Ty Summers Jersey

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GREEN BAY – As the NFL Draft snaked into the seventh round Saturday evening, Ty Summers’ phone began blowing up with NFL teams calling to express interest in signing the TCU linebacker if he reached college free agency.

With roughly a dozen of his closest family and friends around him, Summers sifted through potential suitors until finally answering a “920” number. He expected the caller to be selling more of the same.

Instead, the Packers informed the 6-foot-1, 241-pound linebacker they had used their eighth and final pick of the 2019 NFL Draft on him, No. 226 overall.

“It was kind of weird. I went to answer a call and I was like, ‘Wait, this is actually ‘The Call,’” Summers said. “So everyone got excited, started standing up around me it was a cool atmosphere. Everyone was really excited for me.

Summers has played football his entire life. A dual-threat quarterback at Reagan High School in San Antonio, Summers scored 36 rushing touchdowns as a senior and nearly played the QB at Rice until Texas Christian came calling.

The Horned Frogs, liking Summers’ physicality, viewed him as a linebacker. Understanding what it meant to play in a power-five conference, Summers signed on and played as a true freshman in 2014.

Summers suffered two labrum injuries during those first two years. He took a medical redshirt after his college opener against Samford before bouncing back in 2015 to earn an honorable mention nod for Big 12 defensive freshman of the year.

A three-year starter, Summers played every game in 2016 and 2017 and was named a team captain in seven games as a senior.

A vocal leader and key communicator on TCU’s defense, Summers even stepped in at defensive end this past year after injuries ate away at the Horned Frogs’ defensive end depth chart.

Dexter Williams Jersey

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GREEN BAY – A mother getting more emotional than the son on draft day is nothing unusual.

But the story behind it with Dexter Williams is a special one.

The Notre Dame running back, whom the Packers chose with the second of their sixth-round picks on Saturday, at No. 194 overall, could never be sure his mother was going to witness this big day.

Cheryl Williams was diagnosed with an incurable neuro-muscular disorder called myasthenia gravis in 2006. Then she was tagged with a terminal illness, pulmonary arterial hypertension, last year and given a three-to-five-year window.

To say she’s persevered does not do it justice, but her emotional reaction to her son getting a phone call from the Green Bay Packers was shown on national TV for all to observe.

“This is something she’s always wanted to have a chance to see,” Williams said. “To be with her at this moment was so special.

“It means a lot just to know God is still with us and with our family, protecting us and allowing her to be here. It’s a moment we’ll never forget.”

Williams has overcome his own issues, though they fall into a different category. Calling them “mistakes,” Williams has a marijuana arrest on his record from 2016 and a four-game suspension to start last season that was for undisclosed reasons.

Ka’dar Hollman Jersey

CB Ka'dar Hollman

So Hollman clamped down on his academics, attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., and worked odd jobs unloading trucks for Dunkin’ Donuts and cutting meat at a deli.

He wrote letters and emailed highlights to every D-I head coach and assistant he could find. His perseverance eventually landed Hollman a walk-on offer to play at Toledo University.

Years of sacrifice – and an impressive March pro day – led to the Packers drafting Hollman with the 185th selection Saturday, the first of Green Bay’s two sixth-round picks.

“Getting picked by Green Bay in the sixth round, I had a rush of emotions go through me,” Hollman said. “I just felt like all my hard work and everything I’ve been through went through me all at once. Tons of emotions about the hard work I did to get here.”

Despite going to prep school for a semester, Hollman still didn’t have the SAT score to get into college. He kept training at home. While working various jobs, Hollman battled self-doubt throughout. Motivation came in the form of the tapes he sent out to colleges – often without any replies.

“Every day, I would email my tape out to teams, to colleges, hoping I would hear something and every day I never heard anything back,” Hollman said. “I felt like there were a couple days, I would wonder to myself – dang am I supposed to go D-1 in football? I just had times like that when real life hit me and I had to get through it.”

Toledo finally came calling with a walk-on offer. Hollman earned a scholarship after his redshirt freshman year and started at cornerback the next three seasons, registering 27 pass breakups and two interceptions. He led the MAC last year with 12 breakups, along with forcing and recovering a fumble.

What really put Hollman on the NFL map, though, was his Toledo pro day in March, when the 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback recorded a 4.37 time in the 40 with a 39-inch vertical.

The Packers, intrigued with what they’d seen, hosted Hollman on an official pre-draft visit last week. Both parties came away impressed with the meeting.

Kingsley Keke Jersey

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GREEN BAY – Texas A&M’s Kingsley Keke started his college career as an interior defensive lineman before moving out to end as a senior.

The Packers had their eye on him the entire time.

Keke became Green Bay’s fifth-round draft pick on Saturday, the 150th overall selection. The 6-4, 288-pounder has changed his body type and position over time, but he’s always stood out in starting 34 games for the Aggies over the last three years.

“He’s been on my radar for a while,” college scout Charles Walls said. “He’s a guy that school has talked about for a long time as a guy to be excited about for the future.”

