The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine will take place starting on February 23rd in Indianapolis and run through February 26th. Over 300 top prospects will be working out to try and raise their draft stock for the 2013 NFL Draft, which will take place on April 25th, for the first of three days.
Ted Thompson will certainly be in attendance, as he tries to determine the players he would like to select in the upcoming draft.
Nick Perry, who was the No. 1 pick of the Packers in 2012 (at pick No. 28), had a fabulous workout last year at the combine. Perry ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds, had a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, a broad jump of 10-4, plus bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times.
In 2013, the Packers will have the 26th selection in the first round, and depending on the board at the time, the team will have a number of options.
The team has a number of needs, but Thompson usually will pick the best player on the board when it's time for the Packers to make their selection.
I'm going to list some of the players who may be available when it's time for the Packers to pick with the 26th selection in the first round.
Weight: 305 pounds
Barrett Jones will be at the combine, but will be somewhat limited because of the foot surgery he had shortly after the BSC National Championship Game. Jones should be ready to participate in all football activities by April.
Jones first suffered the foot injury (torn ligaments) in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. You wouldn't have known that based on the way he played in that game, or the BCS title game versus Notre Dame, as the Alabama offense manhandled the Fighting Irish in that game.
The tape doesn't lie when it comes to Jones. He played three different positions on the three national championship teams he was on for the Crimson Tide, and he played all those positions well.
Jones was an All-American at both center (2012) and left tackle (2011) and was also a right guard in 2009 and 2010.
The Packers love offensive linemen who are versatile, and Jones is certainly that. The Packers have quality depth questions for the whole offensive line, especially on the inside positions like center and guard.
Jones can help at offensive tackle too, where right tackle Bryan Bulaga missed half of the 2012 season, due to a hip fracture, while Derek Sherrod missed the entire 2012 season because a fractured leg injury from late in the 2011 season. Both Bulaga and Sherrod are former No. 1 draft picks.
Don Barclay did better than expected at right tackle after Bulaga went out, but left tackle Marshall Newhouse was inconsistent again, much like he was in 2011.
Jones has displayed superior leadership skills throughout his career at Alabama, plus his play on the field has been stellar. You also have the versatility factor. Add that all together and you have a great offensive line prospect.
Weight: 308 pounds
Kawann Short is coming off a very good performance at the Senior Bowl. That was after a very solid 2012 season for Short at Purdue, as he was named first-team All-Big Ten at defensive tackle by both the coaches and the media, plus he was named to the second-team on the Associated Press All-American team.
In the 2012 season, Short had 42 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four passes broken up, four blocked kicks, two fumbles recovered and one forced fumble.
In his career as a Boilermaker, Short had 48 tackles for loss in his career and had 18 sacks. He also had eight career blocked kicks with two interceptions as well.
Short plays the run very effectively, and he can also bring some pass pressure.
Short could help the Packers in a couple of areas, especially with Ryan Pickett not getting any younger and Jerel Worthy recently having ACL surgery.
Short could play defensive end, plus he could fill in at nose tackle from time to time.
Weight: 277 pounds
Margus Hunt is one of those players who keeps moving up the draft board. Hunt also should do well at the combine, due to his athleticism.
Hunt is coming off a decent performance at the Senior Bowl, where he struggled somewhat initially, but got much better as the week wore on. The Packers were one of the teams who interviewed Hunt at the Senior Bowl.
As a senior at SMU in 2012, Hunt had 28 tackles, six sacks, one interception, two pass deflections and three blocked kicks in the regular season.
Hunt then had a fantastic performance in the Hawaii Bowl against Fresno State, as he had a sack for a safety, plus two forced fumbles in a 43-10 win for the Mustangs.
Hunt has a track background and is very athletic. He also has blocked a whopping 17 kicks in his collegiate career.
Hunt also has the frame to add weight as well, which will be needed at the defensive end position for the Packers in their 3-4 scheme. He has excellent speed for his size and a massive 82-inch wing span.
The Packers would like to get bigger on the defensive front, and Hunt would definitely add to that wish.
Weight: 280 pounds
Datone Jones is another player who is coming off a good performance at the Senior Bowl, as he excelled in the drills and was solid in the actual game.
