Important training camp approaching for these recent draft picks of Packers

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Several recent draft picks of the Green Bay Packers will go into training camp on the roster bubble. In fact, this summer will be vitally important for several young players competing for a roster spot, including a couple of high draft picks over the last few seasons.

For the sake of this exercise, we won’t discuss any players from the 2021 draft class. But all other recent draft classes – going back to 2018 – are fair game.

Here are some recent draft picks needing to impress this summer at training camp to make the Packers’ 53-man roster:

LB Oren Burks (third round, 2018)

Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis

Will the light ever come on for Burks? He's played only 275 total snaps on defense over his first three NFL seasons, and the Packers were so desperate to find a fit for him that an experiment at outside linebacker was attempted last season. He's back inside for new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who has a long history of developing the position. Burks has a terrific blend of size and athleticism, but he's never played especially big or fast. Maybe Barry can get his career turned around, but time is running out, and the Packers made a few investments at inside linebacker this offseason. Burks could be gone if he isn't impressive – or isn't healthy – this summer.

CB Josh Jackson (second round, 2018)

Green Bay Packers cornerback Josh Jackson (37) is shown during a mandatory minicamp Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.

Jackson started 10 games, played over 700 defensive snaps and broke up 10 passes during an encouraging rookie season, but he has mostly wasted away on the bench over the last two years. He played 103 defensive snaps in 2019 and 331 in 2020, and this offseason wasn't kind to his playing time expectations or roster hopes. The Packers brought back Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan and drafted Eric Stokes and Shemar Jean-Charles. Jackson couldn't even crack the gameday roster to end last season. Now, the competition around him is even better. A lack of straight-line speed, a tendency to grab in coverage and possibly even a lack of confidence have all contributed to his career nosedive. However, Jackson is getting a fresh start with a new defensive scheme while also getting a second chance to work under defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. This is his opportunity. A trade could be possible if it becomes clear that Jackson isn't making the roster.

TE Jace Sternberger (third round, 2019)

Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger (87) during the second day of organized team activities.

Unfortunate injury luck and an off-the-field mistake has put Sternberger's NFL career at a crossroads. He'll miss the first two games of the 2021 season due to a suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The Packers still think he can be a matchup issue in Matt LaFleur's offense, but the team is deep at tight end and Sternberger has accomplished little during his first two seasons. All that said, the development path for young tight ends is a long one in the NFL, and Sternberger could be hitting the sweet spot going into Year 3. Training camp should reveal where he's at, and if he can find a role within the Packers offense. Will Sternberger give the Packers another weapon in the passing game, or continue fading away and lose his roster spot?

P JK Scott (fifth round, 2018)

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Packers have Ryan Winslow on the roster to provide competition for Scott, who has mixed some terrific results punting the football with maddening bouts of inconsistency during his first three seasons. Clearly, new special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton wants Scott to earn the job this summer. He has a big leg and can boom the ball, but he's struggled at times in the cold, and he's coming off a season in which his net punting average dropped to 37.0 yards. Can Scott become more consistent in a contract year? He needs to be a big part of the Packers improving on special teams in 2021.

WR Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round, 2018)

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is shown Monday, August 17, 2020, during training camp in Green Bay, Wis.

St. Brown returned in 2020 to play in 12 games after missing the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury. He has produced at times – averaging 15.9 yards per catch and 9.1 yards per target on 28 catches and 49 targets – but he was on the field for only 196 offensive snaps last season and doesn't contribute on special teams, so his roster spot remains uncertain. The Packers drafted Amari Rodgers and will bring back Devin Funchess, and other young players on the receiver depth chart – like Malik Taylor – can play on special teams. St. Brown has the right mix of size, athleticism and versatility to help the Packers on offense, but he'll have to win his roster spot back this summer.

Other late-round picks

Cornerback Ka'Dar Hollman (29) runs a drill during Green Bay Packers training camp at Ray Nitschke Field Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

CB Ka'dar Hollman (sixth round, 2019): The Packers taking two cornerbacks in the 2021 draft didn't help his chances of making the roster. LS Hunter Bradley (seventh round, 2018): Competition, in the form of Joe Fortunato, arrived this offseason. The Packers want much more consistency. LB Ty Summers (seventh round, 2019): He's a core special teams player, but the Packers drafted Isaiah McDuffie in the sixth round and added veteran De'Vondre Campbell. RB Dexter Williams (sixth round, 2019): He has a real opportunity to be the No. 3 running back. Expect him to get a lot of work during the preseason. OLB Jonathan Garvin (seventh round, 2020): He's likely the favorite to be the No. 4 outside linebacker on the team, but development – and work on special teams – is required. OL Simon Stepaniak (sixth round, 2020): He's still mostly an unknown after missing his entire rookie season with an injury. The Packers like his physical style of play on the interior. C Jake Hanson (sixth round, 2020): The Packers taking Josh Myers in the second round this year probably doesn't bode well for his chances.

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