The Packers need help on defense and the Fighting Irish have a few players of note, led by Harrison Smith, who is considered the second-ranked safety in this draft behind Alabama's Mark Barron. Smith, who mostly rested on his performance from the Scouting Combine, did nothing to dispel that notion during his positional workout. At 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, Smith is precisely the kind of safety the Packers like since they don't have a strict "strong" and "free" safety designation. He's got the speed to run with most tight ends and the size to match up against big receivers or hit running backs at the line of scrimmage. All seven career interceptions came in 2010 and he's one of 11 players in school history to register 300 tackles.
Cornerback/safety Robert Blanton, who NFL Scouting profiled earlier today, had an impressive day. Blanton ran the 40-yard dash as fast as the "high" 4.4s, according to a source, but stuck with the rest of his numbers from the Scouting Combine. The 40 time is a big deal — he ran a 4.66 at the Combine, according to the official numbers that were provided to Packer Report this week.
Even if the Packers use their top pick on an outside linebacker, Darius Fleming could be a consideration in Day 3. Fleming (6-2, 245), who played outside linebacker in the Irish's 3-4 scheme, tallied 3.5 sacks as a senior and 14.5 for his career. Fleming ran as fast as 4.50 seconds — a big improvement over his 4.71 at the Combine. To go with that speed, he put up 27 reps on the bench press at the Combine. Scouts think he could play inside in a 3-4 scheme, as well.
"I definitely improved on the things that I wanted to improve in. I'm hearing good feedback," Fleming told reporters. "I definitely wanted to improve on my 40. That was something I was disappointed about (at the Combine). I was cramping, and it really didn't help. It didn't show my true speed. I think today, being healthy and cramp-free, it allowed me to play fast."
Fleming wasn't the only pass-rushing prospect the Packers saw on Tuesday. At Abilene Christian, Aston Whiteside will be an undrafted free agent. According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Whiteside (6-2, 260), who ran in 4.87 seconds, worked out at linebacker, tight end and fullback. The Division II All-American tallied 31.5 sacks and 57.5 tackles for losses for his career, including six sacks and 12.5 TFLs as a senior.
One other name to remember is Tarleton State quarterback Nick Stephens. Stephens (6-foot-3) started his career at Tennessee but transferred to the Division II school in time for the 2010 season. As a senior, he threw for 3,005 yards with 20 touchdowns, eight interceptions and 56.4 percent accuracy. He'll be a priority undrafted free agent.
Wisconsin center Peter Konz will have his pro day workout on Wednesday. Konz was unable to perform in front of scouts during the Badgers' regular pro day because of an injured ankle.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.