Meat and Potatoes of the NFL Draft: Middle Round Prospects to Keep an Eye On All Green Bay Packers All the Time
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2012 NFL Draft

In last week’s Bridesmaids piece we went over how the cream of the draft is talked about way too much and we peeked just a bit into the crust of the matter with the late rounder’s and UDFA’s.

Today, lets look at the meat and potatoes of the draft, those 3rd though 6th rounder’s.  This is where teams are built; you just have to look at Packer players like Sitton, Lang, Jones, Bishop, Starks and more to see what these players do for a team.

Some of these prospects come out and play right away and even start. But most take a little time to become full time starters.  These players show how good a coaching staff really is.  The best coaching staffs see what these players can do and put them in a position to make plays, all the while teaching them the finer points of the team’s systems and techniques. When a player has to earn his playing time and/or fight to keep it, you get the best out of them.

In this area of the draft system, compatibility and the value from that has more to do with where a player is picked in these rounds then anything else.  One GM’s trash is another GM’s treasure.

I am going to list some players at the positions that Ted Thompson has to draft someone, according to most opinions. The best thing about all this is Ted Thompson has six picks from #90 through #197.  And if his other drafts are any indicator, that could end up being even more picks.

With the signing of Jeff Saturday, this is the area I expect to see the Packers draft a Center.  These Center prospects are ranked in the 100’s overall.

Michael Brewster 6-4 312 lbs. OhioState.  A bigger center with some length. Strong, moves well.  5.25 40, 29 reps at 225#, 4.60 short shuttle and 7.73 3cone drill.

Well coached, played in more of a pro style offense. Just a good football player.

The next player Philip Blake from Baylor is 6-3 311 lbs., 5.25 40 time, 22 reps at 225#, 4.65 short shuttle and 7.86 3 cone drill.

Blake brings a bit of nasty to the position.  Good in pass protection and brings that nasty to the run game.  Started at RT before moving to Center.

I think Blake can bring a bit of the same attitude Lang and Sitton have.

Next up we have David Molk 6-1 299 lbs., Michigan. The 2011 Rimington trophy winner for the top center in the nation. He is coming off a foot injury so no agility numbers for him, but very strong with 41 reps @225 lbs. His best fit in the NFL at Center is one of the zone teams.

Quinton Saulsberry 6-3 305lbs. Mississippi State.  A longer-armed Center with 33 ¾” arms.  26 reps at 225lbs., 5.38 forty time.  4.76 short shuttle and 7.93 3 cone drill.

Now let’s look at some Safeties. This is a bad year for safety prospects IMO – only one 1st rounder and one 2nd round grade prospect available – but that does not mean you don’t have some good options in those middle rounds.

I like a couple of conversion to safety corner backs that really fit the Packers version of the 3-4.

conversion to safety corner backs

First of the conversion type Safeties is Brandon Hardin 6-3 217 lbs., Oregon State.  Hardin missed his senior season with a Shoulder Injury. Was one of the Starting CB’s for Oregon State in 2010 and would have been in 2011. A do-everything player, can play CB, FS, SS and even a little OLB in the 4-3, along with special teams.

At his Pro Day he ran a 4.43 40 and reportly ran a 4.36 with a very quick 1.52 ten yard time. 35 ½” vertical, he also had 24 reps at 225 lbs., so that shows the Shoulder has come along nicely. What impressed me most with Hardin is at 6-3 217 lbs. he had a 4.17 short shuttle and 6.88 3 cone drill.

I think he can play CB in the NFL but the FS spot for the Packers is just a great fit.

I had Desmon Marrow in my Bridesmaid piece he is another gifted athlete that played CB in college and would be a nice fit for the Packers at Safety.

I also like  DeGuan Menzie Alabama,  5-11 202 lbs. Menzie is not the athlete that Hardin or Marrow are with a 4.59 40 time, 1.56 ten yard, 33” vertical and 4.44 short shuttle and 6.93 3 cone drill.  But he played CB on a pretty good team. And has coaching and experience you look for.  Very instinctive player can blitz and cover. Another good football player.

As for College Safeties in those middle rounds I like these two quite a bit.  Brandon Taylor SS LSU, 5-11 209 lbs.,  4.58 40 time, 33 ½” vertical, 4.37 short shuttle and 6.98 3 cone drill. LSU had their safeties come up and play the run and drop deep in coverage. Taylor fits the mixing and matching of safeties the Packers like to use.

