Many of the 59 players inside the Don Hutson Center on Friday for the first of three rookie orientation workouts face long odds to make it in the NFL.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy, though, has made it clear to them they shouldn’t be worried about those odds this weekend.
When McCarthy spoke on Thursday night to the “rookie” group – which includes eight draft picks, 14 undrafted free agents, one pre-draft signee, 29 tryout players and seven holdovers from last year’s practice squad – he gave them a startling number. He told them that on average last season, the Packers’ 45-man game-day roster included 27 players who were either selected in the final two rounds of the draft or came to the Packers via “street” free agency.
This was a 15-1 team, mind you, but McCarthy wasn’t kidding. For the NFC divisional playoff game last January, the number was exactly 27. For the season opener last year against the Saints, it was 24.
McCarthy may not have shared this specifically, but it’s also worth noting that three undrafted rookies (linebackers
In other words, the opportunity is meaningful.
“I gave them a number of statistics to support the fact that they do have a real opportunity,” McCarthy said following Friday’s workout. “I told them the drafted players may get the first rep in the first drill, but if you get the second, third and fourth, make sure you’re taking full advantage of it.”
The energy and enthusiasm of the young group was evident. McCarthy didn’t appreciate the five times the ball was “on the ground,” but the practice structure worked as intended and he feels by the end of the weekend there will be plenty of good film to evaluate.
Of the draft picks, first-rounder
“It’s clearly something that we were excited about when we evaluated him in college,” McCarthy said. “He has a very explosive first step for a big guy. He’s someone who’s going to be a factor inside. That was evident just in the drill work today.”
Also evident was the edge that any time with an NFL team can give a player. Setting the tone for many of the drills were the practice-squad holdovers (receivers
Hill and seventh-round draft pick
Two players were unable to participate due to injuries. Fourth-round draft pick
“We’re off to a good start, and it’s a good group,” McCarthy said. “It’s a very exciting weekend. It’s fun to be back on the field.”Additional coverage - May 11