Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012 Green Bay Packers Roster 2.0

As I've said many times, I am never shy about giving my thoughts on what Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and company should do with the 53-man roster and the 8-man practice squad.  With one preseason game in the books since my 2012 Green Bay Packers Roster 1.0 post some things have actually changed.  The Packers signed two veterans (Reggie Wells and Cedric Benson) instead of relying on rookies.   Based on what I've seen so far, here are my updated thoughts on what the 53-man roster and 8-man practice squad should look for the 2012 Green Bay Packers:

Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell
Analysis: Harrell looked okay at best in the first preseason game against the Chargers.  This bolsters what I chatted with Bob McGinn about recently, I am not sure why the Packers don't offer the Cleveland Browns a conditional 6th round draft pick for Colt McCoy.  I get what McGinn is saying about head coach Mike McCarthy wanting to all QB's players in his "vaunted" quarterback camp but based on the way Harrell played versus the Chargers, it looks like he hasn't learned too much.  McCoy is not a long-term answer at the quarterback spot, nor are the Packers looking for anyone besides Rodgers to take snaps at QB in the regular season, but McCoy gives the Packers a better chance to win than Harrell if Rodgers (God forbid) got hurt.

Running Back (4): Cedric Benson, James Starks, Alex Green, and Brandon Saine
Analysis: I would much rather take a flyer on Benson than have to see Ryan Grant carry the ball even one more time for the Packers so yes, I support the decision to sign Benson instead of Grant.

Fullback (1): John Kuhn
Analysis: The Packers no longer lineup in a traditional I-Formation, which doesn't put Kuhn's roster spot in jeopardy but will dramatically curtail his snap count as a true fullback in 2012.

Tight End (4): Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor, and Tom Crabtree
PUP (1): Andrew Quarless
Keep: Analysis: If Quarless was healthy the Packers would probably keep five tight ends for the second year in a row.  Unfortunately Quarless suffered a gruesome injury at the end of 2011 so now his chances of playing in 2012 are in jeopardy.

Wide Receiver (5)
: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Randall Cobb
Analysis: I floated a random theory recently to my buddy UP that Donald Driver winning Dancing With the Stars helped secure his roster spot with the Packers for 2012.  Don't get me wrong, general manager Ted Thompson is the last guy in the world to bow to public pressure.  Cutting Driver before winning Dancing With the Stars would have been a PR nightmare but after Drive won Dancing With the Stars it became virtually impossible.  Finally with all due respect to every wide receiver currently on the roster, Driver is still currently the third best receiver behind Jennings and Nelson.  Cobb may be better in 2013 or 2014 but Driver is still a better wide receiver in 2012.

Tackle (4)
: Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse, Reggie Wells, and Andrew Datko
Pup (1): Derek Sherrod
Analysis: It must have absolutely killed Thompson to sign Reggie Wells because he is a 10-year veteran at the ripe old age of 31, which is 10 years older than the free agents he normally signs.  With all the injuries the Packers have at tackle in Newhouse (concussion) and Sherrod (recovering from a broken leg), it gave Herb Taylor a chance to earn a roster spot.  Unfortunately Taylor struggled against the Chargers to prove that he is not the answer at left tackle so they might as well give Wells (Reggie not Scott) and Datko a shot.  If both Wells and Datko struggle, the Packers might be forced to move Bulaga to left tackle if Newhouse and Sherrod are still out with injuries.

Guard (3): Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, and Ray Dominguez
Analysis: Since Lang recently signed to a long-term extension, the Packers have both of their guards locked up long-term to give them their most stable offensive guard combo since Marco Rivera and Mike Whale left town.

Center (2): Jeff Saturday and Even Dietrich-Smith
Analysis: ESPN put Jeff Saturday in a horrible spot asking whether he would rather snap the ball to Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers during the Packers/Chargers preseason game.  I am glad that Saturday dodged the questions because the obvious answer is Manning but that would have been selling out the guy that currently fondles his butt.

Defensive End (3)
: Jerel Worthy, C.J. Wilson, and Jarius Wynn
Suspended (2): Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal
Analysis: When the Packers drafted Jerel Worthy I immediately started hoping Worthy would morph into Cullen Jenkins 2.0.  I understand that is a tall order but if Worthy can give 100% effort instead of 75% like he did in college, I expect him to be a big contributor in 2012.

Defensive Tackle (4): B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Daniels, and Daniel Muir
Analysis: The only guaranteed defensive line roster spots are Raji, Pickett, and Worthy.  After that the name of the game is versatility.  That gives a guy like Daniels and Muir a leg up because they look like they can play any spot along the defensive line.

Outside Linebacker (5)
: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Erik Walden, Brad Jones, and Frank Zombo
Analysis: Much like Worthy, because of draft position alone, the Packers are going to give Perry every chance to win a starting spot on defense.  If the Packers go 1-for-2 on Perry and Worthy for 2012, I will be happy.  Assuming Rodgers is healthy all season, if the Packers go 2-for-2 on Perry and Worthy in 2012, you might as well stamp their ticket to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. 

Middle Linebacker (4): D.J. Smith, A.J. Hawk, Robert Francois, and Jamari Lattimore
Analysis: Despite being an all-around good guy, at the start of training camp, I would have totally supported the Packers cutting the Business H.J. (A.J. Hawk) and letting Smith, Manning, and Lattimore fight for the other starting linebacker spots opposite Desmond Bishop.  Unfortunately it looks like Bishop is out for the year, now the Packers are going to not only have to keep Hawk but hope he has a career year.

Cornerback (5): Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Davon House, Casey Hayward, and Jarrett Bush
Analysis: 2011 was not kind to Williams (injured shoulder), Shields (inconsistent play), and House (injured) so hopefully they can all turn over a new page in 2012.  If they do, with the addition of Hayward, the Packers actually look stacked at cornerback for the first tie in a long time.
Safety (4)
: Charles Woodson, Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian, and M.D. Jennings
Analysis: Thanks to absolutely no pass rush in 2011, the Packers were absolutely sieve-like in yielding the most passing yards in NFL history.  Not sure the combo of Woodson and Burnett will stymie that trend though unless Claymaker and Company can get after the quarterback better.

Specialists (3): Mason Crosby (K), Tim Masthay (P), and Brett Goode (LS)
Analysis: Absent injury the Packers are set at kicker, punter, and long snapper for the next five years.

Practice Squad (8): B.J. Coleman (QB), Marc Tyler (RB), Tori Gurley (WR), Shaky Smithson (WR), Sampson Genus (C), Dezman Moses (OLB), Terrell Manning (MLB), and Anthony Levine (S)
Analysis: Normally the Packers have a stacked practice squad but this year it feels a little down becausesome guys have yet to back-up their promise (Genus and Levine) while other rookies (Moses and Manning) don't look ready for the big time yet.

The Packers host the Cleveland Browns on Thursday in a game that will go a long way towards determining some of the position battles and roster spots mentioned above. Check back tomorrow to read my quick thoughts on the Packers/Browns preseason game and next Wednesday to see my updated predictions for who should make the 53-man roster and 8-man practice squad.

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