WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
by Jerry Gilbert
PROFILES OF THE "LONG SHOT" PROSPECTS
Every year The Green Bay Packers sign twenty or more young free agents, most of whom will never earn a living playing football. They are playing for the love of the game, and the dream-realistically shared by very few- that this year or next, they may actually stick with an NFL team. We will add players as training camp progresses.
DEFENSIVE LINEMENOn the surface, there do not appear to be any roster spots for a street free agent on the Green Bay Packer defensive line. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman are set at defensive end with Mike Montgomery and Kenny Peterson in reserve. Veteran free agents Ryan Pickens and Kenderick Allen join returning veterans Cullen Jenkins, Colin Cole and Corey Williams. The Packers used draft choices to bring in tackle Johnny Jolly and pass rushing defensive end Dave Tollefson. On the other hand, draft choice disaster Donnell Washington has been cut and Kenny Peterson is using this last chance to prove he belongs. Jolly has an injury and could wind up inactive in his rookie season. One long shot defensive lineman just might make the final 53
JASON HUNTER APPALACHIAN STATE DE 6-4 243One of the top prospects in this group, Jason Hunter is a superior athlete who has yet to prove himself as a football player. Unusually fast for a down lineman with a 4.54 forty, both at his March pro day and in practices for the Magnolia Classic, Hunter impressed scouts with his agility and tackling. However, that is only half the story. Jason Hunter came out of high school as a marginal prospect and was a slightly above average designated pass rusher in his first two years at 1-AA level Appalachian. For a combination of personal and academic reasons, Hunter sat out his junior year. That is apparently when the light turned on. Situated at starting right defensive end as a senior, Jason Hunter became a very disruptive player on defense. As a down lineman, he made 101 tackles, including 24.5 stops for loss and 13 sacks. He also scored three touchdowns, two on fumbles and one on an interception. Appalachian reached the 1-AA championship game, and Hunter was the defensive MVP. That put him the Magnolia Bowl where he was usually the most impressive defensive player on the field. He has continues to make plays in the no pads drills at min-camps. His problem is being too light to stand up to huge offensive tackles as a lineman, and he has no experience at linebacker. Until or until he can add 20 pounds without losing quickness or show he can be a linebacker, Hunter will be a nickel pass rusher and special teams performer. He has a shot.
MONTEZ MURPHY BAYLOR DE 6-5 256The opposite of Jason Hunter, Murphy was a highly touted high school player who started much of his career at a top college program at Baylor, but he never developed as a playmaker. Possessing 4.9 speed and average agility and strength numbers for a defensive end, Murphy will have to show consistency. As a senior he showed big time production against Army and Texas Tech, but disappeared in other games. Montez Murphy could have a future, but not this year. . He is the type of player who may see time in NFL Europe as teams wait to see if he can put it all together.
JEROME NICHOLS WAKE FOREST DT 6-3 285Jerome Nichols began his career at Wake Forest at defensive end, but played much better after moving inside as a senior. Picked up as a rookie free agent in 2005 by the Washington Redskins, Nichols did not make the squad, but the Packers saw enough potential to sign him and send him to Europe. The strategy may have worked. Starting all 10 games for Frankfurt, Nichols recorded 27 solo tackles and a league leading 6 sacks. He was named to the All Star team and was a serious candidate for defensive player of the year. Also among his list of accomplishments are 2 sacks when he played defensive end in 2004 at Wake Forest. One was against Phillip Rivers, the other against Matt Schaub. If he can display pass rush and ball skills on a consistent basis, Nichols has a chance to follow the example of Cullen Jenkins and turn NFLE success into a roster spot in Green Bay.