Running back Don Jackson could be best of Packers' undrafted rookies

GREEN BAY, Wis. – If you’re an undrafted free agent and you come to Green Bay, you know you’ve got a puncher’s chance.

Dating to 2010, a total of 17 undrafted rookies have made the Packers’ opening-day roster, including cornerback LaDarius Gunter and running back Alonzo Harris last year. Gunter remains on the roster, while John Crockett (another undrafted rookie) replaced Harris on the active roster later in the season.

With that in mind, an NFL scout agreed to identify his top three rookie free agents from the Packers’ class this year:

Don Jackson, RB, Nevada

  • Why he stands out: Jackson got a late start in football thanks to a troubled past, which was chronicled by the Reno Gazette-Journal last year. He barely played until his senior year of high school, and despite one teacher’s prediction that Jackson would be “dead or in jail before he's 17,” according to the Gazette-Journal, he eventually made his way to Nevada after junior college. As a senior last year, Jackson rushed for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games. He combined for 15 rushing touchdowns in his last two seasons. At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, he reportedly ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at his pro day on March 29. Although he wasn’t invited to the combine, that 40 time would have ranked tied for fifth among running backs who ran in Indianapolis in February.

  • Why he has a chance: The Packers didn’t draft any running backs and signed only one other rookie (Brandon Burks from Troy). While Eddie Lacy and James Starks go into the season as the one-two punch, Crockett is far from entrenched as the No. 3. He’s a former undrafted free agent who wasn’t promoted from the practice squad until last December. If the Packers decide not to bring back fullback John Kuhn, who remains unsigned, they’ll likely only keep one fullback on the roster instead of two like season, which could open up a spot for another halfback.

Brian Price, DT, Texas-San Antonio

  • Why he stands out: His stats won’t wow you – 33 tackles (two for a loss and just one sack) in 10 games last season as a senior – but he’s the kind of versatile lineman defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes for his 3-4 scheme. Price’s best position is nose tackle, but he also can line up at end if needed. He did not have a single Division I scholarship offer coming out of high school, so he played one year at a junior college before moving on to UTSA. Some believe he would have been drafted if not for an incident in 2014 in which he was ejected for shoving a referee.

  • Why he has a chance: Yes, the Packers’ first-round pick was nose tackle Kenny Clark, but there may be several roster spots available on the defensive line. Not only did B.J. Raji’s unexpected hiatus from football leave a hole but fellow defensive lineman Mike Pennel will miss the first four games because of a suspension. Also, defensive end Josh Boyd was waived last week.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois

  • Why he stands out: At 6-foot-3¼, he was the fifth-tallest receiver measured at the combine. He’s currently the tallest receiver on the roster. Jordy Nelson and Jeff Janis are listed at 6-3 but both may have rounded up. Allison caught a team-leading 65 passes for 881 yards and two touchdowns last season. Like Jackson and Price, he’s also a late bloomer. He wasn’t academically eligible for football until his senior year of high school and then spent two years at a junior college before going to Illinois.

  • Why he has a chance: This might be the toughest position group to crack, especially considering the Packers drafted receiver Trevor Davis in the fifth round. So perhaps the practice squad is more likely for Allison has a rookie.