Draft Exclusive: Small-School WR

This prospect who met with the Packers on Thursday night would add a much-needed return threat and add some juice to a receiver group that could become dangerously thin.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the team is looking to "improve" at kick returner.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson has what he calls "Mendoza" lines on draft prospects. He hasn't drafted a wide receiver shorter than 5-foot-11 during his tenure.

These two seemingly unrelated paragraphs are tied together with Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan telling Packer Report on Friday that he had met with the Packers on Thursday night. Jernigan, who measured in at merely 5-foot-8, is considered arguably the top senior prospect at receiver in this draft.

"There are certain areas you just pass on," Thompson said on Friday. "It doesn't mean those players aren't going to be great players in the NFL, Pro Bowlers, all the rest. It's just percentage-wise we'd love to fail under our standards as opposed to other people."

Jernigan doesn't have the measurables that the Packers prefer but it's hard to imagine they'd waste one of their 60 allotted formal interviews on a player they'd cross off their list based on height and could have talked to at the Senior Bowl last month. The Packers could use a receiver, with Donald Driver having turned 36 and James Jones about to become an unrestricted free agent. Plus, they'd love to take Tramon Williams off of punt returns and find a spark on kickoff returns.

Jernigan, who could go as early as the second round, hopes to run his 40-yard dash in the low 4.3-second range. As a senior, he caught 84 passes for 822 yards, mainly on screens and hitches from the slot, and rushed 45 times for 322 yards as the wildcat quarterback. Perhaps more importantly for the Packers' punchless special teams, he averaged 13.3 yards per punt return and 25.2 yards on kickoff returns, with a touchdown on each.

"Everybody wants to look and see what I'm going to run on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it, too," said Jernigan, who patterns his game after Philadelphia's electric mighty mite, DeSean Jackson.

Troy isn't exactly a powerhouse and it doesn't exactly play a murderer's row schedule. However, he was challenged constantly at practice by Leodis McKelvin (first round, Buffalo, 2008), Sherrod Martin (second round, Carolina, 2009) and Jorrick Colvin (sixth round, Arizona, 2010).

"Oh, man, it's really cool," Jernigan said of his childhood dreams coming to fruition. "It's something you dream about every day. I always said as a little boy playing peewee football that I wanted to be in the NFL one day. Here I am. I've got a chance."


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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