Can the Packers Pick Six Receivers?

Aaron Rodgers has called the receiver group "as deep as we've had here." It's an unproven group, though. Can Green Bay keep six receivers at the cost of releasing a player elsewhere?

During organized team activities, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers floated the notion of the team taking an "extra guy" at receiver into the regular season.

Only the dog days of training camp and the bright lights of the preseason will determine whether the Packers can keep a sixth receiver on the roster.

"It's a deep group," Rodgers said at the minicamp. "I think it could be as deep a group as we've had here. It might not be the big names like we had in the past, when we had the whole stable of guys, but I think you could definitely see us keeping six guys there in that position because we are pretty deep group. Obviously, (Jarrett) Boyk(in) coming along from last year is going to get a lot of looks, and then the young guys as a whole are coming along. I don't like to make a lot of predictions in helmets and shorts, but there's been a lot of plays made. (Chris) Harper was making a lot of plays before he tweaked his hamstring. Davante (Adams is) making some plays. All those guys are improving, and I think really spots four through six, potentially, it's pretty wide open."

To call it a "deep group," as Rodgers did, or "probably the deepest" in memory, as offensive coordinator Tom Clements put it, is probably not accurate. After all, only Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Boykin have done anything of substance in the NFL. "Packed with potential" might be more accurate. Can Harper, Myles White or Kevin Dorsey, who were with the team last season, become reliable contributors? Can Adams, Jared Abbrederis or Jeff Janis break through the rookie wall that derails so many first-year receivers?

Roster decisions aren't made in a vacuum. There is no cookie-cutter format in which general manager Ted Thompson writes in three quarterbacks, five running backs, five wide receivers, and so on. Keeping six receivers instead of five, like last year, means keeping one fewer player at another position.

Where could the Packers trim some roster fat? For sake of comparison, the Packers kept two quarterbacks, one fullback, three running backs, five receivers, four tight ends, eight offensive linemen, seven defensive linemen, five outside linebackers (including Mike Neal), five inside linebackers, six cornerbacks, four safeties and three specialists.

Tight end: One option would be parting ways with Ryan Taylor, assuming the special teams could handle the loss of one of the core players. Or, if the young guys are ready, maybe Andrew Quarless could be expendable.

Defensive line: Do the Packers need seven, with Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Neal slotted to play the multitasking "elephant" position? Going with six, however, would necessitate releasing Letroy Guion, Josh Boyd or Jerel Worthy.

Inside linebacker: This is the easy spot, with Green Bay able to downsize from five to four. The problem is, the Packers are loaded at outside linebacker with Clay Matthews, Peppers, Perry, Neal, Carl Bradford and holdovers Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer. The Packers probably will keep six instead of five. So, that's still a net of 10 linebackers

Cornerbacks: With multitasking Micah Hyde, the Packers could go with a total of nine defensive backs instead of last year's 10.

Quarterback: Remember, the Packers haven't taken three quarterbacks into the regular season since 2008. By carrying just two quarterbacks, that's freed up the team to keep an extra player elsewhere. Assuming Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien join Rodgers on the roster, that'd mean one less player can be retained at another position. And that lessens the odds of keeping six receivers.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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