Pro Day Tour: Back Shines In Front of Dorsey

If the Packers decide to part ways with free agent Ryan Grant, they'd likely add a running back in the draft. The Packers saw a good one on Friday. Plus, the scoop on four other pro days, including another look at a dual-threat quarterback and an under-the-radar center who grew up in Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers have a decision on their hands at running back.

Veteran Ryan Grant is a free agent. He turned 29 in December, and since getting a combined 594 carries in 2008 and 2009, he missed almost all of 2010 and was part of a time-share with James Starks in 2011. His lost fumble in the playoff game was the final nail in the Packers' coffin against the Giants.

The Packers could elect to re-sign him — it probably wouldn't take much more than a minimum contract packed with incentives. Or, they could look to the draft.

Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey saw one possibility on Friday in Mississippi's Brandon Bolden. Bolden didn't disappoint, with the 5-foot-11, 220-pounder turning in 40-yard times of 4.46 and 4.48 seconds, according to a source in attendance.

"He killed it," the source said. "He made a lot of money today. He's a big back with a little man's feet, and he can catch it, too."

Bolden rushed for 542 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman, 614 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore and 976 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. His senior year, however, didn't go as planned. He played in 10 games with four starts, missing time with a broken ankle and a one-game suspension for breaking team rules. He finished with 472 yards and four touchdowns, giving him career totals of 2,604 rushing yards (5.4 average) and 27 touchdowns. Importantly for the Packers, he's a capable pass blocker who caught 76 passes during his four seasons.

Friday's workout certainly won't hurt a player projected by media pundits to go in the fifth or sixth round.

"I think it went pretty well," Bolden told reporters. "I feel I had some better times than I did at the combine, which was the main point for coming and actually doing some more stuff. I think I did real good in the running back drills. Pretty much a good overall day for me."

Northern Illinois

Last week, we told you about the Packers' interest in quarterback Chandler Harnish. The Packers got another look at him as one of seven teams in attendance.

"I am sick of hearing people say, 'Well, he's got all the intangibles, blah, blah, blah ... but he may not have the physical tools," Harnish told reporters after his 55-minute throwing session. "I want to prove to people that I can come out and throw it and drop back and make all of the necessary reads.

"I think everyone knows I can lead a team, and be fiery and tough and every intangible you can think of. I want to show that I have an arm, too, and I can play this game."

Center Scott Wedige (6-4, 304), who went to high school in Elkhorn, Wis., is projected to go in the sixth or seventh round.

"The Packers scout played on the offensive line, so they know what to look for. I mean, they're professionals," Wedige said. "They see if you can bend your hips. Your hands and just shifting directions ... all of those things play into this whole process. You just have to show your talents, that's what this is all about. Hopefully I impressed one of them.

"I was told that I am a competitor, that I am a nasty blocker, and that I am quick. I ran really well."

Oklahoma State

When Justin Blackmon didn't run the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, questions about his speed persisted.

With 62 representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching him at his pro day, Blackmon erased any lingering doubt about his timed speed in roughly 4.45 seconds.

Oklahoma State listed Blackmon's 40 time as a 4.46 Friday. Scouts attending had him running in 4.4 seconds.

"I was trying to shoot for a 4.45," Blackmon said. "That was kind of in my head, anywhere between there and 4.5.

"I felt pretty good when I ran it. My time was there. It says everything it needs to say."

Blackmon caught 14 of 16 passes from quarterback Brandon Weeden during pass-catching drills. He did have two drops, both on out routes, but made two 50-yard catches on which he made adjustments to the ball in midair.

For the Browns, head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were on hand. The Vikings, with the third pick in the draft, had four members of their staff in attendance, including coach Leslie Frazier. The Vikings staff had a meeting scheduled with Blackmon immediately after his workout.

"He's a terrific young player," Frazier said of Blackmon. "He didn't do anything to make you wonder if he was a different person on tape. He really solidified some of the things you saw on tape."

Bears coach Lovie Smith and Broncos coach John Fox were the other coaches in attendance. Fox was flanked by vice president John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders before hurriedly hitting the airport, where they boarded a jet bound for Denver with Peyton Manning as a passenger.

— The Sports Xchange

Ohio State

While receiver DeVier Posey was the headliner, two offensive linemen were the main attraction for the Packers: tackle Mike Adams and center Michael Brewster.

Adams is a fringe first-round prospect. The Packers have used first-round picks on offensive tackles the past two seasons, with Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod. Unless the Packers are absolutely not convinced that Marshall Newhouse can play left tackle, Adams (6-7, 323) probably won't be in play in Round 1.

The fate of free agent center Scott Wells will determine the Packers' interest in Brewster (6-2, 312). Brewster, who started 48 games in his career, stood on his Combine work. He won't wow anyone with his physical prowess but he routinely got the job done.

"Once I got past the combine in Indianapolis and the Senior Bowl, I wasn't as nervous," Brewster told reporters. "It is good to get out and show everyone how you move and look from the work you have put in."

TCU

The Horned Frogs have one draft-worthy prospect, inside linebacker Tank Carder. Carder (6-2, 236) went through position drills. He's excellent in coverage and could be an option for the Packers in Day 3 of the draft as they seek a player to fill Brandon Chillar's old role.

Defensive end Braylon Broughton, who projects to outside linebacker in a 3-4, ran an eye-opening 4.50 in the 40. He had two sacks and six tackles for losses as a senior. Robert Deck (6-3, 274), who started 12 games at right tackle as a senior, worked out as a tight end. He was a backup tight end his first three seasons.

Green Bay offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse was there, and Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw to the Horned Frogs' skilled players.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


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.


Packer Report Top Stories