While every NFL team has at least one undrafted free agent success story, few franchises retain as many every year as the Green Bay Packers. If history provides any indication, one or two prospects that didn't hear their name called during the draft will find themselves on Green Bay's 53-man roster or practice squad. However, predicting which players ultimately earn that status presents a more challenging task.
Multiple factors come into play with projecting UDFA success, with considerations besides playing ability making a more significant impact. Certainly, the prospect must possess talent, but if he finds himself buried too far down the depth chart, the coaches may not provide him enough opportunities to demonstrate his skillset.
In our two attempts at this -- 2013 and 2015, though not 2014 -- the majority of the undrafted free agents profiled eventually made the Packers in some capacity. That doesn't guarantee success for this year's class. Rather, it seems that the team has fewer obvious roster spots up for grabs than in most seasons. Still, looking at which players face the fewest obstacles to a job has a respectable track record when it comes to this type of projection.
So with the qualifiers out of the way, here are the undrafted free agents best positioned to stick around this year.
Reggie Gilbert, OLB, Arizona
The Packers have a long history of bringing in undrafted edge rushers onto the roster. The team kept Frank Zombo in 2010, a player that started opposite Clay Matthews in Super Bowl XLV. Vic So'oto made the team the subsequent season, as did Dezman Moses, Andy Mulumba and Jayrone Elliott in each of the years that followed.
Reggie Gilbert could become the latest name in that tradition. The former Arizona edge rusher lacks anything resembling ideal athleticism -- he ranked in the 16th percentile for SPARQ within his position group -- but has played in 57 career games and posted respectable numbers. His best season came in 2015 when he registered 41 tackles, 8 1/2 tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. He also forced a fumble.
At present, Green Bay has five other edge rushers on the roster. That figure includes Matthews, who shifts back outside after spending the majority of the previous season and change working off the ball. The team kept five non-Matthews edge rushers last year, meaning Gilbert likely needs to beat out free agent addition Lerentee McCray to make the 53. If he doesn't, a spot on the practice squad remains a possibility.
Josh Hawkins, CB, East Carolina
In addition to edge rushers, the Packers tend to favor retaining undrafted cornerbacks over unselected players at other positions. Their top cover man, Sam Shields, signed with the team after the 2010 draft, taking over the team's nickel corner immediately and eventually rising to the top of the depth chart. The team struck again last offseason, keeping the undrafted Ladarius Gunter during the final roster cutdown. Green Bay may retain another in 2016.
At 5-foot-10 1/2, Josh Hawkins has the shortest frame of any defensive back Green Bay signed after the draft. The Packers famously avoid short corners, a habit favored by Ron Wolf and his understudies after Terrell Buckley's disappointing career. However, Hawkins also possesses the most athletic gifts of the UDFA corner group by a sizable margin, grading in the 87th percentile for SPARQ. That places him above where 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall, who also stands a shade below 5-foot-11, scored a year ago.
With Demetri Goodson suspended for the start of the season and Robertson Daniel far from a lock to make the 53 or practice squad, Hawkins has a chance to stick around if he can contribute on special teams.
Peter Mortell, P, Minnesota
The Packers haven't truly challenged Tim Masthay for his roster spot since 2010, but last year's struggles appear to have dinged his job security. If so, Minnesota's Peter Mortell, one of the best specialists in the Big Ten over the past three years, has a legitimate shot to unseat Masthay as the team's punter and holder on field goals.
Mortell arrives in Green Bay with plenty of accolades. He earned multiple all-conference honors including the Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year award in 2014. He also "won" Holder of the Year distinction this past season. Given that Masthay's superior holds helped him edge out Cody Mandell in 2015, Mortell should have one less disadvantage.