This is Part 1 of our annual 90-to-1 countdown of the Green Bay Packers’ most important players. This isn’t just a listing of the team’s best players. Our rankings take into account talent, importance of the position, depth at the position, salary and draft history. More than the ranking, we hope you learn something about each player.
|74||Geoff Gray||T/G||6-5||315||22||R||University of Manitoba|
|64||Justin McCray||G||6-3||317||25||1||Central Florida|
|38||Daquan Holmes||CB||5-11||187||NA||R||American International|
|9||Montay Crockett||WR||6-0||184||23||R||Georgia Southern|
|1||Colby Pearson||WR||6-0||194||22||R||Brigham Young|
|86||Aaron Peck||TE||6-2||239||22||R||Fresno State|
|71||Izaah Lunsford||DT||6-3||310||23||R||Bowling Green State|
|37||Aaron Taylor||S||5-11||206||23||R||Ball State|
No. 80: T/G Geoff Gray
Geoff Gray was the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft.
The CFL Draft, that is.
Gray, a standout offensive tackle at the University of Manitoba, could have gone with the sure thing by playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Instead, he decided to take the uncertain path of an undrafted free agent. Gray, whose only experience playing American football came at the East-West Shrine Game all-star contest, took a predraft visit to Green Bay and earned a $5,000 signing bonus by joining the Packers over a handful of other suitors.
“It’s the nature of football. You want to play at the highest level that you can and this is the highest level,” Gray said of why the NFL instead of the CFL. “I’m trying to take this as far as I can. I might take a little longer to develop and not be where I want to be this first year, but I’ve just got to be patient with it.”
While an offensive lineman can’t truly show what he’s capable of in the no-pads workouts of May and June, Gray was pleased with his offseason work. That’s because he not only had to learn the playbook but the nuances of the NFL game. In Canada, each team lines up with 12 players and defenders have to stay 1 yard behind he line of scrimmage.
“It’s definitely good to ease into it because you need to get used to the playbook, plus I’m transitioning from Canadian football,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better with each practice. The way the offseason is structured, as opposed to the CFL, where it’s training camp and go, this gives you more time to build into it and get a handle on the playbook. That’s definitely helping me.”
At minicamp, Gray worked mostly at right tackle but also got some work at guard. An engineering student, Gray has handled the learning curve.
“The mental part of it, outstanding. Extremely intelligent. He’s really grabbed a hold of it. That’s been impressive,” coach Mike McCarthy said last week. “This is a different level playing here than where he’s been. The speed of the game is what he needs to work on. I think when the pads come on will probably help him. He’ll probably excel more in a phone-booth setting. This has been wide-open, edge football, particularly because our focus has been so heavy on the passing game.”
No. 81: G Thomas Evans
Evans ended his career with 34 consecutive starts and was a two-time all-Colonial Athletic Association selection at guard. Evans, a two-year team captain, was the strongest player in the history of Richmond football.
The undrafted free agent joined the Packers with a $5,000 signing bonus. His grandfather, Frank Lasky, played two seasons as an offensive lineman with the New York Giants in the mid-1960s.
No. 82: G Justin McCray
At Central Florida in 2013, identical twins Jordan and Justin McCray were the starting guards at Central Florida. After going undrafted in 2014, Jordan signed with Green Bay and Justin signed with Tennessee. Jordan didn’t make the team, though he did serve time on the practice squad. Now, it’s Justin’s turn. In late March, Justin McCray signed with the Packers. With Jahri Evans excused from minicamp, McCray — who spent 2014 on the Titans’ practice squad — served as the No. 1 right guard last week.
McCray and Thomas Evans will battle sixth-round pick Kofi Amichia, veteran Don Barclay and first-year player Lucas Patrick for a spot behind starters Jahri Evans and Lane Taylor.
No. 83: ILB Cody Heiman
At Division II Washburn, Heiman started 36 games and finished his career with 251 tackles and five interceptions. As a senior, Heiman had a career-high 101 tackles and seven tackles for losses. He tested well at pro day with a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash, 4.18 in the 20-yard shuttle, 36-yard vertical jump and 31 reps on the bench press.
