Earlier this week, APC’s Jason Hirschhorn took a look at some of the players in this year’s undrafted free agent class who are most likely to make the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster in 2017. Today, we look at the class from a different perspective, as we examine players who bring versatility at multiple positions to the table.
The Packers drafted a couple of players whose versatility was a plus in this year’s draft. Safety Josh Jones should see time at slot corner and nickel/dime linebacker as well as safety, while Vince Biegel could be moved around to both outside and inside linebacker. College tackle Kofi Amichia, in the meantime, is likely to play guard, though he may also take some snaps at center.
That quest for versatile players did not end in the draft, however, as the Packers can count several players with versatile skill sets among those they are expected to sign as undrafted rookie free agents this weekend. Here is a look at four players who should be viewed as being potential contributors in multiple roles on the roster.
EDGE Johnathan Calvin, Mississippi State
Calvin is an intriguing player, in that he is more in the mold of the Packers’ elephant players over the past few years than a traditional edge rusher. He’s bigger than your typical 3-4 outside linebacker, measuring in at 6’3” and 275 pounds, according to Bob McGinn of Packersnews.com. In addition, he has experience playing both defensive end and outside linebacker in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense.
That would lend itself well to Calvin having a shot at the 53-man roster as a hybrid pass-rusher like Julius Peppers and Datone Jones. Both of those players lined up as outside linebackers on early downs, then put their hand on the ground and rushed from an interior tackle position on third down. Calvin has the size and experience to do just that, and that versatility could give him an edge over Reggie Gilbert if the Packers want to keep six edge rushers on the roster.
WR Montay Crockett, Georgia Southern
Crockett is one of the most intriguing players in this class simply because of his athleticism. Measuring at 5’11-1/2” and 193 pounds, Crockett looks likely to fit as a slot receiver and return specialist. That is even more apparent when looking at his measureables: he ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash with a 1.54 10-yard split, and his 3-cone time was a very good 6.82 seconds.
Crockett also is the only player among this UDFA or draft class with significant return experience, having served as Georgia Southern’s primary punt returner in 2016 (when he averaged over 10 yards per return) and the second option on kickoffs. It will be nearly impossible for him to make the 53-man roster given the Packers’ recent investment at the position, but he could make the practice squad and be an option for a call-up if the Packers end up thin in the slot.
ILB Cody Heiman, Washburn
Although Heiman is viewed as one of the most athletic inside linebackers who went undrafted, some scouts view him as being a possible convert to the fullback position. The Packers already have a pair of fullbacks who spent time on the active roster last season in Aaron Ripkowski and Joe Kerridge, but Heiman could be this year’s version of Korey Hall, the Boise State linebacker who the Packers drafted in 2007 and moved to the offense.
Hall had two seasons of over 100 tackles and 11 total interceptions in his career, so moving a productive college player to the other side of the ball is hardly unheard of. Heiman was also impressive in his statistical output, racking up 100 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two picks as a senior. He did play some running back in college, however, leading Washburn in rushing in 2013.
G/T Geoff Gray, Manitoba
Gray is looked at as a guard initially, but has the size and length to stay at tackle at 6’5-1/2” and 315 pounds with 34-inch arms. Although he played primarily guard for the Bison, he did spend a season at tackle as well. It would not be a shock to see him take a similar career trajectory to Don Barclay, though hopefully without the necessity of seeing him start early on in his career.
Barclay was a college left tackle at West Virginia who started most of a season at right tackle then has bounced around as an all-purpose backup. Gray looks likely to do the same, and will probably be cross-trained at all five positions on the offensive line.