This past season the Green Bay Packers commissioned a study to see how many snaps that UDFA’s played during the Ted Thompson era. The total that they came up with was 77,079 snaps; almost 23,000 more than any other team in the NFL. We’ve heard for years the mantra of “draft and develop” but in so many cases the Packers are a find and develop team. They find and develop players in the draft, they find and develop players on waivers and they certainly find and develop players from the undrafted free agent pool.
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be breaking down five undrafted free agents that have the best shot of making the Packers this season: LaDarius Gunter, John Crockett, Jermauria Rasco, Matt Rotheram and James Vaughters.
Today we’ll start with LaDarius Gunter, and see if the Packers may have unearthed another UDFA corner from Miami ala Sam Shields.
40 yard: 4.69
Bench: 12 reps
Mock Draftable Spider Chart
As you can see above, Gunter is above average with his size (height/weight/hands/arms) but is well below average in almost every other category for a cornerback. For those that believe a simple move to safety would be better for Gunter, his measurables don’t exactly jump off the page for a safety either:
It’s easy to see above that in order for Gunter to excel at the NFL level he’s going to have to find a way to make his size advantage work in his favor. His foot speed and overall quickness is going to be an issue covering faster receivers and he will need to be close to perfect with his technique in order to make the roster. Let’s look to the tape to identify Gunter’s strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s start right away with size/speed. As we’ve seen already, Gunter needs to win with his size and find a way to mitigate his lack of speed. The first video below shows him matched up twice with 1st round pick DeVante Parker. At the top of the screen during the first part of the video you will be able to see that Gunter clearly has the size and physical traits needed to matchup with the strong, physical Parker. In the second part of the Vine, on the lower part of the screen, you will notice that Parker has Gunter beat by about three steps and gets very lucky that Bridgewater severely under throws the ball:
The next few Vines all show off Gunter’s size and how he uses it to his advantage:
Here we see him with enough size to matchup with Kelvin Benjamin:
Another pass breakup at the point of attack:
While Gunter’s speed is certainly going to be an issue at the NFL level, here he does a nice job of staying with his man step for step and picking off the pass:
The previous video isn’t the only where Gunter shows off his ball skills:
Gunter also shows off some position versatility by lining up at safety and covering the tight end:
Lastly, here’s one of the biggest area’s that Gunter can improve on. There were way too many instances in which he shied away from contact and didn’t have interest in making a tackle. Here was an egregious example where he see’s the back and instead of making a play on the ball engages the cornerback and runs away from the play:
Overall Gunter has some physical traits and ball skills that make him a unique player for the Packers. One of the biggest reasons I believe he has a real shot of making the roster is due to his size and ability to make a play on the football. As you can see in many of the videos above, he plays well in a zone and excels when being able to read the quarterbacks’ eyes and make a play on the football. That is exactly the style that Capers and the Packers like to play. Green Bay has also shown a propensity for wanting hybrid defensive backs who can play both safety and corner, i.e. Hyde, Rollins and Randall. Lastly, the biggest factor going for Gunter is that he’s the only corner over 6’0” on the entire roster, and only Sean Richardson matches him in size at 6’2” for any of their defensive backs. With a division that features Alshon Jeffrey, Calvin Johnson, Kevin White, Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson (all over 6’2”), a player of Gunter’s size could add tremendous value.
Thank you for reading. Andy Herman is a staff writer for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @SconnieSports. For even more Packers content, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.