As a senior at Baileyville (Kan.) High School, Heiman was selected for the 2012 Kansas Shrine Bowl and the Kansas 8-Man All-Star game. Eight-man football? That’s what you do when your senior class had 16 students. He also was a state champion in the high jump.
The undrafted free agent was given a $5,000 signing bonus. He’s a long shot at a position that might be lacking game-changing stars but certainly isn’t short on decent players.
No. 84: CB Daquan Holmes
Holmes was signed during the third week of organized team activities after failing to get a spot as a tryout player at the rookie camp. At American International, the four-year starter set school and conference records with 20 career interceptions and six career pick-sixes. He added 14.5 tackles for losses. Holmes had five interceptions as a senior. He ran a 4.45 in the 40 with a 36.5-inch vertical jump at pro day. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt likes players with ball skills, so don’t discount Holmes’ chances, though the odds are stacked against him at what appears to be a deep position.
No. 85: WR Montay Crockett
Athleticism jumps off the page, with Crockett posting a 4.39 in the 40 and a 38-inch vertical jump at pro day. Playing in a run-first offense, Crockett caught 24 passes for 339 yards and one touchdown as a senior. He also has kickoff- and punt-return experience. The undrafted free agent was given a $2,500 signing bonus but will have an uphill climb in arguably the team’s deepest position.
No. 86: WR Colby Pearson
Pearson was signed toward the end of the second week of organized team activities. After catching 76 passes for 864 yards and eight touchdowns in his four seasons at BYU — including career-high totals of 38 receptions for 384 yards and four touchdowns as a senior — Pearson tried out at Chicago’s rookie camp but was not signed. He ran a 4.50 with a 33.5-inch vertical at pro day.
“Very impressed with how much he’s been able to catch up on in that short time,” receivers coach Luke Getsy said during the minicamp. “For him to be able to take as many reps as he did (Tuesday) in such a short time, that speaks volumes about him and his approach and what he thinks he can accomplish. He’s got a long way to go from a mental standpoint and fundamental standpoint but [he’s a] really impressive young man.”
No. 87: T Robert Leff
There was a No. 70 at right guard at minicamp but it wasn’t T.J. Lang. Running with the second unit was Ruff, who was signed during the third week of OTAs after a brief stint with the Falcons. In his only year as a starter, Leff was named second-team all-SEC at right tackle.
Could Leff be a steal? Leff was ProFootballFocus.com’s eighth-ranked offensive tackle prospect. He allowed two sacks and ranked among the top run-blocking tackle prospects. Leff earned a degree in mechanical engineering. “That was something that was extremely tough throughout my career here,” Leff said. “There were some pretty bad, pretty rough semesters, but luckily I made it through.”
No. 88: TE Aaron Peck
Peck was expecting to be drafted a year ago. Instead, he sat out the 2015 season with a foot injury.
“There’s definitely that period of me being down, wondering why this had to happen to me,” Peck said before the draft.
Peck returned in 2016 and caught 46 passes for 630 yards (13.7 average) and three touchdowns. He is transitioning from big college receiver to NFL tight end. The Packers were among the teams intrigued enough to bring him in for a visit, and they gave him a $5,000 bonus to sign after going undrafted. He made a few plays during the offseason practices but is a long shot at a position group manned by Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers.
No. 89: DT Izaah Lunsford
Lunsford started only as a senior at Bowling Green, when he posted one sack and 3.5 tackles for losses. However, he ranked among the top defensive tackles in the draft class in ProFootballFocus.com’s run-stop percentage. Lunsford, who is one of eight children, wasn’t drafted but was given a $5,000 signing bonus. His long-shot chances of making the roster at a position of strength were dealt a major setback when he missed a big chunk of the offseason practices due to injury.
No. 90: S Aaron Taylor
Taylor went undrafted and joined the Packers after trying out at the post-draft rookie camp. At Ball State, Taylor served as an undersized but productive outside linebacker. As a senior, he posted a team-high 11.5 tackles for losses among his 85 tackles. At pro day, he ran his 40 in 4.59 seconds. At 206 pounds, Taylor not surprisingly lined up only at safety during the offseason practices. He’s got an uphill climb to break into a depth chart filled with Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans and second-round pick Josh Jones.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.