The Green Bay Packers were out in force down in Mobile, Alabama, including Ted Thompson. While there wasn't a ton of top talent in Mobile this year, there were plenty of players who should interest the organization and we saw some impressive displays of football.
As you can see in the attached picture, Mr. Thompson left impressed.
Here are some players the Packers should be looking at as we move towards the 2014 NFL draft.
Ra’shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
At one point last week I ran into the fabulous Ty Dunne of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel an enthusiastically told him about Minnesota DT Ra’shede Hageman, mostly that the Packers should be looking at him.
Yes, safety is a higher priority right now, but the team was horrific against the run and are desperate for an inside presence to clog up lanes.
Hageman stood out in very drill for the first two days of practice and while he had a bit of an off day on Wednesday, he still looked good overall. Constantly overwhelming the offensive line and clogging what would have been running lanes, Hageman showed good speed and strength, which he used on an overwhelmingly effective bull rush.
The downside to Hageman that I can see is he doesn’t have much more than a power move to get past offensive linemen. If they can stymie that, as they did Thursday, that’s about it.
That said, he eats up so much space and overall plays so well that the overall lack of moves wouldn’t hurt much.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Don’t feel bad if you have no idea where Linwood University is. I had to look it up myself.
Located in Missouri, Lindenwood (according to Wikipedia) has about 12,000 students and the Lions play Division II football and went an underwhelming 3-6 last season.
Now that you know where he comes from, let’s talk about who Pierre Desir is and where he could fit for the Packers.
As you might expect, Desir is a bit raw. Coming from a DIV-II program, he didn’t get the best coaching nor face the toughest competition. That’s not a knock on Lindenwood’s program, just a reality. There’s a difference.
But after a good performance at the Shrine Game, Desir went to the Senior Bowl where he played very well, primarily as a press corner. He finished the Senior Bowl game itself with a pair of tackles and a pick, with only two balls thrown in his direction when he was in the game.
He needs to work on his footwork and overall technique but he is an incredible athlete who can play physical football and is tall and long enough to win in coverage. He could also be shifted to safety if need be, which could be what would attract the Packers to him.
Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
You probably just twinged when you saw DE/OLB next to his name. After all, the last two transitional athletes who general manager Ted Thompson drafted (Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy) have yet to work out.
However, as I reported in an article for CSSSports.com, Ford rushed the passed with his hand off the ground a lot at Auburn and the Jacksonville Jaguars used him as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, attacking from the weak side.
The idea of turning Ford into a linebacker has generally been thrown around in reference to a 3-4 scheme, but the Packers shift to enough different fronts to find many ways to use him.
On top of it, Ford is an outstanding athlete with a high motor, tremendous energy and a nose for the football.
Here’s a guy who can transition for the Packers and actually work out.
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
For a defensive back on the smaller side (5’11”), Jaylen Watkins had a tremendous Senior Bowl Week.
Watkins is a fast, physical corner with a smooth backpedal who almost never got beat in drills during practices. He broke up a ton of passes during the course of practices and appears to be a willing run-stopper as well.
Watkins could easily play corner or safety in the NFL, and the Packers could use him in either capacity.
Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
I haven’t talked enough about Caraun Reid since the Senior Bowl and it’s a shame because he had a fantastic week. I hadn’t seen much of him prior to the week of practices, but after witnessing him dominate offensive linemen, I look forward to watching his film.
Given conversations with those who already had taken a closer look at the small-school player, I’ll see him double-teams quite a bit as teams schemed specifically to get him out of action.
I saw a ton of excellent pass rush technique, strength and speed in one-on-one drills and he beat players all along the offensive line. We also saw him in live action, as he notched two sacks and brought pressure which forced an interception during the South squad’s domination of the North.
As I mentioned before, the Packers need to firm up the middle of the defensive front.
Reid is a guy who can clog running lanes as well as disrupt pass plays.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and fresh off another trip to the Senior Bowl. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.
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