The NFL combine is the ultimate interview for draft prospects. They get measured, get their medicals checked, interview with teams and test their athleticism in several drills. In order to find trends and narrow down who the Packers might select I’ve compiled data from every one of Ted Thompson’s drafts. I looked at running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, outside linebackers, and cornerbacks and came up with what athletic/size traits Thompson selects and applied it to this year’s draft class.
The average size and athletic testing #’s that Ted Thompson drafts at the running back position:
5’11”, 220lbs, 4.52 forty yard dash, 1.58 10-yard split, 18 bench press reps, 9’9” broad jump, 34” vertical, 6.99 3-cone, 4.24 short shuttle
In what is considered a deep running back class, only a few running backs really fell in line with the kind of athlete Ted Thompson likes to draft.
The big two names of Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette fail to fall within the parameters. Dalvin Cook disappointed in both his 3-cone and short shuttle drills. Fournette opted to not participate in either the 3-cone, short shuttle or the broad jump after a disappointing vertical jump of just 28.5". Both players will still likely be gone by pick 29 so it's not too concerning that they didn't test as well as their film indicates.
The consensus third ranked running back, Christian McCaffrey from Stanford, tested really well and met all the athletic thresholds; however, he would be the lightest running back Ted Thompson has ever drafted. Jonathan Franklin, who was a fourth round pick, weighed 205lbs compared to McCaffrey's 202lbs. This doesn't necessarily rule out McCaffrey as a potential Packer pick, but it does give one pause. McCaffrey isn't expected to last until pick 61 so it would require taking him at pick 29 or a trading back from 29 to draft him.
Another running back who aligns athletically but also has could-be issues with his size is Jeremy McNichols from Boise St. Standing at 5’9”, McNichols would be the shortest running back Thompson has ever drafted. Nonetheless, McNichols (who was a versatile piece for Boise St.) had testing numbers that the Packers typically look for in a running back.
Joe Williams from Utah may be the running back who aligns most with what Thompson looks for athletically in a running back. Despite having what would be the 2nd slowest 3-cone of any running back drafted by Thompson, his short shuttle, 40 yard dash, and leaping ability are all excellent. Williams also has great size at 5'11 and 210lbs. Williams made headlines when he retired for a couple of games during the middle of the season but when he returned he had some monster games. It remains to be seen if he was able to answer questions about bailing on his teammates.
At 6’1”, Brian Hill from Wyoming would be the tallest running back Thompson has drafted since James Starks in 2010 at 6'2”. Hill tested on the slower side of both the 3-cone and short shuttle, but does likely fall within an acceptable range. Hill doesn't have great open field moves but he can find the hole and runs behind his pads.
Alvin Kamara of Tennessee, Marlon Mack of South Florida, and Christopher Carson of Oklahoma St didn't complete all of the testing at the combine for one reason or another, though each weighed in well and were on pace athletically to fall into the parameters of a running back that would interest Thompson. Until their respective Pro Days we won't be able to say for certain.
The average size and athletic testing #’s Ted Thompson drafts at the wide receiver position:
6’1”, 202lbs, 4.47 forty yard dash, 1.56 10 yard split, 9.5” hands, 10’ broad jump, 36.5” vertical, 6.89 3-cone, 4.18 short shuttle
While many don’t feel there is a Julio Jones or an AJ Green type of wide receiver in the 2017 class, there is some decent day two and day three depth that could interest the Packers.
There are four guys who would more than likely have to be a 2nd round pick that meet all of Thompson’s criteria. First is Zay Jones from East Carolina. He led all of college football last year with 158 receptions and 145 yards per game. Chris Godwin from Penn St. is a receiver who wins on the outside with great leaping ability and strong hands. He averaged nearly 17 yards per catch this past year for the Nittany Lions. Taywan Taylor from Western Kentucky is another insanely productive receiver who caught 17 touchdowns each of the last two season and nearly 3200 yards combined. Chad Hansen, a JUCO transfer to California, had a great year as the Golden Bear’s #1 wide receiver hauling in 92 passes and 11 touchdowns. He wins with great body control along the sideline and his ability to high point the football. All four of these receivers have the typical look of a Packer receiver and would all be a nice option for Aaron Rodgers to throw to.
The other players who fit the size and athleticism archetype are Jehu Chesson of Michigan, Kenny Golladay of Northern Illinois, Fred Ross of Mississippi St., Quincy Adeboyejo from Ole Miss, Robert Davis from Georgia St. and Michael Rector from Stanford. Adeboyejo, Davis, and Rector are nothing more than late round guys who have good athleticism. These picks would be similar to the Kevin Dorsey and Jeff Janis selections of years past. Chesson entered this season with high expectations but was wasn’t the go-to receiver for the Wolverines, and was essentially the third option for Harbough’s offense. He has talent and could produce early in the right situation. Golladay is one of my favorite “under the radar” guys. When watching his film you see a physical, fast receiver who plays with an edge to his game. I think he could develop into a really good starting outside receiver. Ross was a model of consistency for the Bulldogs the last two years catching 160 balls. He averaged a paltry 12 yards per reception showing he is more of a possession receiver at the next level as opposed to a downfield threat.
