Diondre Borel Catches the Eye of Aaron Rodgers on Day 1 of Packers’ Minicamp

Photo: David Dermer, Getty Images

NFL teams rarely keep six receivers on their 53-man rosters. Seven is almost unheard of.

But if the young players comprising the Green Bay Packers depth chart at receiver continue to impress as they have to start this offseason, GM Ted Thompson may have no other choice than to select more than five for his final roster.

After the first day of the Packers mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers singled out one of those young receivers to heap on more praise: Second-year receiver Diondre Borel.

“Diondre Borel is a guy that gives us a different look because he plays a similar position of that of Randall Cobb,” Rodgers said in an interview with Packers.com. “Diondre has made as big of jump as anybody from year 1 to year 2. He really made the most of his reps on the scout team last year.”

The Packers signed Borel as an undrafted free agent in July of 2011. Despite catching just two passes for 35 yards during the preseason, Borel impressed Thompson and the Packers staff enough in camp to earn a spot on the team’s eight-man practice squad to start 2011.

What made Borel’s inclusion on the practice squad all the more impressive was the fact that the former Utah State Aggie was making a transition back to receiver from quarterback, a position he played during his final three seasons in college. At Utah State, Borel threw for almost 7,000 career passing yards—ranking him second in school history—after playing in eight games as a receiver during his freshman season.

Borel was impressive enough during his time on the Packers’ practice squad that he eventually received an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be on their active 53-man roster—an invitation Borel declined for a pay bump in Green Bay and a chance to make the roster in 2012.

At just 6-0 and a little under 200 pounds, Borel doesn’t possess a unique frame or blazing speed. 6-foot-4 Tori Gurley—another practice squad receiver who will be competing with Borel for a roster spot—has the height that no other Packers’ receiver has. But Rodgers thinks Borel’s history as a quarterback gives him the mental capacity to make his mark on the receiving depth chart this summer.



Green Bay Packers Offseason Program Set to Begin Next Week

Packers 2012 OTAs to begin soon

Packers OTAs to begin soon

While fans may have forgotten what an actual NFL offseason looks like thanks to last year’s lockout, the Green Bay Packers are set to begin their offseason program (OTAs) next week.

Teams with new head coaches, such as the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, were able to begin their programs last week, but Mike McCarthy and crew won’t be able to begin until next Monday, April 16th. Before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed, teams were actually allowed to start their program’s in March.

Within the new CBA, the Packers have only 10 weeks to do their nine-week OTA program. The offseason program is only allowed to work players during the week, and only for four days of that week. For all the updated rules of the offseason program, ESPN did a fantastic job of laying it all out here.

So, what does this shortened period of time mean for a team like Green Bay? With less time than they’ve had in recent years, the shortened offseason program actually works against the Packers.

Considering the fact that Green Bay doesn’t generally bring in many players during free agency, these offseason workouts is where they do the majority of their growing and improving as a team. This is the first time that the key players from the roster can get together on the field and work through things. With less time, and the need to rush their time to fit it into such a small window, the Packers could see a drop in improvement as a whole during this program.

On the plus side, the 2011 draft class will have their first full program due to the rushed offseason from the lockout last year. With players like Randall Cobb, Alex Green, D.J. Smith and Vic So’oto all looking to make a larger impact during the 2012 season, having a full offseason workout could do wonders for their development.

Since the majority of the other NFL teams are in the same exact situation that the Packers find themselves in, it’s hard for Mike McCarthy to complain too much. He doesn’t have to like it, he just has to deal with it.