This isn't meant as a pure prediction of who the Packers will select in April's draft. Instead, this is meant as a way to introduce you to some of the names who could fill holes on the roster. Our round projections are based on our conversations with three scouts and Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko.
How important is the Senior Bowl? In the last five drafts, the Packers have selected 11 Senior Bowl players, including their top selection three times and eight of their 12 choices in the first two rounds. Casey Hayward participated in the 2012 Senior Bowl, Derek Sherrod and D.J. Williams played in the 2011 game, Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson were part of the 2010 game, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews and Quinn Johnson suited up for the 2009 game, and Jordy Nelson, Brian Brohm and Pat Lee played in the 2008 game.
The Packers badly missed Desmond Bishop's playmaking ability. Without him, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and D.J. Smith combined for one forced fumble (by Jones), no interceptions and no fumble recoveries. In his two seasons as a full-time starter, Bishop forced four fumbles and picked off one pass.
Florida State's Vince Williams stood out, and not just because he was a middle linebacker wearing No. 1. Williams, a late addition to the Senior Bowl, emerged from the week as one of the big winners.
"I came in with a chip on my shoulder and I was hungry," Williams said. "I just wanted to come out here and show everybody that I belong and I belong with this great group of talent."
At 6-foot 1/2 inch and 247 pounds, Williams doesn't have ideal height. He might not time that well at the Scouting Combine, either. But Williams packs a punch as a tackler and showed the ability to make plays at the sideline. An instinctive and intelligent player, Williams has a chance to be an every-down linebacker.
"My two favorite linebackers (are) Ray Lewis and London Fletcher," Williams said. "London Fletcher, he's kind of short and people say he's slow. He gets a lot of criticism but he's in the league for (15) years and he still gets it done. You've got to love underdogs."
Williams is an emotional player who plays with violence. All of that was rolled into one play, when he charged up the middle and ran over one of the South's guards at practice. With the play stopped, Williams let out a scream that could have been heard in downtown Mobile. He made a number of plays against the run during the week and showed quick reflexes to intercept a tipped pass.
As a senior, Williams finished fourth on the team with 59 tackles. He added one sack, tied for second with five quarterback hits, added 6.5 tackles for losses and recovered a fumble. He closed his career with 10 tackles and a sack in the Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois. It was a personal triumph for Williams, a team captain, who was ticked off at Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch's bold pregame talk about putting the Seminoles' defenders "on their knees" by the fourth quarter.
"I don't really want to sound conceited but I always felt like I was one of the best middle linebackers in the country," Williams said. "This thing really solidified it for me because I always had that mind-set, but I really wanted to solidify it for everybody who was watching me."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.