Six former D2 football players heard their names called in the 2017 NFL Draft, but dozens more were signed as undrafted free agents or given a chance as a tryout player in rookie minicamps. One of those players — former Valdosta State cornerback Donatello Brown — looks to have a decent shot to make the Green Bay Packers roster.
It's only been a few days since the Packers completed their rookie mini camp, but the former D2 product is already getting some buzz as a potential roster player.
ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky talked to a scout about the undrafted players the Packers signed and which ones have the best chance to make the roster. This same scout performed the same exercise last year, and identified three undrafted players — Brian Price, Geronimo Allison and Don Jackson — who made the roster as undrafted guys a year ago (Allison made the initial 53-man roster, Price and Jackson started on the practice squad and were promoted to active roster during the season).
This year, that scout named three more undrafted players who stood out early in the off-season — Oklahoma State corner Lenzy Pipkins, West Virginia guard Adam Pankey, and Valdosta State corner Donatello Brown.
Here's what the scout had to say about Brown:
Why he stands out: His size. At 6-foot and 190 pounds, Brown is bigger than Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, the two cornerbacks the Packers drafted in 2015. He might be one of the biggest unknowns among the undrafted class because of his small-school roots. He's been referred to in reports as a “speedy” cornerback, but he did not run the 40-yard dash at his pro day. The Packers saw him at the Tropical Bowl, an all-star game for the top FBS players.
Why he has a chance: It appears the Packers are intent on getting taller at the cornerback; their top draft pick, second-rounder Kevin King is the tallest (6-3) corner general manager Ted Thompson has ever taken. They've also shown the willingness to keep undrafted rookies at the position. Last year, they opened the season with two of them — Josh Hawkins and Makinton Dorleant — on the roster.
The Packers certainly aren't afraid of keeping undrafted guys around. Last year, 15 rookies made the 53-man roster to start the season. Seven of those were the Packers' seven draft picks, the other eight were undrafted guys. The Packers kept two more undrafted free agents on the opening injured reserve list and devoted six of their 10 practice squad spots to undrafted free agents.
If Brown can prove he's worth keeping around, Green Bay will give him a shot to get on the field.