Every year the Green Bay Packers seem to find a hidden treasure from their undrafted rookies. This year there are 15 players who didn’t hear their names called in the draft, who will fight to become the next Sam Shields, Kentrell Brice, or Geronimo Allison. One or two of these players may make the opening day roster, and we know several will make the practice squad.
Here are the players I believe have the best chance to succeed:
CB David Rivers III – Youngstown State
Rivers possesses great size for a CB (6’2” 185 lbs) which allows him to fit in with Dom Capers scheme. He has good short area quickness and smooth hips. He transitions well out of his backpedal. Rivers also does a good job of locating the ball and times his pass breakups well.
He was not drafted because he’s a slower CB (40 yard dash was in the mid-4.5s) and did not create turnovers in college. He will also need to improve his physicality in the run game. Rivers faces an uphill battle to make the roster in a very deep secondary, but I think he has a good shot to make the Practice Squad. He has the potential to be a similar player to LaDarius Gunter.
QB Taysom Hill – BYU
Hill is likely QB #4 on the depth chart, so he’ll get reps in the preseason games. Hill has great ability as a runner because of his speed and strength. He needs a ton of work in the throwing game. He lacks anticipation and typically looks to take off and run when his first two reads are covered. Joe Callahan will occupy the 3rd QB or Practice Squad QB position, so Hill has a very small chance of sticking with the Packers. However, his skillset should provide for some entertaining plays late in preseason games.
P Justin Vogel – Miami (FL)
Vogel was one of the better Punters to come out of the draft this season. He has great hang time and is a fantastic directional kicker. Vogel can also the emergency guy on kickoffs. He needs to improve his consistency and leg strength. I think he has a great chance to unseat Jacob Schum as the Packers’ Punter.
OG Adam Pankey – West Virginia
Pankey is a guy who played three different o-line positions in college. Ted Thompson loves position versatility, and Pankey has it. He combines good size and strength, with good feet to move inside. He’s super powerful in the “phone booth”, and fortunately that’s all the Packers will ask him to be. He’s going to struggle to get to the second level in run blocking. The Packers actually have a lot of depth on the o-line, so Pankey will fight with the other undrafted rookie free agents to make the Practice Squad. I think he develops into a good player down the road.
WR Aaron Peck – Fresno State
Peck has zero chance of making this team as a WR. However, I include him in this list because he wants to make a position change. He’s listed at 6’2” 239lbs which is a bizarre measurement for a NFL player. He wants to play Tight End, but I think he would have to make it as a H-back. He doesn’t have explosive speed, but his receiving skills could be a major asset coming out of the backfield. Peck could be a developmental guy for the future.
OLB Johnathan Calvin – Mississippi State
Calvin is a powerful player with a little bit of burst. He has incredibly strong legs to drive defenders back and hold his ground in the run game. He showed good play recognition and even has experience dropping in coverage. Calvin seems to lack agility on tape, and needs to develop more pass rush moves to be a contributor. He’s a strong candidate for the Practice Squad, who could develop into a poor man’s Nick Perry with some seasoning.
Other confirmed signings:
CB Donatello Brown – Valdosta State
It’s easier to find tape on a teenage turtle, than on Donatello Brown. Small-school guy with decent size and questionable speed. He’s actually Cardinals WR John Brown’s uncle.
CB Lenzy Pipkins – Oklahoma State
Another great name. Pipkins is a pretty good athlete.
G Geoff Gray – Manitoba
Gray was a pre-draft invite of the Packers, and played alright at the East-West Shrine Game. My guess is that he becomes one of the Practice Squad o-linemen.
G Thomas Evans – Richmond
Rich What? Richmond! Evans was a key part of a pretty good Richmond rushing attack. Should be able to play Center too.
OT Christian Schneider – UC Davis
Schneider may have the athleticism to stick at Tackle which would make him pretty valuable as a developmental guy.
WR Montay Crockett – Georgia Southern
Crockett has sub-4.4 speed. He’s going to have to show he can be a great returner to have any chance to even make the Practice Squad. The Packers have ridiculous depth at WR after the draft picks.
DL Izaah Lunsford – Bowling Green
Lunsford plays with an edge. He could be a good run defender, but is very limited in pass rush. He’s my guess for the D-line guy on the Practice Squad.
DL Imarjaye Albury – Florida International
Albury is too small to play d-line and too slow to come off the edge. He’ll have to show some great pass rush moves to make it to the 3rd preseason game.
ILB Cody Heiman – Washburn
Heiman played Linebacker in college, but I’m guessing the Packers will project him as a Fullback and Special Teams player. He’s got the physicality to play Fullback, but Green Bay has two pretty solid FB options in front of him.
This doesn’t seem to be a great year for the Packers to get an immediate contributor out of the undrafted free agent pick-ups, but they should make things interesting in the preseason and perhaps get a chance to contribute as the season goes on. The releases of Christine Michael and Don Jackson also open up two more roster spots, so we may see some names added to this list before Rookie Camp. I project that a few of these guys could be contributors in 2018, but Green Bay’s depth will prevent most from making an immediate impact.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig