Packers sign undrafted free agents … will they make an impact?


It’s good to see the Packers aren’t wasting time to fill out a roster that will hit the practice field this weekend and start with their serious hitting Monday.

But if these players want inspiration, all they have to do is turn to Sam Shields, the undrafted free agent who stepped into a defensive backfield that turned heads during the team’s run to the Super Bowl last season.

Will any of these recent signings make the impact Shields did?

Though undrafted players are considered longshots to make the team, it’s not an impossibility. It’s also important to have the manpower in camp to compete for jobs and to provide quality competition for the drafted players as coaches determine who will stick.

Some of these players will also have the chance to stick with the team in other capacities should they perform well in camp.

This morning the Packers came to terms with several undrafted players, including three wide receivers, two safeties, three offensive linemen, one quarterback, a linebacker, one defensive end, and a running back.

The quarterback is Diondre Borel of Utah State, but is being slated to play wide receiver for the Packers.
The wide receivers are South Carolina’s Tori Gurley, Shaky Smithson of Utah, and Arizona State receiver Kerry Taylor.

The safeties come from Delaware, Anthony Bratton,  and Arkansas State, M.D. Jennings.

The linebacker, Jamari Lattimore, hails from Middle Tennessee State.

The running back, Brandon Saine, played at Ohio State.

The offensive linemen are South Florida center Sampson Genus,  James Madison center/guard Theo Sherman, and Arkansas guard Ray Dominguez.

Gurley, the tall (6’4″), slight (211 pounds) rookie, caught 33 passes for 465 yards and four touchdowns last season and ran a 4.59 40-yard dash … his 35-inch arm length was the longest of any receiver at the combine. With South Carolina known for its wide receivers, Gurley could be a surprise for this team.

Bratton, 6-foot, 213 pounds, a safety who made an official visit to the Packers prior to the draft, recorded 66 tackles and had two interceptions last season. His 4.50 40-yard dash was recorded at his pro day. He has a 37-inch vertical leap.

Indicating this morning on his Twitter account that he had agreed to terms with the Packers was Shaky Smithson, a wide receiver from Utah. At 5-11 and 202 pounds, Smithson caught 25 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns last season. More importantly, he ranked first in the nation in punt return average (19.07, two touchdowns). He ranked 61st in kickoff returns at 24.1 yards. Could he be an option for the Packers’ special teams? We’ll see how he does on the practice field.

Arizona State receiver Kerry Taylor (6-0, 196 pounds) is also headed to Green Bay. He played in 12 games last year and led the team with 54 receptions for 699 yards and three touchdowns. His 40-yard dash time was 4.51 and had a vertical leap of 38 inches.

Joining Bratton on the defensive side of the ball, the Packers also signed Middle Tennessee OLB Jamari Lattimore, according to his agent. At 6-2 and 230 pounds, Lattimore tied the school record for sacks in a single season, 11.5. Guess who he tied with? Erik Walden … Lattimore will be competing against Walden for that position when they hit the field next week.

Brandon Saine’s agent said this morning that the final touches were being put on a contract. As a four-year runner for the Buckeyes, Saine (5-11, 220 pounds) rushed 301 times for 1,408 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 55 passes out of the backfield for 616 years and eight touchdowns.

Genus was a first-team All Big East selection his senior season. Borel was a quarterback at Utah State (2,108 yards, eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions), but will play receiver for the Packers.

Jennings, the safety, recorded 84 tackles and three interceptions in 2010.