Roster cutdowns for the Packers boil down to the trenches
Today's edition of The Leap is brought to you by Underdog Fantasy, an industry leader in daily and season-long fantasy contests.
Subscribers of The Leap can join Underdog Fantasy here with our special signup link to double your initial deposit up to $100. It's a great way to play fantasy sports with real fans while also supporting the work we do here.
If you can’t block, you can’t score. And if you can’t get off blocks, you can’t stop anyone from scoring. This has been true for 100 years. No matter how much football evolves to embrace an analytic age, the trenches still decide games.
Luckily for the Green Bay Packers, they have two sides of the ball that are now as deep as any team in the NFL at the line of scrimmage. The toughest decisions on the roster will be decided there, just like most games, once the season begins.
Let’s start with the offensive line where the sheer number of quality players currently on the Packers roster is enough to make a GM blush. Green Bay looks like it goes four-deep at offensive tackle to the point there is a slew of players who could potentially be part of reasonable trade negotiations as other teams try to piece together a five-man group.
Meanwhile, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense has to make difficult decisions about who is starting where and which one of a slew of competent players will get playing time. These are champagne problems.
For the first time in … maybe ever, the Packers have similar questions along the defensive front. We know Kenny Clark, T.J. Slaton, and Devonte Wyatt will be front-line contributors for this group along with rookies Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks slotted alongside them. That’s five players, all of whom would be reasonable starters that would mollify the usually-frantic Packers Twitter coaches.
The outside-linebacker position may be even more replete with talent as Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, and (literally pick another one of myriad players) would already be among the best 1-2-3 EDGE groups in football. Justin Hollins came to Green Bay because the Rams also must be ascribing to the “f*** those good players” motto along with the picks (have you seen that defensive roster lately?) and got starter reps with Gary out.
He’s been fantastic in both camp and preseason.
Kingsley Enagbare started last year when Gary went injured, put together one of the best rookie pass-rush seasons in the class, and just went out to kick the asses of any New England Patriots tackle in his way with a sack and a strip-sack.
I haven’t even mentioned first-round pick Lukas Van Ness who has flashed in the summer process or Brenton Cox, the most famous UDFA in Green Bay since Colt Lyerla (not a name I bet you thought would get a mention today).
All of this is to say, who exactly makes these position rooms? The Packers have seven or eight starting-caliber offensive linemen, so how much depth is enough and where could those roster spots be better spent, if at all? Perhaps more importantly, wouldn’t it be better to just keep all the good players rather than try to check some boxes at a different position?