The other day, I was listening to someone’s analysis of the NFL’s top players of all time. This sprung an idea for me to write an all time Packers 53 man roster. Shortly after thinking about the topic, I realized that I couldn’t properly make that 53, and in reality not many people could. So I came to the conclusion that I should do a 53 man roster throughout my time as a fan. I became a fan at the tail end of the 2003 season at about 6 or 7 years old. From the 2004 season on, I have not missed a game, either watching on TV or following along with the ESPN.com gamecast because the game wasn’t televised where I lived in Nebraska.
I am certain that there will be some slight factors of recency bias in this 53 man roster, as well as some player from the 2000’s who I thought were better than they actually were. Evaluating the game is a lot different through the eyes of a 7 year old child than it is a 23 year old who has watched hours upon hours of football games.
So here goes nothing. I share with you my fandom 53, and I hope you will share yours with me in the comments/replies on social media. Lets go!
A few quick rules
- Each player will be given a season in which I think they were at their best
- No one player can be used twice, regardless of position
- I am fully taking into account how certain players will affect the play of others. For example, a player like Aaron Jones fits better in an offense featuring Aaron Rodgers and a plethora of talented receivers than a back like Eddie Lacy…in my opinion.
- This list is put together to play in the current NFL
- Defense will be a base 3-4 front
- Keep in mind, I am not perfect. I may miss on an obvious player or 2. I respect everyone’s opinion, but don’t come at me all hostile if you do not agree with something in this 53.
1. Aaron Rodgers (2011)
2. Brett Favre (2007)
First out: Matt Flynn 2011
Rodgers vs Favre may spark a debate for some people, but it doesn’t for me in this case. 2011 Rodgers was a tier above 2007 Brett Favre. The only thing that I really had to scratch my head about was who I was going to select as first out. My fandom 53 starts out on a strong note with one of the best seasons an NFL quarterback has ever had.
1. Ahman Green (2003)
2. Aaron Jones (2019)
3. Ryan Grant (2009)
First Out: Eddie Lacy (2014)
Ahman Green had an outstanding season in 2003, nearly reaching 1900 yards while contributing 15 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. I was always a huge fan of Green as a kid because he was from my home state of Nebraska and also played for the University of Nebraska before becoming a Green Bay Packer by way of a trade with Seattle. Aaron Jones edges Ryan Grant with his receiving ability and knack for finding the end zone. 2014 Eddie Lacy barely misses the cut.
1. John Kuhn (2010)
First out: William Henderson (2003)
This may be a little bit of recency bias. I barely remember William Henderson as a player, but after researching his stats, I now know he was a much better receiver than I once thought. He also blocked for an 1800 yard rushing performance in 2003 by Ahman Green. Still, I will take 2010 John Kuhn as my fullback by a narrow margin.
1. Jermichael Finley (2009)
2. Jared Cook (2016)
3. Bubba Franks (2004)
First Out: Marty Bennett 2017
Regardless of your feelings on Finley or Bennett, they both belong on this list in varying capacity. One could argue that Finley’s best season was in 2011 or 2013 prior to the injury. I think he was at his best in 2009. You saw the damage he could do in the Packers lone playoff game in 2009. Finley posted 159 yards on 6 receptions in that shootout of a game at Arizona.
The Packers have been mostly underwhelming at tight end in my time as a fan. Jared Cook showed some serious flashes during the “run the table” stretch in 2016, but was let go the following offseason in a questionable move by Ted Thompson. Bubba Franks and Marty Bennett round out the list as better blockers than receivers.
1. Davante Adams (2018) 2. Jordy Nelson (2014) 3. Greg Jennings (2010) 4. Javon Walker (2004) 5. Donald Driver (2006) 6. Randall Cobb (2014) 7. James Jones (2012)
Admittedly I changed the order of these guys around considerably after researching the stats. The crazy thing is that 5 of these 7 guys were on the same roster in 2011.
Davante Adams comes up at number one because of the eye test. Nelson had the better season statistically in 2014, but he also had an MVP quarterback and Randall Cobb taking some pressure off of him. Javon Walker posted almost 1400 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004, which to me bumped him ahead of the best seasons for Driver, Cobb & Jones. I still vividly remember Walker getting injured early in the 2005 season opener against Detroit. Man that was an ugly game…The perfect start to an ugly season.
One could argue that Cobb’s 2014 season was better than Driver’s in 2006. I think those two were really tight, and again Driver didn’t have an MVP quarterback and Jordy Nelson to take off some of the pressure of opposing defenses. Instead, he was “the guy” on an 8-8 team that was still learning Mike McCarthy’s offense.
1. David Bakhtiari (2018) 2. Chad Clifton (2007) 3. Bryan Bulaga (2016)
First Out: Mark Taucher (2003)
The Packers have started these 4 guys for most of my time as a fan. All 4 are really good players, with Bakhtiari being one of the best pass blocking tackles I have ever seen. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some great tackle play in my time as a fan, many other franchises aren’t so lucky.
