The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their 2018 rookie orientation on Saturday. Here’s a recap of some of the major highlights.
The Green Bay Packers drafted eleven players and signed several other undrafted free agents about a week ago. Players arrived in Green Bay earlier in the week and attended mandatory rookie mini-camp starting Friday. The Packers also invited players on a tryout basis, in an attempt to find hidden talent.
Head coach Mike McCarthy stressed the importance of rookie orientation by saying, “Every man that steps on that field today has an opportunity to be part of our 90-man roster.” Although the mini-camp only lasted two days, the acclimation into the team’s culture proves to be invaluable for players. Since it’s the first time coaches and players get to work together, they begin building the strong relationships needed to be successful.
Rookie orientation is also an opportunity for fans to see players in green and gold for the first time. It’s hard waiting until September for real football, but practice headlines and photos give fans their fix until then.
Cornerback Jaire Alexander (shown above) reportedly had a great two days, showing coaches and media why he was chosen with the 18th overall pick. Media reports stated Alexander is as small as advertised (5-10, 195), but showed a fierce attitude in his play by breaking up and intercepting several passes.
Second round selection Joshua Jackson (pictured below to the left) showed off his physicality, matching up well against the rookie wide receivers. It’s worth noting both corners spent time at the inside and outside cornerback positions. Third round pick Oren Burks (pictured below to the right) was reminiscent of former Packer Morgan Burnett (No. 42), showing off his agility and quickness during drills. Many reports say Burks could fill-in as a safety/linebacker hybrid role.
It was a nice showing for the wide receivers as well. Reporter Wes Hodkiewicz stated, of all the rookies, “J’Mon Moore jumped out to me“. After watching Moore practice, Hodkiewicz said he plays much faster than he looked at the NFL Combine. There was one particular play where Moore got past Jaire Alexander on a deep ball in a one-on-one drill. “Some things you just have to see for yourself“, he says. Moore (shown below) looks like an excellent candidate for the No. 3 receiver position.
The Packers also signed two tryout players to contracts. Former Notre Dame linebacker Greer Martini and Miami (Ohio) tight end Ryan Smith were given a chance after an impressive two days of camp. This isn’t the first time Green Bay has taken a gamble on a try-out player though. Lucas Patrick, who played in 12 games last season (started two), is just one example of how all you need is an opportunity.
One final headline from the presser was Reggie Gilbert‘s emergence as a potential break-out candidate in 2018. Coach McCarthy was excited when talking about Gilbert’s potential to fill-in on the pass rush rotation. “In my mind, he’s already taken the second-year jump“, he said. Gilbert was granted access to Packers’ rookie mini-camp because he hasn’t accrued a full NFL season yet. You can check out all player interviews and team press conferences here.