Per Brian Carriveau of gnb.247sports.com dated June 9, 2015, “the Green Bay Packers rounded out their 90 man roster by signing undrafted free agent Vince Kowalski out of Villanova. Before he signed with the Packers, Kowalski had a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the Chiefs did not offer him a deal.”
Carriveau’s Twitter post caught my eye for three reasons. Reason #1-Vince Kowalski was the last player signed to the Green Bay Packers 90 man roster…kinda like a “Mr. Irrelevant.” The last guy picked in the NFL Draft, which leads to reason #2, I like rooting for an underdog, which Kowalski seems to be at this point in his young NFL career. Reason #3-My wife and I were heading up to Green Bay the following day to attend the Packers OTA on June 10, so I thought I would keep an eye on him.
After pondering Carriveau’s post I decided to learn more about Green Bay Packers #50 Vince Kowalski. What I will not do in this post is make any projections or predictions. Rather, I will wait for the training camp battles to begin today (July 30th) in order to attempt that feat. But, this is what I learned about the Green Bay Packers last–but perhaps not least undrafted free agent–Vince Kowalski.
Vince Kowalski, a former high school football standout from Williamstown, NJ, started all 48 games for the Villanova Wildcats and was named first-team All-Colonial-Athletic Association his senior year. In an article written by Rob Callaway of the Gloucester County Times dated 9/23/2012 (Kowalski’s sophomore year), Kowalski said, “Coming in as a true freshman and starting is very hard to do. I got thrown into the fire pretty early and it took me by surprise. It’s a whole different speed at this level, but I think I handled it well.”
Fast forward. In an article written by Al Thompson of footballstories.com dated April 9, 2015, Kowalski said, “I’m expecting to be an undrafted free agent, but I’m fine with that. All I can ask for is the opportunity. And if the opportunity is going to present itself as an undrafted free agent, that’s the best I’m going to get. I’m going to take advantage of it. I have to take advantage of every rep I get in camp because I might only get one rep while I’m in there. I’ve got to make the most of it to stay on the roster.”
According to NFLDraftScout.com from his pro-day workout, Kowalski bench pressed 225 lbs 28 times, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.26 seconds and ran the 10-yard dash in 1.82 seconds.
In comparison, Don Barclay bench pressed 225 lbs 23 times, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.03 seconds and ran the 10-yard dash in 1.73 seconds.
JC Tretter bench pressed 225 lbs 29 times, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.09 seconds and ran the 10-yard dash in 1.75 seconds.
Lane Taylor bench pressed 225 lbs 31 times, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.35 seconds and ran the 10-yard dash in 1.88 seconds.
This we know: The Green Bay Packers have 15 offensive linemen (excluding long snapper Brett Goode) on the 90 man roster. In addition, we know who will be the starting five offensive linemen for the Packers.
It’s safe to predict the Green Bay Packers will carry no more than 8 offensive linemen on the roster in 2015. That would leave 3 back up roster spots available.
Finally, one just might assume: Don Barclay, JC Tretter and Lane Taylor have an inside track for the remaining 3 back up spots, because they have experience. However, never assume anything, especially in the NFL, when you have 10 good players vying for 3 spots.
Looking at the pro-day results for Don Barclay, JC Tretter and Lane Taylor, Vince Kowalski is not far behind. Unless linemen are racing each other at the end of practice to see who can get to the water melon table first, you can set the 40-yard dash time off to the side.
Instead, focus your attention on how well they perform in the “trench” and explode out of the “hole.” It’s not about the 40-yard dash time or a player’s insane number of bench press reps. Rather, it’s about attitude, perseverance, technique and versatility that will determine a players roster fate.
Like Vince Kowalski said, “I have to take advantage of every rep I get in camp because I might only get one rep while I’m in there. I’ve got to make the most of it to stay on the roster.” On that note, let the battles and the competition begin. Good luck to all of the Packers offensive linemen who covet those few remaining back up vacancies.