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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Tramon Williams, a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, is one of the best undrafted free agents the Packers have ever signed. (PHOTO: Jim Biever / Green Bay Packers)

Top 5 undrafted free agents in Packers history


The 2014 NFL Draft wrapped up Saturday evening, setting into motion a series of other personnel moves – teams calling and trying to lock up undrafted free agents. Sometimes, the competition for these players is more fierce than the unrestricted free agent game.

Heck, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks broke the mold and sent out, essentially, a press kit to potential undrafted free agents explaining why they needed to give Seattle a look.

Why should that matter in Wisconsin? Because in some of these screencaps of the mailing posted by Deadspin.com, you'll notice the Green Bay Packers are near the top of the list when it comes to undrafted free agents seeing significant playing time in the pre-season and are in the top half of the league in cutting a draft pick.

So, when it comes to the "draft" the Packers actually work a day or two past the end of the formal activities that are broadcast nationally.

Let's take a look at the top 5 undrafted free agents in Packers history in the modern era of the NFL Draft:

Cullen Jenkins
The big defensive tackle out of Central Michigan played seven years for the Packers from 2004-10. He started 66 of the 93 games he played for the Packers in that time, though every other year he seemed to miss large chunks of time. Jenkins did record 132 tackles, 29 sacks and forced five fumbles in his tenure. He was a factor in the Packers Super Bowl winning campaign in 2010 with 7 sacks in 11 games.

Ryan Grant
The running back out of Notre Dame was signed in 2007 at 25 years old and rushed for 956 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games (just seven starts). In 2008 and '09 Grant rushed for 2,456 yards and 15 touchdowns while catching 43 passes for another 215 yards and a TD. He was hurt for most of 2010 and was ineffective in 2011, leading to his departure. He returned for four games in 2012. In parts of six years in Green Bay, Grant rushed for 4,143 yards and 27 touchdowns while averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

Ryan Longwell
Can a kicker really make any kind of "best of" list? Well, in this case … yes. Longwell was signed prior to the 1997 season and spent nine years in Green Bay, finishing in the top 10 in scoring seven times in that time. He converted 81.6 percent of his field goals and 98.9 percent of his extra points to accumulate 1,054 career points in the green and gold. He is the franchise record holder in field goals made, field goal percentage and extra points. He retired as a Packer last August.

Tramon Williams
Williams is entering his eighth year with the Packers after signing prior to the 2007 season. He developed into a Pro Bowl cornerback and was a key figure in the Packers 2010 Super Bowl run. In 111 games (83 starts) to this point, Williams has come up with 25 interceptions and forced five fumbles. He returned kicks in three different seasons as well, compiling 710 kick return yards and 579 punt return yards.

George Koonce
The Packers unearthed another diamond from the rough in Koonce, who played eight years for the Packers from 1992 to '99, making 555 tackles (433 solo) with 7½ sacks and six fumble recoveries in 102 starts. He forced four turnovers in the Packers Super Bowl-winning season of 1996.

*Grant began his career with the New York Giants, Koonce was signed initially by Atlanta, Longwell in San Francisco and Williams was signed by the Houston Texans. None were drafted and none appeared in any regular season games before the Packers signed them.

The 1977 draft was the first to be pared to 12 rounds. Previous drafts sometimes included more than 20 rounds of selections. The 1993 NFL Draft was cut to eight rounds, and the current format of seven rounds was adopted in 1994.


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