The Green Bay Packers should have a number of interesting players coming into town for this weekend’s rookie orientation camp. In addition to returning players from last year’s team, the franchise’s 11 draft picks, and a group of undrafted free agents who are reportedly signing contracts, there will be several tryout players in attendance as well.
The Packers have often signed players from their rookie camp tryouts to contracts following the weekend. Guard Lucas Patrick was a tryout player in 2016, and the team signed several of last year’s tryout players at different times throughout 2017 — names like William Stanback, Josh Letuligasenoa, David Talley, Raysean Pringle, and Aaron Taylor all spent some time on the roster.
So far, we only know of a handful of names that are invited to camp as non-roster players, but we took a bit of a deep dive into those names we do know to get to know them a bit and how they might fit in Green Bay.
Sherman Badie, RB, Tulane
Badie had an impressive freshman season for Tulane in 2014, leading the team in rushing attempts, yards, and yards per carry. He also added 24 receptions, though he actually averaged fewer yards per reception (4.5) than yards per carry (5.7). However, after that season Dontrell Hilliard (who was in the same year as Badie) began to take control of the starting job as he led the Green Wave in rushing each of the next three seasons.
Although Badie rotated with Hilliard during the players’ sophomore season (which saw Badie catch 27 passes for 284 yards), he became a bit of an afterthought on offense as a junior, carrying the ball just 43 times in eight games that year followed by 60 carries in 12 games in his final season. Hilliard signed a UDFA deal with the Browns, while Badie comes to Green Bay for rookie camp.
Badie is a bit of a different mold from the running backs the Packers have typically employed, however. He’s light at 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds and he’s very fast, with a reported 4.39-second 40-yard dash at Tulane’s Pro Day, but his agility numbers fall well short of ideal for a player of his size (4.23 shuttle, 7.25 cone).
Derek McCartney, OLB, Colorado
The Packers are reportedly signing Naashon Hughes to a UDFA contract, but McCartney is the edge rusher reportedly coming to camp who stood out to APC with his testing results. Admittedly, a 4.77 40-yard dash at 6-foot-2 1⁄2 and 240 pounds isn’t breathtaking, but he did record an exceptional 6.90-second time in the 3-cone drill.
McCartney has played both defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker in his career, and he recorded at least four sacks in each of the three years that he was healthy. Unfortunately, he missed almost the entire 2016 season with a knee injury that he suffered in the second game of the season against Michigan — a game in which he had previously scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Bonus story of awesomeness: prior to his junior year, McCartney donated bone marrow to a 64-year-old Nebraska fan and cancer patient.
Caleb Melton, ???, Cal Poly
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Melton was a reserve lineman at Cal Poly after after transferring in from community college, but he insists that he could have played linebacker, tight end, or fullback. Of course, he is nowhere near big enough to play at defensive tackle in the NFL, and so if he stays on defense he appears likely to try out for the Packers as an edge player instead.
Mike Minter, Jr., CB, Middle Tennessee State
As his name suggests, Minter is the son of former Carolina Panthers safety Mike Minter, who played in the NFL from 1997 to 2006. A three-year starter, the younger Minter recorded four career interceptions and 31 pass breakups.
Minter is a lean corner (5-foot-11, 179 pounds) with build-up speed (4.46 40 with a 1.72 10-yard split). He will obviously be challenged to make the roster given the Packers’ investment at the position this offseason.
Jacob Onyechi, S, Air Force
Onyechi was forced to take a year off from football last year following a decision by the U.S. Defense Department to not allow players to defer their active duty service to pursue professional athletic careers. Interestingly, Onyechi was also in attendance at the Packers’ rookie camp last year as well.
We’ll see what position the former college linebacker is listed at this weekend when the camp roster is released; listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds at Air Force’s 2017 Pro Day, he would seem to be too small to play linebacker, and indeed he was listed at safety on last year’s minicamp roster. However, he appears to be an impressive athlete, with reported results of 4.54 (40), 40 inches (vertical), 10-foot-9 (broad jump), and 7.14 (3-cone). He could be a sneaky pick to land a spot on the 90-man roster coming out of rookie camp now that he is apparently eligible to go into football.
Anthony Philyaw, RB, Howard
Compared to Badie, Philyaw is much more in the Packers’ traditional mold at running back. He stands 6 feet tall and weighs around 212 pounds, matching good speed (4.50 40) and agility (6.99 3-cone). He was also productive in two years at Howard; he started all year as a junior and recorded 1,230 rushing yards. Then he began the 2017 season well but saw his production dip in the middle of the season before winning carries back late in the year. Philyaw participated in this year’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
R.J. Prince, OL, North Carolina
A big offensive lineman, Prince was a two-year starter at right guard for the Tar Heels after spending two seasons on special teams and as a reserve tackle and guard. Prince’s quickness falls short of the Packers’ typical draft trends (4.83 shuttle, 8.00 cone), but he does have excellent size at 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds.
Ryan Smith, TE, Miami (OH)
An Illinois native, Smith was a full-time starter as a junior and senior and started five games during each of his freshman and sophomore years. He topped 30 receptions and 350 receiving yards each of the last two years and had good, consistent touchdown totals with 4, 5, and 5 going back from 2017 to 2015.
Fun fact: his grandfather is John Lattner, the 1953 Heisman Trophy winner; Lattner played halfback for Notre Dame.
Nick Stevens, QB, Colorado State
Who was the first-team all-Mountain West quarterback in 2017? No, it wasn’t 7th overall pick Josh Allen, who finished as an honorable mention. It was Stevens, who completed 62 percent of his passes for over 3,800 yards, 29 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions. That was his first full season as a starter, though he was the full-time starter in 2015 and spent much of the 2016 as the starting quarterback as well.
Stevens did much of his damage throwing to Michael Gallup, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the draft last weekend.
Mack Weaver, EDGE, Eastern Illinois
Weaver spent two years at Vanderbilt but got no playing time there before transferring to Eastern Illinois as a redshirt sophomore. He started there as a tight end before moving to the defensive line as a junior; he then became a starter at defensive tackle for his senior year, when he totaled three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Eastern Illinois listed him at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds last year, which would put him at ideal size for an edge rusher in the Packers’ scheme.