Draft Exclusive: Speedy Senior Receiver

With Donald Driver 36 and James Jones heading to free agency, the Packers need to add talent in the draft. This prospect raised his stock by clocking a faster-than-expected 40 time at the Scouting Combine.

The Green Bay Packers used one of their allotted 60 formal Scouting Combine interviews on Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson, a source told Packer Report on Monday.

Here's why that matters:

— The Packers need a wide receiver, as we've been saying frequently over the last couple of weeks.

— The 6-foot-2 Hankerson has the height the Packers like and he wouldn't be a reach for them to take with the 32nd overall selection.

— Most teams, including the Packers, use their Combine interviews on juniors, since they could have talked at an all-star game (Hankerson starred at the Senior Bowl) or on campus (only seniors can talk to teams during their college seasons).

— Packers scout Alonzo Highsmith played at Miami and knows that program inside and out.

Those two facts hint at more than just modest interest in a player whose 13 touchdown receptions this past season beat the school record held by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and whose 1,156 receiving yards broke the school record held by his favorite player, Texans star Andre Johnson.

"Best part of my game is I'm a big receiver, run good routes, go up and catch the ball, catch the ball in traffic, finish," he said on Friday.

Turns out he can run, too. Among the big-school receivers, Hankerson's 40-yard time of 4.43 seconds trailed only Alabama's Julio Jones (4.39).

Hankerson blossomed in part under the tutelage of Mark Duper, who was one of Dan Marino's favorite targets with the Dolphins in the 1980s. After catching just 17 passes in his first two seasons for the Hurricanes, Hankerson worked with Duper the past two summers and scored 19 touchdowns as a junior (six) and senior (13). His 22 career touchdowns trail only Irvin (26) and Lamar Thomas (23) in school history and only Irvin and Johnson had posted back-to-back 800-yard seasons.

Hankerson isn't a finished product. He said he needs to work on coming out of his breaks — a skill that would take on importance given the anticipation and arm strength of Aaron Rodgers. He still drops too many passes, with a habit of letting the ball come to him rather than snatching it with his hands.

"It's an honor being mentioned in the same category of some guys, Lamar Thomas, Reggie Wayne, Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson," Hankerson said. "It's an honor just having my name up in the category with those guys. You want to carry on their traditions."

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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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