By BOB McGINN
Based on interviews with five NFL executives in personnel, it is possible to narrow down somewhat the pool of players that might be considered by the Green Bay Packers regardless of position if they exercise their current No. 14 selection in the first round of the draft on April 26.
Prospects were conservatively divided into four categories: As Good As Gone – barring negative developments, these players have virtually no chance of reaching No. 14; Probably Gone – players who appear to have no better than a 50-50 chance of remaining on the board at No. 14; The Next Level – players who project in the top 40; Second-round possibilities – players who project in the top 60.
This is the last of a four-part series looking at 60 players who might fit into these four layers of the draft (underclassmen are denoted by asterisk). Within each category, players are listed in the following order of position: WR, TE, T, G-C, QB, RB, DE, DT, OLB, ILB, CB and S.
SECOND-ROUND POSSIBILITIES (22)
CAMERON SUTTON*, WR, Southern Methodist: 6-3 ½, 218.
Fourth-year junior. “He looks the part,” one scout said. “He’s gigantic. Not very fast. Not very athletic. Just a big ol’ strong guy.” Ran pretty well (4.54) at the combine for his size, which makes him the biggest of the top receivers. “Nice hands but doesn’t have enough speed or quickness,” said another scout. “He’s got a number of penalties for pushing off.” Averaged 16.5 on 195 receptions and scored 31 touchdowns.
JAMES WASHINGTON, WR, Oklahoma State: 5-11, 213.
Ran just 4.54 but has a way of getting deep evidenced by his 19.8-yard average (20.9) as a senior. “Big-time vertical production,” one scout said. “Short but a vertical stretch guy. He made that offense go. I think he’s in the 20 to 40 range.” Not only did he run the same time as Sutton but also measured the exact same arm length (32 3/8 inches) and hand size (9 ¾ inches). Built like a running back. “Some people have him as the best guy (wide receiver),” another scout said. “I think he’s just stiff and doesn’t have great hands.”
DALLAS GOEDERT, TE, South Dakota State: 6-4 ½, 256.
Former walk-on started three seasons at a lower level of competition. “He’s the most complete tight end,” said one scout. “He’s big and can run. Catches the ball well. Makes an effort to block. More of an athletic blocker than a strong blocker. Runs OK after the catch. I compared him to Hunter Henry.” Scored 25 in his first attempt at the Wonderlic intelligence test. “He’s getting a lot of hype but I don’t quite understand why,” said another scout. “I guess it’s just because there is nobody else. He’s just kind of a small-school guy.”
MIKE GESICKI, TE, Penn State: 6-4 ½, 247.
Three-year starter and top-notch threat in the red zone. “Former volleyball player,” said one scout. “He has vertical catching ability but isn’t a very good route runner. Doesn’t block. Kind of a one-trick pony. Jump-ball guy.” Might have moved up a round with a spectacular combine workout: 4.54 40, 41 ½ vertical jump and 10-9 broad jump. “He has two things going for him: height and hands,” another scout said. “I think he’s really stiff.”
CONNOR WILLIAMS*, T, Texas: 6-5, 296.
Third-year junior with just 33-inch arms “He’s got bend and flexibility,” said one scout. “The skill set is there. But it’s going to take more than that.” That personnel man said Williams has been entitled to the point it could affect his career in pro football. He also missed much of his final season with a knee injury. “The people at Texas were absolutely shocked he came out,” a second scout said. “He should have gone back. Really a soft guy. Really good athlete with really good feet and movement. But he gets pushed and didn’t look like he was real tough.” Ran 5.05 and had a vertical jump of 34.
GERON CHRISTIAN*, T, Louisville: 6-5, 298.
Third-year junior started all three seasons on the weak side. “Really good athlete,” said one scout. “Just OK strength and finish. He blocked at the second level well because he is a nice athlete. Average power. Better pass than run block. He’s a guy on the come.” Long arms (35), huge hands (10 ¾). Just 19 reps on the bench press and ran 5.33. “Natural left tackle,” that scout said. “Second round.”
BRIAN O’NEILL*, T, Pittsburgh: 6-7, 297.
Started two years at RT and last season at LT. “He’s very athletic,” said one scout. “Everyone thinks they’ll be able to develop him. He’ll be like that (Jake) Fisher from Oregon a couple years ago (2015, second round).” Ran a fabulous 40 (4.82). Arms were 34, hands were 9 3/8. Struggled against power in the Senior Bowl. “He is an athlete but limited strength and power,” said another scout. “He’s the kind of guy I used to get excited about but will end up getting cut. He’s really soft.”
BRADEN SMITH, G, Auburn: 6-6, 315.
Started for three seasons, usually at RG. “Real consistent,” one scout said. “Good run blocker. Good athlete. Tough.” Tested well athletically (33 1/2 vertical jump, 9-4 broad jump) and ran 5.22. “Excellent strength and power,” another scout said. “He matched strength against (Da’Ron) Payne of Alabama. That’s what impressed me. Square pass blocker.”
RONALD JONES*, RB, Southern California: 5-11, 205.
Third-year junior rushed for 3,619 yards (6.2). “Is he a dynamic runner,” said one scout. “He’s got toughness and can run inside the tackles. He’s got speed to run outside. He can catch the ball on third down. The question is, can he blitz pickup?” Pulled up running his first 40 at the combine. Was timed in 4.65 but scouts expect him to run in the 4.4s when healthy. “He is quick and explosive,” another scout said. “Runs hard inside and outside. Only thing I didn’t like was his size.”
SAM HUBBARD*, DE, Ohio State: 6-5 ½, 270.
Projects as a DE in a 4-3 defense. “With him, what you see is what you get,” one scout said. “He does it on technique and smarts. Very disciplined player. Coaches are going to like this player because he’s going to do exactly what they tell him to do. He was smart to come out because next year people would compare him to (Nick) Bosa and say this guy’s not very good.” Fourth-year junior with 17 sacks. “Just more of a try-hard type guy,” a second scout said. “Not an elite talent. More of a backup-type player.”
JOSH SWEAT*, DE, Florida State: 6-4 ½, 251.
Sweetened his credentials at the combine with a fast 40 (4.53), a 39 ½-inch vertical jump and a 10-3 broad jump. “He reminds me of the guy from there who went to the Ravens. Peter Boulware. Built like him. He’s got that kind of take-off,” one scout said. “Best pass rushing off the edge. He can flip and burst around the corner.” Arms measured an impressive 34 5/8 inches. Third-year junior with 12 sacks. “He’s kind of small but he flashes some edge rush stuff,” another scout said. “Plays hard. Not very strong, not very big.”
TAVEN BRYAN*, DT, Florida: 6-5, 291.
Fourth-year junior projects best as a 3-technique. “Initial quickness,” said one scout. “Kind of a one-gap guy. Plays high. Still learning the game.” Arms measured just 32 ¾ and he ran 4.98. “He doesn’t make any plays,” said another scout. “He plays erect, gets pushed around, not a very good athlete. I don’t see it at all.”
HARRISON PHILLIPS*, DT, Stanford: 6-3, 307.
Played NT for the Cardinal but might be better equipped for 5-technique in a 3-4. “Good player, does things right,” one scout said. “He’s a Stanford guy. Not a first-round or second-round kind of guy. Solomon Thomas was different but this guy fits in with some of those guys they’ve had before.” Showed great strength with 42 reps on the bench press, tested OK athletically, ran 5.21 and had 33 7/8 arms. “He’s not special in any area but he’s just extremely productive,” said another scout. “He can rush the passer some (16 sacks). He’s intense, he’s consistent.”
MAURICE HURST, DT, Michigan: 6-1, 292.
Fifth-year senior who improved every year. “Excellent intensity, tenacity and production,” one scout said. “He’s got explosive pass rush. Has quick change of direction with the ability to power (rush). Plays hard. He’s quick.” Left the combine without working out after doctors determined he had a heart condition, according to ESPN. Arms were just 32 inches. “I could never take the guy in the first round,” one scout said before the combine. “He’ll get hammered if he has to play two gaps. He’s a quick penetrator. He‘s just got to fit your system.”
MALIK JEFFERSON*, OLB-ILB, Texas: 6-2, 236.
Was an attacking-style inside linebacker for the Longhorns but might project best outside as a rusher (12 sacks). “He’s the entire package,” said one scout. “Excellent athletic ability and quickness. Good tackler. Around the ball. Fills and fits well. Can rush the passer. He’s taller than Roquan (Smith). First round.” Three-year starter. Ran 4.52, posted a 36-inch vertical jump and led the top LBs in the bench press with 27 reps. “More of a will space player,” said another scout. “He’s just a regular guy.”
