The Green Bay Packers have a history of developing undrafted rookies in recent seasons.
At least three of them have made the team's Opening Day roster in each of the past four seasons.
And that's not to mention those that were eventually signed to the team's 53-man roster as mid-season injury replacements.
Some, like Sam Shields, have been absolute gems. Since being signed by the Packers in 2010, Shields has helped the Packers win a Super Bowl and recently became one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL.
Others have been valuable role players like wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, linebacker Jamari Lattimore and tackle Don Barclay.
As long as general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy are running the show, it's a good bet the Packers continue their method of player develpment, keeping a handful of undrafted rookies.
What follows is a listing of this year's class of Packers undrafted rookies, ranked by their likelihood to make the team's regular-season roster from most likely to least likely.
1. Outside Linebacker Adrian Hubbard
Projected to be a mid-round draft pick, teams were scared off by a minor heart abnormality discovered at the NFL Combine.
Brought in for a physical following the draft, Hubbard has been cleared by the Packers, and the heart doesn't appear to be an issue.
At 6-6 and 257 lbs., the Alabama product possesses rare size and flashed potential in college before declaring for the NFL after his junior season.
Hubbard helped Alabama win two national championships and had as many as 11 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in a single season as part of his college résumé.
With the Packers introducing the hybrid "Elephant" position to their defense in 2014, Hubbard at least looks the part to become the eventual long-term replacement for a 34-year-old Julius Peppers.
Hubbard has a lot to prove before being discussed in the same breath as Peppers, but his enormous potential and high ceiling give him as good a chance as any undrafted rookie on the Packers roster to make a measurable impact.
2. Tight End Colt Lyerla
Had it not been for Lyerla's off-the-field troubles, he might top the list.
Based on talent alone, the former Oregon tight end posseses as much potential as Hubbard, maybe more so.
It's only been about a month, but ever since signing with the Packers, Lyerla has at least stayed out of trouble.
There's always a risk of relapse, but as long as he stays away from the police blotter, Lyerla will be judged more on his ability to help the team than on his liability factor.
Likewise, as long as Jermichael Finley remains unsigned, the Packers have a need for a split-out receiving threat at the tight end position.
Richard Rodgers and Brandon Bostick also have the potential to fill that role, but neither will be handed a role in the Packers offense on a silver platter.
3. Inside Linebacker Jake Doughty
The Packers never had the opportunity to select either Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley in the NFL Draft and never even addressed the inside linebacker position until the draft was over.
Seeing as inside linebacker is one of the weaker positions on the Packers roster, Doughty has an opportunity to win a roster spot, especially if he can carve out a role on special teams.
In making 148 tackles for Utah State last season, the second-most in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Doughty has shown a nose for the football. Now he just needs to show it can translate to the professional level.
4. Inside Linebacker Joe Thomas
Doughty may have played football at a higher level than Thomas, who comes from a smaller program at South Carolina State, but that doesn't mean Thomas doesn't have potential.
Following his senior season, Thomas was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Year in helping his team become the No. 1 rushing defense and the No. 2 scoring defense in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
In his final year of college football, Thomas made 115 tackles, 19 for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He was also named a second-team FCS All-American by the Associated Press.
5. Running Back Rajion Neal
Following the unexpected release of Johnathan Franklin, there's perhaps an easier route to a roster spot for Neal than it appeared just a few months ago.
Neal rushed for more than 1,000 yards his senior season for an underachieving team at Tennessee but had been a contributing member of the team all four years.
Over the course of his collegiate career, Neal rushed for 2,163 yards and caught 66 passes out of the backfield.
At 220 lbs., Neal has the size to withstand the pounding he'll invariably receive at the NFL level.
6. Running Back LaDarius Perkins
Like Neal, Perkins also rushed for over 1,000 yards in a single season against SEC competition, gaining 1,024 his junior season at Mississippi State.
In contrast to Neal, Perkins is more of a scatback, checking in at just 5-7 and 195 lbs.
If Perkins has one advantage over other running backs, however, he has extensive experience as a kick returner with 46 attempts over his college career for 969 yards.
7. Safety Charles Clay
The Packers signed Clay Clay after he took part in the team's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
Among Clay's most intriguing qualities is his speed, reportedly running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the NFL Regional Combine.
In three years at Hawaii, Clay made 113 tackles and also has special teams experience.
With no safeties guaranteed of a roster spot outside of Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Clay has a decent chance of making the regular-season roster from a numbers standpoint. Now he just has to impress during training camp.