As a senior, Jones had 57 tackles, five sacks and 19 tackles for a loss past year, which brought him a selection to the 2012 All-Pac-12 Second Team.
In 2011, Jones had 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Jones missed all of the 2010 season with a fractured foot but had a very nice year in 2009, when he had 30 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four sacks.
Jones also played in the 3-4 defense at UCLA, so he is familiar with Green Bay's defensive scheme. He played both inside and outside on the defensive line of the Bruins.
Jones also has the frame to add weight, plus he has the size and speed to be very disruptive. The Packers need more big plays from their defensive line, and Jones has that type of ability.
Weight: 236 pounds
Alec Ogletree was one of two standout inside linebackers in the SEC, and his play on the field was outstanding in 2012 as Georgia advanced the SEC Championship Game.
The 2012 season started ominously for Ogletree, as he was suspended for the first four games due to a failed drug test, but once he returned to the field he played exceptionally well.
The junior linebacker had 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks an interception and five passes broken up once he got back out on the field.
In 2011, he finished very strong for the Bulldogs, as he had 52 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles over the last seven games of the season.
The Packers have questions at inside linebacker, as both Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and D.J. Smith (knee) were lost for the 2012 season due to injuries, while the status of A.J. Hawk is up in the air because of the salary cap ramifications ($5.45 million).
Brad Jones, who took over at right inside linebacker after Bishop and Smith were injured, is an unrestricted free agent. The Packers also have Terrell Manning at inside linebacker, but most of his rookie season last year was hampered due to illness and injury.
Ogletree is very instinctive and quick getting to the hole. The Packers are looking for more playmakers like him on defense.
Weight: 245 pounds
Kevin Minter is the other stud inside linebacker from the SEC in this draft, along with Alec Ogletree.
Minter had a splendid junior season for LSU, as he 130 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, four sacks, five passes broken up, a forced fumble and an interception.
That production on the field led Minter to be named first-team All-SEC.
In 2011, Minter had 61 tackles with sack and forced fumble in 2011.
Minter is a very intense player, who gets very physical at the point of the attack. The Packers would like that type of aggressiveness on defense, as well as the sure-tackling ability that Minter has displayed for LSU.
With all the questions the Packers have at inside linebacker, the Packers would certainly take a long look at both Minter and Ogletree if either were available at pick No. 26 in the first round.
Weight: 220 pounds
Eddie Lacy is one of a number of Alabama players who might get drafted in the first round of this year's draft. Lacy and Giovani Bernard of North Carolina are the two running backs who might be selected in round one.
Lacy had a stellar 2012 season, as he had 1,322 rushing yards (6.4 average) and had 17 touchdowns. Lacy also caught 22 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
But it was down the stretch when Lacy was dominant. He ran for 181 yards in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia, and then followed that up with a fantastic performance in the BCS National Championship Game.
Lacy rushed for 140 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, caught two passes for 17 yards and had another score, as Alabama whipped Notre Dame 42-14.
If Thompson were to select a running back in round one, my guess is that he would take a back like Lacy. Why? Thompson strongly considered selecting running back Mark Ingram of Alabama in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, before New Orleans selected the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Lacy has a similar skill set and looks to be a better NFL player.
The Packers have all sorts of questions at running back. Veterans Ryan Grant and Cedric Benson will probably not be back.
James Starks has been injured far too often in his three years in the NFL, while Alex Green has ability, but his ACL injury from 2011 set him back late in the 2012 season due to some scarring issues.
The Packers were pleased with the play of DuJuan Harris late in the 2012 season and in the playoffs, but because of Harris' size (5'7", 208 pounds), the Packers aren't sure he could handle the role of being a three-down back.
Lacy would be an excellent back to be in tandem with Harris, as he is a powerful, inside-the-tackles running back, who also catches the ball well.
The Packers improved their rushing offense from 27th in 2011 to 20th in 2012, but that still needs to improve.
In 2012, the offense of the Packers almost always saw opposing defenses playing their safeties deep, because the Packers did not have much of a threat in the running game. That would change with hard-charging Lacy.