Acme Packing Company’s final 2022 Packers 53-man roster prediction

With the Green Bay Packers and the rest of the NFL set to lock in their initial 53-man rosters on Tuesday, it’s time for one last prediction. Justis Mosqueda and Evan “Tex” Western have each compiled their own 53s for the Packers, trying to predict what Brian Gutekunst and his staff will do before 4:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday.

The Packers seem to have about 45 spots locked in on their roster, but the other eight or so spots are very much in flux. Let’s take a look at how Justis and Tex see the team taking shape.


Justice’ Roster

Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
Running Backs (3): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor
Wide Receivers (7): Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, Juwann Winfree
Tight Ends (4): Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara
Offensive Linemen (10): David Bakhtiari, Elton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Josh Nijman, John Runyan, Jake Hanson, Sean Rhyan, Zach Thome, Rasheed Walker

Defensive Linemen (6): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, Jack Heflin, TJ Slaton, Devonte Wyatt
Outside Linebackers (4): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, JJ Enagbare, Ladarius Hamilton
Inside Linebackers (4): De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie
Safeties (4): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Shawn Davis, Dallin Leavitt
Cornerbacks (6): Jaire Alexander, Russell Douglas, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean-Charles, Keisean Nixon, Rico Gafford

Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Jack Coco

The biggest question I have on the offensive side of the ball is if Tyler Goodson or Patrick Taylor is going to be the team’s third running back. Goodson and Taylor essentially split snaps right down the middle in the last two weeks of the preseason, with Goodson having the edge on perimeter runs and as a pass-catcher while Taylor has the edge as an inside runner, pass-blocker and special teams player . Knowing that Kylin Hill — who has a similar skillset to Goodson — is going to return from the physically unable to perform list at some point this season, I lean Taylor in a very close race.

On the defensive side of the ball, there is a lot more wiggle room at virtually every position.

On the defensive line, the team needs to decide on keeping five or six defensive linemen, with Jack Heflin and Chris Slayton being the frontrunners for that final roster spot. Heflin provides more value as a 3-4 defensive end while Slayton gives the team more pass-rushing juice as a nickel defensive tackle. With both of them on one-year deals that could lead to ERFA tags in 2023 and RFA tags in 2024, I’m going to lean Heflin, who is two years younger. Neither player is going to be asked to play significant snaps in the short term, so the future years should impact this decision more than other situations.

Outside linebacker is a mess. If there’s any position where the Packers look to add someone through the waiver wire on Wednesday, it’s outside linebacker. Tipa Galeai, a key special teamer who has struggled some in the preseason, missed Week 3 of the preseason due to an injury, which only makes this position more difficult to project. I don’t expect them to only roster five outside linebackers in Week 1, but I could see them only keeping four of their own before adding someone else from an outside roster. Remember, La’Darius Hamilton was added by the team very early on in 2021 before the Packers recruited Whitney Mercilus to join the unit. Galeai was also called up from the practice squad in-season last year.

With seven receivers projected to make the roster, it makes it easier for the Packers to keep just five cornerbacks. Early on in the preseason, it seemed like Shemar Jean-Charles, Rico Gafford and Keisean Nixon were locks to make the team as backups at the position. Since then, though, Gafford has lost some playing time at cornerback and on special teams to Kiondre Thomas, who would likely pass through waivers if released. If Gafford gets the nod as the sixth corner, I think it’s on the 53-man roster. If it’s Thomas, though, maybe they just keep five cornerbacks and promote Thomas off the practice squad to play when they need the extra body.


Tex’s Roster

Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
Running Backs (3): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Tyler Goodson
Wide Receivers (7): Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, Juwann Winfree
Tight Ends (4): Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara
Offensive Linemen (10): David Bakhtiari, Elton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Josh Nijman, John Runyan, Jake Hanson, Sean Rhyan, Zach Thome, Rasheed Walker

Defensive Linemen (6): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, Jack Heflin, TJ Slaton, Devonte Wyatt
Outside Linebackers (4): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, JJ Enagbare, Ladarius Hamilton
Inside Linebackers (4): De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie
Safeties (5): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Micah Abernathy, Shawn Davis, Dallin Leavitt
Cornerbacks (5): Jaire Alexander, Russell Douglas, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean-Charles, Keisean Nixon

Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Jack Coco

I feel like my biggest achievement on this year’s prediction is the Packers holding on to ten offensive linemen while still having seven receivers. That forces me to keep 26 offensive players on the initial 53 against just 24 on defense, a ratio that Green Bay has rarely kept under the Thompson/Gutekunst regimes.

Still, after the Packers’ preseason game and given the questions surrounding David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins’ availability for Week 1, I felt that I had to find a way to keep one extra offensive lineman — specifically a tackle. I think the Packers will want to have eight linemen active on gameday and although they could elevate a player off the practice squad to do so, Walker seemed to jump up over Caleb Jones for a backup tackle spot over the past week.

My other big decision on offense was keeping Goodson over Patrick Taylor. That is also based on snap breakdowns from the preseason finale, when Goodson got a clearly larger role and delivered with good hands out of the backfield and an explosive touchdown run.

Defensively, I found an extra spot by keeping just four outside linebackers. The fourth player behind Gary, Smith, and Enagbare could be any of the remaining players, but I would not be surprised to see the Packers claim an edge player on waivers after final cuts.

The other option I pursued was keeping ten defensive backs, but doing so with five safeties and five cornerbacks. Dallin Leavitt’s return to practice this week means that the Packers will not keep him on the 53 just to put him on injured reserve, but he has demonstrated that he should probably be a special teams-only player. At cornerback, I strongly feel that both Rico Gafford and Kiondre Thomas would clear waivers and make it onto the Packers’ practice squad, where they could each be called up for up to three games without penalty.


Where we differ on our predictions is at running back — Justis has Patrick Taylor while Tex has Goodson — and in the secondary. Justis keeping Rico Gafford gives him a 6 CB/4 safety group instead of Tex’s pick of Micah Abernathy splitting the group 5 and 5.

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