Report Card Grades for Green Bay Packers' Undrafted Free Agent Signings
With the draft cycle as well as the offseason wrapping up, the nail in the coffin is undrafted free agency.
With clear emphasis on some positions of need early, such as safety or receiver, and then the drafting of talented players in positions of low need, such as Khyri Thornton, the Packers were left with some question marks headed into free agency.
At linebacker, no one from the outside was brought in to compete with Brad Jones, who re-signed with the Packers in 2013 but hasn't been living up to his salary. A.J. Hawk is also aging to the point where he will likely be replaced after this final contract.
At tight end, the Packers' only outside addition was Richard Rodgers, a tight end selected in the late third round who many thought was a reach in Day 2 of the draft. Would the Packers bring anyone else in to compete for the vacancy that Jermichael Finley left, or compete with Ryan Taylor at the back end of the roster?
Questions like those, and many more, were answered in undrafted free agency.
Draft ratings via CBS Sports' NFLDraftScout.com
Jake Doughty, ILB, Utah State
With inside linebacker unaddressed in the draft, the Packers needed to bring in some bodies at that position in camp, if nothing else.
Jake Doughty is a light linebacker at 6'0", 234 pounds, but his skills clearly clearly surpassed his frame during his time at Utah State. A four-time All-Academic player in two conferences, Doughty notched 257 tackles over the past two seasons.
Since becoming a starter in 2012, he has been an all-conference player in both the Mountain West and the WAC.
He'll need to prove value on special teams to even become a long shot to make the roster, but other undrafted rookies have made the team as linebackers in the past.
Jayrone Elliott, OLB, Toledo
A college defensive end, Jayrone Elliott will be an outside linebacker in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme. While at Toledo, Elliott recorded 15 sacks over his final two seasons, along with 21 tackles for losses.
The 6'3" 255-pound pass-rusher is unlikely to make the roster, as Julius Peppers, Carl Bradford and Mike Neal were brought in at outside linebacker this offseason. He may be able to stick on the practice squad, though, as some gave him a draftable grade.
The All-MAC performer may not make the 53-man roster, but he'll add competition to the fire that is training camp, and if anyone slips, they know he'll take their job.
Carlos Gray, DE, North Carolina State
An interesting name, Carlos Gray is largely an unknown commodity.
After only five starts in his career with the North Carolina State Wolfpack, Gray decided to take his talents to the professional level by declaring early.
Undrafted, he probably could have used more time in college, but the collegiate defensive tackle is on a roster now, so his future is still in his hands.
At 6'2" and 313 pounds, Gray is likely to line up at a defensive end or nose tackle in third-down situations. With B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion already on the roster, it'll be hard for him to find room on the roster as a nose tackle.
Overall, Gray seems like a coachable piece but is very unlikely to make the 2014 team.
Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
Adrian Hubbard had two great seasons as a key contributor at the University of Alabama before he declared for the NFL draft. With as high as third-round grades coming into the draft, Hubbard quickly became one of the best players on the board during Day 3 of the draft and eventually one of the best undrafted players.
Al.com cited a heart issue for Hubbard's fall.
If any undrafted player's talent warrants a roster spot, it's the 6'6", 257-pounder from the SEC. In 2012 and 2013, Hubbard made 26 starts for the Crimson Tide, who, if a couple plays went their way, could have been back-to-back-to-back national champions.
Hubbard will need to battle through camp competitions with pass-rushers like Nate Palmer, but he has as good of a shot to make the team as anyone.
Jordan McCray, OG, Central Florida
A name few people had actually heard, Jordan McCray was the undrafted piece that assisted Central Florida into the first BCS bowl in school history. He's no Blake Bortles, his teammate who went third overall, but he sure helped him out a lot.
The 6'3" 322-pound guard has experience both on the left and right side of the offensive line. This is important as the non-starters on the team have to be flexible enough to play multiple spots, as the team isn't going to use 10 of its 53 roster spots on offensive linemen who likely can't contribute to special teams.
The last time the Packers brought in an offensive lineman from Central Florida it was Josh Sitton, another player the media was surprised made a roster.
The All-American Conference guard has a shot to make the roster, even if it's a slim one, as the backups to the now solidified starting offensive line seem to be in question.
Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee
After coming into the season as a potential draftee, Rajion Neal became a steal for the Green Bay Packers in rookie free agency.
With Eddie Lacy, James Starks and Johnathan Franklin contributing to the run game in 2013, he's not likely to get many touches if he makes the roster, as they're all returning to the squad.
