The Green Bay Packers have signed quarterback Craig Nall, their second selection in the fifth round of this year's National Football League draft, to a multiyear contract, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman announced Monday.
Nall, the possessor of ideal quarterback dimensions (he's 6-3 and weighs 228 pounds), closed out his collegiate career by establishing a single-season school passing record for Northwestern (La.) State last season, throwing for 2,022 yards (with 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions) via 142 completions in 250 attempts, a 56.8 percentage.
In the process, he guided the Demons to an 8-4 record, their best season in three years, a niche in the national rankings and a berth in the Division 1-AA playoffs. Voted captain by his teammates, he subsequently was named Southland Conference 'Newcomer of the Year' - he had transferred from LSU prior to the '01season - and received the Joe Delaney Leadership Award (offensive MVP).
Nall had spent his first four collegiate years (including a redshirt season) at LSU before transferring to Northwestern State. He had been considered the best high school quarterback in Louisiana in the wake of throwing for 5,038 yards and 38 touchdowns at Alexandria Senior High School as a prep.
In other transactions, the Packers have been awarded second-year cornerback Todd Franz, late of the New York Jets, on waivers, and have released rookie safety Jeremy Unertl.
Originally a fifth-round draft selection of Detroit in 2000, the 6-foot, 194-pound Franz was released in training camp Aug. 27, 2000, and was claimed the following day by New Orleans. He played in five games with the Saints, primarily on special teams, posting 3 coverage tackles before being waived Oct. 10. Signed to the team's practice squad two days later, he subsequently joined the active roster of the Cleveland Browns as a free agent Nov. 14, playing in two games and making 4 tackles (3 solo). Released by Cleveland the following summer during training camp (Aug. 3), he was out of football until being signed to the Jets' practice squad Jan. 9, 2002.
Allocated to NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores this spring, he played in all 10 games, with four starts, and recorded 36 tackles and 8 passes defensed - along with one interception which he returned 33 yards for a touchdown.
Unertl, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, was signed as a rookie free agent April 26.
Today's transactions leave the Packers' roster one below the maximum. The Nall signing filled the lone vacancy on the roster, created by safety LeRoy Butler's retirement July 18, and Franz does not count against it because the Packers have a bonus roster exemption earned from the category of players allocated to NFLEL this past offseason.
Nall is the second of the Packers' six 2002 draft selections to be placed under contract, joining defensive back Marques Anderson of UCLA. Those remaining to be signed include wide receiver Javon Walker of Florida State (first round); running back Najeh Davenport of Miami (fourth round); defensive end Aaron Kampman of Iowa (fifth round); and offensive guard Mike Houghton of San Diego State (sixth round).