Throughout the offseason, NFL teams will take advantage of the opportunity to sit down with a few select players set to enter the draft for a little 1 on 1. The meetings usually have more to do with whether or not the team is even going to consider drafting the player than it is an indication of a future draft pick. Still, if the interview goes well, it could help your chances with the team. Last year, Joe Callahan had a sit down with a Packers area scout. Come draft time, the Packers decided to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
So far this year, the Packers are listed as having met with four players. At the Senior Bowl, the Packers met with Bucknell offensive tackle Julie’n Davenport. At the East West Shrine game the Packers met with Virginia Tech offensive tackle Jonathan McLaughlin, UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau, and Utah running back Joseph Williams. So what do we know about these guys?
Perhaps the most interesting story in the draft, Joseph Williams, after just the second week of his second year as a football player, decided to walk away from football entirely. Citing the extreme pressures put on student athletes; Joseph began to fall out of love for football and his performance on the field started to suffer. Ultimately, Williams made the decision to quit playing football and dedicate his time to getting a degree in social work.
Over the next few weeks of his retirement, injuries started to plague Utah at the running back position and out of loyalty to his old team, Joseph returned to the field. Upon his return, Joseph was renewed with a new purpose. His style became more physical and he began to play angry.
In his first game back he was handed the ball 34 times and he totaled 179 yards. In his next game he carried 29 times for 332 yards. Over the course of his 7 game return, Williams would average 27 carries for 190 yards (7 ypc) and 1.5 touchdowns.
The explosive Williams turned quite a few heads but there will certainly be questions as to whether his heart is really in it. Certainly that played a part in why the Packers decided to sit down with him.
Although only 5’ 11”, Williams a good combination of speed and power. When given a running lane, Williams can very quickly get to the next level and is tough to bring down, using his leverage as well as being very slippery in tight quarters. Williams can turn arm tackles and bad angles into 6 points real quick.
His decision to walk away from football is probably going to be enough to get some teams to walk away from him in the draft. As Joe Thomas was recently quoted as saying “Talent doesn’t matter if you don’t like football.”
Among some of the other noticeable flaws, Williams struggles with pass blocking and also has had issues with fumbling.
Sometimes, like with Joseph Williams, you need to sit down with a guy and figure out if you want him on your team at all. Other times you just need to know where a guy fits on your draft board. That would be my guess in regard to Julie’n Davenport. Depending who you ask, Davenport is either an elite left tackle or is a guy not quite ready for the NFL.
At 6’7 310 pounds with 36” arms and 10.5” hands, Davenport lacks nothing in the size department.
His strengths? Well, it’s his strengths. Julie’n is clearly a beast and is able to handle the man in front of him with ease. His long arms keep pass rushers from ever being able to get their hands on him. Davenport also possess above average speed for his size making him very hard to run around.
The obvious knock against him is that he plays for Bucknell. As a result, there is no game film of him going up against anyone that could be considered NFL caliber, making it very hard to decipher if he can handle himself against a Von Miller level athlete.
More specifically, some scouts have concerns about his footwork. A straight bull rush he may be able to handle but what about stunts? Does he have the ability to be light on his feet when a 250 pound pass rusher pulls a Dwight Freeney spin move? The answer is, nobody knows.
Although the 6-5 294-pound tackle has started all four years of his career for Virginia Tech, totaling 49 games played, Jonathan is the biggest mystery of the group, with very few people talking about him. Jonathan is a right tackle for the Hokies but started his career as a freshman left tackle. Despite the obvious fear this would cause Hokies fans, McLaughlin played well, even when matched up with the likes of current NFL players such as Anthony Barr and Myles Jack, earning himself Freshman All-American Second Team.
McLaughlin, a 4-year starter, is a leader. Having spent time at Fort Union Military Academy and starting all 4 years as a Tackle for the Hokies, McLaughlin is a man players can rally around that gives no reason of being an issue in the locker room. As a player, McLaughlin shows fluid motion and is able to handle a speed rush with ease.
A smaller player for an NFL tackle, McLaughlin isn’t the most physical and can struggle at times in the run game. Teams that look to invest in McLaughlin will have to plan to spend time with him in the weight room.
Another prospect that may need a closer look is Fabian Moreau. Labeled a first round talent by his coach Jim Mora Jr. in 2015, Moreau ended up needed season ending surgery that same year after only 3 games. He went on to play 1 full year in 2016 where he recorded 31 tackles, 9 passes defended, and 2 interceptions.
Considering he’s projected to be drafted somewhere between the end of the first to the middle of the second round, coupled with the lack of information, it makes sense the Packers, with the 29th pick, would want to know where he falls on their draft board.
Fabian is a well-rounded player. He has good athleticism and can generally be found in the pocket of receivers. A very smart player, he has good play recognition and can break with his assignment if he smalls a play developing. Fabian also isn’t content to let the big boys do the hitting and is willing to fight in the trenches to bring down ball carries. As for his dimensions, Moreau is 6-0 205 pounds and runs a 4.39 40, which will help put him in the conversation as a potential first round draft pick.
Although he’s good at everything, I wouldn’t call him elite in any one category. His heart and 100% effort are on display every play but at times it isn’t enough to get the job done. Ultimately, if it wasn’t such a deep class, Fabian would be a lock first round. With the wealth of talent available it will push him down the board.
I suppose come draft day we will see how the meeting went but at this time, with the need at corner, the talks of Moreau being a late first round prospect, and the meeting he had with the Packers, Fabian clearly has to be in the conversation when talking about who the Packers take in the first round.