The Green Bay Packers signed more than a dozen undrafted free agents after the completion of the 2022 NFL Draft. While these players weren’t drafted, at least one undrafted free agent usually makes the Packers roster and some of them come from nowhere to make a big impact on the team.
Here is a look at the best undrafted free agents in Green Bay Packers history. This list is based exclusively on the players’ performance with the Packers. A player signed by the Pack as an undrafted free agent but going on to a Hall of Fame career elsewhere would not qualify for this list. The player also had to make their NFL debut with the Packers to make this list so, for example, fullback John Kuhn is not eligible because he spent the 2006 season with the Steelers before joining the Packers.
The length and the impact of the players’ career with the Packers determines the list. Pro Bowls and contributions to team success are also factors.
Here are the best undrafted free agents in Packers history:
- DT John Jurkovic (1991-1995)
Jurkovic was one of the most popular players on the Packers during his tenure with the team due to his enthusiastic personality and the fact that he was an underdog. He joined the Packers in 1991 and became a starter the following season along the defensive line.
The former Eastern Illinois star started for the Packers for the next four seasons and recorded a career-high 5.5 sacks in 1993. He also recorded a sack in the Packers dramatic upset win over the 49ers in their 1995 playoff upset win in San Francisco.
He later played for the Jaguars and Browns before retiring after the 1999 season.
- S Mark Murphy (1980-1991)
Murphy signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 1980 and made a big impression in training camp. He made the team but only played in one game because of a broken wrist.
By 1983, he became a starter at free safety before shifting to strong safety the following season.
Murphy lacked speed but he loved to hit and became a fan favorite because of his physical style and all-out effort.
Murphy intercepted 20 passes in his career, recovered 13 fumbles and recorded 11 sacks. He intercepted a Tommy Kramer pass and ran it back 50 yards for a touchdown in a 27-17 win over the Vikings in 1985.
Murphy is not the current Packers president (he played for Washington) but he certainly made an impact on the Packers during his time with the team.
- S Atari Bigby (2005-2010)
Bigby made his NFL debut with the Packers in 2005. The former Central Florida product failed to catch on with the Dolphins and Jets before joining the Packers practice squad in 2005 but he never played a game for either team.
By 2007, Bigby won the starting job at strong safety and intercepted a career-high five passes that season and made 86 total tackles, also a career-best.
Bigby stayed with the Packers through their 2010 season and played as a backup in Super Bowl XLV.
After six years with the Packers including three as a starter, he finished his career with the Seahawks and Chargers before his career ended after the 2012 season.
- DL Cullen Jenkins (2004-2010)
The Packers signed Cullen Jenkins as an undrafted free agent in 2003. The former Central Michigan alum spent a year in NFL Europe before joining the Pack in 2004.
Jenkins started six games as a rookie and remained a starter for most of his time with the Packers.
He recorded a career-high seven sacks in 2010, his final year with the Packers despite missing five games with a calf injury. His final game with the Packers was Super Bowl XLV when the Packers beat the Steelers.
Jenkins played for the Eagles, Giants and Redskins before retiring after the 2016 season.
- TE Ed West (1984-1994)
“The Toolbox” joined the Packers as an undrafted free agent in Forrest Gregg’s first year as coach in 1984 and spent 11 seasons with the Packers. He started as a backup tight end and special teams player but became a starter in his third season and never relinquished that job during the rest of his tenure in Titletown.
West was a reliable receiver and a good blocker who gave the Packers steady play at the tight end position. His best statistical season came in 1994 when he caught a career-high 31 passes for 377 yards. He had back-to-back seasons of five touchdown catches in 1989 and 1990.
In 11 seasons with the Pack, West caught 202 passes for 2,321 yards and 25 touchdowns. He went from being an undrafted free agent to becoming a reliable starter for nearly a decade.
- LB George Koonce (1992-1999)
Although he had a strong career at East Carolina University, linebacker George Koonce was not drafted after he graduated college. He signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent but was waived before the season. He then spent a year playing in the World League of American Football before signing with the Packers before the 1992 campaign.
Not only did Koonce make the team, but he also started 10 games as a rookie as the Packers improved from 4-12 to 9-7. Koonce spent eight years with the Packers and was a starter for seven of them playing three different linebacker positions during his time with the Packers.
Koonce was a starter for the Packers 1996 team that won Super Bowl XXXI. In Week 4 of that season, he intercepted a Warren Moon pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, Koonce suffered an injury in the Packers playoff win over the 49ers that year and was on IR during the Super Bowl win.
He remained with the Pack through the 1999 season before finishing his NFL career the following year with Seattle.
