Tulsa QB gets shot at the NFL

Learn more about David Johnson in our interview. He'll be participating on a tryout basis at the rookie orientation camp that runs Friday through Sunday. Plus, we have the rundown on the 12 undrafted signees — including two worth watching.

David Johnson was on his way to Green Bay. He hopes there won't be a return flight.

The former Tulsa standout will join Utah's Brian Johnson (no relation) as the quarterbacks at the Green Bay Packers' rookie orientation camp, which runs Friday through Sunday. Both quarterbacks are participating on a tryout basis. If one excels, he might be offered a free-agent contract to compete with incumbent backups Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn.

"I'm just excited to get a shot to be able to play," Johnson said on Thursday morning before lifting off for Titletown. "Things just work the way they're supposed to work and you've just got to go with it and take it as it comes."

This isn't the first time Johnson has flown under the radar. Coming out of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Johnson wasn't recruited by the big schools. Not with Erik Ainge earning all of the accolades at nearby Hillsboro High School.

Johnson wound up going to Tulsa, where he served as the backup to prolific Paul Smith — now with the Jacksonville Jaguars — for his first three seasons. Johnson had a breakout senior season, throwing for 4,059 yards with 46 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and 64.5 percent accuracy. Only Oklahoma's Sam Bradford topped Johnson's passer rating of 178.69.

Still, the strong-armed Johnson didn't get an invite to the Senior Bowl or Scouting Combine. Johnson (6 foot, 1 1/2 inches) ran a spread offense, which inflated his stats. On the plus side, Johnson was the brains behind a no-huddle offense that had West Coast offense principles. In fact, he was a semifinalist for the Draddy Award, which is the academic equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

Johnson went undrafted, and picking Green Bay was an easy choice.

"They were the first ones to jump onboard and invite me somewhere, and actually my only one," he said.

Wasn't the lack of interest surprising, considering his productivity?

"Yeah, but you know what? It is what it is," he said. "Other people have their picks and have their guys that they wanted. I'm just happy to be able to get a chance to be able to play."

Johnson's goals for this weekend are obvious.

"Just kind of showcase what I have and do the best that I can," he said. "That's all I can really ask for or anybody can ask for. Hopefully, that's good enough to pique their interest into looking at me further."

Rookie orientation camp

When: Friday-Sunday.

Where: Don Hutson Center.

Open to the public?: No.

Who: All of the Packers' draft picks and undrafted prospects.

Along with their eight draft picks, the Packers' 12 undrafted signees and an untold number of tryout candidates like Johnson will participate.

The undrafted rookies who signed with the Packers:

— Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton, who rushed for 1,476 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman but was slowed by injuries during his final three seasons. At 5-foot-8, he's got great hands.

— Texas A&M outside linebacker Cyril Obiozor, who had a predraft visit with the Packers.

— Receivers Jamarko Simmons (Western Michigan), Kole Heckendorf (North Dakota State), JaRon Harris (South Dakota State), Andy Brodell (Iowa) and Patrick Williams (Colorado). Harris, at 6-foot-1, is the smallest of the bunch. He's the cousin of Jerry Rice. The 6-foot-2 Simmons broke Greg Jennings' single-season record with 104 catches last season. Heckendorf is from Mosinee, Wis. Brodell and Williams have punt-return experience.

— Tight ends Carson Butler of Michigan and Travis Dekker of Air Force. Butler also played some defensive end for the Wolverines, so he could wind up there. Dekker caught 13 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons' wishbone offense.

— Offensive linemen Andy Hartline (Central Michigan) and Evan Dietrich-Smith (Idaho State). Hartline was a four-year starting tackle, including two seasons on the left side. Dietrich-Smith was a three-year starter at both tackle spots and left guard.

— Delaware defensive end Ronald Talley.

Two to watch: Besides the draft picks, one intriguing player is Talley. During coach Mike McCarthy's interview with Jim Rome on Thursday, he mentioned Talley in the same sentence as Raji.

Talley played two seasons at Notre Dame before transferring to Delaware. The honor student recorded 14 tackles and 6.5 sacks in his two seasons with the Blue Hens. At 6-foot-3 and 282 pounds, he's got good size to play end.

Also, if you believe Jennings, watch out for the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Simmons.

"I told him before (the draft) it'd be great for him to come be there with me — he'll be under my wing, I'll be able to work with him," Jennings told Michigan Live this week. "He knows I'm not in it for me. I'm not worried about him taking my spot. I'm confident in what I can do. I want him to get on the field, that's it.

"He has the ability to be a starter in this league. No matter the draft or free agency, he can make an impact."


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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. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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