The Packers have a hard-earned reputation for being one of the best programs in the league for finding and developing UDFA’s. From Pro Bowlers like Tramon Williams and Sam Shields to solid starters like Lane Taylor to ascending role players like Geronimo Allison and Kentrell Brice, there is a history of success in this franchise.
This year, there’s another crop of wide eyed youngsters who missed the 7th round cutoff battling it out for roster spots. Now that we’re into round two of OTAs and those pesky veterans are out of the picture, there’s more time for these guys to get some reps and try to stand out.
So who’s the big success story going to be this year?
Cody Heiman generated some buzz early on, but that has to be partially due to the fact that he’s a linebacker and we looove linebackers, especially inside linebackers (because they’re sooo important). He’s athletic and tough, but the knock on him is he isn’t instinctive, which can make it really hard to sort through the trash in the middle at game speed.
Justin Vogel is getting a lot of mention, but mostly because he’s the only active punter on the team… but it’s not over yet.
Taysom Hill was a big name and should be fun to watch whether he makes it or not, but, as a QB, he probably won’t see the regular season field any time soon. Still, Joe Callahan was a good UDFA and an exciting storyline (and they have an epic roster battle going on now!).
Now that the helmets are on (albeit without pads), the guy getting the most press (subjectively speaking) among the UDFAs is cornerback Lenzy Pipkins. At 6 foot 200 pounds with a 4.46, he has the physical tools and didn’t come with any cons more damning than he was only an average athlete or better suited for zone coverage.
Early word on Pipkins from OTAs is that he’s doing a good job sticking tight to his receivers in drills. It’s in shorts, but that’s the first step for a corner in shorts – especially when playing man was allegedly his weakness. With his physical tools, if he can overcome this “weakness,” he could turn out to be a gem at a competitive position that can never ever ever ever have enough qualified bodies… ever… especially in 2016.
But the biggest thing he may have going for him is his position coach: Joe Whitt Jr. Remember earlier how we mentioned that Sam Shields and Tramon Williams were both UDFAs that turned into Pro Bowlers?
Do you think it was a coincidence that JWJ coached them both?
I don’t. If anyone can get this guy molded into an NFL corner, it’s Whitt.
This early in the game, that’s enough for me to put L-Pips in the pole position fir the UDFA race.