Beginning late Saturday and continuing on Sunday announcements were being made regarding former college players who have reached agreement with the Green Bay Packers as rookie free agent additions.
The Green Bay Packers entered the draft with 64 players under contract for the 2015 season. They are allowed to bring 90 to training camp. Easy math says that there will be at least 26 fresh faces premiering as the team enters training camp in July.
Given the Packers recent history all eight draft choices, four on offense and four on defense, will make the squad barring injury.
In addition the team is reported to have signed 18 undrafted rookies and eight more have been invited to mini-camp on a tryout basis. Obviously many will not even make it to training camp, much less the final roster.
However since 2005 no team has had more free agent players make on-field contributions than the Green Bay Packers. Thus the Packers become a popular free agent destination for players who just want a chance to compete for a dream job in the NFL.
Today I will give you my view as to some of the more intriguing prospects who may crack the final 53 man roster.
Here is the complete list as we know it for the free agents so far:
John Crockett, RB, North Dakota State
Raymond Maples, RB, Army
Alonzo Harris, RB, Louisiana Lafayette
Malcolm Agnew, RB, Southern Illinois
Adrian Coxson, WR, Stony Brook
Larry Pinkard, WR, Old Dominion
Ricky Collins, WR, Texas A&M-Commerce
Jimmie Hunt, WR, Missouri
Javess Blue, WR, Kentucky
Mitchell Henry, TE, Western Kentucky
Fabbians Ebbele, OL, Arizona
Matt Rotheram, OL, Pittsburgh
Marcus Reed, OL, Fayetteville State
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: QB, Blake Sims, Alabama
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: OT, Jake Silas, Buffalo
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: G, Andy Phillips, Central Michigan
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: WR, Chris Mallott, Southeastern Louisiama
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: OT, Josh Bredl, Colorado State-Pueblo
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: TE Mitch King, Penn
Lavon Hooks, DT, Mississippi
James Vaughters, OLB, Stanford
Tavarus Dantzler, ILB, Bethune-Cookman
Bernard Blake, CB, Colorado State
Ladarius Gunter, DB, Miami Florida
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: DB, Skye PoVey, BYU
MINI-CAMP TRYOUT: CB, JD Rousell Sacred Heart (Conn.)
Here are the free agent players who may have the best chance of landing an opening day roster spot in 2015 and why:
1. Matt Rotheram, OT, Pitt.
Rotheram was reportedly in contact with the Packers throughout the later stages of the draft and had the team kept their seventh round pick it could very well have been him as the player selected. Rotheram is huge and is an accomplished run blocker. He was primarily used as a right guard by the Panthers this past season. He can effectively play any of the line positions except for left tackle. Given that the Packers current backup interior lineman entering training camp will be JC Tretter who didn’t distinguish when he was presented the opportunity, undersized Garth Gerhart and ineffective Lane Taylor, the opportunity to stick with the club is very high.
2. John Crockett, RB, North Dakota State
Crockett tallied three 1,000-yard rushing seasons and was an integral piece of the school’s FCS Championship run. Crockett, who is nicknamed “Taz” after Tasmanian devil for his energetic style is a vocal leader in practice and during games and runs downhill – tough and determined. Very productive – set his school rushing record for yards in a season with 1,994 and 21 touchdowns. A poor man’s version of Eddie George and is a special teams demon while bringing toughness and maximum effort to the running back position. After Lacy and Starks there is no proven backup.
3. James Vaughters, OLB, Stanford
Played against tough competition in the Pac 12 Conference and shined. With 31 career starts, Vaughters was a leader of a Stanford defense that’s been one of the best in the nation in 2014. He can play both inside and outside linebacker, but predominantly will play upright and on the edge in a 3-4 defense like the Packers play. A downhill tackler who deliver a pop and relishes a collision. He would be perfect for special teams and convertible inside – outside providing depth to two positions. A nasty, aggressive individual who will ‘bring it’ on defense and special teams is just what the Packers are looking for. Linebackers depth is also a team need.
4. Lavon Hooks, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi
Was a two year starter on one of the best defenses in nation last season. At 6’ 3” and 312 lbs. Hooks is adept at clogging the middle and has 2 sacks to his credit as well. Needs some seasoning but could present a tempting piece to a team looking for depth at the position and rotational players especially with their two primary NT’s only signed for this upcoming season.
5. Tavarus Dantzler, Linebacker, Bethune-Cookman
Looks that part at 6’ 3” and 238 lbs. Solid, strong and fast – for a big man. He ran a blazing forty time of 4.54 seconds. He registered 80 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, as a senior. The last time the Packers gobbled up a player from tiny Bethun-Cookman it turned out pretty well for them (Nick Collins). Linebacker is a need for the Packers and Dantzler would project better o the outside edge. Raw, but the sky is the limit for this athlete. Considered signing with the Steelers before inking with the Packers. Excels at an area of need.
See Danzler’s amazing speed video here:
6. Fabbians Ebbele, OL, Arizona
A massive offensive tackle at 6’7” who played against elite competition in the Pac 12. A four year starter who is good against the run and only needs coaching to become a better pass blocker. Men his size and disposition are hard to find. As I have said before the cupboard is might empty once you get beyond the starters and Ebbele could fit the bill.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .