21

February

10 Players Packers Fans Should Watch at the NFL Combine

Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.

Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.

The NFL Scouting Combine starts on Saturday and Packers general manager Ted Thompson will be there to observe all of the young NFL hopefuls who could potentially fill holes on the Packers roster.

Yes, it’s that time of year where words like “athletic” and “upside” become part of our everyday vocabulary and we pay extra close attention to how long a player’s arms are and what kind of motor he has. Keeping track of everything going on at the NFL Combine and the buzz about various prospects can be overwhelming. That’s why ALLGBP.com is here to help.

I picked out 10 players to watch at the NFL Combine if you’re a Packers fan. I have no idea if Thompson himself will be closely watching these players over others, but these 10 players are a mix of possible first-round targets for the Packers, or mid-round picks that appear to have the tools to help the Packers in one way or another down the road.

Of course, after the NFL Combine wraps up, ALLGBP.com will have more NFL draft profiles on possible future Packers than you will be able to handle. For now, keep an eye on these 10 players and we’ll see if any of them wind up in Green Bay come April.

HaHa Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
The Packers need a safety and Clinton-Dix might be the best one in this draft class. Scouts rave about Clinton-Dix’s instincts when the ball is in the air and his ability to shift directions and accelerate. His tackling could use some work, but the Packers desperately need a safety who can close on the ball and help eliminate big plays in the opponent’s passing game. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s really hard to get over the top on Clinton-Dix. Teams have had no problems getting over the top on the Packers safeties ever since Nick Collins was injured. If you’re a Packers fan, you might actually hope Clinton-Dix has a poor showing at the combine to increase the chances that he’ll fall to the Packer at pick No. 21.

Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville
If you want a safety who will lower the boom on people, Pryor is the guy. He doesn’t project to have the cover skills and closing speed of Clinton-Dix, but we’ll see if his combine numbers change that perception. In a recent media call, NFL draft guru Mike Mayock called Pryor a “bigger, stronger version of Bob Sanders.” That’s high praise. Like Clinton-Dix, Pryor might be off the board by the time the Packers pick.

Marqueston Huff, Safety, Wyoming
There’s a good chance both Clinton-Dix and Pryor will be gone by the time the Packers pick in the first round, so taking a safety later in the draft is a definite possibility. What I like about Huff is his mulitiplicity (did I just invent a new draft word?). He’s played safety, cornerback, running back and returned kicks. He can line up and cover in the slot, close on the ball as a free safety, and be a thorn in the side as a gunner on special teams. Huff seems to fit the mold of what Ted Thompson likes in a defensive back.

Ra’Shede Hageman, Defensive Line, Minnesota
6-6, 318 pounds
I saw Hageman play in-person four times this season. He looked lazy and out of shape in the first game. In the next three, he played like a raw, potentially great, NFL defensive lineman. Hageman looks more like an offensive tackle than a defensive lineman, but those broad shoulders, long arms, and trimmer-than-normal waist for an interior lineman actually work in his favor. I see Hageman more as a defensive end in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean he should be ruled out as an interior force. He’s a boom or bust pick, in my opinion, with a ceiling of Julius Pepper and a floor of Justin Harrell.

DeAndre Coleman, Defensive Line, California
6-5, 315 pounds
The Packers are likely going to need re-enforcements along the defensive line and Coleman could be a good pick in the third or fourth round. He’s listed at 315 pounds, but he looks more like a muscular 285. If the Packers are serious about getting more athletic in their defensive line, Coleman could help as a 3-4 defensive end or an interior tackle with deceptive explosiveness. Coleman looks like he’s an NFL prospect, but his numbers in college left a little to be desired. Some scouts think Coleman looks like a player, but isn’t actually a player. Perhaps the production wasn’t there because he played on a horrible Cal team.

C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
6-2, 232 pounds
The Packers drafted a standout running back from Alabama last year after he fell to the second round due to injury concerns. Could they do the same this year with a linebacker from Alabama who has an injury as history? Mosely can play all four downs and is a handful when he comes charging between the guards on a blitz. If Mosely didn’t have injury concerns, he’d be a sure-thing first-round pick. He’ll still probably go in the first round, but if he doesn’t, how far will he fall?

