So, maybe you weren’t a fan of the Packers draft last month. You might be a little disappointed after waiting months to see who the next playmaker on defense or stud pass-catcher for Aaron Rodgers would be, only to find that apparently, the Rodgers era is drawing to a close. It’s possible that you were a little sad that the day two picks were spent on bolstering the run game.
It’s easy to get wrapped in these negative thoughts, but luckily the draft process doesn’t end after seven rounds.
Read a quick breakdown on future QB Jordan Love here
Undrafted free agents (UDFA)
Plenty of great players have come into Green Bay as an undrafted rookie free agents. Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, John Kuhn, and more recently Geronimo Allison and Lucas Patrick have all contributed to the team after not hearing their name called in the draft itself. This year, Brian Gutekunst added 15 names to the roster post-draft. It’s likely one or two will make the final 53 and a few others to the practice squad. After breaking down some film, I’ll profile the five guys I believe have the best chance to contribute.
Patrick Taylor Jr. (RB, Memphis)
After the addition of AJ Dillon, the return of Tyler Ervin, Aaron Jones still being RB1, and Jamaal Williams still remaining on the roster (at this time), it might be bold to begin this list by claiming yet another running back has a shot to make the roster. But Patrick Taylor might just be the that running back.
Read about new second round running back AJ Dillon here
Where Taylor needs to improve is his physicality. He’d benefit from observing how Dillon lays into contact. Taylor is a bigger back, but doesn’t really play like it. A guy of his nature needs to use his bruising size to pick up extra yardage as his agility and footwork aren’t instinctive.
Unless Jamaal Williams is traded or cut, I don’t see Taylor making the 53, though he has the talent and scheme fit to make an impact. Hopefully, he can remain on the practice squad without being sniped. Will his similarities to Dillon, Taylor will likely be seen initially as not much more than a camp body, but I expect him to be a big playmaker in August. He certainly has more potential than last years sixth-round running back Dexter Williams.
Taylor was one of six UDFAs who received a $7,000 signing bonus.
Stanford Samuels III (CB, FSU)
Stanford Samuels is the only player on this list who didn’t receive a signing bonus from the Packers, however, positional need and talent level sneaks him in with the rest.
Experienced in press coverage Samuels forced incompletions on 12.2% of targets at FSU. He was praised for his ball-skills and instincts. Some have cited he may be better suited at safety, where his lack of long speed won’t hinder him as much, however he’d need to get better in run-support.
Jaire Alexander and Kevin King have locked up the starting CB positions. Unless Tramon Williams returns, Chandon Sullivan is the presumed starter in the slot, with Josh Jackson being first off the bench. Samuels only needs to compete with last year’s sixth-rounder Ka’Dar Hollman. Samuels has better measurables and a higher ceiling than Hollman. If Samuels can make an impact on special teams, I’d bet he makes the roster.
Travis Bruffy (OT, Texas Tech)
At 6’5″ and 305lbs, Bruffy has the NFL size to be a right tackle, and the Packers clearly coveted the Texas Tech prospect, as he received a $7,000 signing bonus and a guaranteed $20,000 of his salary, the most of any UDFA signed.
While Bruffy played left tackle at Texas Tech, his signing bonus indicates the coaching staff could look for him to latch onto the roster as a backup right tackle. Bruffy logged an 81.1 pass-blocking grade at PFF last season, which is good for the third-highest in the Big XII.
Looking at the current options on the Packers roster would give the former Red Raider some hope. Ricky Wagner isn’t the long term option and the other heirs to the position, Yosh Nijman and Alex Light, are both UDFAs who haven’t looked like much. If Bruffy doesn’t make the 53, he’ll certainly be on the practice squad.
Darrel Stewart (WR, Michigan St.)
Other than Devin Funchess, Darrel Stewart is the only wide-receiver the Packers came away with this off-season. Stunning, right? Stewart, being the only new member at the position from the 2020 draft crop, has a lot of pressure from fans to perform.
Stats support that he is best in the slot. In fact, he ran nearly 80% of routes from the slot last year.
Carrying the ball in the open field, Stewart shines. Michigan State used him on gadget runs and reverses often last year. He needs a lot of work with his hands and footwork to be any threat as a receiver, but Michigan State found ways to get the ball in his hands regardless.
Will he make the roster? I’m not so sure. He’ll compete with CFL All-Star Reggie Begelton and previous UDFAs Malik Taylor and Darrius Shepherd for the sixth or seventh spot on the depth chart. However, the $7,000 signing bonus shows the Packers do value him and will give him an opportunity.
Zack Johnson (OG, NDSU)
The Packers invested heavily on the interior line in the 2020 NFL Draft, grabbing three prospects. One might think yet another guard wouldn’t have a chance, but the Packers seem to disagree.
In two seasons at North Dakota State, Johnson allowed only three sacks over 700 snaps. It’s not unreasonable to think he makes the 53 man roster this season with Lucas Patrick and three draft picks all vying for a spot on the interior line. Johnson would be the odd man out, but it is possible Lane Taylor gets traded and rookie Simon Stepaniak gets placed on the PUP list with a prior leg injury, opening up a shot for the former Bison.
Johnson received a $7,000 signing bonus as well. He’s likely bound for the practice squad, but if he plays well, he could knock off any of the three sixth rounders from this year.