Worth a peek: Six longshots on offense

While most railbirds' eyes will watch the likes of Brett Favre and Donald Driver, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence will be watching a group of young offensive players who hope to buck the odds and make an impact.

For every Brett Favre, there's an Ingle Martin. For every Donald Driver, there's a Leo Bookman. For every William Henderson, there's a Ben Brown.

All Green Bay Packers fans know Favre, Driver and Henderson. When training camp opens in 2 1/2 weeks, they'll be among the players most closely watched by the railbirds.

Earlier in the week, I profiled five young defensive players who are intriguing prospects, though most are longshots to even make the roster. Today, I profile five, well, six, offensive players.

No. 7, Ingle Martin, quarterback

While all eyes will be on Favre, to see if the veteran can find his old magic, and last year's first-round draft pick, Aaron Rodgers, to see if the second-year player has what it takes to be the heir to Favre, Martin will get limited opportunities to impress. The fifth-round pick has all the tools you want — he's big, has decent athleticism and escape-ability, and a big-time arm. The big question is whether his exploits at NCAA Division I-AA Furman, where in his final two seasons he threw 42 touchdowns compared to 22 interceptions, will translate to the NFL. Furman couldn't cut it at Florida, so you have to wonder if he can cut it at football's highest level. Can Martin eventually beat out Rodgers to replace Favre? Perhaps. But if Martin can be developed then traded for a quality pick a few years from now — like the Packers did so many times in the past — then it will be mission accomplished.

No. 8, Leo Bookman, wide receiver

Bookman has the type of athleticism that makes NFL scouts drool. Namely, he's a three-time NCAA sprint champion while at Kansas. The one talent Bookman doesn't seem to possess, however, is something that comes in handy for wide receivers: good hands. Judging by the OTAs, Bookman has the worst hands of any Packers receiver. Some of that's to be expected, since he gave up football in 2002 to focus on his goal of becoming the world's fastest man, and part of his football career at Kansas was spent at defensive back. Still, if you can't catch, you can't play. If the 6-foot-2 Bookman's hands have improved enough, he could provide a desperately needed deep threat.

No. 18, Ruvell Martin, wide receiver

At the opposite end of the receiver spectrum is Martin, who is as slow — by NFL standards, at least — as Bookman is fast. While Bookman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.19 seconds, Martin clocked 4.52. What Martin brings to the table is the big frame first-year coach Mike McCarthy loves — he's 6-foot-4 — and good hands. That all sounds good, but he was hardly a dominating player at NCAA Division II Saginaw Valley State. But, after tying the NFL Europe record with 12 touchdown receptions in 2005, he was among the San Diego Chargers' final cuts last season, and he's the type of guy who desperately wants to continue his football career.

No. 40, A.J. Cooper, and No. 43, Ben Brown, fullbacks

A pair of small-school, undrafted rookie free agents will battle Vonta Leach to be the backup behind Henderson. Both looked like monsters during the OTAs, and it will be interesting to see them once the pads are on. Cooper played at North Dakota State while Brown played at some place called Tabor College. Cooper was a collegiate tight end, so he has the hands and playmaking ability — he caught 24 passes for 473 yards (19.7 per catch) and four touchdowns as a senior — that Leach seems to lack. Playing at the NAIA level, Brown averaged 6.6 yards per rush and caught 24 passes, and he was a willing blocker and special-teamer. Impressed by his feet and athleticism, the Packers even gave him some snaps at running back during the OTAs. They'll have to overcome their small-school backgrounds to unseat the promising Leach.

No. 42, Chaz Williams, running back

Williams, an undrafted free agent who spent his rookie season with the Packers on injured reserve with a broken ankle, was a Wing-T quarterback at Georgia Southern, where he showed off the running prowess that intrigued the Packers enough to sign him and move him to running back. In 40 games, he rushed for 2,609 yards and scored 60 touchdowns. A 5-foot-9, 210-pound pinball, 23 of those rushing TDs came during his senior season. With the year on IR, Williams has had ample time to learn the nuances to switch from quarterback to running back, and he has the athleticism and instincts to be productive. Still, with Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Samkon Gado ahead of him, and no real experience catching passes and picking up blitzes, Williams is the longest of longshots.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

Packer Report Top Stories