Pro Day Tour: More Inside LBs

Florida, Kansas State and UCLA were the big stops on the pro day circuit. The Gators have a bunch of prospects at positions of need, including two inside linebacker, and Kansas State featured inside linebacker Arthur Brown.

The Green Bay Packers have needs at inside linebacker, safety and kicker.

The Florida Gators had answers at all three spots.

Florida's pro day on Tuesday featured inside linebacker candidates Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic and safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans, as well as one of the top kickers, Caleb Sturgis.

Bostic (6-1, 245) started 32 games for his career, finishing with 237 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, 7.5 sacks, five interceptions and two fumbles. He started all 13 games at middle linebacker the past two seasons. He was second-team all-SEC with 68 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, three sacks and two interceptions. He ran 4.61 at the Combine.

Jenkins (6-0, 243), an early entrant, had a formal interview with the Packers at the Combine. Jenkins played in 36 games, including 31 starts, and totaled 182 tackles, 16.5 tackles for losses, six sacks and three interceptions. A thumb injury and a broken toe limited him to nine games this season and he managed only 29 tackles. The broken toe prevented him from running at the Combine but he ran in the high 4.5s on Tuesday, according to a source.

Remarkably, Bostic posted a 4.0 grade-point average this fall and Jenkins a 4.0 GPA in high school. Both are third-round prospects.

Elam could be an option in the first round, though a scout said that would be a reach for where the Packers are selecting. Elam (5-10, 208) ran a 4.54 with a 35.5-inch vertical at the Combine. An early entrant, he had four interceptions, 11 tackles for losses, two sacks and a forced fumble in 2012. He had 11 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles in 2011. His brother, Abe, just completed his seventh year as NFL safety with the Chiefs.

Evans (6-1, 207) is the bigger prospect and almost as athletic (4.58 at the Combine, 34.5-inch vertical). In his only season as a starter, he led the Gators with 83 tackles and added three interceptions and 2.5 sacks. He's more of a midround prospect.

Sturgis had an excellent day. After being the only 15-for-15 kicker at the Combine, he connected on 14-of-15 on a rainy, soggy day. He went 3-of-4 from 50-plus yards, including hitting from 58, according to the source. He booted his kickoffs deep into the end zone.

Tight end Jordan Reed (6-3, 236), who also had a formal interview with the Packers at the Combine, stood on his 4.72 from the Combine. With a skill-set similar to that of former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez, Reed was outstanding during position drills, according to a source.

Kansas State

The Packers looked at another top inside linebacker prospect, Arthur Brown, who could be in play in the second round. Brown (6-0, 241) didn't test at the Combine due a shoulder injury but ran in the high 4.5s and put up 21 reps on the bench. Brown was named the Big 12's defensive player of the year, earned some All-American recognition and was a Butkus semifinalist with 100 tackles and two interceptions. While he sat out because of the shoulder, he was the first Kansas State player invited to the Senior Bowl since Jordy Nelson.

Midround receiver prospect Chris Harper (6-1, 229) ran an "insane" 4.38 in the 40, according to Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline and confirmed by the quoted source. Harper was recruited to Oregon to play quarterback before being moved to receiver and then transferring closer to home. He led the team with 58 receptions for 857 yards.

Oklahoma State

If the Packers sign Steven Jackson, they'll be set at running back. If not, Joseph Randle could be an option in the second round.

Randle (6-0, 204) improved his 4.63 clocking at the Scouting Combine to 4.51. An early entrant, he led the Big 12 with 1,417 rushing yards, was named first-team all-conference and was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's best running back. In 2011, he added 1,216 yards and his 150 points were the most in school history other than Barry Sanders' prodigious 234. A tremendous receiver, he added 108 career receptions and averaged 25.6 yards on kickoff returns as a true freshman.

UCLA

There's "no way" stud defensive end Datone Jones will be on the board for the Packers, according to a scout, leaving running back Johnathan Franklin (Round 2 possibility), guard/center Jeff Baca and tight end Joseph Fauria (Day 3 possibilities), and safety Dalton Hilliard and cornerback Aaron Hester (late-round/undrafted) as players of interest.

Franklin (5-10, 205) ran 4.49 at the Combine. He was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and a second-team All-American. He set single-season and career school records for rushing and all-purpose yards, finishing with 1,734 yards as a senior and 4,403 for his career. He added 33 receptions for 323 yards as a senior. He's a three-down back if he can improve his pass-protection skills.

Baca (6-3, 302), who ran 5.03 at the Combine, made 45 career starts, with 25 coming at guard and 20 at tackle. He made 11 starts at guard as a senior and was named the team's outstanding senior player on offense. Fauria (6-7, 259) caught 46 passes for 637 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. His uncle, Christian, was a 13-year NFL tight end.

No updates were available on any of the Bruins' top players.

Hester has an intriguing combination of size (6-2) and athleticism (4.45 in the 40, 35-inch vertical on Tuesday), according to a source. He started 36 games in four seasons and finished with five interceptions. Hilliard, who is not related to the running back by the same name but is related to former Packers tight end Keith Jackson, ran in 4.49 with a 35-inch vertical on Tuesday. In 10 career starts, he had one interception.

Toledo

Yet another inside linebacker, Dan Molls (6-0, 238) ran as fast as 4.67 with a 34-inch vertical. He posted a staggering and nation-leading 166 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and six tackles for losses, during his senior season. He added three interceptions. Plus, he was a first-team Academic All-American.


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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 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.


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