Exasperated fans who waited three long days for the Packers to select a receiver in this year’s draft were treated to a faint trickle of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, as Michigan State pass catcher Darrell Stewart Jr. headlined a group of 13 undrafted free agents (UDFAs) signed shortly after the seventh-road came to a close.
This year’s crop of UDFAs consisted of a varied lot of prospects at multiple positions led by four defensive backs, given how corners and safeties can add ample doses of speed and versatility in playing several defensive packages and serving as special teams stalwarts.
Though most Packer supporters typically view these players as nothing more than roster-filling afterthoughts, Green Bay has featured its share of contributors that have gone on to make the final 53-man roster over the past few decades.
Fan favorite Tramon Williams was one of those UDFAs who has gone on to carve out a 14-year career in the NFL and is still going strong at 37 years old. Other undrafted notables include former Packers Atari Bigby, Cullen Jenkins, John Kuhn, Ryan Longwell and Ed West, among others.
How do this year’s collection of post-draft additions stack up? Well, let’s run down the list of rookie newcomers.
MSU Spartan WR Darrell Stewart to the Packers as UDFA. Fine player.— Green 19 Packers (@Green19Packers) April 25, 2020
At 6’0, 212 pounds, Stewart is a solidly built three-year starter with run-after-catch ability. The former Spartan was often targeted on screens and bubbles back in East Lansing, which allowed him to use his sturdy frame to run through defenders for extra yardage. But while Stewart has had success working the middle of the field, according to NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah, the Big Ten product lacks “juice” in terms of explosiveness once he has the ball in his hands. NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein also points out that Stewart ran “dull” routes as a collegian. To the young man’s credit, he did show out at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl by recording 6 catches for 54 yards.
QB Jalen Morton-QB, Prairie View
As his UDFA status suggests, Morton is very much a developmental quarterback who at 6’4”, 218 pounds has an NFL arm, but is a one-read-and-run triggerman with inconsistent ball placement. NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein notes that the small school field general struggles at throwing with anticipation and has a penchant for staring down his primary target. The Packers do have to like Morton’s natural release, along with his production and toughness as a runner.
Patrick Taylor Jr.-RB, Memphis
The heavily muscled prospect packs a punch at 6’1”, 217 pounds and can wear a defense out as a between-the-tackles battering ram. However, as NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein observes, Taylor lacks vision and usually requires defined lanes to gain positive yardage. Further, the ball carrier tends to run upright and is primarily a straight-line runner. What Taylor has working in his favor are his experience in kickoff coverage and his ability to catch the ball. The big Texan gained 1,012 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 2019.
Jordan Jones-TE/FB, Prairie View
The 6’1”, 250-pound Jones has been described by his college coach Eric Dooley as an “exceptional athlete” capable of playing multiple positions. He further mentioned that the young man is highly intelligent, as evidenced by the fact that he’s already secured his degree. Another remarkable trait about the young Texan is his resilience to bounce back from his disappointing experience at Grambling State.
Zack Johnson- OL North Dakota State
The three-year starter has experience at right tackle and right guard, along with making 46 consecutive starts. Over the past three seasons, Johnson played a major role in helping his offense set school records for rushing yards. At 6’4’, 217 pounds, the former Bison is a ferocious widebody who can open up lanes in the running game. As a classic phone booth player, Johnson is athletically limited and isn’t the type of lineman who’ll make blocks at the second level.
Former Spring Lake Park HS and North Dakota State tackle/guard Zack Johnson will sign with the Green Bay #Packers.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) April 25, 2020
Travis Bruffy-OL, Texas Tech
This Big XII product contributed as both a left and right tackle at Texas Tech. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, Bruffy has started every game he’s played in. He brings prototypical size to the table at 6’6”, 305 pounds and was a two-year team captain on a team that did a “great job” of protecting the quarterback, per DistinctAthlete.com.
Stanford Samuels-CB, Florida State
Projected by some as a fourth-round pick early on in the draft evaluation process, the 6’1”, 187 pound defensive back is viewed as a tweener. Though Samuels has the size and physicality to line up at safety, he may be too thin to hold up at the position. As for playing cornerback, the one-time five-star recruit lacks the fluidity to change directions in coverage, per one scouting report. The write-up also indicates that Samuels struggled in press man by giving up too many completions underneath. The former Seminole does offer the ability to recognize routes and read quick screens.
Marc Antoine-Dequoy-S, University of Montreal
The 6’2 ¾”, 198-pound will be 26 once the season begins, but that hasn’t deterred NFL evaluators from marveling at his measurables, including a 4.35 40 time he posted at his recent pro day and a 6.65 three-cone shuttle. For comparison sake, among 49 defensive backs who participated in this year’s scouting combine, only one (Javelin K. Guidry) ran a better 40-yard dash. What’s more, Dequoy recorded a 37-inch vertical at that same pro day. During his annual pre-draft media conference call, NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah used the term “freaky” to describe the Canadian’s athletic exploits.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Will Sunderland Jr.-CB, Troy
The First-Team All Sunbelt selection is another tall drink, checking in at about 6’4”, 196 pounds. Beyond his physical tools, what’s noteworthy about Sunderland is his suspension from the University of Oklahoma in 2017 as a result of reportedly being charged with concealing stolen property. The defensive back subsequently transferred to Troy, where he completed a successful transition in terms of his on and off-field accomplishments. Based on limited footage, Sunderland profiles as a long, agile defender with above-average ball skills. He totaled 38 tackles, 4 interceptions and 4 PBUs as a senior.
Henry Black-S, Baylor
The 6’0, 206 pound converted outside linebacker is known for his physicality when it comes to administering big hits. In addition, the Shreveport, Louisiana native was recognized as a hard worker and team leader at Baylor. In fact, he often served as a coach on the field for many of his younger teammates.
Tipa Galeai-Edge, Utah State
Jordan Love’s college teammate is reunited with the first-round pick, but probably lacks the requisite size/strength to make the final 53. The 6’5”, 235-pound edge defender is a practice squad candidate who flashes agility, length (see 33 ⅝” arms) and closing speed. Galeai won’t be long for Green Bay if he can’t bulk up and learn how to turn speed to power in passing situations.
Delontae Scott- DE, SMU
The 6’5”, 250-pound defender put up 39 tackles, 10 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in 2019 and was invited to play at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl as a result. The multi-sport athlete offers an intriguing blend of get-off and technique in penetrating the pocket.
Krys Barnes- LB, UCLA
The instinctive inside linebacker — and former high school teammate of Jordan Love — has a knack for finding the ball. Barnes registered 72 tackles, 9 TFLs, 4 sacks and 1 interception in 2019 and is known to be productive against the run and pass. The ex-Bruin was projected as a Day 3 pick prior to the draft. The 6’1”, 235-pound second-level defender has 4.6 speed.——————
When ~Reverend~ Ralph Mancini is not tackling hard news in New York City, he enjoys analyzing his favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers. You can follow him on twitter at ReverendRalph.