One of the most exciting athletes in the Green Bay Packers’ 2018 draft class is finally going to get a chance to take the field on Sundays. The team promoted outside linebacker Kendall Donnerson to the active roster from the practice squad on Tuesday, and it looks likely that the rookie will be active for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Packers chose Donnerson in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft, making him the 248th overall selection. He possesses elite athletic abilities, with workout numbers such as a 40-yard dash time in the mid-4.4s, a 40-inch vertical, and a 3-cone time of just over seven seconds, all at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. Donnerson also recorded six sacks as a senior for Southeast Missouri State in 2017 and totaled 13.5 tackles for loss.
The rookie will join a thin group of outside linebackers that is down to three healthy bodies. Nick Perry went on injured reserve recently, leaving the Packers with just Clay Matthews, Kyler Fackrell, and Reggie Gilbert to man the position.
In order to make a roster spot for Donnerson, the Packers placed safety Ibraheim Campbell on injured reserve. He was injured on Sunday during the team’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals after making eight tackles in the game. The Packers will likely try to bring him back for 2019, however, as he showed enough in a few games to warrant a shot at a roster spot next season.
The Packers also made two more transactions, filling a pair of empty practice squad spots vacated by the recent promotions of Donnerson and fullback Danny Vitale. In order to give the team additional depth at safety — a position that saw both Kentrell Brice and Raven Greene sit out the last game with injuries — the Packers filled signed two players at that position: Tray Matthews and Jason Thompson.
The two safeties have very different skill sets. Matthews, an undrafted rookie from Auburn, is known as a big hitter. Thompson, on the other hand, is a marvelous athlete, who had a truly impressive Pro Day workout before the 2017 NFL Draft. He had a reported 4.45-second time in the 40-yard dash, with a blistering 1.50-second split time in the first ten yards, and he added blazing times of 6.57 seconds in the 3-cone drill and 4.01 seconds in the short shuttle to go with an 11-foot-1 broad jump.
Interestingly, Thompson played quarterback as a freshman at Wyoming in 2012 before transferring to Utah and moving to the secondary. His college career only consisted of 20 games played, but his athletic traits are likely what earned him a look. Matthews, on the other hand, was a multi-year starter at Auburn, who recorded five interceptions and three forced fumbles in his career.