The remaining preseason games are going to be a big day for the quintet of Barclay, Bradford, Brice, Brown, and Burks, all of whom are aiming to pin down a spot on the Packers’ final 53-player roster. The roster must first be cut to 75 by August 30 and final cuts must be made by September 3.
All but Carl Bradford went undrafted among this group. Three are new to the team this year, while Don Barclay has ties going back to 2012, and Bradford to 2014.
Proceeding alphabetically, offensive lineman Don Barclay has been with the Packers since being an undrafted signee in 2012. While often criticized for allowing sacks, Barclay has also gotten considerable playing time. That includes starts during 2013 and 2015 season. The Packers moved Barclay from tackle, where he’s struggled, to the interior of the offensive line this offseason. He has performed better as the preseason has progressed, to the point where he’s gone from an afterthought to standing a good chance of again being a prime offensive line backup.
Drafted in the fourth round in 2014, Carl Bradford has yet to live up to that billing. In fact, he was released when final cuts were made in 2015, but reclaimed for practice squad service. The linebacker is having his best preseason this year. He leads the team’s inside linebackers with seven tackles in the first two preseason games. In just the last couple weeks, Bradford has gone from being a long shot to likely making the final roster.
We profiled Kentrell Brice back on July 1 – as his athleticism alone renders him an intriguing prospect. He has around 4.4 40-yard dash speed, he’s a jumping jack, and he did 21 bench presses, which is phenomenal for a 5’11” 200-pound player. Most believe the Packers will keep five safeties on the roster. Four slots are taken: Morgan Burnett, Chris Banjo, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Micah Hyde. After two nice preseason performances, the fifth safety spot appears to be Brice’s to lose.
Beniquez Brown is probably the least known name of the list, as he’s only been with the team since May. He left Mississippi early, but went undrafted before signing with the Packers. The 6’1” 236-pounder looked good in the preseason game against Cleveland, making four tackles, but he didn’t make the stat sheet in the Oakland game. Assuming five ILBs are kept (and that Joe Thomas maintains his top-four ranking on the depth chart), Brown is battling with Carl Bradford for that final spot. Bradford has the inside track due to hanging around with the team for the previous two years.
Brandon Burks is running near neck-and neck with John Crockett for the third (non-fullback) running back position. Burks, undrafted out of Troy, is compact, at 5’9” and 208 pounds, whereas Crockett is 6’ and 217 pounds. In the preseason so far, Burks has outgained Crockett on the ground, 13 carries for 59 yards vs. 12 carries for 43 yards. Crockett, though, has seven catches for 44 yards and a touchdown vs. Burks’ two catches for 3 yards. Crockett, also has more team history. Like Bradford, he didn’t survive final cuts last year, but was signed onto the practice squad and eventually got to play briefly in a few games. Burks will probably need to clearly outplay Crockett the rest of the way to have any chance of securing a roster spot.
If Brice, Brown and Burks don’t make the final roster, they’re a good bet to wind up on the team’s practice squad. And as we’ve seen, that could eventually lead to the active roster.