- RB Ryan Grant (2007-2012)
Grant was not drafted out of Notre Dame and signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. He never played a game with the Giants and was traded to the Packers before the 2007 season.
Grant started the 2007 campaign as a backup but injuries gave him a chance to play and he took full advantage of it. He gained 956 yards as a rookie despite starting just seven games.
The next two seasons were his best and he had back-to-back 1,200-plus yard campaigns. His best year came in 2009 when he gained 1,253 yards on the ground and scored 11 rushing touchdowns.
He set a Packers record in the team’s 2007 playoff win over the Seahawks. After fumbling in the snow on each of the Packers first two possessions, Grant took over the game and ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns as the Packers crushed Seattle 42-20.
In 2010, Grant was injured in the season opener and spent the year on the injured reserve. He returned to the lineup the following year, splitting time with James Starks during the Packers 15-1 season.
In six seasons with the Packers, Grant ran for 4,132 yards and 27 touchdowns.
- DB Sam Shields (2010-2016)
Sam Shields went undrafted after his stellar career at the University of Miami (Florida) probably because of his lack of size. Shields signed with the Packers as a free agent. He started six games as a rookie in 2010 and had two key interceptions in the Packers 21-14 NFC Championship Game win over the Chicago Bears.
Shields spent seven seasons with the Packers and earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2014 campaign. He intercepted 18 passes as a Packers and added five more in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, concussions derailed Shields’ career and the Packers released him after he sat out the entire 2017 season. He spent one final year in the NFL with the Rams before retiring after the 2018 campaign.
Shields went from undrafted free agent to a Pro Bowl player and a Super Bowl champion.
- S Johnnie Gray (1975-1983)
Johnnie Gray joined the Packers before the 1975 season after being passed up during the draft that year. Gray not only made the team, but he became a starter in his rookie season at free safety.
Gray played nine seasons with the Packers playing both free safety and strong safety. He was a starter throughout his Packers career and often led the team in tackles. Gray also returned punts for the Packers and led the team in that department in 1976.
Gray intercepted 22 passes during his Packers career and recovered 22 fumbles. He intercepted Jim Plunkett of the 49ers in a 1976 game and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
In his early years, Gray and fellow safety Steve Luke combined to give the Packers a pair of physical safeties. The duo earned the nickname “The Hit Brothers.”
Gray retired after the 1983 season. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1993.
- CB Tramon Williams (2007-2014, 2018-2019)
Tramon Williams originally signed with the Houston Texans after he went undrafted in 2006 but he was waived by Houston in the preseason before signing with the Packers later that year.
The former Louisiana Tech star became a starter by 2008 and intercepted five passes that season. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 after he picked off a career-high six passes and started for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
His strong play carried over to the playoffs where he had three interceptions including a key pick six just before halftime of the Packers win over the Falcons that gave Green Bay a 28-14 lead at the break.
Williams had two tours of duty with the Packers and played 10 years for the team. He intercepted 30 passes with Green Bay and provided the Packers with leadership and experience in his second tour of duty with the team.
Williams is a shoo-in for the Packers Hall of Fame once he’s eligible.
- TE Paul Coffman (1978-1985)
Paul Coffman was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Packers before the 1978 season. The Packers discovered Coffman only because he helped run drills for a college teammate the Packers were scouting and he impressed the Packers scout.
By 1979, Coffman was starting and he led the Packers with 56 receptions. Coffman wasn’t big or fast but he worked hard, had good hands and ran precise routes.
Coffman combined with James Lofton and John Jefferson to give the Packers three Pro Bowl receivers in the early 1980s. He made the Pro Bowl for three consecutive years from 1982-1984.
Coffman played eight seasons for the Packers and remains the team’s all-time leading receiver among tight ends with 322 receptions.
Coffman later played for the Chiefs and Vikings before retiring after the 1988 season. His son Chase later played in the NFL from 2010-2016.
- S Willie Wood (1960-1971)
Wood went undrafted after playing quarterback in college at USC. He wrote a letter to several NFL teams requesting a tryout and Vince Lombardi of the Packers responded and signed him.
Wood was converted to safety and became one of the best in the game. By his second season, Wood was a starter and in his third season, he made the first of eight Pro Bowl appearances. Four times he was named All Pro. Wood was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960.
Wood led the NFL with nine interceptions in 1962 and finished his career with 48 picks. Wood’s interception of Len Dawson early in the third quarter of Super Bowl was the turning point of the game. He returned the kick 50 yards to the Chiefs five-yard line. One play later, Elijah Pitts scored and the Packers led 21-10 en route to a 35-10 win.
Wood also returned punts for the Packers and is regarded as one of the best safeties in NFL history. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
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