Packers' roster projection: Carl Bradford, Khyri Thornton could be in trouble

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy likes to say players can make the biggest improvement between their rookie year and second season.

That better hold true for Carl Bradford and Khyri Thornton.

Neither played a single snap as a rookie. Bradford, a fourth-round pick, was inactive for every game after he moved from outside linebacker to the inside late in training camp. Thornton, a third-round pick, spent the season on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury he sustained near the end of an ineffective preseason.

If they don't show significant improvement this summer, they could be gone.

The same could hold true for second-year cornerback Demetri Goodson, who was a sixth-round pick in 2014 yet did not play a snap on defense.

Here's an early look at the Green Bay Packers' projected 53-man, opening-day roster.

Quarterbacks (3)

Noteworthy: The overhaul of Tolzien's throwing mechanics resulted in a quicker, more accurate delivery in offseason practices. Hundley has a long way to go, but the Packers will keep three quarterbacks because they know if they tried to get Hundley to the practice squad, another team likely would grab him.

Tough cut: Free-agent Matt Blanchard outperformed Hundley in OTAs and minicamp, but the reality is teams don't cut draft picks like Hundley to keep a guy off the street.

Running backs (4)

Noteworthy: It's a risk going with just two halfbacks (and keeping two fullbacks), but Lacy and Starks proved to be durable last season. Kuhn could carry the ball in an emergency. Ripkowski could be a special teams dynamo.

Tough cut: Rajion Neal showed ability as a runner last preseason before his knee injury, and rookie free agent John Crockett might be able to play in the league, too.

Receivers (6)

Noteworthy: The Packers sometimes keep just five receivers, and they could do the same again this year, especially if they want that third halfback. If that's the case, then Abbrederis could be in trouble. Janis is way ahead of him at this point.

Tough cut: The Packers love their rookie free-agent class of receivers, and Ricky Collins might be the best of the group.

Tight ends (3)

Noteworthy: Quarless and Rodgers will battle for the starting job but both will play quite a bit. Backman, a sixth-round pick, needs to catch the ball better than he did in the offseason practices.

Tough cut: Justin Perillo was promoted from the practice squad last season but will lose out to a draft pick (Backman).

Offensive linemen (8)

Noteworthy: With only seven typically active for games, the Packers can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay can back up at both guards and right tackle. Tretter can probably handle all five spots, while Taylor can play both guards.

Tough cut: Matt Rotheram was one of the most coveted rookie free agents, and the Packers would like to develop him.

Defensive line (6)

Noteworthy: Guion could be suspended to start the season because of his offseason arrest. If that's the case, he would not count against the 53-man limit.

Tough cut: Thornton was the 85th overall player taken in the 2014 draft. It's tough to dump a player picked that high so soon.

Linebackers (10)

Noteworthy: Hubbard, who has earned praise from the coaches this offseason, and Mulumba might be fighting for one spot, but the Packers know they'll probably need depth given the injury histories for Perry and Neal.

Tough cut: Carl Bradford was the 121st overall player taken in the 2014 draft.

Defensive backs (10)

Noteworthy: Gunter, an undrafted rookie from Miami, showed major playmaking ability in the offseason practices. Fanor, a practice-squad player last year, has a nose for the ball, too.

Tough cut: Demetri Goodson, a former college basketball player, could lose out to Gunter.

Specialists (3)

Noteworthy: The only one with competition in camp is Masthay, who struggled late last season.

Tough cut: Street free-agent punter Cody Mandell could prove to be worthy of making someone's roster, but it probably won't be with the Packers unless Masthay doesn't rebound from last year's finish.