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From 90-to-1: The 2016 Green Bay Packers (Part 1)

It's our annual ranking of the Packers' training camp roster, and it leads off with No. 76 (three young cornerbacks) through No. 89 (two undrafted interior linemen), and includes a defensive lineman-turned-fullback and an impressive receiver.

It’s time for Packer Report’s annual 89-to-1 ranking of the Green Bay Packers’ roster.

Our rankings aren’t solely based on talent, as we also take into account salary and the state of the depth chart in trying to determine the importance of each player on the roster. More than anything in this incredibly unscientific process, perhaps you’ll learn a little something about each member of the roster.

No. 76: CB Makinton Dorleant, Josh Hawkins, Randall Jette and Warren Gatewood

The Packers have a strong track record with undrafted cornerbacks, most notably with Tramon Williams in 2007 and Sam Shields in 2010. Ladarius Gunter, an undrafted rookie last year, made the roster and delivered a strong showing when thrust into action against Washington in the playoffs. Dorleant, Hawkins and Jette will try to follow in their footsteps.

As a senior at Northern Iowa, Dorleant had one interception but tied for fourth in FCS with 18 total passes defensed to earn All-American honors. Plus, he averaged 14.2 yards per punt return with one touchdown.

Believing he was good enough for the big time, Hawkins walked on at East Carolina. He was right. He had two interceptions and six total passes defensed as a senior. As a junior, Hawkins picked off five passes.

Jette was a four-year starter at Massachusetts, finishing with nine interceptions and 43 total passes defensed. While he had two interceptions and eight total passes defensed as a junior, he ranked third in FCS with 18 passes defensed as a junior.

Ranking them athletically: Hawkins (5-10 1/2) ran his 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds with a 40.5-inch vertical and a 4.09 in the 20-yard shuttle, Dorleant (5-10 3/4) ran in 4.40 with a 39-inch vertical and a 4.45 in the shuttle, and Jette ran in 4.65 with a 37-inch vertical and a 4.41 in the shuttle.

Just before camp, the Packers signed Gatewood, an undrafted rookie from Alcorn State. Gatewood (5-11 5/8, 188) had eight interceptions for his career and four as a senior. Three of those came in the SWAC Championship Game. He ran in 4.51 with a 36.5-inch vertical. A shuttle time was not available at NFLDraftScout.com.

No. 80: QB Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams

With Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley, the Packers probably are set at quarterback, meaning the No. 3 gig these undrafted rookies are battling for likely will wind up stationed on the practice squad.

Both come with impressive resumes, though Callahan’s was built by destroying Division III defenses while Williams put his together by beating defenses from the powerful ACC.

Williams started 33 games at North Carolina and established more than 20 school records, including career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (35), career rushing yards by a quarterback (2,458) and career total offense (10,423). His 99 total touchdowns rank No. 1 in school history and No. 3 in conference history. As a senior, he completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 3,072 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, plus rushed for 948 yards and 13 more touchdowns.

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Not only did Williams not get drafted, but he didn’t get signed. He got a look at Minnesota’s rookie camp but wasn’t signed by the Vikings, either. Finally, the Packers signed him on May 26.

“It wasn’t hard at all (to stay motivated),” Williams said. “I knew I was going to be somewhere. My talent and what I did at UNC spoke a lot. I broke about 30 school records. I knew I was going to get another opportunity somewhere and I just needed to take advantage of that opportunity. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m having fun playing a game. I’m competing, I’m learning.”

As a senior, Callahan won the Gagliardi Trophy — the Division III equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. He passed for a Division III record 5,063 yards and threw for 55 touchdowns. He completed 69.8 percent of his passes and averaged 389.5 passing yards per game. As a sophomore, he put himself on the map with NCAA playoff records of 633 passing yards and eight touchdown passes in a quarterfinal loss to perennial powerhouse Mount Union.

“Talking with Ted (Thompson) and Eliot Wolf, he’s the most prolific quarterback coming out of Division III over there at Wesley. You can never ignore production,” coach Mike McCarthy said during the rookie camp. “I think what we do is different than some of the things that he’s done, but I think anybody that has that much production definitely has earned an opportunity.”

