6 Undrafted Green Bay Packers Players Who Could Prove to Be Gems
It's nice for NFL front offices to hit on early-round draft picks, but it's even more impressive when they hit on undrafted free agents. No team has been as good in recent years with undrafted rookies as the Green Bay Packers.
From cornerback Sam Shields to wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, the Packers have numerous starters who didn't hear their names called on draft day. It's likely that they'll add a few more key players from this year's group of undrafted players.
Two of the biggest names that Green Bay signed after the draft were tight end Colt Lyerla and outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard. Both players have legitimate chances of becoming starters early in their careers.
Hubbard and Lyerla are only two individuals who could turn out to be special for the Packers. Here's a look at six undrafted Packers who could prove to be gems.
Chase Rettig, Quarterback
After last year's debacle at quarterback, the Packers wouldn't mind finding a rookie gem.
Yes, I know that they're pretty well set with Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien this year. However, neither Flynn nor Tolzien are really long-term options for the Packers. That's ultimately where a player like Chase Rettig comes in.
At 6'3", Rettig has the ideal size to play quarterback in the NFL. While he's extremely rough around the edges and needs to develop, he's ultimately got natural abilities that can be molded into what the Packers need at quarterback.
The most likely scenario for this year is that Rettig is a member of the practice squad in Green Bay. After that, he'll have a real shot to become the permanent backup to Aaron Rodgers.
Rajion Neal, Running Back
It'll be difficult for Rajion Neal to make the Packers' final roster due to the depth at running back, but it's certainly possible. Especially with news that Johnathan Franklin's neck injury could be career-threatening, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
Franklin was battling DuJuan Harris for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. However, with Franklin out of the picture, now Neal can be the one to take on Harris.
Neal's been great throughout light practices this offseason, looking "fast and smooth" according to Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. He was also a decent receiver in college, which is a plus for the Packers offense. If he can continue to impress once the pads come on, his chances of being a member of the Packers will only go up.
With Harris being an injury-prone player, the Packers could have worries about relying on him as the No. 3 back. That's why Neal could have a real shot at surpassing Harris and becoming a valuable contributor during his rookie season.
Colt Lyerla, Tight End
When the Packers signed Colt Lyerla, everyone and their mother was ready to give him the starting tight end job.
While Lyerla certainly has the overall talent to become a starter in Green Bay, there is still quite a bit of growing that needs to happen. Some of that growing needs to take place off the field, but most of it needs to happen to his game on the field.
The biggest problem with Lyerla right now is that he's been out of competitive football for over a year. He needs to get back in the mentality of playing football on a consistent basis before he'll make an impact. Once he does that, then his natural athleticism and ability in the open field will really shine for the Packers.
Lyerla also landed in the best possible spot when the Packers decided to sign him. Just look at what head coach Mike McCarthy said about him, according to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report:
I’m rooting for him. This is a support program. It’s not just me taking him under a wing and taking the credit for it. We have a number of people involved. This is a group effort. If he’s successful personally and professionally, it’s obviously the best thing for the organization. We have great resources here and we feel we have the environment that can make all of our guys successful, Colt included.
In Green Bay, Lyerla's going to have every opportunity to succeed. And as long as his mind can match what his body wants to do, the ceiling is really quite high for the former Oregon tight end.
Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker
If Lyerla has a decent chance at starting for the Packers in the near future, outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard has a great chance. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see Hubbard make a big impact as an undrafted rookie.
The one thing that Hubbard has that is unteachable in the NFL is length. He's 6'6" with 34.5-inch arms and a 38.5-inch vertical to go along with his great size. With that size and athleticism, Hubbard could be a terror coming off the edge for the Packers.
And with Nick Perry struggling in the league so far, there's definitely an opportunity for Hubbard to rise up the depth chart. It'll be interesting to see just how raw Hubbard is once training camp starts. However, Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers was considered even rawer as a rookie, and look at the impact he made.
As long as Hubbard can prove that he can do one thing really well, such as rushing the passer, he should have no trouble at all seeing the field early in his career. How the rest of his game develops will determine just how much time he'll spend playing.
Jake Doughty, Inside Linebacker
If you're looking for the weakest position for the Packers, there's no need to look past the inside linebackers. Both A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones would gladly be replaced should the right player show up in training camp.
That player may ultimately be undrafted rookie Jake Doughty. Now Doughty wasn't a big-time college player at a top university like Hubbard or Lyerla, but his impact for his team was far greater than either of those players.
Doughty finished his senior season with 148 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss and two sacks. He's got a knack for making plays and flying around the field, which is exactly what the Packers need at inside linebacker.
The only skill that Doughty lacks is elite athleticism. However, he makes up for it with natural instincts that put him in positions to succeed on a consistent basis.
If Doughty can catch some eyes during training camp and the preseason, it might just be enough for him to take away a job from a current starter.
Charles Clay, Safety
While inside linebacker is the weakest position right now in Green Bay, it wasn't too long ago that safety was considered even weaker. However, the Packers moved Micah Hyde to that position and drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round.
So, now safety is becoming more of a strength than a weakness. However, the improved depth might not keep Charles Clay from finding his way onto the roster. Clay impressed during his pro day at Hawaii by running a 4.44 40-yard dash.
It's that speed that makes him attractive to the Packers. Clay is also a sure tackler in the open field, which is another quality the Packers should covet.
While it'll be hard for Clay to make an impact on defense early in his career, he is a prime candidate to be a stellar special teams player. With how much the Packers struggled with special teams last year, a player like Clay would be very welcomed in Green Bay.