Meet the Packers' Undrafted Free Agents: Linebackers

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

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

Many scouts and draft experts had inside linebacker as a key position of need for the Green Bay Packers heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. The team did not directly address the need with any of its draft picks, but did bring in a few undrafted free agents who could fight for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Let's not forgot that the team has found the majority of its undrafted free agent gems at the linebacker position. Frank Zombo was a key player on the 2010 Packers defense that made enough key plays to win the organization its fourth Super Bowl title. Dezman Moses and Andy Mulumba have also made key contributions to the Packers defense in recent seasons, so it's not outside the realm of possibility to imagine another rookie free agent making a splash during training camp and the preseason.

Let's take a look at the linebackers who have signed with the team as rookie free agents this offseason.

Joe Thomas

Position: Inside Linebacker
School: South Carolina State
Height: 6-1
Weight: 227 pounds

Thomas recorded 116 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 1 interception, and five pass break-ups in 2013, and  earned second-team FCS All-American honors, as well as MEAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Thomas was known as a physical, run-stuffer for a South Carolina State defense that ranked #1 in the FCS in run defense. Thomas is a heavy hitter, but doesn't have a lot of speed (4.72 forty-yard dash at pro day). He did record 22 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press and added a 38-inch vertical jump at his pro day. Thomas has the potential to be a special teams contributor.

Jake Doughty

Position: Inside Linebacker
School: Utah State
Height: 6-0
Weight: 234 pounds

Doughty recorded 148 total tackles, 12 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery in 2013 for the Aggies and earned first-team All- Conference honors (Mountain West). Doughty has decent speed for his size (4.5 forty-yard dash at Pro Day), and also recorded 24 reps of 225.

He also hates kickers

Jayrone Elliott

Position: Outside Linebacker
School: Toledo
Height: 6-3
Weight: 255 pounds

Elliott recorded 70 tackles, including 9 sacks in his senior season with the Rockets and earned All-MAC honors. His measureables don't really jump out: 4.7 forty-yard dash, 31-inch vertical jump, 18 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, but his production on the field does.

Elliott looks like a natural fit to be an edge rusher from the outside linebacker position. From his film against Northern Illinois, he displayed great pursuit of the ball carrier, decent hand placement and rush moves, and was a firm tackler. He had to bring down Jordan Lynch in the open field a few times in that game, and was up to the task. Obviously, Lynch isn't nearly as elusive as the talent at the NFL level, but Elliott appears to be able to stand his ground against blocks, shed the blocks, and wrap up the ball carrier on a regular basis.

Adrian Hubbard

Position: Outside Linebacker
School: Alabama
Height: 6-6
Weight: 257 pounds

Hubbard might be the biggest name on this list simply because he went to Alabama and was a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide. He recorded 33 tackles and 3 sacks as the Tide's SAM linebacker last fall. At the Scouting Combine, Hubbard ran a 4.69 forty-yard dash and recorded a 38-inch vertical jump, but did not participate in the bench press.

Hubbard's strengths are that he has exceptional size and length for an edge rusher, has good balance, hand strength, and sets the edge well. He also has enough speed and agility to cover tight ends down the field.

Among Hubbard's weaknesses is that he isn't very quick off the ball. His production as a pass rusher is mediocre (only 10 career sacks) and he sometimes disappears for stretches of the game. Some scouts claim Hubbard turned off a lot of teams during the interview process with his quirky personality and inflated view of his own abilities. Some scouts also question why he would leave school a year early after a less-than-impressive junior campaign.

Hubbard has the potential to be a contributor at the NFL level, but he, like most UDFAs, is a long-term project who still has a lot to learn.

Josh VanDyke covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He is also currently a sports writer for MLive.com.
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