The NFL combine is a polarizing subject amongst Green Bay Packer fans and fans of the NFL in general. On one side you have the folks who snidely call it the “Underwear Olympics” and question what you can actually learn from players running drills without pads. And on the other hand you have people like me who spent most of the weekend watching the NFL Network, trying to soak up the last little bit of football activity that they will have for months.
A player’s combine performance won’t tell you if they can play in the NFL or not, but it can be used as a barometer to help determine if a player has the physical tools that NFL evaluators look for.
Here are my thoughts on some of the position groups and players who could be of interest to the Packers.
The Top Safeties
The top two safeties in the class, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, had identical 40 times of 4.58. Not a great time, but it should not significantly affect their draft stock of either. What could possibly hurt Pryor’s draft stock was his height. Pryor was listed at 6’2” at Louisville and measured in at 5’11” at the combine, a full 3” shorter. Discrepancies from a players listed measurements in college to their measurements at the combine are commonplace, but a 3” difference is pretty rare.
One safety who helped himself was Washington State’s Deone Bucannon. Bucannon measured in at 6’1” and 211 pounds with a 4.49 40 and 19 reps on the bench press. Bucannon could be a legitimate option for the Packers in the second round if he is still available.
Is Ryan Shazier a fit for the Packers?
When I put together my list of possible first round picks for the Packers a couple weeks ago, one player that did not make the list was Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. But after his combine performance, I think he should get some consideration by the Packers.
Shazier weighed in at 237 pounds, a full 7 pounds over his listed weight at Ohio State, and his 42” vertical leap was the best at the combine. Shazier played mostly outside linebacker in the Buckeye’s 4-3 front, but he should be able to make the switch to inside linebacker in a 3-4.
Shazier’s play making ability and speed could make him attractive to a team like the Packers, who want to get faster on defense.
Despite the news that Jermichael Finley may be cleared by Packers’ doctors to play next season, the tight end position should still be of interest to the Packers.
Eric Ebron didn’t do anything extraordinary, but he solidified his spot as the top tight end in the class, and he will most likely be gone by the time the Packers pick in round 1.
I was a bit disappointed that of the next three top tight end prospects, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Troy Niklas, only Amaro ran the 40, which he ran in a respectable 4.74. Hopefully Seferian-Jenkins and Nicklas will be able to run at their pro days.
Two of the fastest tight ends at the combine were former Oregon Duck Colt Lyerla, who ran a 4.61 40, and Tennessee State’s A.C. Leonard, who ran a 4.5 40. Both Lyerla and Leonard could be late round selections, but each has had off field issues that may keep them off the Packers’ draft board.
Wide Receiver Depth
What struck me most about the wide receivers was the sheer depth at the position. There were 48 wide receivers that participated in this year’s combine, compared to 38 last year. Considering there were only 28 receivers selected in last year’s draft and 33 taken in 2012, there should be a lot of talent at the position on day three of the draft, and quite a few talented receivers who won’t be drafted.
If the Packers are looking for a wide receiver, they should be able find some value on the third day of the draft.——————