Chris Borland, Inside Linebacker, Wisconsin
5-11, 246 pounds
Unlike some of the players on this list, Borland won’t wow you with his size and appearance. He’s short and stocky and doesn’t have that graceful and chiseled look most NFL linebackers have these days. But the kid can play. He moves sideline-to-sideline with ease and he knows how to use his stoutness to gain leverage on taller and less agile offensive linemen on blitzes. Scouting reports also cite his intelligence and awareness as major attributes. We know how much the Packers value smarts and proper alignment from their middle linebacker slots. If the Packers address safety with their first-round pick, they could further boost the middle of their defense by taking Borland later in the draft.

Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma St.
6-0, 200 pounds
You might think the Packers don’t need another cornerback, but Gilbert could be too tempting for Thompson to pass up. Tall, athletic, strong, good tackler, jams receivers and plays zone. He has the tools to do it all. Oh, and he’s also a helluva kick returner. With Sam Shields possibly departing, Tramon Williams getting older and on the last year of his deal and Casey Hayward coming off a lost season, don’t be surprised if Thompson snatches up Gilbert. Gilbert also seems like the type of player whose stock could go way up after the combine, so we’ll see where he stands after this weekend.

Richard Rodgers, TE, California
6-4, 245 pounds
Things worked out well the last time the Packers drafted a guy named Rodgers out of California. With Jermichael Finley likely out of the picture, the Packers will look to replace his athleticism and ability to line up inside as a traditional tight end and outside as a flex wide-receiver type. Rodgers could fit the bill. Like Finley was coming out of Texas in 2008, Rodgers is extremely raw and will probably need a year or two of seasoning.

Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
6-6, 220 pounds
There are a lot of wide receivers in this year’s draft, and Coleman could be one of several taken after the first round with a chance to develop into a go-to player. Coleman may have been better off staying in school, honing his skills a bit, and coming out next year when the wide receiver field isn’t so stacked. Then again, with his size, an impressive combine could send him rocketing up draft boards. I’m sure Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t mind a 6-foot-6 target to throw to, especially with James Jones possibly on his way out and Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson free agents next offseason.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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20 Responses to “10 Players Packers Fans Should Watch at the NFL Combine”

  1. grizzlymitch says:

    Either Alabama player would fit the bill for our D. I sure would like the Packers to forget Raji in free agency and spend the money on one of the free agent safeties. Draft a linebacker and a tight end and Bingo, St. Vince is coming home.

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  2. Scheny Schen says:

    For anyone interested, go to Draftinsider.net. It is the website of well-respected evaluator, Tony Pauline, who contributes at Packers.com. He has a review of the defensive backs that everyone should check out. I like Tony because he doesn’t hype everyone. Both Dix and Pryor have 2nd round grades. Don’t be surprised if TT passes on both of them or trades back since the value won’t match pick 21. GoPack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. Dobber says:

    Love Pryor as a pick, and if he turns out to be the field leader that Bob Sanders was, that would help this defense immensely.

    Huff-=not an LSU player, right? He’s from Wyoming?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. Savage57 says:

    Other than Bucky, I pretty much hate college football. I live in SEC country, and believe me, if you had to endure the number of mind-numbingly boring and baseless rants and tirades of “Alabama/Georgia/Auburn/Florida’s better” usually being vomited about by someone who’s never seem the inside of a college classroom, you’d understand.

    Thus I have earned a pass from having to play the extremely ludicrous game of “the Packers should pick so and so”. I don’t know jack about the particulars on any of these guys, and even if I did my predictions/desires/opinions would be about as relevant as forecasting what the price of gold will be in 10 years.

    But I can read, and the one common thread I’ve seen is that there are a lot of value picks in rounds 2-4. If that’s the case, I hope Ted loads up there. That’s usually been his wheelhouse finding talent.

