GREEN BAY – Before the three-day marathon was over, the Packers mustered one final kick in this year's NFL Draft with four seventh-round selections on Saturday afternoon.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst ended the draft with a big-bodied safety (Georgia Tech's Tariq Carpenter), a monstrous defensive tackle (Miami's Jonathan Ford), an experienced Big Ten left tackle (Penn State's Rasheed Walker) and a big-play threat (Nebraska's Samori Toure).
Carpenter (6-3, 230) came to the Packers with the No. 228 pick that they acquired from Houston in exchange for cornerback Ka'dar Hollman last August. He was one of several draft picks who came to Green Bay for a top 30 pre-draft visit.
A four-year starter at Georgia Tech, Carpenter racked up 223 tackles in 52 career appearances. He posted a career-high 65 tackles this past season, spurring questions about whether he'd play safety or linebacker at the next level.
Carpenter will start his NFL career with Green Bay's DBs, but the Packers remain open to the idea of possibly working him in with the linebackers down the line. There's no question he'll compete for an immediate role on special teams, though, given his hard-hitting playstyle and experience.
"After my visit with the Packers, I was real confident that even if I did fall out of the draft, I felt like it was going to be the best fit for me," Carpenter said. "Especially just watching film on the defense, (how) real creative defensive coordinator (Joe Barry) is. He puts people in positions to excel and I feel like that was going to be the best fit for me scheme-wise."
Six picks later, the Packers used the seventh-round pick they acquired from trading back with Denver in the fifth round to draft Ford.
The 6-foot-5, 333-pound defensive lineman generated 60 tackles and three sacks in 50 games (30 starts) with the Hurricanes. He projects as an early-down, one-technique defensive tackle who's "tough to move off the spot," according to Gutekunst.
Coincidentally, Ford already has a few connections to the Packers. He was college teammates with Packers linebacker Jonathan Garvin and attended middle school with 2021 fifth-round pick T.J. Slaton, who's 6-4, 330 in his own right.
"I'm very excited to see two big guys in the middle of that defense, it's going to be scary out there," Ford said. "I'm very excited to reunite with him and be able to play with him."
In selecting Walker with their original seventh-round pick (No. 249 overall), the Packers added their third college left tackle of the weekend. Green Bay also drafted UCLA's Sean Rhyan in the third round and Wake Forest's Zach Tom in the fourth.
Walker started 32 games at Penn State and was viewed by many scouts as a potential mid-round pick. However, the 6-foot-6, 313-pound tackle didn't get a chance to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine or at the Nittany Lions' pro day due to injury.
Walker is quite familiar with the Packers, though, thanks to the "Madden" video-game franchise. As an athletic tackle with a high motor, Walker can't wait to get started.
"These past 24 hours have been pretty nerve-wrecking," Walker said. "I'm just very thankful for the Green Bay Packers giving me an opportunity because honestly that's all I needed. I'm just hyped. I can't wait to get up there to Wisconsin and go to work."
The 11th and final selection the Packers made was Toure, who torched the competition at the Football Championship Subdivision level before transferring to Nebraska.
After catching 155 passes for 2,488 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons at Montana, the 6-foot-1, 191-pound receiver proved his skill set could translate to the Big Ten. He had 46 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns, leading the conference with 19.5 yards per catch.
Like Carpenter, Toure took a visit with the Packers and felt an immediate connection to the coaching staff and front office. His phone was lighting up in the sixth and seventh rounds, with teams wanting to possibly sign him as an undrafted free agent.
Instead, Green Bay made the call to take him with the fifth-to-last selection (No. 258) in the 2022 NFL Draft, a compensatory pick the Packers received for losing running back Jamaal Williams as an unrestricted free agent last offseason.
"(Last year) kind of proved to other people what I already knew myself, that I can play with the best of the best, at the Power Five level," Toure said. "What it really showed me is that I can adapt to a new situation, new playbook, new teammates, new coaches, new system, new place. That showed me a lot because that's what I gotta do right now, making that move to the NFL."