Clock ticking to get picks signed

History is on the Packers' side, but B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews are among 28 unsigned first-round picks. We have the breakdown on numbers across the league, recent Packers history and comments from Raji and Matthews as training camp begins in four days.

Time is ticking for the Green Bay Packers to get first-round draft picks B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews III under contract.

Time is ticking for most of the other 31 teams, as well.

According to research by The Sports Xchange, entering Tuesday there were 84 unsigned draft picks from the 257 players selected in April's main draft and July's supplemental draft. The number of choices was reduced to 255 when Oakland waived sixth-round pick Stryker Sulak on July 13 before he signed a contract and then increased to 256 when Washington selected defensive end Jeremy Jarmon in the third round of the July 16 supplemental draft.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of the unsigned players reside in the first three rounds of the draft. Only four first-round picks have signed or agreed to terms, so that Raji and Matthews remain unsigned just four days before the start of training camp is about par for the course.

Raji and Matthews are both represented by Athletes First. Their team of agents did not immediately reply to an e-mail from Packer Report.

"It's very important (to be signed in time for training camp) just because I'm that type of guy," Matthews said after the last minicamp practice. "I want to be here day in, day out and show the type of person who I am and not fall behind, especially being a rookie. I really can't take any time off. Of course, we'd like to get a contract done but I really have nothing to do with that. I'll just pray for the best. Hopefully, we can get it done before camp."

"I anticipate no problems," Raji said. "It's definitely important to be here from Day 1 and go through the grind with the guys and get myself better."

The Packers haven't had a holdout of note since Ross Verba missed about three weeks in 1997. In 2005, general manager Ted Thompson's first first-round pick, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, missed the first two days of practices. Last year, the Packers didn't have a first-round pick but signed their three second-rounders on the day before the start of training camp. In 2007, first-round pick Justin Harrell was signed one day before the start of camp, as well. In 2006, first-round pick A.J. Hawk signed his contract just in time to get on the field for his first practice.

Meanwhile, 14 second-round picks and 23 third-round picks have signed. In those three rounds, 60 players (including Jarmon) remain unsigned, with 46 in the first two rounds.

The Packers gave up their second-round pick and both third-rounders to move back into the first round to get Matthews.

It is a yearly dance that occurs in the league, with the likelihood that some picks in the first round will miss significant time in training camp. Last year's No. 8 pick, Jacksonville defensive end Derrick Harvey, didn't sign until Aug. 27, and he finished with only 3.5 sacks.

For an apples-to-oranges comparison, all but four of the NBA's first-round picks have signed — and the NBA held its draft barely a month ago.

As of the end of business on Monday, Chicago, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh had signed all their draft picks. Of course, the Jets only had three, but they are one of four teams with a signed first-rounder; quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Indianapolis, New Orleans and Oakland have yet to sign any of their picks.

Signed and unsigned

ROUND: TOTAL/SIGNED/UNSIGNED

First round: 32/4/28

Second round: 32/14/18

Third round: 37*/23/14

Fourth round: 36/26/10

Fifth round: 37/33/4

Sixth round: 35/30/5

Seventh round: 47/42/5

TOTAL: 256/172/84


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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