Pro Day Tour: Center 'Fits Mold' for Packers

We tell you some of the prospects that Green Bay's scouts are watching on the busiest pro day of the season. In fact, Thursday is such a big day that we're splitting today's report into two stories. Tonight's update will include two intriguing outside linebackers.

The star attraction at Mississippi State's pro day on Thursday was defensive lineman Fletcher Cox. He'd be a perfect defensive end for the Green Bay Packers but he figures to be long, long gone by the time Green Bay is on the clock at No. 28. Words like "stud" and "elite talent" were overheard by the scouts, according to a source in attendance.

For Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey, the major player of interest figured to be center Quentin Saulsberry, who should go off the board early in Day 3. Center might be a position of need, depending on the free-agent future of Scott Wells, and Saulsberry is one of the top five in this draft. Saulsberry (6-2, 302), who started games at right tackle, both guard slots and center as a four-year starter.

"He'd fit the mold of a Packers lineman," a source said.

Running back Vick Ballard (5-10, 217) ranks second in school history with 29 rushing touchdowns even while playing only two seasons for the Bulldogs. The junior-college transfer rushed for 2,283 yards and averaged 6.0 yards per carry during his MSU career. The powerful, between-the-tackles runner has run a 4.65 in the 40. He could sneak into the third round.

Safety Charles Mitchell (5-11, 201) was a three-year starter. All four career interceptions came as a sophomore. He had back-to-back seasons of 90-plus tackles and is at his best near the line of scrimmage.

Utah State

In the world of college football, Utah State has lagged behind in-state foes Utah and BYU. Not this year, with inside linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin looking like solid Day 2 candidates.

Turbin (5-10, 222) entered the draft following a monster junior season of 1,517 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns. He's seen as a good fit in a Packers-style one-cut running system. He scored 11 career touchdowns through the air, adding to his appeal. He missed all of 2010 with a torn ACL and most of 2007 with an injured foot. At the Combine, he ran a 4.50 with an impressive 28 reps on the bench.

Wagner (6-0, 241), who will work out for scouts on March 30 because of pneumonia, piled up team-leading numbers of four sacks, 11.5 tackles for losses and two interceptions. Height is an issue, but it's hard to argue with 396 tackles during his three years as a full-time starter.

One free-agent prospect to consider, though not necessarily by the Packers because of his height: running back Michael Smith (5-8, 207) rushed for 870 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns as a senior. He was MVP of the Players All-Star Classic with 12 carries for 124 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, and a 26.3-yard average on kickoff returns.


At 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds, Chandler Jones hardly seems like a fit as a defensive end in the Packers' scheme. Not with Jarius Wynn being the "runt" of the Packers' line at 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds. But Jones played a pretty mean defensive end at Syracuse, and there's a feeling that he could easily gain 25 pounds and play the so-called "five-technique" in the NFL.

Jones, who ran a 4.87 at the Scouting Combine with a 35-inch vertical jump, is the brother of Arthur Jones (Baltimore Ravens) and Jon "Bones" Jones (UFC's light-heavyweight champion). He would be a solid second-round possibility for Green Bay.

Safety Phillip Thomas led the Big East with six interceptions even while being suspended for the final two games because of an undisclosed violation of team rules. Thomas (5-11, 198) is a ballhawking, centerfield-type safety, but his suspect tackling ability will push him into Day 3 of the draft.

Tight end Nick Provo (6-3, 237) is another Day 3 candidate. Provo, who would fit the Packers' scheme as a do-it-all type of tight end, caught 51 passes for 537 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.

Texas Tech

It's not a great year for the Red Raiders, though Alonzo Highsmith saw two potential undrafted free agents. Guard Lonnie Edwards started the final 33 games of his career at left guard and was a second-team all-conference selection as a junior and an honorable mention as a senior. Receiver Tramain Swindall finished with 150 career catches, though only 16 of those came during a senior season in which he played in 12 games but started only once.


The Packers were in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, with the only draft-worthy prospect being safety Travaun Nixon. He played in seven games as a senior due to a sprained knee yet finished fifth in tackles and posted a team-high four interceptions. In his two years at UTEP, the junior-college transfer picked off nine passes.


In 2009, the Bulls produced running back James Starks, who helped the Packers win a Super Bowl. This year, their top prospect is towering receiver Marcus Rivers. The 6-foot-3 Rivers caught 60 passes for 615 yards and two touchdowns as a senior.

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

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