For the second time in as many years, the Green Bay Packers will begin the season with three undrafted free agents on their 53-man roster. A year after undrafted rookies cornerback Sam Shields, outside linebacker Frank Zombo, and offensive lineman Nick McDonald found spots on the roster, safety M.D. Jennings and outside linebackers Vic So’oto and Jamari Lattimore made the 53-man roster after not being selected in April’s NFL draft.
So who exactly are these guys? Here’s a look.
M.D. Jennings, safety
What’s his story: The former Arkansas State safety chose the Red Wolves over the likes of Ole Miss and Mississippi State in order to see immediate playing time. After redshirting in 2006, he saw action in 12 games his freshman year, all as a reserve. He started his sophomore season and recorded a team-high three interceptions, five pass break-ups and 67 tackles. In 2009, he recorded 64 tackles, a team-high six pass break-ups and an interception. He was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference first team in 2010 when he recorded 84 tackles (second on the team), three interceptions, and a sack.
Why wasn’t he drafted: As it is for most undrafted rookies, especially the three who made the Packers’ 2011 roster, Jennings is undersized. Some scouts projected that Jennings would be a nickel corner at the next level due to his 187-pound frame, but for now the Packers project him as a safety. His ball skills were a plus but, despite 225 tackles over his last three years, his run support lacked. His 4.60 40-yard dash was just average.
What he does for the Packers: Other than Charlie Peprah, the Packers had little depth at the safety position entering 2011. Cornerbacks Jarrett Bush and Brandon Underwood (cut) had the ability to play safety if needed, but Bush is much better as a cornerback and Underwood was let go. That left an opening for a reserve behind Collins, and Jennings was that man.
He will primarily act as a special teams ace but he showed promise during the preseason as a safety, totaling 11 tackles and an interception. He beat out Anthony Levine and Anthony Bratton for the final spot.
Vic So’oto, outside linebacker
What’s his story:
After finalizing the initial 53-man roster yesterday evening, the Green Bay Packers signed eight players to their practice squad Sunday morning. RB Brandon Saine, T/G Ray Dominguez, WR Diondre Borel, C Sampson Genus, QB Graham Harrell, WR Tori Gurley, CB Brandian Ross and WR Chastin West, all of whom were with the Packers in training camp, were all brought back to the practice squad. Also of note, Ted Thompson did not make a waiver claim on any players, so the initial 53-man roster stays intact.
Running Back Brandon Saine: The Packers decided to go with three running backs and John Kuhn in the backfield, which made Saine’s services disposable. The Packers, however, are surely glad to bring him back as he showed solid, North-South running ability in the preseason.
Tackle/Guard Ray Dominguez: Thompson loves his versatile offensive linemen, and Dominguez is no exception. The massive, 6-foot, 4-inch Dominguez will provide depth for a thin Packers’ offensive line and, at just 23 years old, still has room to grow. The Packers could still sign an unrestricted free agent lineman as depth before Week 1.
Wide Receiver Diondre Borel: