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Packers UDFA DB LaDarius Gunter Has Chance to Make Roster at Crowded Position

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2015

Miami defensive back Ladarius Gunter runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Defensive back LaDarius Gunter, who signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent, has an uphill battle in his fight to make the 53-man roster. 

However, it's no secret that undrafted free agents have experienced an abnormally high level of success in Green Bay. In 2014, Packers undrafted rookies played more than double the snaps of other teams' undrafted rookies, per a study the team conducted, via Paul Imig of FoxSports.com. 

In each the last five seasons, Green Bay has signed at least three undrafted free agents to the roster. 

Packers UDFAs to Make Roster - Last 5 Years
YearPlayerPosition
2010Nick McDonaldG
Sam ShieldsCB
Frank ZomboOLB
2011M.D. JenningsS
Jamari LattimoreILB
Vic So'otoOLB
2012Don BarclayT
Jarrett BoykinWR
Dezman MosesOLB
Sean RichardsonS
2013Chris BanjoS
Andy MulumbaOLB
Lane TaylorG
2014Joe ThomasILB
Rajion NealRB
Jayrone ElliotOLB
Mike PennelDT
Justin PerilloTE
Adrian HubbardLB
Luther RobinsonDT
ESPN.com

Given this pattern, a few of the Packers' 17 undrafted free agents in 2015 can expect to make the final roster, or at the very least the practice squad, at the conclusion of training camp. And though his position has gotten crowded, Gunter is talented enough to be one of them. 

Gunter played three seasons at the University of Miami, starting 30 games and playing in 37. He leaves Miami with 111 tackles, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 18 pass breakups and six interceptions. 

Though Gunter's production seemed to dip in his final season, in which he had 26 tackles in 12 starts and two interceptions, this is largely attributable to the fact that opponents simply didn't want to throw to him. 

"Having established himself as one of the better and more physically imposing corners in the ACC, opponents elected to largely ignore his side of the field in 2014," Rob Rang and Derek Stephens of CBSSports.com wrote. 

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Analysts were impressed by the 6'2", 202-pound prospect prior to the draft. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein had him ranked as a Round 4-5 talent.

"If he impresses in workouts and interviews, Gunter is likely to hear his name called on Day Two of the draft," Rang and Stephens projected. 

So why did Gunter go undrafted? He certainly impressed at the Senior Bowl, where he had four tackles—the most of any cornerback—per Patrick Magee of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald via MiamiHerald.com

He also had a flashy diving interception in the end zone for the South squad. 

At his pro day, Gunter improved on his measurables from the NFL combine. He improved his 40-yard dash times to 4.66 and 4.64 seconds after recording a 4.69 in Indianapolis. His three-cone shuttle time fell from 7.18 seconds to 6.91 seconds. 

It's possible Gunter's 40-yard dash time forced teams to look elsewhere, as teams hoping to bring him in to compete for a starting job might have written him off as a zone corner. However, Gunter proved at Miami that he has the ball skills and size to be a successful press corner, as well. 

The secondary, which was looking a little depleted after Tramon Williams, Davon House and Jarrett Bush departed in free agency, is certainly looking replenished now. In 2014, the depth chart included six corners: Williams, Sam Shields, House, Casey Hayward, Demetri Goodson and Bush. 

Now, in addition to Shields and Hayward, who are locks to make the 53-man roster, six other players will compete for a spot: first-round pick Damarious Randall; second-round pick Quinten Rollins; practice squad holdover Tay Glover-Wright; 2014 rookie Goodson; and 2015 UDFAs Bernard Blake and, of course, Gunter. 

Further complicating the expected roster spots in the secondary is the number of players on the roster who are defensive backs. Though the Packers list Gunter as a corner currently, he could be considered among these given his experience at safety, as well as Micah Hyde and free-agency addition Kyle Sebetic.

If these players make the roster, do they count themselves among the safety group, which sees starters Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, as well as Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo, returning?

All in all, the secondary comprised 11 spots on Green Bay's depth chart in 2014: six cornerbacks and five safeties. The odds are certainly more difficult for Gunter, but he brings something to the roster no other cornerback currently does: size. 

LaDarius Gunter at a Glance
HeightWeight40-timeCareer Stats (3 Years)
6'2"202 lbs4.69 sec111 TT, 3 TFL, 1 FF, 2 FR, 6 INT, 18 PBU
Packers.com/NFL.com

Gunter is currently the only cornerback/defensive back on Green Bay's roster listed at over 6'0"—and quite a ways over, at 6'2". That size gives him an advantage, as right now the Packers' two likely starting corners, Shields and Hayward, are both 5'11".

Gunter is "blessed with an exciting combination of height and fluidity," Rang and Stephens write. "Sports a long, tapered frame with broad shoulders and long arms, making him well-suited to handling coverage against today's behemoth receivers."

He also has a nose for the ball. He had six career interceptions and 151 yards in returns at Miami, but also had 18 pass breakups. 

ESPN's Mel Kiper is impressed with Gunter's combination of size and ball skils. "He is actually a guy that can be a number two corner in the league," Kiper told Devin Dae Tucker of SB Nation. "He is a big and physical guy, someone teams are really looking for. I love the way he runs and turns, and has good ball skills."

That physicality could be Gunter's ticket to a roster spot in Green Bay, or at the very least the practice squad. 

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