Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who’s in attendance at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. this week scouting NFL prospects in the college all-star game circuit, was reported to have had an informal interview with North Carolina safety Tre Boston, according to Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com.
Let’s get our annual disclaimer out of the way, simply interviewing or talking with a player doesn’t necessarily mean anything. By the end of the NFL draft process, Thompson and his staff will have spoken to nearly every draftable prospect in the nation.
It’s the job of NFL scouts and personnel evaluators to interview players, some more than others, some in a formal job-interview type of environment, some in an informal get-to-know-you type of way.
That being said, this serves as a good opportunity as any to take a look at Boston and need the Packers have at the safety position.
Obviously, safety is one of the Packers’ top needs heading into the offseason after getting subpar play from starters Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings during the 2013 season and adding depth at the position being a priority as well.
Despite a poor campaign from Burnett, his recent five-year, multi-million dollar contract extension makes him entrenched at the position for at least one more season and likely more.
It’s up to the Packers to find Burnett a running mate to pair next to him on the football field. And there’s reason to believe that by elevating the level of talent around Burnett, his play will likewise rise.
Some have advocated for the Packers to look for help at the safety position in free agency, such as making a run at high-profile players like Jarius Byrd or T.J. Ward.
But barring any significant additions in free agency, the Packers will be looking for help in the draft, and Boston is a logical target.
While the elite players in the college all-star games will appear at the Senior Bowl next week, Boston might be one of those underrated types of players flying under the radar, in essence representing the reason Thompson is doing his due diligence at the very least.
Boston meets the minimum measurables for a safety coming out of college, reportedly checking in at 5′ 11 5/8″ and 198 lbs. at the Shrine Game, although significantly smaller than the 6-1, 205 lbs. published by North Carolina.
But it’s Boston’s consistent production over the course of four years with the Tar Heels that sticks out, making 282 career tackles, eight for a loss, grabbing 13 interceptions, breaking up 20 passes and forcing three fumbles.
To Boston’s credit, he seemed to make progress every year in college, culminating in a successful senior season in which he was named second-team All-ACC by both the coaches and the media, making 94 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, five interceptions and breaking up eight passes.
NFLDraftScout.com, the gold standard among media outlets covering the NFL draft, suggests Boston is likely to be a seventh round or undrafted type of prospect, but I personally think his stock is much higher. In my opinion, Boston is a potential mid-round draft choice with perhaps a chance to be drafted as early as late Day 2 (late third round).
Obviously, Boston’s performance in measured drills at the NFL Combine and his on-campus pro day performance will go a long way towards determining where he gets selected in the draft. A slow 40 time or three-cone drill could drop his stock overnight significantly.
But the connection between Thompson and Boston in St. Petersburg this week is an interesting one, if for no other reason than the need the Packers have the position.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email email@example.com.