A few late round options fall just short of fitting into Thompson’s mold but not by enough to dismiss them as options. Bug Howard from North Carolina is a big target at 6’4 221lbs but his 4.58 forty yard dash would be on the slow end of what Thompson typically drafts. Amba Etta-Tawo from Syracuse is a really productive receiver who physically looks the part but would have the 2nd slowest short shuttle and 2nd lowest vertical jump of any receiver Thompson has drafted. Curtis Samuel from Ohio St. is an electric quick slot receiver who blazed a 4.31 forty yard dash but disappointed in both the 3-cone and short shuttle; in fact, his 3-cone would be the slowest of any receiver Thompson has ever drafted. Zach Pascal from Old Dominion and Malachi Dupre from LSU would also have the slowest 3-cone of any receiver Thompson has drafted. Dupre would also have the 4th slowest short shuttle time. Josh Malone from Tennessee put up respectable numbers in every category except the vertical jump where his 30.5” would be tied for the lowest Thompson has ever drafted at receiver.
Corey Davis from Western Michigan, Amara Darboh from Michigan, ArDarius Stewart from Alabama, Stacy Coley from Miami, Jamari Staples from Louisville, and Speedy Noil from Texas A&M didn’t test in all of the drills so it’s hard to say if they would met the criteria.
The average size and athletic testing #’s Ted Thompson drafts at the tight end position:
6’3”, 251lbs, 4.7 forty yard dash, 1.64 10 yard split, 9’6” broad jump, 32” vertical, 20 bench press reps, 7.21 3-cone drill, 4.46 short shuttle
This is a great year to draft a tight end, and it just so happens the Packers are very much in the market. The top two guys exceeded their lofty expectations at the combine and look like bonafide future stars at the position. OJ Howard from Alabama and David Njoku from Miami are almost sure bets to be gone by pick 29. The Packers would more than likely need to make a move up to try and draft one of these two players, and the chances of that happening are slim.
If the Packers wanted to wait until day two to address the position there would still be some decent options that come close to meeting the athleticism and size Thompson likes. Evan Engram from Ole Miss was primarily a slot receiver in college, but a damn good one. He ran a blazing 4.42 forty yard dash but at 234lbs he would be the lightest tight end Thompson has ever drafted. Another undersized tight end that could be an option is Gerald Everett from South Alabama who weighs in at just 239lbs. Everett’s testing numbers were fantastic, running a 6.99 3-cone and jumping 37.5” high. Everett has work to do as a blocker but he is a great weapon in the pass game. Jordan Leggett from Clemson didn’t run the forty yard dash but the big tight end tested incredibly well in the short shuttle, 3-cone, and the vertical. He is very much an option in round three if he isn’t picked before then. He has shown to be a willing blocker and a threat in the passing game. Adam Shaheen is the other option that could intrigue the Packers in the third round. The 6’6” kid from Ashland was once a sleeper but has gained some serious steam in the scouting circles. His forty yard dash would be the second slowest Thompson has ever drafted at the tight end position and at 278lbs he would be by far the heaviest. When watching Shaheen’s tape he was a man amongst boys in Division II.
The last tight end who fit Thompson’s mold was Darrell Daniels from Washington. At 6’3 247lbs he ran a very fast 4.55 forty yard dash which makes him a possibility in the 7th round. He didn’t have much production throughout his career with the Huskies.
The average size and athletic testing #’s Ted Thompson drafts at the outside linebacker position:
6’3”, 249lbs, 4.68 forty yard dash, 1.60 10 yard split, 10’1” broad jump, 35.5” vertical, 23 bench press reps, 7.1 3-cone drill, 4.34 short shuttle
While many consider this to be a deep year for edge rushers, a few of the top prospects failed to test well. One of the top guys did, however, blow away expectations and that is TJ Watt of Wisconsin. Watt measured in at over 250lbs, crushed all the explosion drills and tested extremely well in the 3-cone and short shuttle. Packers would need to spend pick number 29 on Watt as he would be long gone by pick 61. He would no doubt be a fan favorite.
There are four possibilities graded as day two prospects who tested in the parameters of what Thompson looks for (or just outside of them but not by enough to take them out of the running). Carl Lawson from Auburn tested extremely well across the board except for a putrid 7.46 3-cone time. That would be by far the slowest 3-cone time by an outside linebacker Thompson has ever drafted. Lawson also has come back from a neck injury earlier in his collegiate career. Packers are known for being very cautious when it comes to neck injuries. Jordan Willis from Kansas St. may have been the combine’s biggest winner. He ran a 4.53 forty yard dash at 255lbs, vertical jumped 39” and ran a 6.85 3-cone drill. Willis was the defensive leader for the Wildcats this past season posting 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. Despite testing incredibly well, Willis has some stiffness to his game but he’s well rounded enough to get after the passer and hold the point of attack vs the run. Tyus Bowser from Houston is another versatile defender capable of dropping into coverage if need be and explosive enough to get after the quarterback. The 247lb defender had 8.5 sacks for the Cougar defense last year and backed up his play with a strong week at the Senior Bowl. A small school prospect named Derek Rivers from Youngstown St. tested well in all of the drills but would have the 2nd slowest short shuttle time of any outside linebacker Thompson has picked. Rivers harassed FCS quarterbacks throughout his collegiate career including 14 sacks last year. He may need some time to develop vs NFL competition but he has a lot of physical tools.
