Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Power of the Undrafted Free Agent

Greetings, G-Force.

The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl Champions! Yes, XLV is ours for life. Regardless of how much the NFL lockout tries to kill our buzz, don't let it. The Packers hold the title. Rodgers wears the belt. The only positive vibe in the league is ours. Fitting, for the place referred to as Titletown.

Post the NFL Draft, the Packers roster consists of 85 players. 26 of them were undrafted FA's. Yes, more than a whopping 30% of the Packers current roster was undrafted. It should be noted that Josh Bell is still listed on the roster and he is one of the undrafted players. Clearly, he won't be on the roster once the league opens for business. Listed among the 26 undrafted players are some extremely prominent figures on the 2010 title team including are T-Mon, Sammy Swagga, Frank "Z" Zombo, Cullen Jenkins, and John Kuhn. There were 5 first year undrafted Free Agents on the roster at the end of the year. Clearly, a major strength of the Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy combo is their ability to identify the best players that weren't drafted and then to coerce them into signing with the Packers. Then, the Packers have shown a unique ability to develop these youngsters into solid contributors. Undoubtedly, the lockout is going to impact the effect a rookie will have on the 2011 NFL Season.

One of the discussions in the current lockout is how many players will be allowed on training camp rosters. Under the previous CBA rules, NFL teams were allowed to have 80 players in training camp. There is speculation that under the new CBA rules, rosters could expand to 90 or more. Assuming the Packers lose the likes of Bell, Jenkins, Tauscher, Barnett, Spitz, B-Jack and Bigby due to FA, trade, retirement or by release, there is a strong possibility that Thompson will be able to add double digit undrafted FA's. Below, you'll find a list of the players Thompson might be interested in - ranked by position.


1.) Scott Tolzien, WI. He's accurate. He showed composure. He won at the college level. Both McCarthy & Thompson were in attendance at his pro day. McCarthy spent significant time with Tolzien on the sidelines. He'd be a decent developmental prospect.
2.) Pat Devlin, Delaware. During the East-West Shrine Game, he was extremely inconsistent, but he did show moments of ability in which he displayed the potential to develop into a back-up QB at the next level.
3.) Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M. He was tutored by Mike Sherman, so you know he's familiar with the Packer way. He had an awful Senior Year after a promising Junior Year. He's gifted athletically, but struggles with decision making.


1.) Noel Devine, WVU. It's partially amazing that he didn't get selected. At times, he was absolutely brilliant at the college level. Each game, he seemed to get loose at least once. He's consistently a threat to take it to the house. It'd be exciting to see the Packers sign him!
2.) Graig Cooper, []_[]. Prior to his injury against WI in the bowl game his Junior year, many viewed him as a legitimate NFL prospect. He never fully recovered. He seems to have lost his burst, but he might be a guy who is worth tucking on the practice squad.
3.) Mario Fannin, Auburn. He was an offseason workout wonder. Some saw him as a 3rd-4th round pick. Not a lot of tape on him as Auburn was a Cam Newton based offense, but he's size and physical tools make him attractive.
4.) Derrick Locke, Kentucky. He has the make-up of a decent 3rd down back. He can catch the ball. Has some elusiveness. Not overly fast, but he was productive.
5.) Damien Berry, []_[]. Playing in a crowded backfield, Berry had moments in which he looked like a quality NFL back, but he had issues holding onto the ball. And, thus, he lost playing time. He's undersized, but he's a surprisingly powerful runner who always seems to get additional yardage after contact.


1.) Terrence Tolliver, LSU. A big receiver. He can get down the field. Though he didn't have dynamite hands, he was reliable in big-play situations. I can see him lined up on the right outside where we watched James Jones last year.
2.) Armon Binns, Cincy. Another WR with a big frame. When Binns played with Tony Pike as his QB and he had Marty Gilyard running routes across from him, Binns was a playmaker. Without them, Binns wasn't so special. Still he's a guy that can make plays in traffic as he'll out-fight defenders when the ball is in the air.
3.) Lester Jean, FAU. When I went to watch the FIU/FAU game last year, I had my eye of T.Y. Hilton and Rob Housler. While Hilton was a stud, Jean stole the show. He was man among boys with over 100 yards and a TD.
4.) Jamel Hamler, Fresno State. Thompson has shown an attraction towards Fresno State WR's and the Packers showed interest in Hamler during the offseason.
5.) Jeremy Ross, Cal. He's a sound kick returner with decent speed and an ability to get deep. He's also willing to play special teams.
6.) Shaky Smithson, Utah. It was widely reported that the Packers viewed him as a special teams threat. While the selection of Randall Cobb makes this a less likely addition, it's still a decent possibility that they'll bring in another option as a kick-returner.
7.) Jeff Maehl, Oregon. Ted Thompson would call him a "football player." Not fast. Not necessarily quick. But, he catches everything and he finds ways to get open.


