2023 UDFA Prospectus: Which undrafted free agents are best positioned to stick with the Packers?
The Leap assesses which undrafted free agents have the most favorable path to a spot on the Packers' 53-man roster or practice squad in 2023.
While all NFL teams enjoy some modicum of success with undrafted free agents, few franchises consistently kept as many as the Green Bay Packers. The team has retained at least one UDFA on its initial 53-man roster for 18 consecutive seasons with several going on to play critical roles. If that history provides any indication, one or more prospects that didn't hear their name called during the draft will find themselves with a job on Green Bay's 53-man roster or practice squad in 2023.
As the Packers regularly bring in double-digit undrafted rookies, projecting which ones ultimately stick around presents a serious challenge. Multiple factors come into play when evaluating UDFAs and their path to success. Certainly, a prospect must possess talent. But if he plays in a crowded position group, the coaching staff might not provide him with enough opportunities to demonstrate his skill set.
The Packers UDFA prospectus, one of my favorite projects from my time at Acme Packing Company, dates back to the 2013 season. In all but one year, the prospectus featured at least one undrafted rookie that earned a spot on the 53-man roster or practice squad. The lone attempt without a hit came in 2017, though that comes with a sizable asterisk. That prospectus picked two players Green Bay hoped to sneak onto the practice squad, QB Taysom Hill and offensive lineman Geoff Gray. Hill, famously, wound up with the New Orleans Saints as a waiver claim while Gray chose to join the New York Jets' practice squad instead of Green Bay's offer.
Due to the unusually high number of draft selections the Packers made in 2023 (13), undrafted free agents will have a harder time landing a job in Green Bay than in most years. Since the NFL shortened the draft from 12 rounds to seven in 1993, no Green Bay rookie class has included more picks than this season's crop. General manager Brian Gutekunst has routinely given preference to his draft picks which further limits the number of spots available to UDFAs on the 53-man roster and practice squad.
At the same time, the Packers could have a de facto extra roster spot to help matters. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary tore his ACL in November and seems like a strong candidate to begin the 2023 season on the physically unable to perform list. However, the chance of Gary gaining medical clearance before Week 1 cannot be totally discounted. Just last year, Elgton Jenkins returned from an ACL tear of his own during training camp despite having less time than Gary to recover.
So with the qualifiers out of the way, here are the undrafted free agents best positioned to stick with the Packers in 2023.