The next grouping of outside linebackers are likely all round four guys. Vince Biegel from Wisconsin doesn’t get the attention of his teammate who has last name recognition but Biegel is a damn good football player. He checked all the boxes Thompson likes in his outside linebackers including a 6.92 3-cone. Biegel is very stout vs the run and can get after the passer some. He’ll need to work on some pass rush moves but he could be a part of a rotation early in his career. Trey Henrickson from Florida Atlantic is another small school player who impressed everyone in attendance at the East West Shrine game. The 266lb edge rusher tested well in every category continuing a really strong offseason for him. Daeshon Hall is another edge rusher who was overshadowed by a teammate, Myles Garrett, but is a good football player in his own right. Hall would be on the larger size of outside linebackers Thompson has taken at 6’5 265lbs (and he would also have the second slowest shuttle time) but there is enough athleticism for the Packers to at least consider him. Hall is strong vs the run, and uses his hands well to disengage from blockers. He may never be a double digit sack guy in the NFL but he’d certainly help a rotation. Tarrell Basham from Ohio is an insanely productive pass rusher who is on the low end of all the testing in terms of athleticism Thompson likes. On the field has a lot of traits that translate well to the NFL including a good motor and good strength.
The average size and athletic testing #’s Ted Thompson drafts at the cornerback position:
5’11”, 196lbs, 4.48 forty yard dash, 1.57 10 yard split, 10’ broad jump, 36” vertical, 14.5 bench press reps, 6.81 3-cone drill, 4.17 short shuttle
There is an excellent crop of talent at the top of the draft at the cornerback position-- several big, fast corners who have the ability to develop into shutdown guys. A few of them should be gone by pick 29, but it’s really a “pick your flavor” at the position as all four players demonstrate different styles of play.
Marshon Lattimore from Ohio St. is widely considered the best of the bunch but has some lingering hamstring issues that could scare off teams. He combines great size at 6’and tremendous speed (clocking a 4.36 forth yard dash before limping off with an injury). He wasn’t able to compete in the short shuttle or 3-cone but there should be no reason he wouldn’t fall into the threshold. His teammate Gareon Conley also impressed athletically with a 4.44 forty yard dash and one of the fastest 3-cones at 6.68. Conley uses his length incredibly well on the field and has no problems playing man coverage or zone. Marlon Humphrey from Alabama is one of the better athletes in the draft and ran a blistering 4.41 forty. He didn’t compete in the short shuttle but his 3-cone time of 6.75 was very good. On the field Humphrey needs to work on locating the ball better and has given up some big plays, but he has enough physical tools to make one think he could be developed into a team’s number one corner. The last prospect who is considered a first round caliber player is Quincy Wilson from Florida. Wilson disappointed some in the explosion drills, in fact he would have the lowest vertical and the second shortest broad jump of any cornerback Thompson has drafted. His strait line speed was adequate and his change of direction drills were really good. He doesn’t fit exactly in the mold of what Thompson likes, but there could be enough there for the Packers to pull the trigger. At 6’1” 211lbs he’s one of the bigger corners in the draft, and he can be physical at the line of scrimmage.
The day two guys are also extremely good athletes. Kevin King from Washington had one of the best combines of any cornerback ever. He ran a 4.43 forty yard dash and a 6.56 3-cone, fastest of any corner the last three years at the combine. King does a nice job redirecting receivers at the line and uses his 6’3 frame to disrupt a lot of passes. Chidobie Awuzie from Colorado is another big cornerback at 6’ 202lbs. He ran a 4.43 forty yard dash and looked smooth in the agility drills. Awuzie has no problems mixing it up in the run game and plays with good technique when in man coverage. Fabian Moreau from UCLA showed off his strait line speed clocking a 4.35 forty yard dash, but ran the 3-cone in 6.94 which would be the 2nd slowest 3-cone of any cornerback Thompson has drafted. Moreau will need some more time to work on the nuances of playing cornerback but he has traits that Joe Whitt will love. Ahkello Witherspoon, Awuzie’s teammate at Colorado is another 6’3 corner with a ton of length. His 3-cone would also be one of the slowest Thompson has ever drafted, but Witherspoon displays great ball skills and patience reading the receiver.
Shaquill Griffin from Central Florida and Chuck Clark from Virginia Tech both fit all of the size and athletic thresholds and are great late round developmental guys. Clark has the versatility to play both cornerback and safety. Brendan Langley from Lamar and Brian Allen from Utah both have a couple of testing results that would border on falling in the range of Thompson’s typical cornerback pick but not enough to warrant removing them as a possibility. Langley is a former big time high school recruit who was originally at Georgia.
Below is a chart detailing how I think these guys could be laid out for the Packers. Click on it to view a larger version of the image.
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