Meet the Packers' Undrafted Free Agents: Defensive Linemen

Joel Auerbach

We continue our UDFA series with a look at the Packers' rookie defensive linemen free agent signees.

Save for the safety position, no area of the Packers' roster received more scrutiny than the defensive linemen heading into the draft. While Packers' GM Ted Thompson spent considerable resources in the trenches in the past two drafts -- draft picks on Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, and Josh Boyd -- the pass rush remained inconsistent and a reliable run defense failed to materialize.

While Thompson selected another defensive lineman in this year's draft (Southern Miss' Khyri Thornton), opportunity exists for the team's undrafted free agent defensive lineman to make the roster and contribute.

Mike Pennel

Position: Nose Tackle
School: Colorado State-Pueblo
Height: 6-4
Weight: 332

Mike Pennel holds a unique place among the Packers' three UDFA defensive linemen; while the others operate as three-techs, only Pennel possesses the size required to play as a true nose. Officially listed by the Packers at 332 pounds, the former Colorado State-Pueblo Timberwolf weighed as much as 363 pounds during his college years. That girth makes Pennel an intriguing option as a two-gapping one-tech in Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme.

While absorbing blocks and freeing up linebackers remains Pennel's primary directive, he may also bring something as a pass rusher and playmaker. Pennel recorded three sacks and six tackles for loss while also forcing three fumbles as a senior, a pretty nifty stat line for a player pushing four bills.

Because of the presence of B.J. Raji, Letroy Guion, and the aforementioned Josh Boyd, Pennel's best chance of sticking in the NFL may come through a year on the practice squad. Spending 2014 refining his body could turn Pennel from a draft afterthought to part of the replacement strategy should Raji walk next offseason.

Carlos Gray

Position: Defensive End
School: North Carolina State
Height:
6-2
Weight:
300

An early entry into the 2014 NFL Draft, Carlos Gray only started one year at North Carolina State. When his time finally came, the 6-2, 300 pound defensive lineman performed well enough to generate some draft buzz, but showed enough flaws in his game to keep teams from spending a pick on him.

On tape, Gray displays the physical characteristics necessary to rush the pass effectively. His movement skills and quick first step allow him to throw offensive linemen off balance. Gray also shows competent closing speed in pursuit.

However, despite these traits Gray only recorded 2.5 sacks and one additional tackle for loss. Had he returned for his junior season and refined his craft, a team likely drafts Gray a year from now. Instead, the Packers get an unfinished product at a steep discount.

Luther Robinson

Position: Defensive End
School: Miami
Height:
6-3
Weight:
296

While never a regular starter, Luther Robinson played significant snaps on the defensive line as early as his redshirt freshman year. Had he not missed his sophomore season with a leg injury, Robinson would have played an integral role in Miami's defense for four straight seasons.

Although Robinson's size and raw strength (30 bench reps at his Pro Day) make him worth a look in camp, he is neither an impressive run stuffer nor a competent pass rusher. In his entire college career, Robinson failed to register a single sack and only had two tackles for loss. With a crowded defensive line group ahead of him in Green Bay, Robinson has his work cut out for him.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Hook'em Headlines. His work has previously appeared on Beats Per Minute, Lombardi Ave, and College Hoops Net.
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