The Green Bay Packers have completed their preseasons games and now have less than two weeks to prepare for Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season in Minnesota.
Here is a look at my final projected initial 53-man roster for the Packers. I would not be surprised if GM Brian Gutekunst makes a trade or two like the Cole Van Lanen deal where the Packers trade a player at a deeper position for either a draft pick or a position player where depth is a real issue.
Here is the projected 53-man roster as of Monday, August 29th:
Quarterback (2) Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
Rodgers is gunning for his third straight NFL MVP Award and returns as the starter for the 15th straight season. He will face new challenges without Davante Adams but he’s responded to the loss of his top receiver before.
Jordan Love has made progress in his third training camp with the team but still has areas where he can improve. He looks like he’s now capable of leading the team to a win if he must come in mid-game or make an emergency start.
Danny Etling will make the practice squad and serve as insurance in case of illness or injury.
Running Back (3) Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor
Jones and Dillon are locks to make the roster and will get the bulk of the carries. The third running back spot will be a tough one with Tyler Goodson and Patrick Taylor being the top two candidates.
Goodson is the more dynamic runner but Taylor does the little things right when he’s not running with the ball such as pass protection and playing on special teams.
Goodson and possibly also Dexter Williams could be practice squad candidates.
Wide Receiver (7) Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, Christian Watson, Amari Rodgers, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure
The Pack usually keeps six wide receivers but they will keep seven this season in part because of the uncertainty surrounding the position and the group of talented but unproven players on the roster.
Lazard, Watkins and Cobb are the likely Week 1 starters. Amari Rodgers should more of his versatility in the final preseason game against Kansas City and looks more confident and quicker than he did last season.
Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs make the roster because of their potential and draft status. Doubs may be ready to contribute right now and was a star during the preseason while injuries kept Watson off the field for most of training camp and all three preseason games.
The seventh and final spot is a battle between seventh-round pick Samori Toure and veteran Juwann Winfree. Winfree is more experienced and a favorite of Aaron Rodgers, but Toure has more upside and is more likely to be claimed if the Packers waive him and try to put him on the practice squad.
For that reason, Toure gets the seventh spot and Winfree makes the practice squad along with at least one other receiver who has been in camp.
Tight End (4) Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis
It’s not clear if Tonyan will be ready to play in Week 1 but he’s back on the roster and will count against the initial 53. Lewis is the veteran blocker and leader while Deguara plays more of a fullback/H-back type role.
Head coach Matt LaFleur likes to use multiple tight ends and the team will likely keep four on the roster. Tyler Davis was talked up extensively at OTAs and minicamp but has looked lost during training camp and the preseason although he played a bit better in the final preseason game in Kansas City.
Davis will stick as the final tight end on the strength of his potential, not his performance. His ability to catch the ball downfield makes him more important until Tonyan is back to full strength.
Offensive line (9) David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Jon Runyan Jr., Jake Hanson, Yosh Nijman, Zach Tom, Sean Rhyan
There are a lot of tough decisions to make here as the Packers have at least 11 players they would love to keep on the roster but nine is the most likely number and 10 is probably the max.
Gutekunst already traded away Cole Van Lanen for a seventh-round pick which got the Packers something in return for a player who was unlikely to make the roster anyway.
David Bakhtiari was activated from the PUP list but probably won’t be ready for Week 1. Elgton Jenkins may be able to start in Week 1 and would likely be inserted at right tackle.
Jon Runyan, Jr. is the starter at left guard with Josh Myers looking stronger and more confident at center. Yosh Nijman likely starts the season at left tackle with Royce Newman, Zach Tom or Jake Hanson the leading candidates to open the season at right guard.
Sean Rhyan struggled during the preseason but makes the team for his potential and draft pick status.
Seventh round pick Rasheed Walker struggled with injuries and mediocre play in training camp but showed promise against the Chiefs. Caleb Jones is a big man with intriguing potential if he can improve his footwork a bit and keep his weight down. They both are likely practice squad candidates.
Defensive line (6) Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, Dean Lowry, T.J. Slaton, Devonte Wyatt, Jack Heflin
The Packers are deeper and more talented here than they have been in a long time and that will encourage Gutekunst to keep a sixth player on the roster.
Clark, Reed and Lowry will be the starters. T.J. Slaton has made a second-year jump and will have an expanded role. First-round pick Devonte Wyatt has struggled to adjust to life in the NFL but makes the team for his potential and draft status.
Jack Heflin has just hustled and made plays throughout the preseason. He has almost forced the Packers to make room for him on the roster.
Chris Slayton also looked strong in camp and during the preseason and will make the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Outside Linebacker (5) Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Kingsley Enagbare, La’Darius Hamilton
Gary and Smith are set as the starters and give the Packers a strong pair of edge rushers. The Packers have more questions behind the starting duo. Garvin makes the team for his experience and occasional pass rush push. Enagbare played well in preseason while Hamilton earns the final spot for his pass rush potential.
Tipa Galeai and Kobe Jones may make the practice squad if nobody claims them on waivers.
Inside Linebacker (4) De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie
Campbell and Walker will be the starters. Entering training camp, depth was a major concern but McDuffie has made a second-year jump and Barnes remains a smart and dependable player even if he isn’t an elite athlete by NFL standards. The Packers have already released Ty Summers.
Cornerback (6) Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Shemar Jean-Charles, Keisean Nixon, Kiondre Thomas
Alexander, Stokes and Douglas are locks and will be the top three starters. Jean-Charles has taken some steps forward in his second training camp and will likely be CB4. Nixon is primarily a special teams player which will earn him a roster spot.
The final spot will go to Kiondre Thomas who has looked good in preseason in coverage and can also help on special teams.
Rico Gafford and Kabion Ento will provide depth on the practice squad.
Safety (4) Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Dallin Leavitt, Shawn Davis
Amos and Savage are the starters. Davis earned the third safety spot after Vernon Scott was injured and released with an injury designation. Leavitt will be on the 53 and then stashed on IR as the shoulder injury he suffered early in the preseason hasn’t fully healed yet. After Leavitt is placed on IR, the Packers will attempt to re-sign Micah Abernathy and put him on the active roster.
Tariq Carpenter has flashed on special teams and will either be the fifth safety if they keep five or will start the season on the practice squad.
Special Teams (3) Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Jack Coco
Crosby says he should be ready for Week 1 but spent all the preseason on the PUP list. Ramiz Ahmed looks ready to fill in short-term if Crosby isn’t ready to go.
Pat O’Donnell has done well as the punter and holder during the preseason and is the only punter on the roster.
Jack Coco hasn’t been a disaster as the long snapper and likely starts the season there although he may have a short leash if he plays inconsistently.
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