Pro Day Tour: DE Takes Scouts Off Beaten Path

The Packers would have dispatched a scout, anyway, but Mike Neal's suspension only strengthens need for a defensive end. He's anything but a touted prospect, but a source compared him to Richard Seymour.

For the Green Bay Packers, Tuesday's most important pro day was at Sacramento State rather than power-conference schools Florida and Kansas State.

Working out at Sacramento State was defensive end prospect Akiem Hicks. The Green Bay Packers' need for a five-technique end only grew more desperate on Tuesday with Mike Neal's four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Hicks (6-5, 317) improved his numbers from the Scouting Combine, according to a source who was at the event. Hicks did 27 reps on the 225-pound bench press (compared to 26 at the Combine), with a 9-foot-2 broad jump (9-0 at Combine) and 32-inch vertical jump (31.5 at Combine). Because of the rainy and somewhat-slick conditions on FieldTurf, Hicks did not run the 40-yard dash after tweaking his hamstring at the Combine. He ran 5.23 there.

So, who is Hicks?

Hicks is from Elk Grove, Calif., and went to junior college at nearby Sacramento City Community College. After two seasons there, Hicks landed at LSU. However, during an unofficial visit to the LSU campus, Hicks received impermissible benefits. LSU self-reported the violations and Hicks was barred from playing NCAA football, leaving him with two options: NAIA or Canada.

Hicks chose Canada, playing two seasons at Regina.

Oh, and those grave recruiting violations? He was driven from the airport to campus by a student who worked in the athletic department, received rides from that student and fellow athletes from an off-campus apartment to athletic facilities, and he stayed at the apartment of a former football player.

Big stuff.

"He was a scapegoat," a source said. "You're telling me that's worse than what happened at Ohio State?"

Hicks played two seasons at Regina, tallying 6.5 sacks in nine games last season.

A source compared Hicks to Richard Seymour.

"He has such an upside," another source said. "There was no weight room in Canada. What he is is an example of a high-ceiling guy who needs coaching."

If the Packers want him, they'll have to get him at the end of Round 3.


Typically, Florida would be a hot spot on the pro day trail. Not so this year, with running back Chris Rainey, defensive lineman Jaye Howard and, maybe, quarterback John Brantley being worthy of a draft pick.

Rainey (5-8, 180), who led the Gators with 861 rushing yards, 1,451 all-purpose yards and 31 receptions, said he was clocked as fast as 4.30 in the 40. That potentially will get him into the tail-end of Day 2.

New Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey compared Rainey with versatile Vikings star Percy Harvin.

"He's multitalented," Mularkey told "He can do a lot of things; you just have to get him the ball in his hands and let him do his thing. He's a little bit like Percy, just comparing guys from same school, same speed, same kind of qualities of a guy that can hurt you in many ways."

Howard (6-3, 301), a full-time starter for the first time, had 5.5 sacks as a senior. Brantley (6-3) threw for 4,105 yards with 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his two seasons as the Gators' starter.

Kansas State

The school that produced Jordy Nelson and Josh Freeman has a lean year for prospects, with safety Tysyn Hartman perhaps being its only player selected.

Hartman (6-3, 208) went from backup quarterback to starting safety as a redshirt freshman. As a senior, he was an academic All-American and a finalist for the Campbell Trophy — aka the Academic Heisman. He graduated in three-and-a-half years with a 3.57 grade-point average in finance. Three of his nine interceptions came as a senior.

Running back Bryce Brown (6-0, 220) won't get drafted but will get a look as a free agent. He rushed for 460 yards as a redshirt freshman at Tennessee in 2009 after being the second-ranked high school running back behind Alabama's Trent Richardson. Brown sat out 2010 after transferring to Kansas State and carried three times for 17 yards in 2011 before leaving school for reasons still unknown. He declared for the draft with two years of eligibility remaining.

Western Michigan

Jordan White has spent time in previous offseasons working with Greg Jennings, and the hard work paid off. As a sixth-year senior, he caught 140 passes for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns, with the latter figure breaking Jennings' record of 15. The yardage mark is a MAC record, as is his 4,187 career receiving yards, and he's tied for the conference record with 306 career catches.

White (6-0) ran his 40 in 4.57 seconds, better than his 4.69 from the Scouting Combine. With a lack of speed and two ACL injuries, he probably won't get drafted but his exceptional hands will make him a hot commodity.

California (Pa.)

The Packers were in attendance, with midround guard prospect Rishaw Johnson the star attraction for the Division II school. Johnson, who stood on his Scouting Combine performance, went through individual drills. Johnson (6-3, 313) spent his first three seasons at Mississippi but was kicked off the team after opening the 2010 in the starting lineup. He earned second-team All-American honors for the Vulcans.

Also, Thomas Mayo, a 6-foot-1 receiver, ran as fast as 4.48 with a 41.5-inch vertical jump. His vertical would have been best among receivers at the Combine. He caught 79 passes for 1,359 yards (17.2 average) and 16 touchdowns, earning first-team All-America honors as a senior. If he's not drafted, he'll be a priority free agent.

North Texas

Talk about leaving no stone unturned: Mean Green running back Lance Dunbar (5-8, 205) falls outside the Packers' parameters for the position, but they had a scout there, anyway. Dunbar, who ran his 40 in 4.47, finished his career as the school's career leader in rushing yards (4,224), touchdowns (49), rushing touchdowns (41), all-purpose yards (5,375), 100-yard games (21) and scoring (294 points). He probably won't get drafted.

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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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