Free-agent roundup: UNI corner picks Packers

Bob McGinn, Ryan Wood and Tom Silverstein
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GREEN BAY – Shortly after the Green Bay Packers exercised a sixth-round pick Saturday to exhaust their supply of draft choices, Northern Iowa cornerback Makinton Dorleant received a call from coach Mike McCarthy.

“He expressed the organization’s interests,” Dorleant said. “I told him you guys are No. 1.”

In the next 90 minutes or so, about a dozen NFL teams called offering Dorleant a free-agent contract. When the draft ended, he told his agent Green Bay was his choice.

RelatedComplete Packers draft coverage

Contact from a Super Bowl-winning coach was a factor in his decision. Even more important was the visit he made to the NFL’s smallest city a few weeks earlier, one of two visits that he made to NFL teams.

“The visit was the turning point,” Dorleant said Saturday night from his home in Naples, Fla. “I got to speak to a couple fans in the airport. They were so cordial.

“I said, ‘This is somewhere I want to go.’ The focus out there will be at an all-time high because it’s football. If you’re a football player that’s what you want to be around. No other distractions.”

Dorleant, 5-feet-10 ½ inches and 183 pounds, has the speed (4.39) and background to become the latest undrafted success at cornerback for the Packers.

During his visit, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt told Dorleant about how Tramon Willliams, Sam Shields and LaDarius Gunter overcame draft-day disappointment to make the grade.

“Looking at those guys and their success, if I can come in and take his coaching I can be that next undrafted guy,” Dorleant said. “I’m not one of those guys who’s upset about it. Sometimes you have to be that underrated dog. That’s the type of player I am.”

Dorleant suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament playing on the scout team in 2011 as a redshirt freshman at Maryland. He played mostly special teams in ‘12 before transferring to FCS power Northern Iowa, where he started all 40 games from 2013-’15 for teams that finished 25-15.

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His partner at cornerback, Deiondre Hall, got most of the attention. He was drafted in the fourth round Saturday by the Chicago Bears.

“He got a lot of the love,”  Dorleant said. “A lot of teams came in late, which I felt was the reason most teams didn’t know about me or draft me.”

Besides the swift 40, Dorleant had a 39-inch vertical jump, a 10-3 broad jump and 16 reps on the bench press.

At UNI, he finished with 138 tackles (8 ½ for loss), two interceptions and 28 passes broken up.

Dorleant thinks his vast experience playing special teams and a heavy diet of man coverage will enhance his chances of forging an NFL career.

“I make plays on the ball,” he said. “I don’t feel like a receiver can get separation from me.

“I’m not worried about the money. I love the game so much. My signing bonus is my opportunity.”

Here are the 17 other rookie free agents who have signed or agreed with the Packers. All have been confirmed through sources.

Geronimo Allison, WR Illinois: 6-3, 202, 4.6. Former junior-college player started two seasons for the Illini, catching 106 passes for 1,480 yards (14.0) and eight TDs.

Devonte Robinson, WR, Utah State: 6-1, 188, 4.32. One of the fastest players in the draft. Had 44 receptions for 552 yards (12.6) and four TDs.

David Grinnage, TE, North Carolina State: 6-5 ½, 252, 4.86. Junior. Caught 67 passes for 798 yards (11.9) and nine TDs.

Josh James, T, Carroll (Mont.): 6-5, 315, no 40. Played in an NAIA program.

Joe Callahan, QB, Wesley (Mass.): 6-1, 216, 4.98. Completed 918 of 1,429 passes for 12,883 yards, 130 TDs and 38 interceptions in an NCAA Division III program. His NFL passer rating was 112.4.

Brandon Burns, RB, Troy: 5-8 ½, 208, 4.55. Three-year player. Carried 431 times for 2,264 yards (5.3) and 12 TDs. Also caught 88 passes for 673 yards and three TDs.

Don Jackson, RB, Nevada: 5-9 ½, 205, 4.49. Rushed 529 times for 2,370 yards (4.5) and 19 TDs. Also caught 23 passes for 269 yards and two TDs.

Tyler Kuder, NT, Idaho State: 6-3, 307, 5.23. Had 31 reps on the bench press.

Brian Price, NT, Texas-San Antonio: 6-2 ½, 322, 5.15. Just 21 reps on the bench.

Beniquez Brown, ILB, Mississippi State: 6-0 1/2, 234, 4.70. Surprised several scouts with his decision to enter the draft a year early. Started 28 of 39 games on the strong side. Posted 200 tackles (22 ½ for loss), six sacks, two blocked kicks and three interceptions. Didn’t work out well.

Manoa Pikula, ILB, Brigham Young: 6-0 ½, 234, 4.6. Excellent athlete with a vertical jump of 36 ½ and 24 reps on the bench.

Reggie Gilbert, OLB, Arizona: 6-3, 261, 4.86. Started 47 of 57 games, finishing with 143 tackles (27 for loss) and 14 sacks.

Brandon Gatewood, CB, Alcorn State: 5-11 ½, 188, 4.51. Vertical jump was 36 ½.

Josh Hawkins, CB, East Carolina: 5-10 ½, 189, 4.4. Four-year player with nine interceptions. Vertical jump of 40 ½.

Randall Jette, CB, Massachusetts: 5-11, 193, 4.65. Vertical jump of 37.

Kentrell Brice, S, Louisiana Tech: 5-11 ½, 200, 4.34. Explosive athlete. Vertical jump of 42 and broad jump of 11-1 would have surpassed safeties at the combine.

Peter Mortell, P, Minnesota: 5-11, 203, no 40. Played at Green Bay Notre Dame. Three-year starter with career average of 44.0, a school record.

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