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Packers tend not to stick to athletic thresholds for UDFA cornerbacks

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The Packers don’t always stick close to their preferred measurements when signing or scouting UDFAs, but there are a few corners in this year’s crop who do fit their typical criteria.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers rely heavily on athletic testing to help set up the early rounds of their draft board. This cannot be easily argued against, especially after Justis Mosqueda’s research this draft season has shed light on the types of players and athletic thresholds that the Packers tend to look for.

With that said, the Packers are willing to deviate from the board somewhat late in the third day of the NFL Draft and into undrafted free agency. With those picks, you are basically taking fliers on players rather than counting on any significant production, and if they turn out well, then that’s great.

Today, I am trying to further narrow down a list of possible late-round or undrafted free agent targets for the Packers at the cornerback position. I have looked through NFLDraftScout.com’s player rankings at corner, starting with players rated in the seventh round or lower, and found a handful of players who might fit the Packers. First up, however, is a look at how the corners the Packers have signed as UDFAs over the last several years fit the trends that Justis outlined here.

Do the Packers require Early-Draft Trends in UDFAs?

First up, we will refresh your memory on what those observed trends are:

  • Height > 5106 (5’,10-6/8”)
  • 40 time < 4.57
  • 3-cone < 6.87

Here are the eight corners signed over the last seven years as priority UDFAs — in other words, signed immediately following the draft — and how they fared against these three thresholds, based on numbers from NFLDraftScout’s database of Combine and Pro Day results. Bold means the player meets the requirement, italics means the player is right at or very close to the threshold value, and strikethrough means that the player fell significantly short of the criteria.

  • Makinton Dorleant (2016): Height (5106 exactly), 40 time, 3-cone
  • Josh Hawkins (2016): Height, 40 time, 3-cone
  • Randall Jette (2016): Height, 40 time, 3-cone
  • Herb Waters (2016): Height, 40 time, 3-cone
  • LaDarius Gunter (2015): Height, 40 time, 3-cone (6.91)
  • Bernard Blake (2015): Height, 40 time, 3-cone
  • Ryan White (2014): Height, 40 time, 3-cone
  • Brandian Ross (2011): Height, 40 time, 3-cone (did not run)
  • Sam Shields (2010): Height, 40 time, 3-cone

As you can see, the Packers did not sign many undrafted players who fit even two of the minimum requirements, with Waters and Shields being the only two who were right there on all three. However, what some of these players do have that made them stand out is a single exemplary skill. Dorleant and Hawkins were excellent leapers, with verticals at 39 and 40.5 inches respectively, while Hawkins had a terrific 4.09 time in the 20-yard shuttle. Gunter had terrific size at 6-feet-2. Blake and White are the odd ones, without any truly impressive individual drills.

What can we interpret from the data?

First, it suggests that the players who fit all of these trends are likely chosen in the draft. There just aren’t many who slip through the cracks and fall into undrafted free agency. However, it also means that the Packers are not nearly as picky about the athletic profiles of their free agents as they are with their early draft picks.

Fit Early-Draft Trends

All of the above data makes projecting the Packers’ potential undrafted free agent cornerback signees - if they even sign any - a difficult task. However, I will still look at Justis’ trends to see if there are any who fit those targets.

After all, one would certainly imagine that the Packers would prefer to land players who fit the trends if given the choice. With that in mind, I have dug up a handful of late-round or free agent possibilities who meet or are very close to all three requirements. (All numbers are from Pro Days unless otherwise noted.)

One final note: Justis did list three of these players on his breakdown, so here is a little more context on these players while including two additional names to the analysis.

Xavier Coleman*, Portland State: 5107, 4.50

Note that Coleman did not run the 3-cone at his Pro Day. However, he had a solid number in the 20-yard shuttle (4.15) and he had excellent vertical (40”) and broad (10’5”) jumps. In the FCS, he totaled nine interceptions, including five as a junior and two as a senior. He also had two years with double-digit pass breakups.

Nate Hairston, Temple: 5117, 4.52 (combine), 6.85

Hairston picked off two passes as a senior. He earned a Combine invite, but did not run every drill there

Des Lawrence, North Carolina: 5116, 4.55, 6.88

Lawrence is a three-year starter, whose best statistical season was as a junior in 2015; that year, he recorded 59 total tackles (2.5 for loss) with two interceptions and 14 pass breakups.

Ryan Lewis, Pittsburgh: 5110, 4.37, 6.87

Lewis totaled 79 tackles in his one year as a starter, along with two interceptions - one off Penn State quarterback Trace McSorely late in the game that clinched a win for the Panthers, and one off Clemson’s DeShaun Watson.

Reginald Porter, Utah: 5110, 4.47, 6.73

Porter lost his entire sophomore season to an injury, then bounced back with two solid years as a starter. There’s another coincidental trend here - Porter also had two picks as a senior.