1.) Ben Thayer, Eastern Michigan. It's highly doubtful that the Packers will bring in additional competition at TE since they have 5 on the present roster, but Thompson has always had a knack for bringing in undrafted players from the state of Michigan. Thayer has the size required to play in this league.
2.) Schuylar Oordt, Northern Iowa. Oordt has NFL size and he was productive at the collegiate level. Further, he's a Midwestern kid with a hard working mentality.


1.) Henry Hynoski, Pitt. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He seeks contact. Sound blocker. When the ball was in his hands, he was a force to bring down.


1.) Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas. During the Senior Bowl practices, he looked like he had the ability to be a 3-4 pass rushers. He was quick. With active hands. Aggressive off the snap. Truly impressive.
2.) Martin Parker, Richmond. At the East-West game, he was rock solid. In fact, he was the Defensive MVP of the game. He applied consistent pressure up the gut. He was disruptive throughout the game. A difference maker.
3.) Scooter Berry, WVU. He was a decent run-stopping defender for the Mountaineers. He got a good push. Gained extensive experience as he was in the rotation early in his collegiate career. Won't be afraid of the lights. A fighter.
4.) Brandon Blair, Oregon. I call him a poor man's JJ Watt. Every time you watched him, he was winning his battle with effort. Good length. Uses his hands well. Distinguished himself as a player during his Senior year.
5.) Ian Williams, ND. He was a star at the Senior Bowl with 5 tackles. He's best suited inside, but he could possibly translate as an end in the 3-4.
6.) Anthony Gray, SMU. Fits the mold of Ryan Pickett and Howard Green. He'd be the type of guy who could rotate in the Big Beefy front.


1.) Mark Bellore, Central Michigan. Could he be this year's Frank Zombo? They played together in college. He does a decent job getting sideline-to-sideline. He had an average East-West game. If I had to predict one guy the Packers would bring in, it'd be him.
2.) Marc Schiechl, Colorado School of the Mines. He's a beast. Local Denver radio was heavy in discussing the Packers interest in him. He holds the D2 collegiate record with 45 career sacks and he's a workout wonder.
3.) Mario Harvey, Marshall. I love his game. Finds the football. Doesn't have elite size, but he makes up for it was heart and a punishing attitude. Looks for the ball. Finds the ball. He makes plays all over the field. He'd be a special teams stalwart.
4.) Mark Herzlich, Boston College. He has a great life story as he's a cancer survivor. Prior to cancer, he was viewed as a 1st round prospect. Worth a look.
5.) Adrian Moten, Maryland. He's an active LB who was productive both in coverage and against the run. Might be better suited for a 4-3. I'd be surprised if he doesn't make an NFL roster this year.
6.) Matt Berning, Central Michigan. Undersized. Great effort player. Good statistical performer. He'd be a solid camp player. Wouldn't make a roster, but he's the type that will do anything that is asked of him.


1.) Devon Torrence, Ohio State. Solid production at the collegiate level. NFL size as he's in the 6-0, 200 lb range. Super special teams ability. Impressive game against the []_[] last year. Made the game changing play in the victory over Penn State as well.
2.) Ryan Hill, []_[]. He was a workout phenom. He flew at the Miami pro-day. Could he be this year's version of Sammy Swagga? One thing that was consistent with the Randy Shannon era at the []_[] is that his players have played better at the professional level than they did at the collegiate level. Hill could fit in that mold. Plus, it'd be sweet to bring more swagga to Lambeau!
3.) Mario Butler, Georgia Tech. The Packers could pair him with his former collegiate mate, Morgan Burnett. Butler started for 3 years. He'd need to put on weight, but he stands 6-1. He'd be a good player to hide on the practice squad and see if he could develop into a decent NFL back-up.


1.) Deunta Williams, UNC. He was a big-time player at North Carolina. He can do it all. He'll stuff you at the line of scrimmage. A converted WR, Williams also has shown good ability to play the ball in the air. He picked off 12 passes in his career, but he's coming off of a broken leg, so he'd be viewed as a long term prospect. He might be the guy that I want most out of any undrafted FA's.
2.) DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson. I always pay extra attention to safeties that played for Clemson. It's the Brian Dawkins rule. McDaniel was a physical specimen who could step into the box with excellence at the college level. He struggled in space, but he was an absolute intimadator when he put his helmet on you.
3.) Zac Etheridge, Auburn. A leader in the secondary for the National Champions. A vocal presence. Plays the ball decently in the air. Not overly physical. Has good flair and a crowd energizer.

With that, my 10-player mock undrafted Free Agent list is the following (as always, no OL as I don't follow it closely enough):

1.) Nick Bellore, Central Michigan, LB
2.) Ryan Hill, []_[], CB
3.) Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas, DL
4.) Anthony Gray, SMU, DL
5.) Lester Jean, FAU, WR
6.) Jeremy Ross, Cal, WR
7.) Graig Cooper, []_[], RB
8.) Marc Schiechl, Colorado School of the Mines, LB
9.) Scott Tolzien, WI, QB
10.) Martin Parker, Richmond, DL

Let's end this lockout!

Go Pack Go,

Talkin' S-Mac.

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