KelcieMcCray ArkansasState. 6-2 202 lbs. Very good in coverage, average against the run. Good athlete here too with a 4.54 40 time, 30 ½” vertical, 10’ 1” long jump, 4.29 short shuttle and 7.00 3 cone drill.

The mid rounds offer up some interesting 3-4 DE prospects.

Kheeston Randall 6-5 293 lbs. Texas is a good example of these mid round prospects. A prototypical 3-4 DE with his size. Played NT for the Longhorns.  IMO his bet position is 3-4 DE.  Five flat 40 time, 28 reps at 225 lbs.,  34” vertical, 9’ 3” long jump, 4.84 short shuttle and  7.49 3 cone drill.

A disruptive player, He can penetrate and hold point.  Did not have many sacks in college but was not asked to rush the passer much, more take on double teams and play the run inside. But watching him play you can see with a move to the 3-4 DE position he will cause trouble for the other teams QB.

Derek Wolfe 6-5 295 lbs.  Cincinnati 5.01 40 time, 33 reps at 225 lbs., 33 ½” vertical,  9’ long jump,  4.44 short shuttle and  VERY good 7.26 3 cone drill.

Big East Defensive player of the year.  Very Productive player with 19.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks in 2011, High Motor I guess that would go along with those production numbers.

He has moved up draft boards as more teams look at him as a 3-4 DE.

You put this prospect and say a Shea McCellin on the ride side of the Packers defense and it would be a very good thing.

Next we are going to look at a two of those in between type players.  Not your prototypical 3-4 DE’s or 4-3 DT. The first one was even talked about playing some 3-4 OLB but I think that is a stretch.

Brett Roy 6-3 275 lbs.,  Nevada, 4.90 40 time, 1.71 ten yard time, 32 reps at 225 lbs., 29” vertical, 9’ 2” long jump, 4.42 short shuttle and 7.38 3 cone drill.

Royfits that two down linemen set the Packers use in nickel as the penetrator. He has the athletic ability to drop into coverage and can hold the point.

IMO he would be an upgrade to Wynn and add some versatility to the position.

Trevor Guyton 6-3 285 lbs., 5.06 40 time,  25 reps @225 lbs., 31” vertical, 8’ 8” long jump, 4.53 short shuttle and 7.45 3 cone drill.  What I like is he played DE in the 3-4 for Cal. But his best work might just have come playing NT for them there.

Another player I think is a good fit for the nickel package and I think help there right away, with a bit more size where he can develop in playing more DE in the base set.

Last but not least the 3-4 OLB position. I hope that Ted Thompson addresses this position early and even often.  For me I think the Packers need to draft a complete OLB, one that can rush the passer, set the edge, drop into coverage and offer Dom Capers the ability to be moved around. That prospect is Shea McCellin. And yes, with that #28 pick. No other prospect at 3-4 OLB offers as much as a complete OLB as he does.

There are also prospects in the middle rounds whose value cannot be ignored even if Ted has drafted someone early for that position.  I had brought up Mile Burris and think he can bring the ability to play 3-4 OLB and ILB. Burris is going to be a mid-round pick IMO.

Let’s look at a few more of these later round 3-4 OLB.

One of the off the grid prospects is Josue Ortiz 6-5 253 lbs., Harvard. Ivy League Defensive player of the year and ton of other awards.  4.72 40 time,  1.69 ten yard time, 31 reps at 225 lbs.,  38 ½” vertical, 10’ 9” long jump, 4.37 short shuttle and 7.19 3 cone drill.  Those agility numbers and his vertical and long jump show explosion and his agility numbers are really quite good for a 6-5 253 lbs. player. We know he is smart playing at Harvard, and he has been productive.

One of those prospects that can come in and back up and play special teams right away.

Jonathon Massaquoi OLB 6-2 264 lbs., Troy.   A raw player that played at a lower level of competition that shows excellent pass rush and just good raw ability.

4.68 40 time, 1.59 ten yard, 20 reps at 225 lbs., 33 ½” vertical, 10’ long jump with a 4.51 short shuttle and 7.23 3cone drill. Highly productive player on the field.

I think he can come in out of the box and provide pass rush. But is far from an all around OLB and is lacking in technique.

Lastly we look at Tyler Neilsen OLB Iowa. Not your prototypical sized 3-4 OLB at 6-3 238 lbs. But he is a good enough athlete to put a little weight on him and still have the agility needed.  4.63 40 time, 1.65 ten yard time, 37” vertical, 9’ 8” long jump with 4.50 short shuttle and 7.14 3 cone drill.