Keke’s impact statistically rose with the move out to defensive end, as he recorded seven of his 12 career sacks in 2018.

He dropped 20 pounds to make the switch, improving his speed and agility to take the place of a teammate who got hurt.

“We had a good, solid three-technique, so they tried me out there,” Keke said. “I did it for the team.”

Adherence to a stricter diet paid off, and he varied his attack plans against offensive linemen compared to when he lined up at the nose.

“They played him more on the edge, and you could see his athleticism come through little more as a pass rusher, which was intriguing,” Walls said.

“He’s a broad man with plenty of room to grow. He can be whatever weight we want him to be and play whatever position we want him to on the defensive line.”

Jace Sternberger Jersey

GREEN BAY, Wis. – For Jace Sternberger, his second chance came at Texas A&M after things didn’t work out at his first school, Kansas. Dexter Williams got a second chance at Notre Dame, the same school where he had started his collegiate career, but it came after some serious missteps.

So it’s fitting that the two come in together for their first shot in the NFL.

More important, however, is that for the Green Bay Packers, they’re the only two offensive skill position players they’ve added this offseason in either free agency or the draft.

They will be bound by what they do from here forward, not by their pasts. But it’s what happened heretofore that helped them reach this point.

Sternberger, the third-round pick who’s expected to bring a youthful dynamic to a veteran tight end group, washed out at Kansas after two years and then resurfaced at Texas A&M following a junior-college stop. He blossomed under coach Jimbo Fisher, with 48 catches, 832 yards and 10 touchdowns, and left school a year early.

Williams, a sixth-rounder, could give new coach Matt LaFleur another viable running back option to go along with third-year pros Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.

“First starting with Jace, he’s got a pretty cool skill set in the fact he’s a tight end that can separate,” LaFleur said after the draft. “Any time you’ve got those types of guys, it becomes a little bit of a matchup nightmare for a defense. And then Dexter, got a lot of history with having coached at Notre Dame, and just his ability to be a one-cut runner – which is what we’re looking for. I think he was, quite frankly, I was a little surprised he was still there.”

Here’s a look at the two skill position players – and their backstories

Sternberger (6-foot-4, 251 pounds, 4.75 40-yard dash)

In two years at Kansas, Sternberger redshirted as a freshman and then caught just one pass for five yards as a sophomore. He left for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, where he caught 21 passes for 336 yards and six touchdowns in one season.

“I was actually on my third offensive coordinator at Kansas; it just wasn’t the best fit overall,” Sternberger said. “I always dreamed of playing big-time college football, and I felt like the juco was the best way for me to get re-recruited by everybody.”

Enter Fisher.

At the time, he was still at Florida State but was in the process of taking the Texas A&M job. Either way, he wanted Sternberger.

“From there, it was mid-November and I cut off all recruiting and it was straight Jimbo only,” Sternberger said. “So he technically never came out to my juco, it was strictly over the phone. That’s how we developed our trust. I committed to him over the phone.”

Sternberger was NFL-ready after just one season. The Packers picked at him at No. 75 overall, making him the sixth tight end taken in the draft.

“There’s a reason I left early: because I felt like I was the best tight end in this draft class,” Sternberger said. “So I have a lot of work to prove out for me, but I’ve always been in a situation where I want to take challenges head-on and that’s what I plan to do here, and just prove to Green Bay they made the right pick.”

The Packers think Sternberger is a pass-catching tight end who also can play on the line, which is critical in LaFleur’s outside-zone run scheme. It gives them a building block at a position dominated by aging players Jimmy Graham (32) and Marcedes Lewis (34).

General manager Brian Gutekunst didn’t think he needed another receiver for Aaron Rodgers, but it’s clear he wanted another weapon in the passing game.

Elgton Jenkins Jersey

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Mississippi State’s defensive players received a lot of praise heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, and deservedly so. One former MSU offensive player might not have gotten his due, though.

Center Elgton Jenkins wound up getting picked pretty early in the process. Jenkins was picked by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 44 overall pick Friday night. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be a happy camper in the final few years of his career.

Jenkins played in 49 games during his Mississippi State career with 34 starts. Twenty-six of those came at center. NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah believes Jenkins can play any of the three interior positions on the offensive line.

GREEN BAY – The Packers added to their offensive line with their first pick on Day 2 of the NFL Draft on Friday, selecting Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins in the second round with the No. 44 overall pick.

Jenkins (6-4, 310) started every game the last two years at center, but started games previously in college at both tackle spots and at left guard.

He has a total of 34 starts to his credit – 26 of them at center. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed only one sack over 762 pass-blocking snaps at center over the last two years.

Jenkins started five games at left tackle, two at left guard and one at right tackle during his first two years at Mississippi State.

Darnell Savage Jersey

Darnell Savage rose up draft boards quickly throughout the pre-draft process and ended up being the No. 21 overall pick for the Green Bay Packers. The team liked him so much that they traded up nine spots from No. 30 in order to get him. Now, they are hoping that he can be a big part of their defensive rebuild.

