The Green Bay Packers are adding a pair of former fifth-round draft picks to their practice squad, including one who was selected in the 2021 NFL draft.
On Tuesday, the Packers announced the practice-squad signings of defensive end R.J. McIntosh and fifth-round rookie safety Shawn Davis, releasing defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson and offensive lineman Jacob Capra to clear the necessary roster spots. They also made official the release of third-year tight end Jace Sternberger.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Davis with the No. 165 overall pick in May’s draft after he capped his standout career at Florida with an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Unfortunately, Davis had a short-lived run with the Colts after a hamstring injury held him back for the majority of training camp. He was also underwhelming over his 94 defensive snaps during the preseason, allowing seven receptions on eight targets in coverage and missing five tackles despite making three stops.
Now, the 2021 fifth-round rookie will get a fresh start in a new defensive system that might be better equipped to make use of his versatile skill set.
The same goes for McIntosh, who was a 2018 fifth-round pick for the New York Giants and played 18 games before getting demoted to the practice squad after two seasons. While the Giants waived him during their 53-man roster cuts, McIntosh worked out for the Packers at the beginning of Week 2 and returned on September 20 for a follow-up visit that set the stage for his signing the following day.
After making their corresponding moves, the Packers have no open spaces on their 53-man roster or 16-man practice squad.
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Davis Retains Upside Despite Early Colts Departure
The Colts were pretty high on Davis when they somewhat surprisingly used a fifth-round pick on him in May. General manager Chris Ballard had told reporters following his selection in May that he saw Davis as someone who “worst case” could become the third safety in their rotation with the potential to ascend to a starter role. Instead, Davis failed to make the team despite the Colts keeping just three safeties at the position and lasted less than three weeks on their practice squad before getting cut loose.
The Packers, however, may see an interesting developmental piece for their secondary in Davis who can lend them some support in the run game. Davis earned a reputation for being a hard-hitter throughout his four seasons at Florida, using his aggressiveness and size (5-foot-11, 202 pounds) to blow up runs near or behind the line of scrimmage.
Here’s what NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote about Davis earlier this year:
Hard-hitting safety whose size, toughness and urgent demeanor will be appealing for NFL teams looking to add some attitude on the back end. While he certainly embraces the role of enforcer when coming forward as a striker, too often his efforts will hit road bumps due to a lack of discipline with coming to balance and squaring/wrapping his target. If a team can correct that issue, he has plenty of value in run support. Davis moves with fluidity and some explosiveness, but he has average instincts and anticipation to shade coverage and attack throws. He’s rangy over the top in two-deep and can play interchangeably in the box. His aggressiveness and versatility should create an opportunity as a good backup and eventual starter.
McIntosh Adds Much-Needed Depth to DL
While McIntosh is only joining the practice squad, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an elevation opportunity for the Packers in the coming weeks given how the rest of their defensive line begun the 2021 season.
Through two weeks, the Packers’ defensive linemen have generated 10 total pressures on quarterbacks, eight of which have been the product of Kenny Clark’s hard work and the remaining two of which veteran end Dean Lowry created. Otherwise, the frontline defenders have been resounding duds for the Packers, especially former fifth-rounder Kingsley Keke — who has been shut out as a pass-rusher in both games and received the team’s lowest defensive grade from Pro Football Focus in each contest.
Now, the Packers haven’t given a ton of defensive snaps (22) to fifth-round rookie T.J. Slaton thus far. They have also declared undrafted rookie Jack Heflin, their sixth man on the active roster, a healthy inactive in both of their first two games, so there are more immediate ways for them to tinker with their defensive line. If a personnel change is warranted, though, McIntosh could get a chance to make an impact.
McIntosh recorded two sacks and 13 combined tackles during his best season for the Giants in 2019, seeing action in 12 games, but it is difficult to say whether he has improved or declined since his last NFL performance in December 2019.