2011 NFL Draft: Green Bay Packers Draft Visits and Workout Analysis
With the NFL draft quickly approaching, general managers are bringing in a number of prospects for official visits and workouts at their team facilities.
The Green Bay Packers are no different.
GM Ted Thompson has either worked-out or scheduled visits for 10 prospects, and that number will likely rise as the weeks go on.
However, if you're expecting Thompson to work-out all the big names in this draft, think again. Chances are, you won't know the majority of the players that have been visited by Green Bay in the recent days and weeks.
Of course, Thompson wouldn't have it any other way. In an effort to catch up to Thompson and the Packers brass, let's take a closer look at the 10 prospects currently on the schedule.
CB Antareis Bryan, Baylor
At 6'1", 200 pounds, Antareis Bryan of Baylor has all the size you'd like in an NFL cornerback.
And when you mix all that size with some of the workout numbers Bryan has posted, it's easy to understand why the Packers are taking a look at the cover man nicknamed "the Locksmith."
Bryan ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, had a vertical leap of 39 inches and broad-jumped 10"9'—impressive numbers for a guy that size.
However, Bryan suffered an ankle injury during his junior season and missed a handful of games this past year with a hamstring pull.
If the medical part of the evaluation checks out, the Locksmith would certainly warrant consideration towards the latter portions of the draft.
OT Willie Smith, East Carolina
After starting his career on the defensive line, East Carolina's Willie Smith transitioned over to offensive tackle after the 2007 season.
Obviously a quick learner, Smith went on to start the final 27 games of his career as the Pirates' left tackle.
And he wasn't just a serviceable starter at that position. Smith earned an Honorable Mention All-Conference USA selection in 2009 and followed it up by being named to the first team last season.
Smith obviously is a project player at tackle, but his ability to grasp the other side of the ball so quickly and his potential for growth warrants a look from Thompson and the Packers.
LB Marc Schiechl, Colorado School of Mines
There's probably no reason to ask, but you've surly heard of the Colorado School of Mines, the 2010 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Co-Champions?
All jokes aside, the school can lay claim to Marc Schiechl, a fast-rising prospect that has caught the eye of the Packers.
Schiechl, the all-time NCAA Division II sack leader (46.0), is 6'3", 260 pounds and could have a future as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. Most experts consider that position as one that the Packers might look to upgrade in this draft.
While he would certainly be a raw prospect, Schiechl's production and experience rushing the passer are enticing attributes for the Packers to consider.
TE Colin Cochart, South Dakota State
A native of Kewaunee, Wis., South Dakota State tight end Colin Cochart has to be thrilled that the Packers are taking an extended look at him.
His roots might be the only tie you're interested in right now, but Cochart actually put up some decent numbers at his pro-day workout.
At 6'3", 255 pounds, Cochart ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, benched 225 pounds 29 times and had a vertical leap of 35 inches. For a blocking tight end, those are impressive explosion marks.
He'd either be a seventh-round selection or an undrafted free agent (if there ever is a new CBA), but Thompson loves bringing in competition at the tight end position.
WR Raymond Webber, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Quickly, name the two receivers who have caught 100 passes in the history of the SWAC conference. I'll wait.
If you picked Arkansas-Pine Bluff receiver Raymond Webber, congratulations—this slide's title was an easy giveaway. But did you also pick Jerry Rice, the only other receiver to do what Webber did this season?
Rice twice caught 100 passes during his career at Mississippi Valley State, and Webber matched him in 2010 with 101 catches for 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns.
I'm not suggesting that Webber will be the NFL's next Jerry Rice, but it's hard to overlook that kind of production. With the Packers likely to be in the market for another receiver in this draft, Webber is a name to keep your eye on.
DT Anthony Gray, Southern Miss
Everyone has heard the old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words." For Southern Miss defensive tackle Anthony Gray, that saying might be better suited with "...worth 335 pounds."
As you can see from his picture, Gray is a large human being. Despite being only 5'11", Gray somehow packs all that weight onto his short frame.
For a team that obviously doesn't have a problem with players being large (think B.J. Raji, Howard Green and Ryan Pickett), Gray would fit right in on the Packers defensive line.
And with a 5.15-second 40, 31.5" vertical leap and 4.61 short shuttle, Gray could make a nice addition to a unit that is likely losing Cullen Jenkins.
OLB/DE Brooks Reed, Arizona
Finally, we get to Arizona linebacker Brooks Reed—possibly the first and last of the names you'll recognize on this list.
What more really needs to be said about Reed? Ever since his meteoric rise on draft boards, Packers fans have fallen in love with the Clay Matthews look-alike.
While he isn't the same athlete that Matthews was coming out of USC, Reed does display some explosion and bend off the edge. Given some time with linebackers coach Kevin Greene, I'd be confident that Reed would be an impact rusher at some point in his career.
I'm not 100-percent sure Reed is a value pick at No. 32, but there's no denying that interest for him is sky-high. Thompson and the Packers obviously share that interest.
KR/PR Shaky Smithson, Utah
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better name for a returner than Shaky Smithson.
But not only does he have the name, he has the talent as well. The former Utah Ute led the nation in punt-return yards (572), average (19.7) and 100-yard punt-return games (four).
Smithson also saw some time at slot receiver, where he caught 38 career passes for three touchdowns. He's very raw in catching the football, but it shows he has a base to work with.
Thompson rarely drafts just returner prospects, but it might finally be time for the Packers to address that area. If Smithson can show Thompson some receiving potential, there's a chance for him to be a late-round or free-agent pickup.
WR Jeremy Ross, California
On second thought, maybe Thompson really did get the memo about returners. Jeremy Ross, Cal's leader in punt-return average, is another prospect that doesn't offer much as a receiver but is getting a closer look from the Packers.
Ross caught just 57 passes in three years and never more than 22 in a full season.
However, he put together an impressive showing at Cal's pro day. Ross ran the 40 in 4.39 seconds and had a vertical leap of 39".
Like Shaky Smithson, Ross needs to show Thompson the ability to play receiver at some point to be worthy of a roster spot. Even so, Ross clearly has the game-chaging speed that the Packers return game has lacked for a long time.
FB/TE Ryan Taylor, North Carolina
After talking about two players at positions outside of Thompson's comfort zone, our final prospect is right in his wheelhouse—fullback.
As you're probably well aware, the Packers have uncharacteristically kept three fullbacks on their roster for the past two seasons. With John Kuhn and Korey Hall being free agents, it might be time for Thompson to "reload" at that position.
That's obviously a joke too, but UNC's Ryan Taylor does remind me a little bit of what Kuhn gives the Packers.
He's a solid blocker, and Taylor caught 30 passes in 2010, playing a hybrid role of fullback and tight end (H-back). He could be another undrafted free-agent possibility.
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