WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
by Jerry Gilbert
PROFILES OF THE "LONG SHOT" PROSPECTS
OFFENSIVE LINEEvery 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, which is realistically shared by very few of them, that this year or next, they may actually stick with an NFL team. We will add players as training camp progresses.
The Green Bay Packer offensive line is set for starting tackles with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. At every other starting and reserve position, there is a question as to who will emerge to make the final roster. Such a situation could present opportunities for an unknown to shine through. Last season, an undersized converted offensive tackle from Southern Mississippi, Chris White, made the team even though there were veterans and draft choices ahead of him at every position.
This season, White is one of the young prospects on the roster who will make it difficult for an undrafted player to stick. Joining White are guard Junius Costen, and guard or tackles William Whitticker and Adrian Klemm and, projected starting center, Scott Wells. The bigger hurdle for the unknowns, however is the crop of promising rookie draft choices. Second round selection Darren Colledge and third rounder Jason Spitz are currently penciled in as starting guards. It is almost unthinkable that the coaches would choose an unproven player to back them up. At offensive tackle, although Kevin Barry is out with a season ending injury, Tony Moll was drafted as a potential left tackle. Junius Costen, William Whitticker and Adrian Klemm are also considered to be candidates for reserves at tackle. Nevertheless, extra bodies are needed for practice, and one of these players may have a future.
WAYNE LUCIER G/C 6-4 315 COLORADOWayne Lucier is the free agent with the best chance to make the team. He has some proven success as an NFL lineman on his resume, and he has played all three interior positions. He rates unknown status because, in spite of two seasons in which he usually started for the New York Giants, Lucier was out of football last season. In other words, he was available and no one signed him.
The concern may be durability. His rookie year, in which he started 11 games, was cut short by injury. In 2004, the season in which Lucier helped pave the way for Tiki Barber to enjoy a record setting season, he again sustained injuries. This is ironic because it was injuries to projected starters that gave him his initial opportunity. Once the higher rated players were ready to go, his past play was not enough to keep him on the 2005 Giants roster.
Wayne Lucier started his collegiate career at Northwestern and switched to Colorado. He was all Big 12 as a senior and made two All America teams. As a pro, he was recognized following the 2004 campaign for most key run blocks. If Lucier can play up to his potential at three positions, there could be a place for him as a reserve on the Green Bay offensive line.
JOSH BOURKE OT 6-7 310 GRAND VALLEY STATEWith all his experience having been at the Division II level, Bourke will beat the odds if he makes it in the National Football League. What he offers is the size and athleticism to play left tackle, and every team needs a reserve at that position. With the injuries to Clifton and Klemm, Bourke gained experience during minicamps, and will gain more reps at Training Camp if injuries continue to hamper the veterans.
A starter in 38 consecutive games over three seasons for the highly successful Grand Valley Team. Bourke was a key part of a team with a 42-2 record during his career. In his senior season, the offensive line contributed to an average of 439.6 yards per game and allowed only 19 quarterback sacks. His league selected him offensive lineman of the year, and he played in the Cactus Bowl as a result of being named to several all America units.
At his pro day, Josh Bourke produced a 5.22 forty and a 7.45 three cone shuttle. He benched 27 reps at 225# and long jumped 8-2. As a comparison Jason Spitz, who may start this season, displayed a 5.4 forty, 7.82 on the shuttle, 25 bench reps and 8-6 on the long jump. Bourke has an NFL body and sufficient raw skills. That is why he is in camp this season.
PETE TRAYNOR G/C 6-3 311 IOWANever a starter in college at Iowa, Peter Traynor signed with the Quad Cities Arena League Team and has been a valuable contributor to that team for three seasons. The Packers signed him and dispatched Traynor to Germany to play for Rhein in NFL Europe.
Primarily a defensive standout at Milton High School in Wisconsin, Traynor was also an outstanding high school wrestler as was Green Bay Center Scott Wells. The fact that he was second team at Iowa is not a disqualifier necessarily because of the outstanding linemen that have started at that program over the past several seasons. Nevertheless, success in the Arena Leagues has seldom translated into success as an NFL lineman. Traynor is strictly a camp body.