GREEN BAY, Wis. – Who are the Green Bay Packers' undrafted rookies to watch this season?
The answer might be in the money.
The Packers gave top signing bonuses of $6,000 to five of their 16 undrafted rookies.
History tells us that even though players who aren’t drafted rarely cash in big on their first contracts, those at the top of the bonus pool typically have the best chance to make the roster.
Consider that last year, the Packers had five members of their original undrafted free agent class finish the season on the active roster. Four of them – receiver Michael Clark, offensive lineman Adam Pankey, cornerback Lenzy Pipkins and punter Justin Vogel – were in the top signing bonus category last season. Each received $5,000 bonuses. So did quarterback Taysom Hill, who was cut at the end of Packers training camp and was picked up by the New Orleans Saints, who kept him on their roster all season. Only cornerback Donatello Brown ($2,000 bonus) made the roster from the lower tier.
Geronimo Allison was in the Packers’ top group of undrafted payouts in 2016 (again $5,000 bonuses), and he remains on the roster with a shot of being the No. 3 receiver after Jordy Nelson was cut. Cornerback Herb Waters, who also remains on the roster, was in the $5,000 category that year as well. However, cornerback Josh Hawkins ($3,500), safety Kentrell Brice ($2,000), outside linebacker Reggie Gilbert ($1,500) and safety Marwin Evans (no signing bonus) also made it – and remain on the roster – from that undrafted class two years ago.
The Packers' long history of success with undrafted free agents -- they had 13 players on their 2017 opening-day roster who entered the league without being drafted -- has become a recruiting tool in the post-draft signing frenzy.
Here's a player-by-player look at Green Bay’s undrafted free-agent signing bonuses (which in every Packers undrafted rookie’s case is the only guaranteed money in their contracts):
T/G Jacob Alsadek, Arizona
QB Tim Boyle, Eastern Kentucky
C Austin Davis, Duke
DT Tyler Lancaster, Northwestern
DE Conor Sheehy, Wisconsin
LB CJ Johnson, East Texas Baptist
T Kyle Meadows, Kentucky
LB Marcus Porter, Fairmont State
TE Kevin Rader, Youngstown State
S Raven Greene, James Madison
LB Parris Bennett, Syracuse
*Participated in rookie camp on a tryout basis and then signed to the roster.