Underclassmen Targets in UDFA

Jamel Hamler (Cary Edmondson/US Presswire)

Fourteen underclassmen went undrafted, with several potentially adding some much needed depth and competition on the Packers' roster.

Underclassmen dominated the first round of the NFL Draft, with just three seniors taken among the first 14 picks.

On the other hand, of the 56 underclass players who forfeited their remaining college eligibility to enter the draft, 14 were not selected and remain in that uncomfortable state of limbo with the rest of the undrafted prospects. They can't return to school to resume their careers, and can't be signed as undrafted free agents until the lockout issue is resolved, kind of a double whammy.

"You kind of hammer home to them that they've got to stay in shape, that it's no time now to slack off ... and you continue to do your homework, to check on rosters and see where the best fit is for them," agent Pat Dye Jr., who represents former Georgia Tech safety Jerrard Tarrant, a player most observers felt would be drafted, told The Sports Xchange's Len Pasquarelli. "But, yeah, they're in a tough position."

The list includes several players the Green Bay Packers no doubt have considered making a run at when undrafted free agency begins.

The Packers have just eight receivers on the roster — and that includes free agent James Jones. That's not enough to run a practice during training camp. Four of the undrafted underclassmen are receivers: Auburn's Darvin Adams, Southern Miss' De'Andre Brown, South Carolina's Tori Gurley and Fresno State's Jamel Hamler. Brown (6-foot-6) and Gurley (6-foot-4) are huge targets, Adams (6-2) was Cam Newton's deep threat and the Packers used one of their formal interviews at the Scouting Combine on Hamler (6-1).

Even after drafting Derek Sherrod, the Packers could use another offensive tackle to get through camp and as a developmental player. Their roster includes only Sherrod, Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, Mark Tauscher and practice squad player Chris Campbell as pure tackles — with Tauscher not expected back. Tackle is probably Marshall Newhouse's best spot but T.J. Lang figures to be in the mix at left guard. That could make Georgia Tech's Nick Claytor a possibility to challenge Campbell. Claytor (6-6, 308) has some NFL tools but left early because he felt misplaced in Tech's option offense.

The Packers have seven safeties on the roster and didn't add to the position group through the draft. Of the seven, two are free agents (Atari Bigby and Anthony Smith) and two were on the practice squad (Anthony Levine and former Central Florida quarterback Michael Greco). Three undrafted underclassmen are safeties: Florida's Will Hill, Oregon's Javes Lewis and Georgia Tech's Jerrard Tarrant. Hill is a talented player with major character issues. Character issues also dogged Tarrant, though sexual assault charges that cost him the 2008 season were dropped. He started at corner in 2009 and replaced Burnett in 2010. Lewis surprisingly declared for the draft despite being a backup as a junior.

The other six probably aren't on the Packers' radar: Wisconsin running back John Clay, Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans, Pitt fullback Henry Hynoski, Stanford outside linebacker Thomas Keiser, Virginia defensive end Zane Parr and Utah defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.

The Packers are loaded at both spots in the backfield, with Wisconsin-native Clay being a poor fit for Green Bay's scheme. At outside linebacker, the Packers have Brad Jones, Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Diyral Briggs, Brady Poppinga and late practice-squad addition Curtis Young to join the fray opposite Clay Matthews.

At 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, Parr is about 25 pounds too light to play end for the Packers. Siliga (6-2, 305) looks like a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme.


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