Now that the Green Bay Packers have concluded their first round of organized team activities, it’s a great time to evaluate and predict the team’s 53-man roster for the start of the 2012 season.
After another seemingly strong draft by general manager Ted Thompson and the acquisition of a few key free agents such as Jeff Saturday and Anthony Hargrove (even though he will miss half the season) have set the Packers up with one of the NFL’s most talented rosters again in 2012.
This post will not only breakdown the Packers roster by position, it will also predict the 53-man roster. So without further ado here is the breakdown:
QB (2): Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell:
The Quarterback position is in good hands with Rodgers, who is arguably the best player in the entire league and Harrell, who has made great strides since coming to Green Bay before the 2010 season.
At one time there were questions about whether Harrell could handle the role but the coaching staff had nothing but good things to say about him and the team appears to be all in on him as the no.2.
RB (4): James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Saine, John Kuhn:
This year is all about Starks stepping up, staying healthy and taking control of starting running back position once and for all. Starks has all the talent to succeed, he just needs to stay on the field. Yet, the team is behind him 100 percent as the starter.
The biggest concern at running back is the depth behind Starks because he has a long history of being injury prone. Green, a third-round draft choice in 2010 is coming off an ACL injury and fellow second-year player Brandon Saine has little experience. It’s a young, but talented group, which needs to produce in order for the offense to reach its full potential.
Kuhn will be the starting fullback/short-yardage back again in 2012 and should continue to play some very solid football on offense and special teams.
WR (6): Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Tori Gurley:
Rumors have been circulating about a possible trade of wide receiver James Jones but I just do not see it happening. Unless the Packers get an offer above market value, which is unlikely, I see Jones back in Green Bay for the 2012 season. The bottom line is that Jones is good enough to be a starter in the NFL but in Green Bay he is forced to play a part-time role due to the team’s tremendous depth.
However, that does not mean you trade away good talented just because. The Packers know as well as anyone how fast injuries can strike, which is why they should be cautious in trading away a player with as many talents as Jones has.
Instead of making the trade, the Packers will find a way to keep six wide outs on the 53-man roster as Gurley does enough in training camp to earn a roster spot.
TE (4): Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor Andrew Quarless (PUP):
Finley did not have his best season in 2011 but fans should expect him to rebound in a big way in 2012. Williams is one of the players Green Bay is hoping will take a big step forward this season, as is Taylor, who is a standout on special teams. Quarless will open the season on PUP after suffering a broken leg near the end of last season.
OL (9): Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday, Marshall Newshouse, Derrick Sherrod, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Andrew Datko, Ray Dominguez:
The Packers offensive line has a few questions when it comes to depth but so far the starting five is looking pretty good. The biggest concern is at left tackle; Newhouse will enter training camp as the starter and will compete with 2011 first-round draft pick Derrick Sherrod.
Jeff Saturday will take over for the departed Scott Wells as the team’s starting center and will be backed up by third-year player Evan Dietrich-Smith. Promising prospect Andrew Datko will also show enough in camp to earn a roster spot and has a great chance to be a solid swing tackle early on in his career.
DL (6): B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Daniel Muir, C.J. Wilson:
The Packers defensive line was a big weakness last season but should be much improved in 2012 with the additions of Worthy and Daniels in the 2012 NFL Draft. Both players are solid interior pass-rushers and Worthy should be the new starting defensive end from day one.
The Green Bay coaching staff is also going to look into reducing the playing time for Raji in order to keep him fresher on pass-rushing downs. Muir and Wilson end up making the roster but have a good chance of being replaced once Neal and Hargrove are done with their respective suspensions.
LB (9): Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith, Terrell Manning, Erik Walden, Brad Jones, Vic So’oto:
The Packers were in desperate need of a pass-rushing threat opposite of Matthews and appeared to have gotten exactly that in rookie Nick Perry. Perry was very impressive throughout the team’s mini-camp and appears to be in good shape to start on opening day.
The team brings back both starters at inside linebacker, although Hawk was a big disappointment in 2011 and will need to step up in order to keep second-year player D.J. Smith for taking some of his snaps away, specially in passing situations.
DB (10): Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Charlie Peprah, Morgan Burnett, Davon House, Casey Hayward, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Jarrett Bush:
The Packers have some impressive depth at the cornerback position with the addition of Hayward and the continued growth of House, who according to head coach Mike McCarthy was one of the most improved players so far this offseason.
There has been a lot of talk about Woodson moving to safety. However, the fact remains that he already serves in a hybrid role anyways, so a move to safety would be mostly in name only. Yet, he could play more of a true safety position on first and second downs, which could allow either House or Hayward on the field more if Peprah, McMillian and Jennings all struggle.
Watch out for Jennings though, he could be one of the team’s surprise starters in 2012. At the very least, expect him to push hard for playing time.
ST (3): Mason Crosby, Brett Goode, Tim Masthay:
Special teams has not been one of the Packers strong suits over the years but Crosby became an elite place kicker last season, while Goode and Masthay have both proven to be highly reliable.
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