A big part of being a fan is rooting for players who aren’t necessarily superstars. Every team has them, and their stories can often be just as fascinating as a team’s big names.
For years, Jake Kumerow was that “guy” for a good number of Packers fans, but with Whitewater’s own off to different (if not greener) pastures, we’ll have to find a new guy to root for. That’s what the guys on the APC Podcast did this week, and now we’re doing the same on the main blog.
Here are our criteria for choosing a “guy:” he needs to be a day three draftee or UDFA and he has to be relatively new to the club (no more than two years on the team, including time on the practice squad). You get bonus points (not redeemable anywhere, no cash value) if your guy went to a non-Power 5 school or if he’s making a position change.
With those ground rules laid out, here are our guys.
Tex Western: CB Stanford Samuels
I’m going with a power-five college player who suffered a surprising fall on draft day and went undrafted entirely. That’s Samuels, who was graded as highly as a third-rounder in some circles prior to the 2020 Combine; there, he ran a dismal 4.65-second 40, which was later revealed to be largely due to the league’s abysmal rescheduling of testing drills. Look, we’ve all had bad days — his just happened to come at the worst possible time, and it was due at least in large part to things outside of his control.
I staked my claim early on Samuels being the one undrafted rookie the Packers would keep on the 53, and though he didn’t make it, he’s back on the practice squad. Given his impressive tape and solid size at 6-foot-1, I think he has a real chance to be a significant contributor late in 2020 should injuries strike or in 2021 if Kevin King leaves town as a free agent.
Rcon14: Kinglsey Keke
I was a huge fan of Keke prior to the draft as a day-3 penetrating 3-tech. He is a bit undersized, similar to one other day-3 penetrating 3-tech that got #Paid once upon a time, but used his quickness to be a problem for OL in college. It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to dislodge snaps from guys higher in the organizational pecking order like Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster as traditional DTs or Rashan Gary and Za’Darius Smith as pseudo-3-techs on passing downs, but I remain high on Keke’s athleticism allowing him to be a problem for OGs. A nice season from Keke would be helpful as it would allow the Packers to move on from Dean Lowry after this season.
Now here’s a guy that the Packers could use. He’s fast and explosive like BOOM. This is a guy you want on your team. He can cut up the seam BOOM and draw attention from the safety over top. This is a guy that’s gonna help you score more points and the team that scores the most points, usually wins the football game.
Kris Burke: Equanimeous St. Brown
We all love a good comeback story and this could be a great one given how much attention the Packers’ lack of new talent at wide receiver got during the off-season.
When he’s been asked about St. Brown (or EQ as he’s called by teammates), head coach Matt LaFleur seems to genuinely be high on the guy and seemed at times to blame some of the struggles at the position on losing EQ.
Clearly the Packers had plans for the guy and combine that with how many were higher on him than MVS when they were drafted in 2018 and it’s quite possible the solution to the Packers’ woes at receiver may have been right under their nose this entire time.
Paul Noonan: Chandon Sullivan
In small sample sizes, by some perpetually noisy metrics based on even more dubious charting, Chandon Sullivan is very good. When I watch him, this all checks out, and I think there’s an outside chance he ends up not just as a valuable contributor, but as the best defensive back on the team.
There’s reason for skepticism as Sullivan is merely a decent athlete and not some world beater, but he’s definitely good enough to succeed inside, and he’s also shown himself to be quite the thumper in run support.
He will probably be confined to the slot while King and Alexander work outside, which is fine. He is their secret weapon against shifty small guys and big seam-stretching tight ends, and if the defense is better this season, he will be one of the reasons. He’s stepping in for Tramon Williams who played quite well last season, and he reminds me a bit of Williams in how he moves. That is reason enough for some excitement.
Jon Meerdink: John Lovett
Lovett has everything you could want in a “guy.”
UDFA? Check. Non-Power 5 conference? Check. Position change? Double-check, since he switched from quarterback in college to fullback for the Chiefs and now is listed as a tight end for the Packers.
Will he ever make a huge difference? Probably not, but the storyline surrounding the Packers’ apparently quite urgent search for an H-back/fullback/tight end type in the mold of Kyle “Spell Check” Juszczyk is an interesting one, and it will probably be a factor in landing Lovett on the active roster at some point this season. If and when that happens, I’ll be at the front of the bandwagon.