Sergio Kindle or Sean Weatherspoon would both be great picks at #23. However, there is a likely chance they won’t be there, either. Or maybe one of the top OL prospects are available and Thompson waits another round to address OLB? Here are some OLB prospects that could be available for the Packers in the second day of the draft (which sounds late, but is just the second or third round. Dumb idea, but I digress for another day).
- Jerry Hughes, TCU
The numbers: 6-feet, 2-inches, 255-pounds…21 years old, senior…4.69 40-time (4th best DL at combine)…4.15 in 20-yd shuffle (best among DL)…28.5 career sack, with 15 and in ‘08 and 11.5 in ‘09…consensus 1st team All-American in ‘08 and ‘09…MWC defensive player of the year in ‘08 and ‘09 as well.
What he does that could work for the Packers: If the Packers are serious about finding a pass rusher to pair with Clay Matthews, Hughes may be the guy. He very well could be the best pure pass rusher in this draft. Highly productive in college. Has tremendous speed and quickness, especially off the edge. Big time hitter, extremely tough, great motor and very instinctive.
What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Hughes was a defensive end in college, so his pass coverage skills might be suspect. Also needs to improve against the run, as he was played with his hand primarily on the ground. Height may be an issue against taller lineman. MWC is a decent league, but didn’t play against top competition on a week-to-week basis.
Final thoughts: Hughes has been one of the best pass rushers in college football over the past two seasons and was the leader of the very tough Horned Frog defense. Seems to have all the intangibles to succeed at the next level, with no red flags. The main concern in the position change, but his athleticism, speed and smarts should make a sucessful transition. He has good size for an OLB and would have been undersized as a 4-3 DE. He should definitely be available at #23, but he may not drop to the Packers in the second round, where he would be a steal. Don’t be surprised if Thompson snags him in the first round and it wouldn’t be a reach at all.
- Ricky Sapp, Clemson
The numbers: 6-feet, 4-inches, 252 pounds…23 years old, senior…34 1/2 in. arm length…4.7 40-time (5th best at combine for DL)…17 career sacks…40 career TFL…three-year starter…2nd-team All-ACC as a senior.
What he does that could work for the Packers: Like Hughes, Sapp is extremely fast off the edge. Long arms, excellent range and plays comfortable in space. Posses good athleticism and above average tackler. Very quick and closes fast in pursuit.
What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Not great against the run and little experience in pass coverage. Has good height and speed for OLB, but may need to put on weight to get around stronger blockers. Doesn’t posses the best instincts and may be too aggressive at times. Questionable consistency and durability issues (torn ACL in ‘08).
Final thoughts: Sapp may end up being the second coming of KGB. He is not as complete or accomplished as Hughes, Kindle or Weatherspoon. Needs to add bulk and may end up being a more situational than an every down player. However, his measurables and potential are as high as any pass rusher in this draft. The overall lack of production college is worrisome. He’ll probably be available in the second round, but you would like Thompson to draft a starter in the slot, not a specialist. He would be great value in round three, but I’d stay away until then.
- Navorro Bowman, Penn State
The numbers: 6-feet, 242 pounds…21, junior…6.91 in 3-cone drill (6th best LB at combine)…26 reps in bench press… (10th best)…93 tackles in ‘09, 215 tackles for career…1st team All-Big Ten in ‘08 and ‘09.
What he does that could work for the Packers: Bowman is very athletic and has excellent range to cover sideline to sideline. Proven open-field tackler at the top level in college. Very good in pass coverage and plays with aggressive demeanor.
What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Not a proven pass rusher (only 8 career sacks at Penn St.). May also be not be a good fit in a 3-4 as an OLB and may not be big or strong enough to play inside. The real red flags are his off-the-field issues. Bowman is a first round talent, but is slipping due to multiple incidents at Penn St.; charged with felony aggravated assault for his involvement in a campus fight in 2007, which led to his temporary dismissal from the team; pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and sentenced to probation and community service and eventually reinstated to the football team; admitted to smoking marijuana in 2009, which violated his probation and extending it another year.
Final thoughts: Bowman is a good OLB prospect for the 4-3 and is simply not a fit in the 3-4. His tackling and coverage ability rival that of any OLB prospect, but in the 3-4 you need to be able to rush the passer, something Bowman simply does not do. Reminds us a lot of Brandon Chillar, who may be able to play good inside and outside well and has good coverage capabilities, so there really isn’t a need for someone likes Bowman’s skill set. Oh, and then there are his off the field issues. It’s one thing of making a mistake and learning from it (i.e. Kindle), but it’s another thing to repeatedly being a moron. I will be shocked if Bowman lands in Green Bay.
Those are three more names to keep in the back of your mind come the second round Friday night. Hard to imagine any of them slipping to the third, especially Hughes. Check back tomorrow when we will try to uncover this year’s Brad Jones and give you some names to keep an eye late in the draft.