1. Marco Rivera (2003) 2. Josh Sitton (2014) 3. TJ Lang (2016) 4. Mike Wahle (2004)
First Out: Lane Taylor (2017)
I wish I was old enough to appreciate Riveria’s two All-Pro seasons in 2003 & 2004. I debated on Sitton and Lang over Rivera because of this offense is shaping up to be very pass happy in a modern league. Wahle rounds out a stout group of guards. I could see Elgton Jenkins on this list very soon, perhaps even striking the top spot, he is that good.
1. Mike Flanagan (2003) 2. Corey Lindsley (2018)
First Out: Scott Wells
This was another tough decision with a player from 2003 versus a modern player. I again resist recency bias and go with Flanagan. Scott Wells was a tough cut.
1. Kenny Clark (2019) 2. Mike Daniels (2017) 3. BJ Raji (2010) 4. Cullen Jenkins (2010) 5. Ryan Pickett (2008)
This was an interesting group to put together, with the Packers only playing 3-4 since Dom Capers came to town about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I only caught the very tail end of Gilbert Browns career. 24 year old Kenny Clark headlines a group of non-flashy solid players. BJ Raji gave me a moment I’ll never forget in the 2010 NFC championship game en route to Super Bowl 45. I consider Ryan Pickett to be one of the most underrated Packers in my time as a fan.
1. Clay Matthews (2010) 2. Za’Darius Smith (2019) 3. Aaron Kampman (2006) 4. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (2004) 5. Julius Peppers (2014) 6. Preston Smith (2019)
First Out: Nick Perry (2016)
I distinctively remember how insulted I was that Troy Polamalu won DPOY over Clay Matthews in 2010. Matthews leads an outstanding position group, which has recently been revitalized with the additions of Preston and Za’Darius Smith. 3-6 is a very tight race in this position group. Perhaps one of my favorite seasons on this list was Julius Peppers in 2014. Peppers only registered 7 sacks, but he was able to add 2 long interception touchdowns, 4 forced fumbles, and 11 pass deflections. Nick Perry’s splash performance that got him a 5 year contract with the Packers doesn’t quite make the 53.
1. Nick Barnett (2007) 2. Desmond Bishop (2011) 3. Blake Martinez (2018) 4. AJ Hawk (2010)
First Out: Na’il Diggs (2005)
This is an underwhelming group, plain and simple. Blake Martinez was recently quoted as saying that the Packers organization doesn’t value inside linebacker like most others do. He is right to say that. Little free agent money has been spent at ILB, and we haven’t seen a pick in rounds 1 or 2 at that position since AJ Hawk in 2006. We may just see a first round pick at inside linebacker later this month.
1. Charles Woodson (2009) 2. Tramon Williams (2010) 3. Sam Shields (2014) 4. Al Harris (2007) 5. Mike McKenzie (2003)
First Out: Jaire Alexander (2019)
The Packers only DPOY award winner in my time as a fan takes the first spot on the depth chart. Tramon Williams still shows flashes of his 2010 self today at 37 years old. The world doesn’t know what a great cover corner Sam Shields became after switching positions after playing receiver at Miami FL. He really came a long way in terms of technique, but still had that blazing speed that could make up for lost ground quickly. Shields earns the slight edge over Al Harris in my book. Jaire Alexander has the tools to be a player who could jump onto this 53, but that remains to be seen.
1. Nick Collins (2008) 2. Darren Sharper (2003) 3. Haha Clinton-Dix (2016) 4. Atari Bigby (2007) 5. Morgan Burnett (2014)
What I wouldn’t give to watch Nick Collins intercept a pass live and bring it back for a touchdown again. Man was he ever fun to watch. I still remember watching Darren Sharper’s first game as a Viking. He had a pick 6 in that game, that one really stung at the time. Haha Clinton-Dix showed a lot of promise in 2016, but never returned to that level of play going forward. Who could forget Atari Bigby 2007 season? He was a turnover machine.
I may get a little flak for having Morgan Burnett on here. Burnett wasn’t a flashy player in 2014, but he played very well. He played in the box a lot and racked up a ton of tackles. He has proven that he can play some sub package linebacker, and that makes him valuable in today’s NFL.
LS Brett Goode (2010)
P JK Scott (2019)
K Mason Crosby (2013)
Who else but Brett Goode? That was a no-brainer. JK Scott has been deemed a weapon by Packers fans, he gets the nod over the likes of Tim Masthay and Justin Vogel. Kicker came down to Mason Crosby of 2013 versus Mason Crosby of 2019. Coin Flip.
And there you have it! I had a ton of fun writing this up. It brought up a bunch of fun memories from my time as a fan. I hope you will consider submitting your Fandom 53 in the comments/replies on one of our social media pages. We are on twitter @PTTF_Podcast or search Pack to the Future on Facebook. I am on twitter @TrackOnPack, if you’d like to interact with me directly. Thanks for reading, and as always GO PACK GO!