After the draft, the Packers signed several undrafted free agents. At that point I took a shot at a 8 UDFAs who would have a chance to make the roster or the practice squad. Let’s take a look at how I did:
Every year the Green Bay Packers seem to find a hidden treasure from their undrafted rookies. This year there are 21 players who didn’t hear their names called in the draft, who will fight to become the next Sam Shields, Jayrone Elliott, or Ladarius Gunter. 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:
RB Don Jackson, Nevada
Jackson possesses decent size for the position and some surprising burst. His greatest asset may be that he is a patient runner who will wait for his blocks to set up. He could push John Crockett (another UDFA) for the 3rd Running Back position, but is more likely a Practice Squad candidate.
Swing and a miss on the first try. Even then I wasn’t sure if Jackson or Brandon Burks would take advantage of the snaps behind Crockett. Jackson didn’t even make it to August, and Burks has looked really solid so far. Burks has a chance to make the roster if the injury to John Crockett is serious, but he should be a safe bet to make the practice squad. Meanwhile, Don Jackson will look to make a team outside the NFL for this season.
WR Geronimo Allison, Illinois
Allison has great size at 6’3 and 196 lbs, and combines that with an ability to go up and catch the ball. Allison’s good hands are somewhat offset by poor route running. With the logjam at Wide Receiver, Allison is a major underdog to make the roster, but would be the perfect player to put on the Practice Squad and develop slowly.
Allison has been really strong throughout camp. If Janis is put on IR, Allison has a chance to make the 53 man roster. If not (or if the Packers don’t want to keep 6 WRs), Allison has been too good to make it to the Practice Squad. He may end up taking the same path as Charles Johnson, and the Packers may have to watch him have success on another roster.
TE David Grinnage, North Carolina St
Grinnage has good size and is a very natural receiver. He adjusts to the ball well and has shown good straight line speed. The reason he wasn’t drafted was because of his sluggish breaks in and out of cuts. Like many receiving college TEs, Grinnage doesn’t have a lot of experience in blocking. He will compete for a third or fourth TE spot with Kennard Backman, Justin Perillo, and Mitchell Henry. His ability to play on all Special Teams will likely determine if he can make the roster or the Practice Squad.
Grinnage got hurt during Packers rookie OTAs, and the Packers cut him after reaching an injury settlement. Grinnage wasn’t going to make the active roster with the depth and TE anyway, but the Packers usually keep a young TE or two around the practice squad.
DL Brian Price, UT-San Antonio
Price is my early bet to make the active roster. He was reportedly contacted by 27 teams after the draft and chose the Packers, in part, because of their reputation for giving undrafted players a shot. Price is 6’3 and 325 lbs and brings the kind of power you would expect from a player his size. He shows good quickness and agility, and will play with a chip on his shoulder. The Packers need depth at Nose Tackle and Price will compete with Mike Pennel, Josh Boyd, and Christian Ringo for a roster spot.
Price was considered one of the best UDFAs available after the draft. He has not separated himself from the pack in a very deep defensive line rotation. Price will need a big week 4 of the preseason to make the roster, but will still have a chance to make the practice squad.
ILB Beniquez Brown, Mississippi St
Brown posted similar measurables to Blake Martinez. Like Martinez, Brown won’t blow you away on the track, but has strong instincts. Brown is probably only a run defender at this point, and is likely to struggle in coverage. He could push Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford for the fourth ILB position, and Special Teams ability will be the deciding factor in that roster decision.
Brown had a great chance to make the team as a solid special team player, but both Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford have had exceptional preseasons. Brown’s best hope is to make the practice squad.
CB Makinton Dorleant, Northern Iowa
Dorleant has good speed, size, and ability to play the ball. His technique needs work, but he does have experience on Special Teams. With a good preseason he could make the active roster, but a year on the Practice Squad would really help his development.
Dorleant and fellow UDFA Josh Hawkins are locked in a battle for the 4th CB spot. One of them should make the active roster (my bet would be Hawkins), and the other should be a shoe-in for the practice squad.
S Kentrell Brice, Louisiana Tech
Brice is an elite athlete. At his Senior Day he posted a 4.38 second 40, notched a 42-inch vertical jump, and recorded an 11-1 broad jump. He’s a hard hitter and showed the ability to cover slot receivers on 3rd down. Brice may not be as refined as many of the Safeties drafted, but certainly has a very high ceiling.
Brice has done nothing but impress throughout the offseason. He’s an elite athlete and a hard hitter, and I’m sure Darren Perry loves coaching him. The injury to Chris Banjo may have guaranteed his spot on the active roster.
P Peter Mortell, Minnesota
The Green Bay native returns home to challenge Tim Masthay for his roster spot. Mortell was a good holder in college which will help his cause. He will have to prove he can punt with NFL hang time and placement to earn a roster spot.
Mortell seemed to make the most of his opportunities, but was cut yesterday. I believe he should have made the roster, but the Packers clearly favored Tim Masthay’s superior hang time.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 host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig