Well now we get to the nitty gritty for us Packer fans, the linebackers. Many of use were disappointed in the revolving door that developed at ROLB and the boo birds are back concerning AJ Hawk’s play. Especially after what the back ups did in the mid season filling in.
I doubt TT will take any action as the starters and backups here in Green Bay seemed established at the position. Luke Kuechly (Boston College) and Dont’a Hightower (Alabama) will draw the most attention and while Vontez Burfect (Arizone St) has a great athletic body but his immaturity on and off the field scare me where I would recommend not drafting him if I were in a war room.
There are 3 players that I like and can’t wait to see them at the combine.
Audie Cole from NC State is a 6-4 248lbs and though not a blitzer he has size and smarts and tackles anything near him. That alone might be nice to see after last season. He is pegged in the 3rd to 4th round and I think he will be most successful at SILB in a 3-4. I am not sure if he is quick enough for a 4-3 MLB but he was successful in both formations.
Another is Emmanuel Ocho from Texas. I know many people have him listed as an OLB but he really is an ILB in the NFL. 6-2 240lbs he really stepped even though Texas had a down year. He is versatile from playing DE and then switching to LB and playing inside and out. I see a team like the Broncos, Bills, or even the Patriots that value a player that can play in multiple fronts. I like him as a TE defender to since he is a hair smaller but almost as fast as the top TEs and is capable at coverage and run support.
My “Little Engine that Could” player actually must have turned heads besides my own at the East West game.
Shawn Louiseau from Merrimack really was one of the few players worth watching at practice and the game. I had him in the 580s big board but after his performance I moved him into the 310s and thought UDFA or camp invite. The NFL has invited him to the combine. Yes they invited him to the combine and from what I am hearing he might be a 7th round pick. He is 6-2 245 lbs.
Dane Bigler over at NFLdraftsscout says “For teams looking for a hard-nosed, aggressive linebacker, look no farther than Louiseau who brings enough intensity to the field for the entire defense. He has average size, length and athleticism, but makes up for his shortcomings with instincts and overall toughness. Loiseau fills the run lanes hard and won’t shy from contact, taking on blocks and using his eyes effectively. He should be a special teams standout at worst and will make it tough for pro coaches to cut him.”
Nuff said for me. I will have fun watching him get his shot in Indy at the combine.
Now onto the OLBs.
Courtney Upshaw(Alabama), Melvin Ingram(S. Carolina), and Nick Perry(USC) are the top 3-4 OLBs with a 1st round grade in the draft. I have issues with Upshaw and whether he has the speed to operate in Capers system. I am very intrigued by Nick Perry as he is a hair undersized but has the quickness to be a great pass rush threat. He is a great fit if available at spot #28 for the Packers. Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma) looks to be a good fit but I have concerns he gave up on his college team. His interview would determine if he is a Packer player. Vinny Curry(Marshall) is a similar style player DE/OLB and either might be available in round 2 when the Packers pick.
These guys that have my attention at ROLB for the Packers and could be available late 2nd to the 4th round.
Jonathon Massaquoi (Troy) 6-5; 250lbs He actually is listed at 270lbs by Troy but I have actually seen his training weigh in and he is 250. He has very long arms and plays and really measures out like Demarcus Ware(1st round Cowboys). I really like what I see here. Small school is only issue but Troy has produced some well coached and successful NFL players in the last few years. I have a late 2nd round grade on him
Shea McClellin(Boise St) 6-3 245lbs has rocketed up draft boards but not because of elite athletic talent. He fits almost every scheme and just makes things happen. I don’t know if it divine providence or just luck but he gets it done. He just gets it done. I don’t mean he is a slouch, he is very athletic, I just mean he is never the number 1 guy in any category but he rates well in them all. That is why he is valuable as the role of LB changes play to play, line call to line call. He rushes well, run stops well, and goes into coverage well; not elite in any but very well in all. Solid 3rd round grade.
Bruce Irvin (West Virginia) 6-2; 245lbs. Bruce is a young man with a troubled past. He went and turned his life around and got his GED. He played at junior college and was told to get the QB. He did with 72 tackles w/16 sacks. West Virginia asked him to do the same. He had 14 tackles for loss- all of them sacks. Assuming his interview and past issues seem resolved Irvin has the size, speed, and tenacity of CM III. He is tricky as I see him as high as #52 on some big boards and as low as #120 (very late 4th round) on another.
As you can see in the second round there is a lot of OLBs to choose. This should be where TT drafts the ROLB for the Packers. It all depends on who the like and if there is a particular player they want like TT did with CMIII.
Oh and as a dark horse pick that will make a GM look smart don’t forget Missouri’s Jacquies Smith as a guy that will make it.
Next up- CBs