The 2020 Green Bay Packers – Who Makes The Team?
A lot will change between now and the start of the regular season - whenever that may take place - mini-camp, training camp and the pre-season will all will influence the roster decisions the front office will make along the way and at the final roster cutdown in early September.
So who makes the team? That may be a bit of a crazy question to be asking in May, given we don’t know what will happen… nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped me from meandering through the roster and the provisional depth chart following the draft, and attempting to answer the question anyway.
It’s worth noting, that in 2020, under the newly agreed CBA, there will still be a “steady” 53 man roster - however teams are able to more freely elevate players from the practice squad (and back again) and can carry 55 players on the gameday roster (only 48 may be active). Also, The practice squad increases to 12 players this year and then 14 in late years.
For the purposes of this article we’ve stayed with a roster of 53 and a practice squad of 12.
Ok, enough of the pre-amble, let’s get started with a ridiculously early look…
Obviously, Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love are certainties to make the roster – no more discussion required there. If the Packers decide to keep 3 quarterbacks, then last year’s back-up, Tim Boyle, will have the inside track on securing that third spot – but somehow, I think the Packers go with just 2 on the full roster and therefore in this scenario Boyle heads for the practice squad. Undrafted free agent Jalen Morton will be in camp, but his chances of making the team would seem to be remote. Last year’s practice squad member Manny Wilkins has already been released, so perhaps Morton has a shot at the practice squad, but barring injury I think he misses out altogether in a numbers game.
Roster Prediction: Rodgers, Love
Practice Squad: Boyle
Barring a trade or some other unforeseen circumstance, it seems that the running back position is well set. Last year’s star Aaron Jones and this year’s second round draftee A.J. Dillon are certainties to make the team. The versatile and exciting Tyler Ervin comfortably makes the roster for both his skills coming out of the backfield but also of course for his returning ability. The dependable (actually, he’s better than that) Jamaal Williams also makes the team as long as the Packers don’t see him as trade bait and that he doesn’t somehow get caught up in a roster numbers game. I don’t see that happening and Williams is in. It’s unusual for the Packers to keep 4 running backs these days, but with Ervin’s dual role it seems that 4 will be this year’s number.
All of this leaves last year’s draftee Dexter Williams, 2019 holdover Damarea Crockett and undrafted free agent Patrick Taylor on the outside looking in. Taylor makes the practice squad.
Roster Prediction: Jones, Dillon, Williams, Ervin
Practice Squad: Taylor
The Packers clearly drafted Josiah Deguara to fill a specific need, so he makes the final roster without question. It’s possible that the Packers look for a second player of his type to provide depth, but my guess is that ultimately, they go with just Deguara. That means that Elijah Wellman and undrafted free agent Jordan Jones fail to make the team. Last year’s fullback, Danny Vitale, has already left via free agency.
Roster Prediction: Deguara
Davante Adams is the clear leader in this group and makes the team, obviously. I think we can safely assume that free agent pick-up Devin Funchess and last year’s break-out player Allen Lazard also both make the final roster.
The battle for the remaining wide receiver spots (either 3 or 4) will be a hard fought contest through the summer. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown probably have the inside track at spots 4 and 5, leaving the remaining players battling for one., or possibly two, position(s). I’m going to guess that the Packers go with the “usual” 6 wideouts and that the outsider from the CFL, Reggie Begelton, makes the team in a really tough competition at the expense of Jake Kumerow, Malik Taylor, Darius Shepherd and undrafted free agent Darrell Stewart. Begelton’s CFL production and skills after the catch just about swing it his direction. Taylor and Stewart make the practice squad.
Last year’s nominal no.2 receiver, Geronimo Allison, has already left the team via free agency.
Roster Prediction: D.Adams, Funchess, Lazard, Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown, Begelton
Practice Squad: Taylor, Stewart
With Josiah Deguara secure in the H-Back spot, the Packers will have to decide whether they keep two or three pure tight ends – I’m guessing it will be three. Last year’s third round pick Jace Sternberger seems certain to the predominant receiving tight end in 2020 and therefore makes the roster comfortably. Marcedes Lewis’ spot as the pre-eminent blocker at the position will secure him a roster position so along as age doesn’t unexpectedly catch up with him over the summer. If the Packers keep three spots at this position, I would expect Robert Tonyan to beat out perennial roster cusp man Evan Baylis and converted defensive end James Looney. Baylis makes the practice squad.
Last year’s starter, Jimmy Graham, was a salary cap casualty earlier in the year.
Roster Prediction: Sternberger, Lewis, Tonyan
Practice Squad: Baylis
We can be certain that All-Pro David Bakhtiari, last year’s rookie standout Elgton Jenkins and last year’s free agent pick-up Billy Turner will make the roster. You may be surprised not to see Corey Linsley on that “certainties” list, and the reason why not is that there is an outside chance that he could become a cap casualty (or even trade bait) in the coming months – barring those moves however, Linsley clearly makes the team. Rick Wagner, this year’s free agency pick-up on the offensive line, makes the roster providing that he turns out to be what the expected when they signed him. Wagner replaces Bryan Bulaga who left via free agency. Lucas Patrick, signed a contract extension late in 2019, backs up both the center and guard spots and those two things together make it likely he’s on the team in 2020.
So now we have 6 spots filled – the 5 starters and a back-up who covers both center and guard. The Packers have a lot of possibilities with the remaining spots - I’m going to guess (for now) that they keep 10 offensive linemen in total, so there are 4 spots remaining.
Firstly, I see rookie 6th round draft pick Jon Runyan making the roster. Runyan may be able to play both tackle and guard, so gives the team extra options and cover. This move now allows the team to keep two more tackles and I see Alex Light and Yosh Nijman winning roster spots over undrafted free agent Travis Buffy, 2019 holdover John Leglueand 2019 practice squad man Cody Conway. Conway makes the practice squad again.
