With the first practice of training camp set for Saturday night, the Green Bay Packers began signing their 10 draft picks on Thursday.
According to sources, the Packers signed their fifth-round pick, tight end D.J. Williams, and one of their sixth-round picks, Ricky Elmore. (Editor’s note: As we were in the process of breaking those stories, power went out for more than five hours at Packer Report headquarters in suburban Green Bay.) Earlier in the evening, agent Joby Branion told Packer Report that the second of their two seventh-round picks, tight end Ryan Taylor, had signed. Another of the sixth-round picks, guard Caleb Schlauderaff, is reportedly in the fold, as well.
Also, agent Kenny Zuckerman said he was nearing completion of a contract for fourth-round cornerback Davon House.
The new collective bargaining agreement outlines exactly what the draft picks can make in first-year pay and total salary over the four-year length of the deal. Williams was eligible to make $424,500 for this season and $2,3334,750 over the four years. The others who signed: Schlauderaff, $401,450 and $2,207,975; Elmore, $397,059 and $2,183,823; and Taylor, $389,794 and $2,143,823.
The big thing that can be negotiated is the signing bonus. Williams received a bonus of $198,000, according to the source. Other details were not available.
The contracts came together in no time — at least comparatively speaking to past years, when players drafted at the end of April would begin signing at the end of July. Four agents surveyed on Wednesday said negotiations had not begun with their clients. Obviously, with the years and dollars set by edict, there were few details to haggle over.
Williams’ captured the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end, during his final season with the Razorbacks. Over his final three seasons, he caught 147 passes for 1,761 yards and 10 touchdowns. Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said Williams always was one of the best players on the field, regardless of competition, and he’s got arguably the best hands in this class of tight ends.
Schlauderaff was a three-year starter for Utah at left guard heading into his senior season. The coaches moved him to left tackle during spring practice before his senior season but eventually sent him back to left guard. He responded by being named an All-American. He started 49 games in his career and missed only part of one game due to injury.
Elmore was lost in the shuffle behind fellow defensive end Brooks Reed at Arizona. Still, he led the Pac-10 with 11 sacks as a senior and finished second in the pecking order with 10.5 sacks as a junior. Known for his motor, he was second-team all-conference last year.
As a junior in 2008, Taylor — a reserve linebacker at the time — recorded 18 tackles on special teams to win North Carolina’s special teams player of the year award for a third consecutive season. After missing all of 2009 with a knee sprain and receiving a medical redshirt, he became a part-time starter at h-back and caught 36 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.