Packers Profile: Justin McCray

A profile of Packers offensive lineman Justin McCray.

The Tape

  • Position: Guard
  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 317 lbs.
  • 40-yard Dash: 5.52 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 25.5”
  • Broad Jump: 8’ 3”
  • Bench Press: 32 reps of 225 pounds

The Roots

The story of Justin McCray’s journey to his first full season on an NFL roster is definitely an untraditional one.  But journeys like McCray’s that show perseverance, grit and determination are often the best stories in the NFL.

McCray grew up in Miami, Florida and attended Southridge High School.  While there, he lettered all four years in football and wrestling and earned two letters as well in track & field.  During his senior year where he started at guard, McCray earned All-Dade County first team honors.  Justin also got the unique chance of being born a twin and his twin brother Jordan started alongside him on the offensive line through high school.

Following his prep career, Justin and his twin brother followed in their older brother’s footsteps and went to the University of Central Florida to continue playing football.  Out of high school, Justin was recruited by a variety of school that included Mississippi State, Tennessee, Miami, Rutgers, Illinois, Marshall and Florida Atlantic University.  Ultimately, the twins decided to make the UCF campus a family affair with their older brother already on the offensive line.

Upon entering the program, Justin would appear in seven games as a true freshman.  He began starting games his sophomore year in entering the lineup in five games.  He would become a full-time starter as a junior where he started all 14 games that season at both right guard and right tackle.  Then, as a senior, Justin was voted a team captain and would start most of the team’s games at right guard with a few games at right tackle as well.  During his senior season, Justin would go on to be named to the American Athletic Conferences All-American First Team and be a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy that is awarded to the college football player that displays exemplary community service with academic and athletic achievement.

Perhaps the most unique moment of Justin McCray’s college career happened when older brother Cliff was still on the team ahead of the twin brothers.  During a game late in the season, when the twins were still reserves, both Justin and Jordan joined Cliff on the offensive line for snaps in the game.  This marked the first time since 1973 that three brothers had played in a Division I football game at the same time. 

Following his senior season, Justin was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2014.  He would go through training camp with the team and play in the preseason but was released during final cuts heading into that season.  Justin would then be signed to the Titans practice squad for the 2014 season and would then rejoin the team during their 2015 camp.  Once again, at final cuts, McCray would be released and then sat out the entire 2015 season.

At the same time that Justin was signed as an undrafted free agent, some Packer fans may remember that his twin brother Jordan was signed as an undrafted free agent as well by the Packers.  Jordan would only spend that training camp and preseason with the Packers before being cut.  He would later spend a week with the Packers on their practice squad during the 2014 season.  He also spent some time on the practice teams for the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers.

After sitting out the 2015 season, Justin and his twin brother joined the Arena Football League with the Orlando Predators in 2016.  During his stint in the Arena League, Justin would play on the offensive line and even get some snaps in at fullback.  While in the Arena League, Justin had every intention to better himself as a player in hopes to make an NFL roster.  Following the 2016 Arena League season, he continued to work and hone his game. 

Heading into the 2017 offseason, Justin jumped at the chance to go back to his Alma Mater at UCF and workout for teams at their pro day.  During his pro day, McCray impressed the Packers scouts enough to get his second chance in the NFL.

2017 Back in the NFL

On March 29, 2017, the Packers signed Justin McCray to a one-year deal.  After joining the team, McCray knew he had an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster against younger and fresher talent waiting in the wings.  Throughout training camp, McCray worked at both guard and center.  As training camp led into the preseason, McCray fought hard to eventually earn a spot on the final roster.

As the 2017 season began, the Packers offensive line began to implode with injuries and McCray was thrown into the mix early and often on the line.  In the week 4 game against the Bears, McCray was thrown into an unfamiliar spot to start at right tackle for an injured Bulaga.  The very next week against the Cowboys, he would shift over for the start at left guard.  Throughout the rest of the season, McCray would see starts and fill-in time for injured starters at left guard and right tackle. 

When all was said and done at the end of the 2017 season, McCray would finish with eight starts on the season as well as finishing a few other games as a reserve as well.  While he didn’t receive a very high grade from Pro Football Focus, he did show a lot of versatility in being able to fill in for holes all over the offensive line.  Any young lineman with little experience in the trenches in the NFL would’ve struggled at times, but the experience that he gained in the starts during the 2017 campaign is priceless.

Getting the start at right tackle

Getting the start at right tackle

The Future

Moving into the new league year, Justin McCray sits as an exclusive rights free agent.  The Packers would be foolish not to extend him at the required minimum amount by March 14th  with the newfound experience that he would bring to the team in 2018. 

As well, there are some uncertainties that fall within the offensive line heading into the new season, free agency and the draft.  Where right guard Jahri Evans will fall come free agency remains to be seen.  The team will also probably try and bolster the depth of the line with one or two draft selections as well.  That also leaves the question of where the team stands with other exclusive rights free agents Adam Pankey and Lucas Patrick.  All could provide cheap depth, but how the coaching staff ranks these players is a mystery after how 2017 played out with injuries.

I know I will be watching in the coming 12 days to see how the situation plays out for McCray.  What I saw in 2017 from him left me wanting to see more in the coming year.

________________________

Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Comments (11)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 02, 2018 at 02:18 pm

Not sure if PFF separated his grade by whether he played OG or OT. Definitely looked better at OG. I'm actually comfortable with the RG position since I think one of McCray, Murphy or even Spriggs should be able to provide starter level player. Maybe not a plus player, but one we can live with. RT is more concerning to me, anyway.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 03, 2018 at 08:49 am

The real question about RG is whether RG or FB is the least important starting position in the game of football.

Seriously. If you can avoid "dumpster fire" at OG (especially RG for a RH QB), you're fine. I don't think we need any help at the interior line - both for the reason you state above and this one.

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DD's picture

March 03, 2018 at 10:49 am

Moldo: You're right. I think McCray should be kept at guard. The tackles are realty important. I'm worried about Gulags lasting whole season and playoffs. May have to move on from him. I love the guy, but dependability and contract cost are highly questionable.

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DD's picture

March 03, 2018 at 10:52 am

That's Baluga, sorry.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 03, 2018 at 11:45 am

Or Bulaga.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 03, 2018 at 03:51 pm

Hey! I'm still Moldo? You didn't think that was worthy of being corrected? LOL.

DD put Marpag and others to shame on abusing my username. Moldo is exquisite.

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nigrivasilayesrej's picture

March 04, 2018 at 08:34 am

Spriggs is even worse at RG, than he is at RT.; definitely not "starter level" play. No thanks.

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Handsback's picture

March 03, 2018 at 09:59 am

If you said the entire story about the NE Patriots instead of the Green Bay Packers....people would say what another great move by BB. Instead, the Packers once again find a guy that can start and play all the line positions in UDFA. TT knows oline guys.

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DD's picture

March 03, 2018 at 10:43 am

I like him. Keep him. Desire, motivated, price is right!

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Aistenj's picture

September 30, 2019 at 08:34 am

Why the best players always study at the University of Central Florida. His game inspired my brother in https://www.gta5-mods.com/users/WilliamLeach so he used his quote in his essay on the book "Of Mice and Men." It remains only to wish further success and records.

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williamchambers's picture

October 10, 2019 at 07:24 am

Cool game!

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