The Division III-to-NFL path is a road seldom traveled. Some have made the journey — Bill Schroeder did it for the Packers after being a sixth-round pick at wide receiver in 1994. Others who have been drafted in recent years include Mount Union receivers Pierre Garcon by Indianapolis in 2008 and Cecil Shorts by Jacksonville in 2011, and Hobart offensive lineman Ali Marpet by Tampa Bay in the second round last year. London Fletcher, who retired following the 2013 season with a linebackers-record 215 consecutive starts, is probably the best Division III player in NFL history. However, the last Division III quarterback to truly make it in the NFL is Ken Anderson, a third-round pick out of Augustana by the Bengals in 1971.

“I just try to go out there and do my best and make all the throws,” Callahan said during his impressive minicamp. “I’m confident that I can make every throw on the field. I’ve never felt like arm strength was ever something to question with me.”

No. 82: FB Alstevis Squirewell

Squirewell was a standout defensive lineman at Division II Newberry, piling up 10 sacks and 30.5 tackles for losses during his final two seasons. His position coach, however, saw a different future for his prized pupil.

“My junior year, my defensive line coach asked me if I wanted to play ball in the NFL,” Squirewell said during the June minicamp. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Fullback,’ just like that. I knew fullback was going to be the route.”

Squirewell’s transformation started as soon as his senior season was complete.

“I was 293 (pounds), to be exact,” he said. “Right then and there, I had to cut out the sugars and cut out everything. Just water, fruit and chicken and dropped 30 pounds just like that. It was tough — the worst thing in the world.”

Playing on offense isn’t foreign to Squirewell, who is listed at 265 pounds and hopes to show up at camp at 258. He was a 1,000-yard rusher in high school and was recruited to Newberry as a fullback. He grew into a defensive lineman, but that offensive background showed up during a victory over Tusculum in 2015 with the most remarkable of interception-return touchdowns.

“The second defensive play of the game, I got a sack-forced fumble and recovered it, and the offensive tackle fell on top of me,” he recalled. He sustained a broken finger on the play but stayed in the game.

“As you see, it still moves by itself,” Squirewell, his ring finger flopping around as he shook his left hand. “It’s healing, though. I went in at halftime and got it clubbed up so I could continue to play. The first play back, pick-six.”

Aaron Ripkowski is slated to replace Pro Bowler John Kuhn as the starting fullback. Squirewell is the only other fullback on the roster. As long as keeps progressing, he likes his chances of sticking around — even if he might be a bit envious of guys like Mike Daniels.

“Oh, yes. Yes! Yes! Yes!” Squirewell said about missing the defensive side of the ball. “But I’m glad to be here, though. I’m glad to be here. Fullback, defensive line, snapper — it doesn’t matter. I’m glad to be in the NFL right now.”

No. 83: WR Geronimo Allison, Jamel Johnson, Herb Waters and Ed Williams

The Packers are loaded at receiver, with fifth-round pick Trevor Davis joining the six returning players. That means the practice squad would be the likely reward for the top player(s) from this four-man group. Williams and Johnson are returning players from the practice squad, while Allison and Waters are undrafted rookies.

Allison ran a 4.67 at the Combine, which is why he went undrafted, but you can’t coach 6-foot-3 1/4. That uncoachable trait and long-term upside could give him the advantage in this battle and allow him to author another chapter in his life story.

While at Spoto High School in Tampa, Fla., Allison’s grades were so bad that he was ineligible to play as a sophomore and junior. Thanks to the mentoring of the school’s coach and a tutoring program established by the coach’s wife, Allison was able to play as a senior. He spent two years at Iowa Western Community College before landing at Illinois, where he caught 41 passes for 598 yards and five touchdowns as a junior and 65 passes for 882 yards and three touchdowns as a senior. During a four-game stretch vs. Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, Allison caught 34 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns, catching at least eight passes for 91 yards in each of those games.

