Diving into undrafted free agency, the Packers signed receivers Tori Gurley of South Carolina and Shaky Smithson of Utah and safeties Anthony Bratton of Delaware and M.D. Jennings of Arkansas State. They also will sign South Florida center Sampson Genus, according to DraftCountdown.com.
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With the end of the lockout on Monday, teams were allowed to contact undrafted free agents. Signings, however, have to wait until 10 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. With rosters expanded to 90 players for training camp, the Packers figure to add more than the aforementioned five players.
The Packers have just five safeties under contract: starters Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah; Morgan Burnett, who is coming off a torn ACL; and practice squad players Anthony Levine and Michael Greco. The Packers have only six receivers under contract: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Brett Swain and practice squad players Chastin West and Antonio Robinson. They also used a second-round pick on Randall Cobb.
Smithson and Bratton had pre-draft visits that were reported exclusively by Packer Report. Smithson has an incredible story on and off the field. Bratton talked to Packer Report shortly after his visit with the Packers.
Bratton (6-0, 213) earned third-team All-American honors from The Associated Press following a senior season in which he finished second on the team with 99 tackles, broke up a team-high 12 passes, picked off two passes and forced two fumbles. He missed most of the 2008 season with a torn ACL.
At his pro day, he ran a 4.46 in the 40 with a 37-inch vertical leap.
Jennings (6-0, 197) was a three-year starter who finished his career with 225 tackles and eight interceptions. A two-time all-Sun Belt first-team selection, he ran a 4.60 40 with a 35.5-inch vertical at his pro day. As his size would indicate, he's not as physical as Bratton but he could be a combo player who can line up at safety or at nickel corner.
In Smithson (5-11, 202), the Packers are taking another stab at adding a spark to their woeful kick return game. Smithson was a first-team All-American punt returner after leading the nation with a jaw-dropping 19.1-yard average and two touchdowns as a senior. He added 24.1 yards per kickoff return and caught 25 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns.
Smithson, who ran a 4.65 40 at his pro day, will battle Cobb on punt returns, and Cobb and fellow rookie Alex Green are among the other possibilities to return kickoffs.
Gurley (6-4, 216) entered the draft despite two years of eligibility remaining. A physically imposing receiver whose 35-inch arms were the longest at the Scouting Combine, Gurley caught 44 passes for 465 yards and four touchdowns in 2010. He ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine after working hard to slim down and improve his explosiveness so he could play receiver in the NFL instead of tight end or H-back.
"I felt the time was now," the 23-year-old said at the Combine. "I went a season without dropping a pass in the toughest football conference, and it was one of those things where mentally and physically I was ready for the NFL. I was fortunate to play for Coach Spurrier and I learned so much in that short time. I am quite sure it is going to translate to the next level."
The powerful Genus (6-0, 324) played offensive line as a freshman and started five games at defensive tackle as a sophomore before becoming a second-team all-Big East center as a junior and a first-teamer as a senior. As a senior, he was a team captain and a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which goes to the player who best combines athletic and academic achievement with community service. He earned a degree in criminology in just 3.5 years.
Tuesday update: Add linebacker Jamari Lattimore to the list, according to a source. As a defensive end at Middle Tennessee State, he was named the Sun Belt's defensive player of the year. He had 11.5 sacks during the regular season.
Under the new CBA, teams are limited to paying a total of $75,000 in bonuses to attract undrafted free agents. Those players automatically will receive three-year contracts.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.