    Having said that, he’ll probably trade up to grab 2 first-rounders.

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    • Dobber says:

      The last time TT dealt up to get 2 first-rounders, the Packers ended up winning an SB…

      Having lived in SEC country myself for 7 mind-numbing years, I feel your pain, Sav.

      I’m in the same place you are, though: I’m not so much a fan of the college game as I am the pro game, and my interest in college players prior to the draft is middling at best.

      I can’t help but wonder, even if TT dealt back to stockpile day 2 picks, what the immediate backlash would be here to his moving out of round 1? With as many holes as posters here seem to see the Packers having, moving backwards to get more players with a higher chance of developing into NFL players sounds prudent. I think that kind of move could be predicated on the Packers finding a starter or maybe two through FA.

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      • Ed Schoenfeld says:

        I think the major issue with trading back in this draft will be the feeling that the Packers need one or two outstanding playmakers on defense. Fans tend to feel like the pace to draft an instant superstar is the first round, no matter that historically there are only 5-10 players like that in any given draft, and they will all be gone by pick 15, well before the Packers have a chance to trade up for one.

        Personally I wouldn’t mind trading pick 21 and (say) our 5th rounder for early picks in the 2nd and 3rd, but if you and I can figure out the wheelhouse for value in this draft is rounds 2 thru 4, so can all the other teams. While one or two franchises might try a brain-dead move to make a splash, there is no counting on it, and even if they do they might not want pick 21.

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  5. SchenySchen says:

    I am a Bucky fan and watching Borland stand up OSU’s Hyde at the goal line is just a beautiful sight. Not sure he’ll be there in the 3rd, but I would be happy to see the Packers pick him up somehow. Having an ILB that tackles at the waist, rather than the shoulders (Jones) or from behind (Hawk) would be a nice addition to our defense. GoPack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Cow42 says:

      Doesn’t he have bad shoulders?
      Pass.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • Savage57 says:

      I wonder why it seems like Ted is reluctant to look at guys that played for Bucky? Maybe it’s just the way stuff panned out.

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  6. Eric says:

    what about a return man? A guy like Dri Archer could really make the packers offense even more dynamic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-3JgIG9hhM

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  7. SchenySchen says:

    I think the projected 3rd round compensatory pick will give TT a lot of wiggle room to move either up or down. He can’t trade that pick but it may make him more willing to package our standard 3rd round pick to move up/down in the first/second. GoPack!

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  8. Kenny G says:

    I want HaHa! What a tackler, and he never lets ppl being him.

    Calvin Pryor is really good except for one problem that we already have….. He doesn’t tackle!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. NYPACKER says:

    I’m thinking that either Mosley, Dix, Nix or Pryor will be there at #21. What we do in Free Agency (with both our own & acquisitions)could dictate who we take Second round could be dictated by who we take in first round. Third round & comp pick could see us go TE Nikals, Lynch, or Fedo (Iowa) should be there for us. Of course TT will say “best player available”, but you still have to look at position need.

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  10. BradHTX says:

    Like many of you have said, I don’t pay that much attention to college players so I’m not going to advocate for many specific guys. With our 1-2-3-3 (hopefully get that compensatory 3rd) I just want to see a S, DL, ILB and TE in some order but preferably that one — depending of course on what happens in FA.

    I will say that I do not like the sound of Hageman. Right now I don’t think boom-or-bust guys are the direction we should be looking. We need more than developmental projects, but I think it would be more helpful to get a solid red-chipper than a potential blue who might turn out to be fool’s gold.

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    • SchenySchen says:

      I live in Minnesota and have seen Hageman play. It’s not so much that he might be fools gold, its just that he may be a blue-chipper on only 1/3-1/2 of his plays. The other, he is average, but still very competent. When he wants to play, he is a man among boys. I’d be happy to get him. GoPack!

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  11. David says:

    Your description of Marqueston Huff make him sound like a Charles Woodson reincarnate. Visions of sugarplums just danced in my head.

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  12. Wagszilla says:

    No Max Bullough?

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