On the interior, Lane Taylor is the wild card – we don’t know what the team is thinking with regard to his future, but my assumption is that he moves on (either via trade or outright release), partly because of his 2020 salary cap number. Assuming then that Lane will be gone, I see four players in a tight battle for one remaining roster spot – 2020 6th round draftees Jake Hanson and Simon Stepaniak, 2018 draftee Cole Madison and undrafted free agent Zach Johnson. With no great confidence, I think Hanson wins the final roster spot here – providing specialist cover at center. Stepaniak heads for the practice squad.
At the time of writing Jared Veldheer hadn’t been (yet) been re-signed by the Packers, and with the depth of competition for roster spots here he wasn’t considered – that will of course change if the Packers go ahead and bring him back. Jason Spriggs, who spent 2019 on injured reserve, has signed with the Bears.
Roster Prediction: Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Linsley, Turner, Wagner, Patrick, Runyan, Light, Nijman, Hanson
Practice Squad: Conway, Stepaniak
The Packers may keep 5 or 6 players here, but due to numbers elsewhere I expect it’s probably 5. Kenny Clark makes the roster! Beyond that this is a difficult group to call. Last year’s starters Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster will make it alongside Clark – but it wouldn’t be a huge shock to me if one of them missed out, especially if only 5 players along the defensive line make the final roster. But for now, Lowry and Lancaster are both in. Waiver wire pick-up Gerald Willis and undrafted free agents Trevon Hester and Willington Previlon will compete for roster spots, but I don’t see them beating out holdovers from 2019, Montravius Adams and Kingsley Keke – having said that, Willis may run them close. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers pick further players in the summer to compete here.
Roster Prediction: Clark, Lowry, Lancaster, M.Adams, Keke
Last year’s free agent signings Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith both make team along with 2019 first round draft choice Rashan Gary.
The Packers have some interesting prospects competing for the remaining roster spot – I think that the Packers would like to keep 2 more players, but they would have to create an open position by “losing” a player elsewhere and right now I don’t see them doing that.
All of this means that a talented group of 2020 draftee Jonathan Garvin, 2019 holdovers Greg Roberts, Tim Williamsand Randy Ramsey, recent waiver wire pick-up Jamal Davis and undrafted free agents Tipa Galeai and Delontae Scottare all battling over a single spot. I’m going with this year’s 7th round pick Garvin to win out and nab the no.4 position (held last year by Kyler Fackrell, who has since left the team via free agency).
I see the unlucky Roberts and Galeai each earning a place on the practice squad.
Roster Prediction: Z.Smith, P.Smith, Gary, Garvin
Practice Squad: Roberts, Galeai
Like the outside linebacker spot, inside linebacker is a position where the Packers would ideally perhaps like to keep 5 players but again numbers elsewhere prevent them from doing so in this prediction.
Free agent signing Christian Kirksey and this year’s fourth round draftee Kamal Martin should win the roster spots vacated by free agency departures Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson. That leaves four players – Oren Burks, Ty Summers, Curtis Bolton and undrafted free agent Krys Barnes competing for 2 roster spots. I can envisage scenarios where any two of this four make the team, but the most likely way this will go is that Burks and Summers hang on to their positions, whilst the talented Bolton ends up on the practice squad – meaning the unlucky Krys Barnes misses out altogether.
Roster Prediction: Kirksey, Martin, Burks, Summers
Practice Squad: Bolton
Last year’s starters Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are certain to make the team (obviously) and 2019 surprise package Chandon Sullivan also comfortably makes the final 53. That leaves at least 6 players competing for 2 or 3 spots. The Packers like to have depth at the corner position, so my guess is that they go with 6 total, leaving 3 spots remaining to be filled.
This battle is extremely difficult to call and will be one of the most intriguing to watch over the summer. But I’m going to throw a wild-card into this mix – I think that 2018 draftee Josh Jackson is in direct competition with a veteran for a single spot…the wild-card being that the veteran is currently not under contract with the team. For now, I’ll guess that the Packers re-sign unrestricted free agent Tramon Williams and that he beats out Jackson. Under this circumstance, the Packers will try and deal Jackson for a draft choice.
With two spots remaining, the others left in contention are Ka’dar Hollman, Kabien Ento, DaShaun Amos and 2020 undrafted free agents Stanford Samuels and Will Sunderland. I’m going to go with Hollman and, in a slight surprise perhaps, Samuels to make the roster. Sunderland heads to the practice squad.
Roster Prediction: Alexander, King, Sullivan, Williams, Hollman, Samuels
Practice Squad: Sunderland
Safety (keep 5)
Last year’s free agent signing Adrian Amos and first round draft pick Darnell Savage obviously make the roster. With Ibraheim Campbell leaving the team as a free agent, Raven Greene, who missed much of last year through injury, will go into camp as the no.3 safety and should make it through to make the team. That leaves a group of players probably chasing two spots. I expect Will Redmond to make it and I’m going to on a gut feel that the undrafted rookie from Canada, Marc-Antoine Dequoy, makes the team on the basis of his speed and athletic ability which may allow him to player corner as well as safety. This year’s seventh round draftee Vernon Scott misses out (he’s headed to the practice squad) as do undrafted free agents Henry Black and Frankie Griffin.
Roster Prediction: Amos, Savage, Greene, Redmond, Dequoy
Practice Squad: V. Scott
Special Teams (keep 3)
This one is straight forward – K Mason Crosby, P J.K. Scott and LSN Hunter Bradley all make the final 53.
Roster Prediction: Crosby, J.K. Scott, Bradley
Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog