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Quarterback, safety among undrafted rookies to sign with Packers

Apr. 27, 2013
 

The Green Bay Packers didn’t draft a quarterback or a safety.

But in the minutes after the draft, they got one of each from the same place. The Packers signed Illinois State quarterback Matt Brown and also added Redbirds free safety Ben Ericksen, a Wisconsin native, as undrafted rookie free agents.

Earlier Saturday, they drafted outside linebacker Nate Palmer of Illinois State in the sixth round.

In Brown, the Packers will take a look at a quarterback with good size (6-foot-3, 229 pounds) who made his only pre-draft visit to Green Bay. Brown, a three-year starter, was the Missouri Valley Conference offensive player of the year last season, when he set seven single-season school records. Among them were the marks for passing yards (3,370), touchdown passes (27) and completion percentage (65.0).

Brown said Saturday evening he had calls from four teams but chose the Packers because of his pre-draft visit.

“I really liked it at Green Bay and felt it was a logical choice to go there after the draft if I wasn’t picked,” Brown said.

After meeting with the Packers’ coaches, Brown felt like he would have a chance to compete with backups Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman. Harrell is coming off his first season as the No. 2 quarterback, while Coleman spent last year’s rookie season on the practice squad.

“I know that the two (backup) quarterbacks they have on the roster were on the team last year, so it’s not a very easy decision to make in the sense that they were great players in college and they’ve had the skill set to be able to develop in that offense,” Brown said. “But overall, I just want to come in and compete, and I thought Green Bay gave me the best chance to do that.”

Brown said the Redbirds ran a multi-dimensional passing game that had elements of the spread, pro-style and West Coast offenses. He said he was given a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to change plays, which is something the Packers ask of their quarterbacks, too.

The Packers would like to see Coleman push Harrell this offseason, which could be part of the reason they didn’t draft a quarterback.

“I’m comfortable developing B.J. and Graham,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the draft. “The quarterback meetings have been great the last two weeks. But hey, we never look to pass on any position, in particular quarterback.”

Brown, like all the rookies, will report to Green Bay on May 9 and take part in the rookie orientation camp May 10-12. He believes the transition to the NFL will be made easier by having two former Illinois State teammates in Palmer and Ericksen, a Greendale native.

Before the post-draft, free-agent frenzy began, the Packers had 76 players on their roster, meaning they could sign up to 14 undrafted rookies. They may not use all 14 spots immediately. They usually have around 20 additional players in rookie camp on a tryout basis and typically sign a few of those to the offseason roster.

In addition to teammates Brown and Ericksen, the Packers also have signed the following rookies, per reports and confirmation from the players or their agents: center Patrick Lewis of Texas A&M, outside linebacker/defensive end Andy Mulumba of Eastern Michigan, running back Angelo Pease of Kansas State, defensive tackle Gilbert Pena of Mississippi, tight end Jake Stoneburner of Ohio State, offensive lineman Lane Taylor of Oklahoma State, tackle Jeremy Vujnovich of Louisiana College and receiver Miles White of Louisiana Tech.

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