8. Defensive Lineman Mike Pennel
As long as Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly remain free agents, the Packers are short on wide bodies on their defensive line after B.J. Raji.
Pennel is most definitely is a wide body, measuring in at 6-4 and 332 lbs. He's also one of the few undrafted rookies signed by the Packers to be invited to the NFL Combine.
After starting out at a junior college for his first two years, Pennell enrolled at Arizona State, where he was suspended twice by the football team.
Pennel then transferred to Colorado State-Pueblo, where he played his senior season and made 36 tackles and three sacks.
9. Safety Tanner Miller
Miller has a lot of experience, playing in 36 games over his last three seasons at Iowa.
His senior year, Miller was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after making 70 tackles and three interceptions.
Like Clay, Miller stands a chance of making the Packers roster simply from the standpoint that there's a lack of depth at the position, but he'll also need to be a special teams standout.
10. Quarterback Chase Rettig
Rettig stands long odds to make the Packers roster because there's exceedingly few spots reserved for quarterbacks and Aaron Rodgers is guaranteed one of them.
The Packers typically keep only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, and if they happen to keep three, it's nearly certain the next spots will go Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.
If there's a sliver of hope for Rettig, however, it's that he's only an injury away from taking on a much more important role.
11. Defensive Lineman Carlos Gray
Gray was an unexpected underclassman entry for the NFL Draft, declaring after just his redshirt sophomore season at North Carolina State.
At 6-2 and 313 lbs., Gray has some good size, but he made just 23 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks in 2013.
At least Gray should be highly motivated. There's no going back to recover his unused eligibility.
12. Inside Linebacker Shaun Lewis
Lewis was a highly accomplished college player, having started 45 games at Oklahoma State and being named first-team All-Big 12 following a senior year in which he made 73 tackles and three interceptions. The Cowboys went 41-11 in the four years Lewis played for them.
On the downside, Lewis measures in at just 5-11 and 226 lbs., small for an NFL linebacker.
Despite Lewis' size, there's always a need for fast and tough special teams players, which could be his key to a roster spot. He'll have to show he's versatile enough to play on nearly every unit: kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return.
13. Tackle John Fullington
Fullington comes to the Packers after starting 42 games at Washington State, the second most in school history.
He's also started games at tackle and guard on on both the left and right sides of the offensive line.
Such versatility will serve Fullington well because NFL backups have to be able play more than one position and the Packers typically keep only seven or eight offensive linemen active on game days.
14. Guard Jordan McCray
As more of a true guard, McCray may not be as versatile as Fullington, but he might be the more accomplished player.
As a senior, McCray was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference on a Central Florida team that claimed their league title and went on to win the Fiesta Bowl. He was also named honorable mention All-Conference USA the previous season.
He'll find plenty of competition at guard behind incumbent starters Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang.
15. Outside Linebacker Jayrone Elliott
Unfortunately for Elliott, he plays at a position that's highly stocked with talent in Green Bay.
In addition to fellow undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard, Elliott will be fighting for playing time with the likes of Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Carl Bradford, Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer.
Regardless, Elliott is coming off a season in which he was named first-team All-Mid-American Conference after making 70 tackles, 14 for a loss and nine sacks as a senior.
16. Defensive Lineman Luther Robinson
Robinson played major college football at Miami, but he failed to make much of an impact.
During his most productive season as a senior, Robinson made just 24 tackles, one for a loss and didn't make a single sack in three years.
Not helping Robinson's cause was an injury that forced him to miss his entire sophomore season and a change on the coaching staff when Al Golden was hired, switching to a different defensive system.
Perhaps a change in environment will bring out the best in Robinson. He already had to earn his spot on the roster, having been signed after taking part in the Packers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
17. Cornerback Ryan White
At Auburn, White played on the Eagles' 2010 national championship team and helped them qualify for another national championship, albeit in a losing cause in 2013.
Even though he's been practicing with the Packers strictly at cornerback, White has experience playing both corner and safety in college, which could help his chances of making the team.
Like many rookies, his chances of making the team probably hinge on how much he can help the special teams.
18. Tight End Justin Perillo
Perillo has plenty of experience catching the football, hauling in 128 passes for 1,318 yards and 15 touchdowns during his college career at Maine. However, his road to a roster spot might depend on how well he can block.
At 6-3 and 250 lbs. Perillo should have the frame to be able to block, but he'll need to prove himself both in run blocking and protecting the quarterback.
The same goes for special teams, Perillo will need to block for the kicker, punter, and return specialists if he's going to earn himself a spot on the 53-man roster.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email email@example.com.
- Like Like
- 7 points