Looking ahead at the upcoming season, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has to be excited about his new defense. In addition to Savage, the Packers also signed fellow safety Adrian Amos, pass rushers Za’Darius and Preston Smith, as well as drafting pass rusher Rashan Gary in the first round.

Last season with the Maryland Terrapins, Savage ended up compiling 52 total tackles, four interceptions, two defended passes, and a defensive touchdown. Those numbers show the ability that Savage has to make plays, which is exactly what the Packers’ defense needed. He could use some work in coverage, but that will come with more experience and NFL coaching.

Green Bay has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons. It is clear with the Packers’ aggressive approach this offseason that they are not willing to continue losing and want to make a hard push in the NFC in 2019.

Let’s go ahead and dive in to take a look at three bold predictions for Savage in his rookie season with the Packers.

Amos and Savage are going to be a massive upgrade starting at the safety positions for the Packers. It has been a long time since they had two safeties capable of making big plays and being leaders for the secondary.

Green Bay traded up to get Savage for a reason. He is going to be an immediate starter opposite of Amos. The Packers are obviously confident that he can come in and handle a huge role immediately.

The Packers are hoping that their secondary can create more turnovers than they did last year. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the best playmaker they had in the secondary, although Jaire Alexander came on strong at the end of the year. Savage will step up immediately and help improve one of Green Bay’s biggest flaws.

Savage will intercept at least three passes throughout the season and will also come through with 60 tackles. Those numbers are exactly what the Packers need from their rookie safety.

Finally, Savage is going to play well enough this season that he is in the conversation for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Going up against talents like Nick Bosa and Devin White won’t be easy, but Savage is more than capable of rising up to the challenge. He certainly will be put in a top-notch situation.

Pettine has always had success with ball hawk defensive backs and that is exactly what Savage is going to be. He may not end up winning the award when everything is said and done, but simply being in the conversation will prove why the Packers traded up so aggressively to get him.

Rashan Gary Jersey

Rashan Gary became the No. 1-ranked college prospect in America in 2016 primarily as a defensive tackle. Then he came to Michigan and played strongside defensive end.

Now he’s a Green Bay Packer.

And possibly an outside linebacker?

The Packers took the Michigan defensive lineman No. 12 overall in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. Intrigued by Gary’s versatility, Green Bay, which runs a 3-4 front, will experiment a bit.

“He’ll start in the outside linebacker room. He’s a guy because of his size and speed and versatility, you’d hope you can move him around the front,” Packers scout Joe Hueber told reporters Thursday night. “He’s done some standup stuff already. He’s had to play multiple positions and move around. Probably needs to learn some of the (coverage) drop stuff.

“But as far as rushing the passer goes, he’ll be ready.”

Gary measured in at 6-foot-4, 277 pounds at the NFL combine this winter. He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, had outstanding agility tests and boasted a 38-inch vertical jump.

Where, exactly, he’ll fit within Green Bay’s defense when the season starts remains to be seen. But the Packers clearly saw value from Gary as a possible utility player who can fill a variety of roles in various situations.

“He’s got rare gifts,” Hueber added. “A guy that size who can move like that with that speed, he can really bend (that’s rare).

“He commanded a lot of attention at Michigan. Double teams, triple teams. And, really, you could see it in his teammates that got freed up and they were able to get production. It’s not like he wasn’t impacting the game. He was all over the place.”

As for Gary, the former Michigan standout was shown on ESPN’s draft coverage taking his phone call from the Packers with tears of joy streaming down his face. Surrounded by friends and family in Ann Arbor, Gary said he was a bit surprised the Packers took him — saying their pre-draft contact was minimal.

He was also thrilled. He said he has no issue with Green Bay wanting to experiment with him at outside linebacker. He just wants to play football.

“I felt the love through the phone,” Gary said. “I can’t wait to start playing again.

“I’ve been wanting this dream since I was 10 years old.”

As far as health is concerned, NFL Network reported earlier in the week that Gary had a labrum injury that was flagged by several pro teams who thought he’d need surgery after the 2019 season and a protective harness during his rookie year.

Gary told reporters he did have a labrum tear in his right shoulder, but said everything’s good to go.

“My shoulder is good. I had a torn labrum,” Gary said. “I did 26 reps at the combine. I’m ready to go.”

Multiple analysts reported this week that Gary’s draft stock could be on the decline this week in part because of the shoulder, but also because of his lack of sack production as a defensive end in college.

After coming to Michigan as the No. 1-ranked recruit nationally, Gary posted just 10 1/2 sacks in three years — his final season being an injury-shortened campaign, as he missed two games and parts of three others.

Gary responded to those questions by saying he’s eager to fine-tune his game.

“I’m just happy to be a Green Bay Packer,” he said. “When it comes to parts of my game to improve in, I’m trying to improve everything.”

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