NFL Combine Primer: Who Packers should be looking at

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off Tuesday from Indianapolis, televised workouts begin on Friday and Head Coach Mike McCarthy and new GM Brian Gutekunst will address the media Wednesday. Before it all begins, though, here is a primer of which position groups to watch and who the Packers may have their eye on this week.

Edge rushers (DE/OLBs) ― Most agree this is the Packers' most-lacking position group. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry aren't what they used to be, and after freshening up the defensive coordinator gig with Mike Pettine, the Packers could use some freshening up on the edge.

  • Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio: Less polished coming from a smaller school, but has the quick-twitch ability and basketball-player-type size intriguing as an edge rusher. Would be fine-tuning his more raw technique working under Clay Matthews, which is a plus for his development. He's more often than not linked with the Packers in 2018 mock drafts.
  • Harold Landry, Boston College: Battled an ankle injury this season, but in 2016 led the FBS in sacks (16.5 sacks) 22 TFL and seven forced fumbles. Well-rounded defender who can be tasked with harassing quarterbacks and can be trusted against the run and in space.
  • Arden Key, LSU: Will have to answer why he left LSU's football program as well as other off-the-field concerns, which came into sharper focus after a less-than-spectacular junior campaign - four sacks in eight games, a significant dropoff from his 2016 season (11 sacks). Despite his combination of size, strength and speed, some project him falling out of the first round.
  • Carlton Davis, Auburn: Would be worth picking up at No. 76 overall in the third round, if available. Physical, big and disruptive, with 21 pass breakups in his last two seasons. Has shown strong run support ability, a plus for Pettine who likes to move chess pieces around in his defense.
  • Shaquem Griffin, UCF: Attempting to be the first player with one hand to be drafted in the modern era, but is more than a feel-good story. Despite a highly productive and hyped senior campaign, he will fall to the fourth or fifth rounds. Since moving to OLB in 2016, he put up 100 solo tackles, 18.5 sacks, two interceptions and a touchdown. 

Defensive backs ― Corner is the second most-popular selection for Green Bay's first pick. But don't be surprised if Gutekunst picks up a handful of defensive backs in the later rounds of the draft to bolster one of the Packers' biggest liabilities: lack of DB depth.

  • Josh Jackson, Iowa: Lauded for his length and playmaking ability (eight interceptions last season). Coupling Jackson with second-year pro Kevin King, the Packers would have one of the most athletic and longest CB duos in the league. He's the corner linked to Green Bay in mock draft scenarios when the Packers don't select an edge rusher first.
  • Mike Hughes, UCF: An intriguing prospect in a pretty deep corner class with what many say is a lot of upside. He bounced around at UNC and a JUCO before he spent his junior year this season with UCF, where he racked up 15 passes defended, four interceptions and showed versatility as he became the Knight to return a punt, kickoff and interception for a TD in one season.
  • Isaiah Oliver, Colorado: Catches eyes with his size and explosiveness and even ball skills, but has been known to commit mental errors so he needs the right organizational fit. His draft stock should rise after showing his athleticism at the combine, but likely will fall below Green Bay's 14th overall pick.
  • Donte Jackson, LSU: Likely a Day 2 draft pick due to his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame but could be a value pick if developed. Also a sprinting star at LSU, a track powerhouse, so speed works in his favor.
  • Quenton Meeks, Stanford: A quiet senior season means he'll likely slip to the fifth round or later. But he's big, he's physical and he could provide competition among a young corner room. 
  • Marcus Allen, Penn State: Could be a Day 2 or even Day 3 project for Pettine to play around with in his defense, as Allen played a hybrid-linebacker position in college, struggling at times in coverage. He tallied 71 total tackles, a pick and two forced fumbles his senior year and is among the top 10 at Penn State in career tackles (320). 

Wide receivers ― While Davante Adams cemented himself this season as Green Bay's top receiver, it was obvious Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb aren't what they once were. Moreover, the Packers' receivers are the slowest in the league, according to a New York Times article analyzing data provided by Sportradar. Gutekunst likely will look to the draft to find a young, promising receiver.

  • James Washington, Oklahoma State: Has averaged more than 20 yards per catch the last three years (albeit in the Big 12) and could be the explosive, speedy receiver the Packers roster lacks. Solid frame as well as reliable hands help him win in one-on-one situations. Could be taken in the first round before the Packers can get to him with their second pick.
  • D.J. Moore, Maryland: While one of the Terps' best receivers in school history, scouts knock him for a build like a running back (5-foot-11, 215 lbs). He's a strong route-runner who can create YAC and is a willing and good blocker. Green Bay would have to snatch him up in the second or third round.

Tight ends ― With Richard Rodgers set to hit free agency, Lance Kendricks is the lone tight end after the Martellus Bennett experiment blew up in the Packers' face. The Pack needs to take on a young, reliable tight end who can provide blocking for its promising run game.

  • Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin: Former walk-on turned most reliable offensive weapon for the Badgers whose biggest assets include reliable hands (despite missing one finger on his left hand), ability to catch in traffic and run blocking. Questions remain whether he can adjust to the speed of the NFL. Green Bay could keep Fumagalli in the Badger State with a pick in the late third or fourth round.
  • Hayden Hurst, South Carolina: Despite lackluster QB play with the Gamecocks, Hust averaged 12.7 yards per reception. Could be the answer at tight end Green Bay has been searching in earnest for, especially with his great hands.
  • Ian Thomas, Indiana: Still has room to grow as a blocker but brings a lot to the table as a receiver. Green Bay has to take on and develop depth at the tight end position, and Thomas provides a Day 3 selection project that could pan out.

Offensive linemen ― Injuries decimated the Packers' offensive line early and often in 2017; they deployed 11 different line combinations and four of the five starters battled injury at some point in the season. Despite seemingly solid depth (and versatility) on the line, many like Jason Spriggs underperformed when actually healthy. The Pack has to shore up the line's key backups.

  • T Tyrell Crosby, Oregon: After injuries wiped out tackles left and right last season, Green Bay needs an insurance policy they can trust. The physical prospect started all season as a sophomore at right and switched to left his senior year, showcasing versatility. Could end up as a guard in the NFL.
  • G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia: Versatile lineman who split his 41 starts almost evenly between guard and tackle. An impressive Senior Bowl showing rose his draft stock significantly, but he will not participate in the combine after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Quarterbacks ― Yes, Aaron Rodgers wears green and gold. But no lesson about QB depth was more obvious than when taking a look at how the Packers fared under backup passer Brett Hundley (in a word, poorly) and how the Eagles won a Super Bowl with their backup, Nick Foles. A back-end pick in the draft could bring necessary competition to this group.

  • J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: Three-time captain for the Buckeyes who can hurt defenses with his arm or feet whose pocket mobility improved over time at OSU. In stark contrast to Hundley, Barrett can wait it out in the pocket rather than bolting too quickly. A high-character individual who would bring a lot to the Packers' locker room and would grow in that environment, too.
  • Chase Litton, Marshall: Favorable size for a potential pocket passer. Scouts knock his decision-making and issues working through his progressions, which is an area in which he'd grow if sharing a QB room with Rodgers. 
  • Logan Woodside, Toledo: Lack of size will make most scouts overlook him but has a high football IQ, competitive nature and above-average accuracy. Would be a nice addition to the quarterback room with a late Day 3 pick.

The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine begins Thursday in Indianapolis. Click here for a full schedule.

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