Gray signed to Packers as a free agent

Geoff Gray addressing the media after his pro day on March 30.Geoff Gray addressing the media after his pro day on March 30. Photo by Ryan Stelter.

Bison offensive lineman Geoff Gray  was signed as a priority undrafted free agent on April 29 by the Green Bay Packers.  

The 22-year-old native of Winnipeg had multiple teams looking at him toward the end of the NFL draft, but elected to go to the Packers. The Packers were one of the teams in attendance for Gray’s pro day on March 30. Gray had visited Green Bay and said he liked his chances of being able to crack the squad.

“I was a little more familiar and comfortable with them,” he told reporters before the intrasquad game at Bison spring camp.

“When you’re in free agency, you have the luxury of picking what team you’re going to. You want to go to a team where you feel you have a good chance of making the roster.”

The signing comes a year after former Bison defensive lineman David Onyemata  was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round in 2016. The Packers and Saints meet up in Week 7 of the NFL regular season.  Gray has the potential to be the third Bison to play in the NFL, joining the likes of Onyemata and defensive lineman Israel Idonije,  who spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and one with the Detroit Lions, and like Gray was not drafted into the NFL.

It will be a big adjustment for the six-foot-six, 310-pound lineman, as his first exposure to American football was the East-West Shrine game back in January . Gray said he knows he has a lot to learn and is excited to get to playing.

“No college player coming out of college is going to be at a [high] level technically,” he said. “Even if you were technically sound in college, just playing against better level players is going to drive that up.”

The Packers have a knack for signing undrafted college free agents, with 22 undrafted rookies making it onto their season opening rosters since 2010.  In each of GM Ted Thompson’s 12 years with the Packers, at least one undrafted rookie has made the 53-man squad.

Bison head coach Brian Dobie lauded Gray not only for his technical ability, but his intelligence as well.

“It’s a proud day for Bison football,” he said. “When I was talking to all the NFL guys trying to acquaint them with Geoff I told them that he was a Stanford guy, he’s a Harvard-type guy. That’s the kind of guy when it comes to [intelligence].”

Having two players in the last two years get on with NFL teams has potential recruits taking notice of the Bison football program.

“It’s unbelievable, even with Idonije who’s retired. Now you got Onyemata and Gray, the number of comments you get from recruits [is unbelieveable],” said Dobie.

“I’ll explain to somebody about Onyemata and they interrupt me. A recruit in BC or in Toronto and they’ll say ‘Oh yeah he’s with the Saints’ so they pay attention.”

Dobie talked about the quality of Canadian college football, with U Sports players heading into the NFL. Gray was not the only Canadian university player to sign a deal, as Laval’s Antony Auclair signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  

“It says a lot about Canadian college football,” Dobie said. “People that aren’t coming out to the games are missing out on a great product. I’m not just talking about Manitoba but there’s guys who will be churned out every year to play in the CFL and the odd guy in the NFL.”

As for Gray, he’ll be gearing up to get in shape for Green Bay’s training camp and purchasing a new printer with his signing bonus as he was having technical difficulties, delaying the actual signing of his NFL contract.

“My scanner wasn’t really working, it was a whole stressful nightmare,” he said. “I’m going to buy a really reliable printer.”