roster. I have no idea who they will be this year, so my list just includes guys I am familiar with. Here's how the roster may look.
QB (3) Rodgers, Tolzien, Hundley- If Hundley wins the #2 job the Packers may only keep 2 QBs.
RB (4) Lacy, Starks, Kuhn, Ripkowski- 2 FBs are kept because they have only 3 TEs, and Kuhn can play RB in a pinch.
WR (6) Nelson, Cobb, Adams, Montgomery, Janis, Abbrederis- Janis hopefully shows more polish after a great preseason last year and Abbrederis plays like he did last camp before hurting his knee.
TE (3) Rodgers, Quarless, Backman- 6th round pick Backman beats out last years hold over Perillo. The days of Thompson keeping 5 TEs are over.
OL (9) Bakhtiari, Bulaga, Sitton, Lang, Linsley, Tretter, Barclay, Gerhart, Taylor- The first 7 are sure things. Barclay has been a serviceable starting takle, and Tretter beat out Linsley at center last camp before he got hurt. The last 2 will be wrong. Just picked them because they were on the roster at the end of last year. One or both will get beat out by a rookie free agent, and the Packers may only keep 8 lineman.
DL (6) Raji, Guion, Daniels, Jones, Boyd, Ringo- The last spot is tough to pick. Pennel, and Robinson finished on the roster last year, and Thornton was on IR all season. I'm still picking the rookie to beat them all out for the roster spot but it will be a fun competition.
LB (9) Peppers, Neal, Perry, Mathews, Ryan, Barrington, Elliot, Hubbard, Bradford. I kept reading Elliot should have been playing last year, but just couldn't get on the field because of the talent in front of him. With Matthews playing some in the middle, the door opens for Hubbard at OLB after spending last year on the practice squad. Thompson doesn't give up on Bradford after a switch to ILB. The first 6 are for sure, the last 3 are guesses.
DB (10) Burnett, Clinton-Dix, Richardson, Hyde, Hayward, Shields, Randall, Rollins, Goodsen, Banjo. The last 2 are tough but both were good enough to be on the roster at the end of last year. Sebetic or a rookie free agent could beat one of them out. Packers could also keep just 3 true safeties with the versatility they have at CB.
Specialists (3) Crosby, Goode, Masthay
Looks like a championship roster to me. Prediction is 14-2 regular season and a Super Bowl win. 3rd MVP for Rodgers.