Neilsen is a very smart, well coached, instinctive football player. One of his best attributes is his ability in coverage. I think he offers the Packers a Special teamer out of the box with the ability to play outside at OLB and Inside at ILB which may be his best position in the NFL.

Note: A big thank you for this article to our friend Yoop, who hangs out at TalkinPackers, one of the best Packers forums out there.


13 thoughts on “Meat and Potatoes of the NFL Draft: Middle Round Prospects to Keep an Eye On

  1. If we went McClellin and Wolfe in rounds 1 and 2, I’d want to gamble a bit on a player like Akiem Hicks in maybe the fourth round. Can’t teach his size, and there’s more protection so we aren’t counting on him to be a world beater right away. THoughts?

    1. Definitely agree. Getting McClellin & Wolfe would be a HUGE top of the draft haul. McClellin’s film is impressive, especially when you see his games against top competition like the Georgia game.
      I really like Akiem Hicks and I don’t believe he will be dropped on TT’s board because his “NCAA Violation” was a bunch of bologna. He has great size and supposedly rare quickness. Give him some limited snaps and see what he becomes. Good 4th or 5th rd gamble.
      Two other 3-4 DE players I like, one early pick & one later pick. Tyrone Crawford of Boise State and Ryan Van Bergen of Michigan. Crawford flashes the ability to be a Richard Seymour type player. Van Bergen wins his one on ones and can beat doubles from time to time. He played really well in Michigan’s late games, against their bigger competition (Neb, OSU & VaTech)

    2. I like Hicks and think he is well worth a later round pick 5th IMO. 2nd is too high for Wolfe but he is a good football player.
      Maybe third round, a move up in the forth would make the most sense to me.

  2. Excellent topic. There is so much focus on round one its good to see a little further. I’m definitely in the draft Brett Roy camp.

    I will add LB Scott Solomon (Rice) to the mix. He is 6’3″, 262, with enough speed, very good 3 cone, explosive, strong (34 reps of 225lb). Hustles well and is passionate about the game. A hot candidate for rounds 5-6.

    I would like to see Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson pickerd up somewhere in the 5th too, that guy can play and has everything you want except length.

    A nod to Alabama and their NT Josh Chapman (6’1″, 316). That was the guy that played with an ACL, so you know he is tough as nails. Very difficult to project where he goes because he is still recovering…..late 3rd, 4th more likely ? Nice guy to help in the DL rotation as long as there isn’t too much long-term worry medically.

    Finally, there is yet another good Wisconsin guy, FS Aaron Henry (6’0″, 208, 4.53). Raw talent but he has plenty to work with and may have what it takes to be a solid starter which is pretty darn good for a probable 5th rounder.

    What is it about Wisconsin this year, I love Zeitler and Konz is pretty talented too. I’m not normally overly excited over Badger players, but this year there are a ton I like.

  3. I think taking a flyer on Aaron Henry in the 5th is also a good idea. He used to be a CB. Has good speed and great leaping ability. He is a good hitter, just needs to work on the tackling a bit and learn the position better. GoPack!

  4. Henry is the type of Safety that fits the Packers defense. I always like safeties that have played some Corner Back in college.

  5. great list; if i may be so bold, i would throw malik jackson from tennessee into the ring as well. can’t wait for thursday!

    1. Another good choice. I don’t think Al would let me do a piece with all the players I like.

      This IMO is a down year for the draft in overall talent. But I think it is a good year for the Packers. The better positions and the type of players fit the Packers drafting scheme and needs.

      1. Keeston Randall and Malik Jackson sure would look nice as back-to-back 4th round compensatory picks. The chances of them both falling that far seem slim though.

        The more I look at it, the more I’m convinced that getting some quality guys along the D line in the middle rounds would be a great investment.

  6. The pack is on the right track. I’ve had McClellan, Saulsberry,Hardin, Wolfe, Roy and Guyton on my board since early April.

  7. One interesting note about Molk,who I wasn’t too impressed with,is his zone blocking skill. I’m guessing that’s the style they play in Michigan. Hardin, love his size and speed which could be great patrolling the underneath zone instead of Peprah, & Wolfe seem impressive.I still like Polk at RB,Brewster at C,Sammy Brown in the 7th at OLB might be a wild card. Excellent research thanks!

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