Last weekend, the Green Bay Packers held their annual rookie orientation camp, hosting the team’s draft picks and undrafted free agent signees for their first batch of practices with the team. However, there were also 16 players in attendance who were not under contract with the Packers.
Of these tryout players, two earned spots on the Packers’ 90-man roster following camp. Tight end Ryan Smith from Miami University and linebacker Greer Martini from Notre Dame both landed contracts and will remain in Green Bay moving forward.
Aside from also being a cocktail, Martini’s name was entirely unknown to those of us at Acme Packing Company before last weekend, and so we caught up with Joshua Vowles, site manager of the SB Nation Notre Dame blog One Foot Down and Green Bay Packers fan, to find out more about Martini and what he will bring to the Packers. Here’s what he had to say about the young linebacker.
APC: What linebacker positions did Martini play, and what type of defensive schemes did Notre Dame use? Was he also used on special teams?
Notre Dame played two very different defensive schemes. Martini’s first three years at Notre Dame were under Brian VanGorder and his very complex 4-3 blitz package, and he played the DOG (drop linebacker). Mike Elko brought a very different 4-2-5 scheme in 2017, but Martini played a somewhat different role as the BUCK linebacker (more inside).
He played special teams throughout his career, but I can’t remember him standing out much.
APC: I have read that Martini was a team captain last year despite rotating in and out of the starting lineup as a junior and senior. Can you tell us anything about his demeanor on and off the field and his leadership in the locker room?
He’s a solid leader and an introvert (to a varying degree). Greer seemed to be a guy that the younger players would look up to and someone that would lead more by example than with bravado. For whatever it’s worth, he was always one of the best dressed players on the team. Perhaps it’s his lacrosse bro first name and Italian heritage, but it was noticeable after games when he walked onto the press conference.
APC: What are Martini’s strengths and weaknesses as a linebacker? What kind of player are the Packers getting?
Martini’s best games were always against the option. What that says about his strengths is that he is not only a sure tackler and gritty player, but it means he can follow orders. He plays assignment football VERY well. I’m not sure if that’s a glowing statement about his natural football instincts, but it does say a lot about his ability to be “coached up.”
He was used in coverage more under VanGorder, and wasn’t particularly efficient. Some of that was a failed scheme, but some of that is because he struggles in space against quicker players.
I think Greer is is a fantastic pick-up for Green Bay. Although he has struggled in coverage, he has tremendous athleticism, and is tough against the run. In the right scheme, he could become a productive player on the depth chart. I’m sure his first role would most likely be on special teams where his sure tackling and strong ability to play assignment football is an asset.
APC: I have to ask. I can only assume that a bar somewhere in South Bend has created a drink called the “Greer martini,” so how would you make one?
Although I have yet to see one in South Bend, I share your view that someone has tried to make a Greer Martini. How does one make something both fancy AND gritty? I’m not sure — I’d probably just make a gin, lemon, and 7 and rename it “The Greer.”
APC: Here’s a little bonus question: are you as stunned as we were that Equanimeous St. Brown lasted until the sixth round of the draft?
I was a little stunned. I had no delusions of E Street (a proper nickname ) going in the first few rounds, but as I saw the receivers picked ahead of him, I just shook my head. He has his issues, but there is no doubt he has all of the physical tools to be a success. As a huge Packer fan myself, I was quite happy with the selection — because I think it helps Green Bay.
We at APC thank Joshua for his time and for these great answers. Check out all of his work and that of his fellow Fighting Irish fans at One Foot Down.