“Sideline at Washburn Football” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by vitahall
From draft and develop to their loyal fan base, the Green Bay Packers have a reputation for more than just winning. Not the least of these things is their desire and ability to turn undrafted players into starters. As a result, Packers fans have more than just 7 or 8 drafted players to be excited about. For that reason, we’ll take several days to outline each of the Packers current UFA players. What are the pros, cons, and chances of making the team?
To see other UDFA write-ups, click here.
Cody Heiman, the first of 4 in the linebacker group is a 4 year starter from Washburn University, a DII school. As a freshman, Heiman primarily played as a running back totaling 91 attempts for 426 yards (4.68 YPC) and 6 rushing touchdowns.
Through his last 3 years, Heiman racked up 233 tackles, 6 sacks, 10 pass breakups, 5 interceptions, and a touchdown.
The Packers have Heiman listed at 6’2 229 pounds. At his Pro Day, Heiman ran the 40 yard dash in 4.63 seconds, had a vert of 31 inches, broad jump of 10 feet 2 inches, ran the 3 cone in 6.84 seconds, and put up 225 a ridiculous 31 times on the bench.
As far as a comp, he’s really a composite of the existing players. His height is on par with Martinez, his weight is closer to Thomas, his 40 is closest to Jake Ryan. Overall he seems to fit in perfectly to the prototypical Packers ILB.
Heiman is built like an NFL linebacker. His height and weight aren’t an issue, his 40 is faster than any current Packers LB (current UDFA’s excluded), and his power and explosiveness are on the level of elite. His ability to learn the system and use those tools in the way that Capers and Moss envision is really the only thing standing in his way of a roster spot.
On the con side, Heiman is a DII player and scouts don’t have a ton of good things to say about him. NFL.com actually lists him as a FB saying he doesn’t have what it takes to hack it as an NFL linebacker and needs to use his explosion, aggression, and experience at running back to make the transition to FB.
Chances of making the team
Let’s get 1 thing straight right now. Heiman will never be a fullback for the Packers. Unless the Packers took a linebacker with the intention of packing 30 pounds on him and letting him rumble his jowls down the field, linebacker is his 1 shot to make the roster.
That said, I don’t hate his chances. Jake Ryan made an incredible leap but his leap was from garbage to mediocre. It’s very possible he makes another leap but it’s also possible he stays average. Martinez is a similar case. He was not good at all. It’s possible he improves but it’s just as likely he stays terrible or even regresses. As for Thomas, I like him but he’s an undrafted guy that is on the field simply because he is the lesser of evils in passing situations.
Heiman may have question marks but the ILB group is entirely up in the air in my mind.