Need To Know: Khaseem Greene

The Packers have a bunch of inside linebackers, but that hasn't stopped the team from digging into this year's deep draft class. One of the headliners is Rutgers' Khaseem Greene, who potentially would be a major upgrade to the pass defense.

Led by A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, the Green Bay Packers have six inside linebackers on their roster. Five of them have started.

So why are the Packers taking such a keen interest in Rutgers' Khaseem Greene, who scouts consider a second-round prospect?

Sure, Greene was incredibly productive. As a senior, he led the Scarlet Knights with six sacks, 12 tackles for losses, 136 tackles and a whopping six forced fumbles, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors. It was quite an encore from 2011, when he was the co-Defensive Player of the Year with 141 tackles and 14 tackles for losses.

Pass coverage, however, has been a major issue for the Packers' inside linebackers and Greene is arguably the best coverage linebacker in the draft.

As a sophomore in 2010, Greene started all 12 games at free safety and led the team with three interceptions and four forced fumbles. Despite starting just one game as a freshman, Greene tied for the team lead with two interceptions.

"My redshirt-sophomore year, I was 228 (pounds) playing safety," Greene recalled at the Scouting Combine. "And Coach (Greg Schiano) brought me down in springtime and said, ‘We want to get some speed in different areas of the defense, so we're thinking about moving you to (linebacker) and moving a different guy to safety.' At first, I was kind of selfish because I really liked playing safety. So, I was iffy about it. But we came to an agreement. Coach told me to try it for a week. And after the second day, I fell in love with it.

"It was a blessing in disguise for me to go back to linebacker and play linebacker in college. I don't know where I'd be right now if I stayed at safety. I don't know if the opportunity to contribute in the way that I did at Rutgers would have come about."

To be sure, it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but Greene broke up seven passes and had two interceptions last season. Hawk (zero breakups), Brad Jones (six) and D.J. Smith (four) combined to give the Packers 10 breakups and no interceptions from their entire inside linebacking corps. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Jones allowed a passer rating of 106.6, Hawk 107.7 and Smith 118.2. In 2011, when Bishop drew a bunch of tough matchups to limit Hawk's exposure, he allowed a 119.9 rating.

"I think it helps me from the fact that I have coverage skills. That's something that just comes natural to me," he said. "I can work on my coverage skills, but they're definitely there already. It's not something I have to work hard to develop or anything like that."

The 6-foot-1 Greene, who rehabbed a broken leg sustained in the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl with half-brother Ray Graham, a talented running back from Pittsburgh who was recovering from a torn ACL, played his senior season at about 230 pounds. That's far too small to handle the rigors of the NFL. He was up to 236 at the Senior Bowl and then 241 at the Scouting Combine. He hadn't lost his athleticism, though, with a 4.71 clocking in the 40 at Indy and about a tenth of a second faster at the school's recent pro day.

"Yeah, I feel I can take the pounding," Greene said. "At the same time, I'm fast, so linemen will have to catch me or get up to me. It's not about one guy. I will have teammates. I've played linebacker for the last two years. I've played against some really big boys — 120-plus tackles for two seasons. I take care of my body. I'll be able to take anything that's coming for me."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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