6 Players Who Might Find Themselves on the Packers' Practice Squad in 2014
If used correctly, the practice squad can be a great thing for NFL teams. It can allow them to retain talented players that simply need more time to develop.
The Green Bay Packers are in an interesting place heading into the regular season due to the amount of talent they currently have on their roster. With only 53 spots available for Week 1, there's no doubt the Packers will be putting a handful of talented players on their practice squad.
Today we will look at six players who are most likely to start the season there. The following players all have skills, but the depth at their respective positions is simply too deep.
Let's start it off with the last pick of the 2014 draft for Green Bay.
WR Jeff Janis
One of the most intriguing rookies for the Packers is wide receiver Jeff Janis. He's a small-school prospect but is loaded with potential. His speed and ability to make plays after the catch is what especially makes him an attractive player.
The biggest issue with Janis isn't an issue with him as a player at all. The problem is that the position he plays is already the deepest on the entire Packers roster.
While Janis has played well throughout the offseason so far, he'd have to overtake Davante Adams, Jarrett Boykin, Jared Abbrederis or Chris Harper to make the final roster. Instead, Green Bay will likely be content to put him on the practice squad and let him develop for a year there.
Look for Janis to have a legitimate chance at being a big-time playmaker during the 2015 season.
TE Justin Perillo
Much like Janis, tight end Justin Perillo plays at one of the deepest positions in Green Bay. However, unlike the receivers, the tight ends for the Packers aren't loaded with talent.
Unfortunately, Perillo will be fighting with two other talented rookies in Richard Rodgers and Colt Lyerla. Both Lyerla and Rodgers easily have more overall potential than Perillo as receivers.
However, what Perillo has that neither Rodgers nor Lyerla has is an all-around game right now. He's shown off his hands already this offseason, but Perillo is also an outstanding blocker in both the run game and the pass game.
By putting Perillo on the practice squad this year, the Packers can give both Rodgers and Lyerla the best opportunity to reach their full potential. However, if either should struggle, Green Bay will have an all-around replacement in Perillo ready to go.
OG Jordan McCray
Jordan McCray is probably not a common name to the casual fan of the Packers. He's currently stuck behind both T.J. Lang and Andrew Tiller at right guard, according to Ourlads.com.
However, McCray has many positive things going for him as a prospect. For starters, he's got great size at 6'3" and 322 pounds. He also has a good amount of experience, starting every game for the past two years at the University of Central Florida.
However, what truly makes McCray a unique player and a prime candidate for the practice squad is his versatility. He can legitimately play either left guard or right guard, as he has plenty of experience at both positions.
It's unlikely that McCray will ever turn into a valuable starter for the Packers, but he could eventually turn into a key backup and add much-needed depth with a year or two on the practice squad.
DT Mike Pennel
One of the most intriguing positions for the Packers this year is defensive tackle. Gone is last year's starter Ryan Pickett, and B.J. Raji has re-signed with the team to take his place.
Behind Raji are a bunch of relatively unknowns in Letroy Guion, Josh Boyd and rookie Mike Pennel. While Guion and Boyd have the best chance of making the final 53-man roster, Pennel could be just what the Packers need after a stint with the practice squad.
As of right now, Pennel is an NFL-ready run-stuffer. His massive 6'4", 332-pound frame can easily hold down the middle of the defensive line. However, Pennel needs to add the ability to rush the quarterback to truly become a contributor in Green Bay.
With a year on the practice squad, Pennel can continue to perfect his run-stopping skills while adding a pass-rushing repertoire.
ILB Joe Thomas
No position is as weak as the inside linebackers as of right now for the Packers. Their starters are mediocre at best, but there aren't too many options behind A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones for Green Bay.
That's why undrafted free agent Joe Thomas has a legitimate chance to make the final 53-man roster. He's a high-impact player who always seems to find himself around the football.
However, Thomas played against lesser competition at South Carolina State and simply isn't ready for the athleticism or physicality of the NFL right now. He needs to get stronger and more consistent as a three-down linebacker.
A year with the practice squad should help in all those issues and make Thomas a legitimate candidate to play serious snaps in 2015.
S Charles Clay
At the end of last season, the safety position was one that needed a major influx of talent. That's happened so far this offseason by the drafting of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round and moving Micah Hyde to free safety during OTAs.
However, the Packers could still use plenty of depth at the position for this year and for the foreseeable future. Charles Clay may not provide depth this year, but he could become a valuable asset to the Packers defense in the years to come.
Clay's biggest asset is his speed. He's still extremely raw as a player, but his quickness in the secondary allows him to fly all over the field and make plays.
Look for Clay to likely become a key contributor to special teams in the next few years after time on the practice squad.
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