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“Every time I talk to him, I hear the emotion in his voice, I hear the humbleness of the opportunity,” said his position coach at Illinois, former NFL receiver Mike Bellamy. “That’s what’s exciting to me. It’s not about the glitz and the glamour and the money and the fame. It might have been a good deal for him to not be drafted. I think it’s just another obstacle in his life. It wasn’t given to him. He had to go to junior college and he didn’t start right away at Illinois and he grinded a little bit harder. He thought he was going to get drafted and he didn’t, so I guarantee you that he’s going to work hard and be successful when it’s all said and done. I think we’ll be talking about Geronimo four or five years from now, saying this guy has made a career out of playing football.”

Williams (6-1 1/2), an undrafted free agent in 2015 from Fort Hays State, ran in 4.53 with a 35-inch vertical at pro day. After transferring from Toledo, Williams caught 86 passes for 1,617 yards (18.8 average) in three seasons at Fort Hays. He joined the Packers about a week into training camp and spent the entire season on the practice squad.

Johnson (6-2 1/4), an undrafted free agent from Alabama State in 2015, ran in 4.58 with a 38-inch vertical at pro day. He joined the practice squad on Dec. 8. He opened his career at Troy and played one season at Alabama State, catching 28 passes for 328 yards (11.7 average).

Waters (5-11 3/4), an undrafted rookie from Miami, ran in 4.51 with a 38.5-inch vertical at pro day. Waters had a strong final season, starting 11 of 13 games and ranking third with career-high 624 receiving yards. He totaled a career-best 41 receptions, with his 15.2 yards per catch ranking first on the team. He finished his career with 99 catches for 1,534 yards and nine scores. Of the four receivers listed here, Waters was the most impressive at the minicamp.

No. 87: OL Josh James

Callahan isn’t the only Division III star trying to earn a long-shot NFL career. James starred at left tackle at Carroll College — the one in Montana, not the one in Wisconsin. He was a four-year starter and an All-American as a senior. James took a pre-draft visit to Green Bay. The “gut” feeling he had after meeting with position coach James Campen played a role in his decision to sign with the Packers.

“It was literally right after the last pick,” James said. “We were talking with a few other teams throughout the day but they called and told me that I had about five or six minutes before they had to move on. I called my agent, talked for about a minute and a half, called back and told them I wanted to be a Packer.”

James spent the offseason working behind David Bakhtiari and second-round pick Jason Spriggs as the No. 3 left tackle. It’s a critical position in which a team will take a chance with potential. Another former Division III player, Jeremy Vujnovich, spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons on Green Bay’s practice squad.

Carroll has produced one NFL player of recent vintage. Tight end Casey Fitzsimmons started 24 games and caught 70 passes in six seasons with the Lions.

No. 88: OLB Reggie Gilbert

It’s been a while since the Packers hit on an undrafted outside linebacker after getting production from the likes of Dezman Moses, Frank Zombo and Vic So’oto. With Clay Matthews back outside and the addition of third-round pick Kyler Fackrell, there’s probably not a spot on the roster for one this year, but the Packers could use a developmental prospect with Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Datone Jones all entering their final season under contract.

Gilbert started 21 games at defensive tackle as a freshman and sophomore before moving out to defensive end for his final two seasons. The four-year starter collected 14 sacks and 27 tackles for losses during his career. As a senior, he was a team captain and an honorable mention on the all-Pac-12 team with team-leading figures of 3.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs. Gilbert ran in 4.88 with 24 reps on the bench at pro day.

No. 89: Jacob Flores and Lucas Patrick

After the draft, Flores waited for a phone call — no, the phone call. Then, his phone rang. It was his mom.

““I was waiting and waiting and then my phone buzzed,” Flores told The Dartmouth. “It was actually my mom and I told her, ‘Mom don’t call me when I am waiting for a phone call.’”

Finally, it came. Flores, a first-team all-Ivy League center, was headed to Green Bay as an undrafted free agent. The Packers love linemen who played left tackle in college. Flores started at left tackle during his sophomore and junior seasons. He put up 22 reps on the bench at pro day.

Patrick started at left guard as a junior and senior, earning honorable-mention all-ACC honors following both seasons. He got a shot with the Packers as a tryout player at their post-draft rookie camp but wasn’t signed until June 1, so he missed the first two weeks of OTAs. He put up 29 reps on the bench at pro day.

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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