At 5'11", 220 pounds, though, he may show more value than DuJuan Harris, who came into 2013 camp as the starter but failed to stay healthy, keeping him out of the season entirely.
A riser during the all-star circuit, many had draftable grades on him prior to the draft. With 2,163 career rushing yards, it's evident that he wasn't just an all-star standout either.
Neal is someone to watch in camp, as he could be in the mix for that fourth running back spot.
Mike Pennel, NT, Colorado State-Pueblo
Mike Pennel has an interesting past. A name that many didn't know on draft day, Pennel had played at a BCS school prior, but not for long.
Coming out of high school, the defensive lineman went the junior college route, earning Junior College All-American honors after two seasons. Then he parlayed his success into a major college football scholarship, committing to Arizona State.
While at Arizona State, he was suspended three times, eventually transferring again, this time to Colorado State University-Pueblo. According to the differences in weight from his school site and his recorded weight at the combine, he's lost around 30 pounds since the season kicked off.
Now a 6'4" 332-pound nose tackle, he'll want to contribute to the Packers as much as he contributed to Colorado State University-Pueblo last season.
He may not be in the running for a roster spot, but he obviously has unrefined talent that the staff would like to work with. He's a very real option to land on the practice squad.
Justin Perillo, TE, Maine
Another relatively unknown sleeper Ted Thompson decided to bring in, Justin Perillo is the buzz word tight end the Packers had hoped they would have drafted heading into the draft.
With a basketball background, Perillo notched all-conference honors in his time at Maine. At 6'3", 250 pounds, he's the ideal size for the tight end in today's NFL.
While he doesn't have great straight-line speed, Perillo did put up some impressive agility numbers at his pro day in Maine.
With the way Mike McCarthy has historically loved keeping extra tight ends and fullbacks, Perillo has a legitimate shot at making the 2014 roster. If he can show value on special teams, he may even be able to push Ryan Taylor out of the projected fourth tight end spot that he's currently sitting in.
LaDarius Perkins, RB, Mississippi State
Like Rajion Neal, the Packers stole another productive SEC running back in LaDarius Perkins.
A second-team All-SEC selection, Perkins could make the roster in 2014 as the fourth running back on the roster. After facing SEC competition, there are few running backs more NFL-ready than one who had to run against elite defensive linemen and linebackers.
At 5'7" and 195 pounds, though, he's not the same body type as Neal is. He was a draftable-rated prospect who had good career production (2,554 career rushing yards), though.
If Perkins makes the roster, he'll be the last running back in and will have to play special teams, but the mere fact that he has a shot to make the roster already means he's a great signing.
Chase Rettig, QB, Boston College
The Packers were never going into camp with just three quarterbacks, so the fact they signed one wasn't surprising. What was surprising, though, was who it was.
After the signings of Seneca Wallace and Vince Young last season, many thought the Packers wanted a pair of legs on the bench. Instead, the Packers took Chase Rettig, who is a solid passer, but not a great athlete.
The 6'2", 215-pounder was a four-year starter for Boston College.
Unlikely to make the roster if Scott Tolzien makes the 53-man squad, Rettig could easily find a job in 2014 on the Packers' practice squad.
Joe Thomas, ILB, South Carolina State
A highly productive yet undersized small-schooler, Joe Thomas (no, not that Joe Thomas) is an intriguing player to fit into the shape of the roster.
At 6'1" and 227 pounds, he's not the biggest, most menacing player in the world. He might be the most productive player that Green Bay brought in via undrafted free agency, though.
The MEAC Defensive Player of the Year as well as All-MEAC honoree, Thomas did well enough to earn first- and second-team All-American honors from several publishers.
After notching 115 tackles in his last season, Thomas made up for his 2012 season, which he lost the majority of due to injury.
With the way Green Bay brings in undrafted linebackers and the fact it only brought in Jamari Lattimore this offseason, Thomas has a shot to be one of the last few guys on the 53-man roster.
Ryan White, CB, Auburn
Ryan White, like Carlos Gray, is an interesting camp invite for the same reason. He wasn't really a starter in college.
Though he did play at a school that went to two of the last four national championship games, the strength of that roster kept him from seeing the field. With only a couple of starts in his career, he was a flex slot cornerback a majority of his time at Auburn.
At 5'10" and 197 pounds, White, not a tall cornerback, must show great man-coverage skills and special teams contributions to make the roster. If not, the depth of the cornerback corps will not allow him to see the field, just like at Auburn.
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