Rookie minicamp means very different things to players in different situations. For players who were selected in the NFL Draft, a roster spot is assured at least through training camp. These players will spend the next several days acclimating to the NFL and specifically to their new team’s way of doing business.
A second group of players is made up of those who went undrafted but who agreed to contracts with their new teams. For these individuals, the weekend is time to pass a physical and sign their contract, followed by a chance to make an early impression on the coaching staff and stake a claim at a spot in competition for a roster spot come training camp. Group three is players who have been in the NFL for a year, but who did not play enough experience to count as an accrued season; these players are largely looking to get an extra few days of practice in before OTAs begin.
Finally, there are tryout players. These individuals come to minicamp without a contract, looking to make a mark on the team and earn a spot on the 90-man roster. As of this weekend, the Green Bay Packers have two roster spots unaccounted for, so barring any additional cuts the team’s large group of tryout players will be fighting for that pair of slots.
While the Packers typically provide a full roster to the media on the first day of rookie minicamp practice — which will be Friday — we already know the names of several players who will be attendance on a tryout basis. Here are three of those names who should be leading contenders to claim an open roster spot heading into the weekend.
Deion Harris, DB, North Dakota
A big defensive back at 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, Harris could be a candidate to play either cornerback or safety. The latter might be the better fit for him given some speed concerns (4.64 40 at Pro Day), but his 3-cone time of 6.84 seconds suggests a change-of-direction ability that could be useful in the slot or covering twitchy tight ends. Harris recorded nine interceptions in college, including three pick-sixes in 2016, in addition to 38 total pass breakups. There are ball skills here to build on.
Cole Tracy, K, LSU
Tracy spent one year with the Tigers in 2018 as a graduate transfer after kicking at Division II Assumption College to begin his college career. Over his final two seasons — 2017 at Assumption and 2018 at LSU — Tracy hit 56 of 62 field goal attempts and did not miss a PAT in 109 tries. That’s quite an impressive hit rate, and he seems to have a plenty strong leg to convert from 50-plus yards with regularity. If he does well this weekend, Tracy very well could earn a contract after minicamp and get an opportunity to compete with Mason Crosby this summer. If not, he’ll have another minicamp invite next week with the Saints to take another shot.
Jamarius Way, WR, South Alabama
Way could be a nice fit for the Packers, given their recent preference towards larger wideouts. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he has a big frame and has used that to make plays in the Sun Belt conference over the past two years since South Alabama moved up to FBS. Way had more than 750 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, averaging 15 yards per reception for his career. In a way, he’s reminiscent of Geronimo Allison, in that neither player worked out well but both had great college production to fall back on. Even if he’s not an exceptional athlete (4.63 40, 32.5” vert), that production is well worth a look this weekend.