Over the next few weeks, we will break down each position on the Green Bay Packers' 2015 roster in detail, discussing each player and making our predictions for the final 53-man roster.
While the Packers bring five inside linebackers back to the 2015 squad from the 2014 roster, the also have added three players without NFL experience to the team this year. One, a mid-round draft pick, comes in with moderate expectations on him early but some lofty ones for him long-term.
The two other new additions come with little expectations and little impact in offseason practices, but as with any player on the roster they will be given plenty of opportunities to make an impact.
How Acquired: 4th-round draft pick (#129 overall)
H/W: 6'2", 240 pounds
Contract: Four-year rookie contract worth $2.737 million; 2015 cap hit of $549,169
As the first two days of the 2015 NFL Draft ticked by, many Packers fans were confused by the fact that Ted Thompson had not yet chosen an inside linebacker. Those concerns were alleviated, at least somewhat, by Ryan's selection with the first pick of day three.
Ryan has played a variety of linebackers in a 4-3 defense at Michigan, but was a middle linebacker as a senior. He was a prolific tackler and a leader in the locker room, and though it is unlikely that he will step in to be a starter immediately, Ryan has all the physical skills and work ethic necessary to become an excellent inside linebacker over time.
How acquired: undrafted free agent signing
Age: 23 (turns 24 in September)
H/W: 6'2", 240 pounds
Contract: Three-year rookie contract with $5,000 signing bonus; 2015 cap hit of $436,666
An outside linebacker at Bethune-Cookman, Dantzler has been one of the more highly-touted players in this year's undrafted free agent class. However, during OTAs and minicamp he was unable to crack the two-deep roster, and faces an uphill battle to make the roster in training camp. He likely will need to have a signature performance in a preseason game, either on special teams or in the second half on defense, in order to make it through the final round of cuts.
How acquired: signed as street free agent
H/W: 6'0", 238 pounds
College: West Virginia
Contract: Three year league-minimum contract; 2015 cap hit of $435,000
Francis transitioned from the Indoor Football League's Wichita Falls Nighthawks to the Packers' roster in March, signing a futures contract shortly before the start of the NFL's unrestricted free agency period. Like Dantzler, Francis' road to the 53-man roster will be a long one, as he has several veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.
Stay tuned for our roster prediction this afternoon.