Packers 2014 Roster Preview: New Additions at Inside Linebacker

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

APC takes a look at the three undrafted free agents that the Packers added this offseason.

To prepare for training camp, we will be breaking down every player on the Green Bay Packers' 90-man roster in more detail, looking at contract terms and 2013 statistics, before we make our prediction for which players will make the 53-man roster at the end of training camp.

We continue our preview of the Green Bay Packers 2014 roster as we look at the new additions for the Packers at the inside linebacker position. Unlike outside linebacker, the team decided against adding any talent through the draft or a veteran free agent. Instead, the Packers added three undrafted free agents who will more than likely be fighting for a practice squad position. I believe that the one player from this group who can become the best special teams contributor will get the nod at the end of preseason.

#48 Joe Thomas

6'1, 227 pounds
How Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent (South Carolina State)

2014 Contract Terms: (Signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract this spring)

  • $5,000 signing bonus, $5,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $511,667.
  • 2014: $421,666 cap hit
  • 2015: $511,666 cap hit
  • 2016: $601,668 cap hit
  • 2017: Restricted Free Agent

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. If Thomas can spend a year on the practice squad, I  believe he has the potential to become the next Frank Zombo or Dezman Moses as an actual defensive rotational player. The problem is, the team will be looking for a special teams contributor right now, and I think Doughty may have the leg up on him in that department.

#45 Jake Doughty

6'0, 234 pounds
How Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent (Utah State)

2014 Contract Terms: (Signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract this spring)

  • $5,000 signing bonus, $5,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $511,667.
  • 2014: $421,666 cap hit
  • 2015: $511,666 cap hit
  • 2016: $601,668 cap hit
  • 2017: Restricted Free Agent

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 is a bit undersized, but he makes up for that with natural instincts at the position, good angles while tackling, and (like Carl Bradford) he seems to play like his hair is on fire at times. I personally think Doughty has the best chance of making the team (likely the practice squad). He has the speed and aggressiveness to be a special teams contributor right away if the team decides to part ways with Barrington.

And in case you missed my article in May, he still hates kickers


#54 Shaun Lewis

5'11, 226 pounds
How Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent (Oklahoma State)

2014 Contract Terms: (Signed a three-year, $1.53 million contract this spring)

  • Annual average salary of $510,000
  • 2014: $420,000 cap hit
  • 2015: $510,000 cap hit
  • 2016: $600,000 cap hit
  • 2017: Restricted Free Agent

Lewis was a rookie camp signee this May after going undrafted in April's draft. Lewis started the final 45 games of his career at outside linebacker at Oklahoma State and ranked third on the team in tackles (73) and interceptions (three) in his senior campaign. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors from the conference's coaches. Lewis is a bit undersized, like Doughty, but his performance at the highest level of collegiate athletics is something to consider.

The only problem with that is the Big 12 is full of pass-happy offenses, and Lewis wasn't asked to be a run stopper very often. I'm not optimistic that a move to inside is the right choice for him, but if he can prove to be quick off the ball and above-average in pass coverage, the team could give him a shot on the practice squad.

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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