26 Days 'Til Camp: Mining For More UDFA Gold

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. The Packers have had incredible success with their undrafted free agents; who could make it this year?

The Green Bay Packers have had an impressive amount of success with undrafted rookies.

That fact has been used as a recruiting tool, bringing better undrafted players to Green Bay, which has helped to extend the cycle.

According to Elias, the Packers had 13 undrafted rookies make their Week 1 rosters over the past four seasons. St. Louis leads the league with 17, followed by Cleveland with 16 and Green Bay, Jacksonville and New England tied for third.

Last season, Chris Banjo, Andy Mulumba and Lane Taylor made the roster out of training camp. With Myles White and Jake Stoneburner earning midseason promotions and Jumal Rolle joining the roster late in December, Green Bay had six undrafted rookies on its 53-man roster at the end of the season.

In the Super Bowl season of 2010, Sam Shields and Frank Zombo were key contributors to a championship team.

"We're huge proponents of the college free agency thing," general manager Ted Thompson said during the rookie camp. "We think that's a marvelous opportunity to help your team. We have certainly over the last five or six years probably had more of those than anybody else in the NFL. We use that as a selling point. I think it's a credit to our coaching staff for being able to take these guys get them ready to play and be able to function in the NFL. But it's also a credit to our scouts and the hard work they do."

With an average of 3.3 undrafted rookies making the opening roster the past four seasons, history suggests at least one or two will beat the odds and fight their way onto this year's roster.

It might not be so easy this year, though, as always, injuries can change players' fortunes.

Here are this year's UDFAs, by position:

Quarterback: Chase Rettig. Outlook: Rettig has almost no chance to earn a spot on a depth chart topped by Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.

Running backs: Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins. Outlook: Johnathan Franklin's career-ending neck injury has opened the door for one of these productive SEC stars. Neal, at 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, certainly has the size the Packers have historically liked. Plus, he's got good hands. Perkins (5-7, 195) is built along the lines of DuJuan Harris. He returned kickoffs at Mississippi State, giving him a chance to break through on special teams.

Wide receiver: None.

Tight ends: Colt Lyerla and Justin Perillo. Outlook: The door is open here, too, even with Andrew Quarless retained in free agency and a third-round investment in Richard Rodgers. Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner and Ryan Taylor round out the depth chart. Can Lyerla, a big-time athlete who didn't pan out on or off the field at Oregon, put it all together after a quiet series of offseason practices?

Offensive line: John Fullington, Jordan McCray and Jeremy Vujnovich. Outlook: Unless the Packers go the unorthodox route of keeping nine linemen, the roster is stacked against this trio, with a former first-round pick (Derek Sherrod), a 14-game starter last year (Don Barclay) and a recent draft pick (the loser of the center battle between J.C. Tretter vs. Corey Linsley) likely to fill the top three backup positions. Taylor is back, as well, after playing mostly special teams last year.

Defensive line: Carlos Gray, Mike Pennel and Luther Robinson. Outlook: The roster is stacked against this group, too. B.J. Raji is back and Letroy Guion was signed in free agency. Plus, Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels were drafted in 2012, Datone Jones and Josh Boyd were drafted in 2013, and Khyri Thornton was drafted in 2014. So, that's seven players at a position group in which the Packers usually keep six or seven. The wild card among the veterans is Worthy, who played all of a dozen snaps last season and sat out the offseason practices.

Outside linebackers: Jay Elliott and Adrian Hubbard. Outlook: Thompson has gotten a lot of mileage out undrafted outside linebackers, with Frank Zombo starting half of the Super Bowl season, plus Vic So'oto, Dezman Moses and Andy Mulumba all contributing in past seasons. Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry and Carl Bradford aren't going anywhere. That leaves Elliott, a big-time pass rusher at Toledo, and Hubbard, who put up good numbers in 2012 but did next to nothing in 2013 for Alabama, to challenge Mulumba and Nate Palmer for the last spot or two. For what it's worth, Hubbard and Elliott were given $5,000 signing bonuses, tied for tops among the undrafted crowd.

Inside linebackers: Jake Doughty, Shaun Lewis and Joe Thomas. Outlook: Doughty, a tackling machine at Utah State, and Thomas, a FCS All-American at South Carolina State, also pocketed $5,000 signing bonuses. Lewis, a three-and-a-half-year starter at Oklahoma State, wasn't signed after trying out at the rookie camp but was added halfway through the offseason practices. They'll challenge Sam Barrington for the last spot.

Cornerback: Ryan White. Outlook: White wasn't even a full-time starter at Auburn and this group is deep. Then again, Sam Shields was a long shot, too.

Safeties: Charles Clay and Tanner Miller. Outlook: Clay, who started his college career as a receiver at SMU before starting at safety for Hawaii, was signed after trying out at the rookie camp. Miller was a three-year starter at Iowa. They'll need strong camps and Sean Richardson and Banjo to stub their toes.

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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