Throughout his scouting career, Brian Gutekunst has always seen roster building as a 365 days a year proposition. So while the Green Bay Packers general manager might’ve filled out his roster with 11 picks during last month’s NFL draft, he realizes that even with 90 players set to attend Monday’s first organized team activity practice of the offseason, the roster is in flux.
“It’d be nice to come out of every draft and feel like you filled all the holes that you think you have, but that’s never the case. So I think you try to take really good football players, because really you don’t know what your needs are going to be come September,” Gutekunst said following his first draft as GM. “We feel really, really good right now. Hopefully https://www.packersgbstore.com/jeff-janis-jersey-c-41.html, moving forward there’ll be opportunities, and we’ll see where that takes us.
“Our thing has been do our due diligence and always be prepared for the opportunity. We certainly have our list of guys that we think might have an opportunity go get released or traded. You can’t count on it but we’re always aware it might happen.
“If there’s an opportunity, you think, to upgrade, you do. You’re trying to get better if you think there’s an opportunity to get better.”
With that in mind, here’s a position by position look at where the Packers’ roster stands as OTA practices begin.
After missing most of last season with a fractured right collarbone, two time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers was cleared awhile ago and won’t be limited in any way during practice. That said, this will mark the start of the DeShone Kizer Brett Hundley battle for the No. 2 job behind the two time NFL MVP, and Kizer’s first chance to run the playbook in an 11 on 11 setting. Their competition figures to go through training camp, but after Hundley produced uneven results nine games last season in Rodgers’ place, the job is wide open.
There are only two positions on the roster where the Packers didn’t add a player in veteran free agency, the draft or rookie free agency Kicker and running back. That says a lot about how the team feels about Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery and Devante Mays. How the rotation works during team drills in organized team activities will give some clue to the pecking order at the position, but the running back room is full with young, promising talent. Fullbacks Aaron Ripkowski and Joe Kerridge are back, too.
Dismiss if you wish the idea of the Packers adding ex Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant — after the hullabaloo created by ex Cowboys tight end Jason Witten predicting a Packers Bryant connection, the NFL Network reported that the team had not pursued Bryant to this point — but one has to think Gutekunst is on the lookout for a veteran receiver. After parting ways with the popular Jordy Nelson in early March, the depth chart has Davante Adams and Randall Cobb on top and uncertainty thereafter. Even if the Packers are sold on third year man Geronimo Allison – he of the 35 career receptions – at No. 3 and are confident at least a couple of their draft picks J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown will be contributors https://www.packersgbstore.com/ricky-jean-francois-jersey-c-42.html, the position still is short on experience.
The free agent arrival of Jimmy Graham made headlines, and Rodgers is clearly excited to see what he and Graham can do together. But the team let veteran Richard Rodgers walk in free agency, leaving ex University of Wisconsin standout Lance Kendricks, former practice squadders Emanuel Byrd and Robert Tonyan and undrafted rookies Kevin Rader and Ryan Smith. Given that coach Mike McCarthy used to love it when former GM Ted Thompson would give him four or five tight ends on the 53 man roster, this seems like another position where Gutekunst will be in the market for help.
The team added one lineman in the draft fifth rounder Cole Madison and four more in rookie free agency Duke center Austin Davis, Kentucky tackle Kyle Meadows, Arizona guard/tackle Jacob Alsadek and Richmond tackle/guard Alex Light . Veteran starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga, coming off a torn ACL in his right knee, may not be cleared before training camp opens July 26, and it’s unclear how much Jason Spriggs dislocated kneecap or Kyle Murphy broken foot will be ready to do in OTAs after their own season ending injuries. That should provide ample reps for youngsters there. At right guard, Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray should begin their battle for a starting spot.
Veteran leader Mike Daniels expressed excitement about what he, 2016 first round pick Kenny Clark https://www.packersgbstore.com/brett-hundley-jersey-c-40.html, veteran addition Muhammad Wilkerson and third year man Dean Lowry could do up front in new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme. One player to watch on the line, though, is Montravius Adams, a third round pick a year ago who suffered a foot injury on the first day of training camp last summer and was a washout as a rookie. If he turns out to be the real deal, the rotation could be lethal.
One of the holes the Packers didn’t fill in the draft was the one at outside linebacker, where
Veterans Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are the starters but have battled injuries on an almost annual basis. Trading back from No. 14 — a pick the New Orleans Saints then used on Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport — Gutekunst clearly felt adding a 2019 first round pick and taking another defensive player made more sense. That decision, coupled with adding only one outside rusher in the draft seventh rounder Kendall Donnerson , leaves the Packers counting on Vince Biegel, Reggie Gilbert, Kyler Fackrell and Chris Odom to improve.
Inside, Blake Martinez tied for the NFL lead in tackles last season, but Jake Ryan’s impact was negligible. Enter versatile third round pick Oren Burks, whose athleticism makes him an interesting chess piece in Pettine’s scheme.
Using their first two draft picks on cornerbacks – Louisville first rounder Jaire Alexander and Iowa second rounder Josh Jackson – certainly bolstered the position, which was the Packers’ most glaring offseason need. That rookie pair, plus the return of 35 year old prodigal veteran Tramon Williams, give the Packers three options to combine with a healthy Kevin King Kenny Clark Jersey, who is coming off shoulder surgery that ended his rookie season. At safety, Ha Ha Clinton Dix believes he’ll rebound in Pettine’s system after a down year, while second year man Josh Jones figures to get the first shot at replacing departed veteran Morgan Burnett, who went to Pittsburgh in free agency.
Steady kicker Mason Crosby is back for his 12th season, but everything around him has changed with the team drafting punter JK Scott in the fifth round and long snapper Hunter Bradley in the seventh. The team honored incumbent punter Justin Vogel’s request by releasing him after Scott’s arrival, leaving him as the lone punter on the roster. Bradley, picked to replace longtime veteran Brett Goode, has in person competition in Zach Triner, at least for now. Returner auditions figure to begin anew.
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