LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers was considered one of the top overall players, and perhaps the very top defensive lineman, in the 2012 NFL Draft class heading into the NFL Combine back in February .
"Brockers is a potential top 10 pick," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock in a conference call with the media prior to the Combine.
That was before Brockers had a less-than-impressive showing at the Combine when he ran 5.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash, had a 26.5-inch vertical jump, and clocked in at 4.81 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, all among the poorest performances at his position.
So as far as the Green Bay Packers are concerned, was Brockers' subpar outing enough to see him slide into their range with the 28th overall pick in the draft?
Brockers' stock seems to have fallen some, but if looking at more well-publicized mock drafts is any indication, he won't fall all the way to Green Bay late in the first round.
Wes Bunting of the National Football Post has Brockers going to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 11 overall while Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has him going to the New England Patriots at No. 27, one spot ahead of the Packers. Most other mock drafts have Brockers going somewhere in between.
Working in Brockers' favor was an impressive 2011 campaign, one in which he accumulated 54 tackles, 10 for a loss, and helped LSU become the No. 2 overall defense in the nation, have an undefeated regular season and earn a spot in the BCS championship game.
Some are worried that Brockers is just a one-year wonder, however––a flash in the pan. He declared for the NFL Draft after only his sophomore season in college.
Others think he's only reached the tip of the iceberg, that his potential for NFL domination knows no bounds.
"I feel like I can’t get any worse," said Brockers at the Combine. "I can only get better from now on. That’s really my mindset. I can only get better. That’s my response to that."
There's also the concern of where Brockers will fit in the NFL.
Before measuring in at 6-5 and 322 pounds at the Combine, Brockers played all over the defensive line at LSU, although he think's he's most comfortable lining up at the three-technique over the outside shoulder of the offensive guard.
If drafted into a 3-4 defensive system like the Packers, Brockers would more more likely play the five-technique in their base defense where the defensive player lines up head-up over the offensive tackle.
"I think he's a logical guy that could play outside if you needed him to," said Mayock. "He's a really explosive, 6-5, 300-pound defensive tackle."
Brockers would, however, very likely slide back inside when the Packers employ their nickel defense and other subpackages. That's if the Packers decide he's capable of being a three-down player, something he didn't always do at LSU.
Wherever he lines up, Brockers doesn't anticipate any problems.
"I’m all over the board," said Brockers. "Since I played so many positions at LSU, I played all down the line. I feel like it’s up to their decision wherever they want me to be. But I’ll be a perfect fit wherever they want to put me."
Another question is whether Brockers can provide a pass rush. He only had two sacks in 2011, partially the result of coming off the field on passing downs.
The Packers definitely need help with their pass rush after giving up the most passing yards in the history of the NFL last season and were among the league's cellar dwellers in sack efficiency.
But would a player like Brockers be able to help the Packers in that regard?
Attempting to justify his small number of sacks this past season, Brockers said, "Being a big guy like I am, I attract a lot of double teams. Being at the '2' (technique) sometimes, our defense, we do a lot of slanting and let blitzers come off the edge.
"I feel like I played my part in the defense being a force in the middle on first and second downs and getting us to third down situations. Then we’d get into our nickel packages and put pressure on and get interceptions and put more speed on the field."
Whether Brockers even reaches the Packers at No. 28 is a question all its own. And maybe his stock is back on the rise after improving in most every drill during his pro day at LSU on Thursday.
But with such a dire need for help along the defensive line in Green Bay that's been exacerbated by the suspension of Mike Neal for the first four games of 2012, it's hard not to at least speculate how Brockers would fit with the Packers.
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