HAROLD LANDRY, OLB, Boston College: 6-2 ½, 252.
Piled up 16 ½ sacks and seven forced fumbles in 2016 before an ankle injury limited him to eight games and five sacks in ’17. “He had all the production last year,” one scout said. “Played more D-end for them but can’t be a D-end up here. Not a physical guy. Doesn’t really play hard.” Arms measured 32 7/8, ran 4.64, worked out pretty well and had 24 reps on the bench. “He needs to win initially for success,” said a second scout. “Does not fight pressure. Run-around type. Tight in space.” Scored 20 on the Wonderlic. “I think he’s a pipedream,” said a third scout. “But he could be top 50 easy.”
LORENZO CARTER, OLB, Georgia: 6-5, 250.
Played in both three- and two-point stances for the Bulldogs but probably projects as an OLB for a 3-4 team in the NFL. “He needs to beat you with his first move,” said one scout. “He’s more of a pass rusher than a space guy. Questionable physicality and strength. All speed rush. He can take off and get up the field but then people can just push him.” Really helped himself at the combine with a 4.50 40, a 36-inch vertical jump and a 10-8 broad jump. Arms were 34, hands were 10 3/8. “Underachiever,” said another scout. “Not tough. Doesn’t have really good football temperament. Flash kind of guy. He’ll be a disappointment for somebody.”
ISAIAH OLIVER*, CB, Colorado: 6-0, 201.
Third-year junior who also was a decathlete for the Buffs track team for two years. “Second round,” said one scout. “He’s got good feet and hips. Only thing I questioned was top speed.” Oliver “didn’t light it up … he was just average,” according to one scout, in his workout Monday at the combine. Ran 4.50. “He’s really good in press,” another scout said. “Off, he needs a lot of work. He’s got a lot of skills. Got good length (33 ½ arms). Not very strong. He might go in the first round.”
JAIRE ALEXANDER*, CB, Louisville: 5-10, 196.
Evaluators struggle to evaluate Alexander because of a knee injury that limited this third-year junior to six games in 2017. “Little I saw of him I was shocked the guy came out,” said one scout. “I didn’t see catchup speed.” Measured just a shade over 5-10 but ran 4.38 and had an exceptional short shuttle (3.98). “He had the knee,” said another scout. “He was limping around. I didn’t get a true indication.”
DONTE JACKSON*, CB, Louisiana State: 5-10 ½, 178.
Third-year junior ran a blazing 4.32 at the combine. “If he had size he’d be a top-5 pick,” said one scout. “He reminded me of Philip Buchanon. He’s got that size and quickness. Strong for his size. Good tackler. Excellent one-on-one cover ability. Has problems against tall receivers. I think you stick him in the slot.” Bench-pressed just seven times. Played outside and in the slot for LSU. “He could be top 30 or 40,” a second scout said.
JUSTIN REID*, S, Stanford: 6-0 ½, 207.
Brother of Eric Reid, the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2013 and a five-year starter at safety. “Some people like the guy but I think they like him because of his brother,” said one scout. “I just didn’t see it. I don’t know why the guy came out. He’s got some ball skills but he misses a lot of tackles.” Had a huge combine, running a 4.40 40 to go with 16 reps on the bench, a 36 ½ vertical jump and a 10-7 long jump. “He struggles in space,” a second scout said. “He’s a box-area type.”
RONNIE HARRISON*, S, Alabama: 6-2, 207.
Classic strong safety who could bulk up and be a nickel LB. “I got him in the second round until he runs,” one scout said. “He’s a hitter and a strong tackler. Never saw him challenged deep. He has some hip tightness. I can see him in the first.” Didn’t run the 40 at the combine. Arms were 33 3/8. “Tough guy,” another scout said. “Plays the game the right way. Got to be coming forward. More of a box guy.” Should follow Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Landon Collins and Eddie Jackson as starting safeties from Alabama in the last five drafts.
NOTE – These were the last four players considered for the top 60: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon; D.J. Chark, WR, Louisiana State; Chukwuma Okorafor, T, Western Michigan; Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia.