Vic So’oto: Just Another Flavor Of The Month?

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time
LB Vic So'oto
Packers LB Vic So'oto intercepts the ball against the Chiefs in the 2011 preseason

Every preseason, it seems like there is one previously unknown player on the Packers roster that stands out.   There is that one player whom fans love to watch and beg the coaches to play during the regular season.

In 2011, that player was linebacker Vic So’oto a rookie from BYU that went undrafted.   At BYU, So’oto was the true definition of a ‘football player’ by playing tight end and defensive end.  It’s not hard to see why So’oto would be so warmly embraced by Packer fans.

He did miss the majority of the 2006 and 2008 seasons due to injury, however, and given the Packers’ infamous luck with injury prone draft picks it is no surprise that So’oto went unselected on draft day last year.

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.  In July, the Packers signed So’oto as an undrafted free agent.  Hoping to land a roster spot, he put on a show in the preseason against the Chiefs starters with 1.5 sacks and an interception before a nagging back injury that hampered him for most of the 2011 regular season.

You know what they say with the NFL fans when it comes to rookie players.  The first impression is always the strongest.

As the Packers pass rush continued to be non-existent, fans began to clamor for So’oto.  The lofty expectations placed on him by fans made you think he was another Clay Matthews.

The chance never came.  However, entering the 2012 offseason healthy and with the Packers desperately seeking a pass rush it seemed that So’oto would finally get his chance to shine in OTAs and mini-camp.

Then Ted Thompson went and drafted USC linebacker/defensive end Nick Perry in the first round and proceeded to load up on defenders in the 2012 NFL Draft.

This clouds the picture for So’oto going into training camp and arguably could doom his career prospects in Green Bay.  It’s a near certainty Perry will line up opposite of Matthews in a decent chunk of defensive formations, so where does that leave So’oto.

The guess here is he will not make the team.  Having been snakebit by Justin Harrell and perhaps still sensing the ghost of Jamal Reynolds, Thompson may have too many concerns about the health of So’oto’s back.   He will in fairness give So’oto a chance to strut his stuff during camp, but judging how heavy the draft class is on defense it seems the Packers have put the entire defense on notice. So’oto was on the bubble last year and it seems it could very well pop this summer.

So in what situations could So’oto make the 2012 Packers? Well, injuries for one.  The new rules governing training camp practices  try to minimize the amount damage players can do to their bodies in camp, but that doesn’t mean injuries won’t occur. They can happen in the weight room, or they could occur playing basketball with friends.  Freak accidents happen in the NFL and the Packers are all too familiar with fighting the injury bug.

There is also the possibility that a good number of draft “experts” are proven correct and Perry has issues playing standing up versus having his hands to the ground.  Every single NFL draft pick is a crapshoot no matter how often scouts and draftniks fawn and drool over a player’s upside.

AJ Hawk was called the most “sure thing” in the 2006 NFL Draft. Greg Jennings was selected a round later. Need I say more?

Bottom line is we won’t know where So’oto stands until training camp and the preseason game starts.  He is going to be only one of many defenders hoping to make the Packers roster and hopefully help dig the defensive out of the basement of the NFL.

One thing is for sure, the fans are rooting for him after he won them over last preseason.  Can he win over Thompson?

Stay tuned.

——————

Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

——————

  • Tarynfor12

    AJ Hawk was called the most “sure thing” in the 2006 NFL Draft. Greg Jennings was selected a round later. Need I say more?

    Yes you do!

    Apples and Oranges
    Many more variables for the determination of success for a LB than a WR.

    • Kris Burke

      I am talking about the pre draft hype. Hawk was considered a slam dunk and a superstar in waiting. No one knew Jennings

      • marpag

        In a sense, he was considered a “slam dunk”, but I’m not sure about a “superstar in waiting.” My recollection is that people considered Hawk to have very low “bust potential” but some also wondered if he had a pretty low ceiling, too… in other words, they thought “he won’t flop, but he might not improve much over his days in college.”

        People who said that are probably feeling pretty smart right now.

  • Lou

    Very good analysis. He sure looked the part last year and played with a lot of aggression before hurting his back lifting weights. The competition is tough, Perry will naturally have the first chance, Moses has been the surprise of the OTA’s and both Walden (puzzled as to why he was re-signed) and Zombo have played solidly at times. Zombo in the super bowl season looked like he could be the answer for some time but injuries wasted last year for him and he still hasn’t practiced with no word as to why, looks like he is gone.

  • Ron LC

    Just how much has S’oto’s injury reduced his over all ability? That’s a question that needs to be answered in the pre-season. Too many injury prone players on the D was an issue in 2011. Guys like Zombo and S’oto have to prove they can contribute for most if not all the games in 2012.

    Walden cannot defend the outside responsibilty. He too must demonstrate a change before he can plan on making the team.

    Competition is good and at OLB there will be plenty of it.

  • Turophile

    So’oto was quite highly thought of after his KC game (see link) http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/128985588.html
    He is strong and has great size for OLB (6’3″, 263). If Packers go 4xOLB this year then after Matthews and Perry, two from Walden, Zombo, Moses and So’oto make the roster.

    If pushed to choose who of that lot makes it before seeing this years TC, I go with upside of So’to and Moses, but in truth it could as easily go to the other two. Walden didn’t do much last year but he may be a passable backup. Zombo needs to stay healthy or he will be cut/injury settlement.

  • Oppy

    “So in what situations could So’oto make the 2012 Packers?”

    You missed the most likely situation:

    Perhaps So’Oto has improved.

    He entered Green Bay not only with no experience as a LB, but also (per So’Oto’s own critique) with zero technique. So’Oto himself stated he got through the NCAA competition solely based on brute strength, nothing more, and he was looking forward to learning how to use his hands and learn all around technique from KG.

    Improvement, or lack thereof, will probably be the biggest factor in So’Oto’s chances to make the roster.
    He was a project.

  • Nerd’s Laptop

    Hawk WAS a sure thing. He’s consistent, which is what you look for. As a pick he was like Jordy Nelson. Not flashy, but very low risk.

    As for So’Oto, he’ll have to beat out Dezmond Moses for a spot. Which means he’ll have to not only be able to rush the passer, but drop back in coverage as well. We already know So’Oto can rush the passer.

  • http://None Bearmeat

    TT is stocking the stable with both high quality draft picks and projects throughout the entire D – but especially at DE, OLB, and CB.

    It increases the odds that a couple will ‘hit’. So’oto is a part of that strategy. Dude can ball if he continues to learn and stays healthy. He sure has the instincts.

    This is a good move on TT’s part. Finally.

  • Just Some Guy

    Yes, but can he do the Haka?

  • chris k

    So’Oto has a good chance to make it.

    Potential-he has this over Brad Jones as a utility backup. Never played LB before or in a 3-4 system.

    Size- he has this over Jones and Lattimore.

    I bet on Vic So’Oto being on this roster

  • Bubbaloo

    According to Dom Capers it was his lack of coverage skills that kept So’oto off the field last year! I guess we’ll see how much he’s improved, but you gotta like his size, at 262lbs I’m a little surprised he wasn’t one of the guys moved to ISLB. Can’t wait for training camp!

  • connie w

    I remember a time where Desmond Bishop was a bubble player and was held out because of his lack of coverage skills. He kept his nose to the grindstone and is now is an elite LB talent. :-)