Pro Day Tour: Tide NT Impresses

Will all the free-agent maneuvering leave the Packers in need of a nose tackle? The Packers sent scouts to at least six pro days, including the marquee stop at Alabama.

With a salary cap, there's only so much money to go around.

If the Green Bay Packers sign Greg Jennings and Steven Jackson, then hand contract extensions to Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers, would there be enough money left for B.J. Raji?

That's merely speculation, but it's an interesting jumping-off point for Wednesday's pro days. The headliner was Alabama, where nose tackle Jesse Williams (6-3, 323) ran his 40-yard dash in about 4.85 seconds. At the Scouting Combine, he put up the 225-pound bar 30 times.

Playing the nose in the Crimson Tide's 3-4 scheme, Williams tallied 36 tackles, 2.5 for losses, one sack and a blocked kick. He also played frequently as a short-yardage fullback. He can bench press 600 pounds — making his 30 reps a relative disappointment.

A native of Brisbane, Australia, Williams grew up playing basketball and rugby before giving football a try when he was 15. He was discovered by the defensive coordinator at Arizona Western junior college, Jerry Dominguez, while he was teaching fundamentals to players like Williams on the Australian junior national team.

The other first-round prospect of interest from the Packers' perspective is running back Eddie Lacy. The clear No. 1 runner in the draft, Lacy didn't run at the Combine or on Wednesday because of an injured hamstring. He'll have his own pro day at a later date.

Also not working were No. 1 cornerback prospect Dee Milliner, Rimington Award-winning center Barrett Jones — a potential Packers target in Day 2 of the draft — and defensive linemen Quinton Dial (toe) and Damion Square (knee). Jones, who started at four positions on the line during his stellar career, had foot surgery after the national championship game and won't be allowed to start running until after the draft.

Alabama-Birmingham's first-team all-Conference USA tackle, Chris Hubbard (6-3, 290), ran 4.71, according to Scout.com's Jamie Newberg. At UAB's pro day last week, he ran in the 4.8s. He's a late-round prospect at guard.

Oklahoma

Five of the six Sooners who were selected to the Combine — safety Tony Jefferson, offensive tackle Lane Johnson, quarterback Landry Jones, defensive lineman Stacy McGee and receiver Kenny Stills — skipped the physical testing. The sixth, Tom Wort (6-0, 235), a late-round prospect at inside linebacker, ran his 40 in 4.75 seconds, according to results posted on the school Web site.

Jones was impressive in his passing workout, which was supervised by Cardinals offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who was the coordinator in Indianapolis for much of Peyton Manning's career. Among those catching passes were Stills and former Packers receiver Brett Swain.

The fastest 40 was turned in by cornerback Jesse Paulsen (4.45), who didn't start and didn't have an interception in 37 career games at New Mexico (12 games in 2009) and Oklahoma. Two more corners (Reggie Smith and Brian Jackson) are trying to resurrect their careers. Smith (6-0; 4.51 40, 41 vertical) played for the 49ers from 2008 through 2011. Jackson (6-0; didn't run 40) played for the Giants in 2010 and Rams in 2011.

Rutgers

If the Packers are looking for an inside linebacker, perhaps it's Rutgers' Khaseem Greene in the second round. Greene (6-1, 240), who shaved one-tenth of a second off his Combine time with a 4.61, led the team with six sacks, 12 tackles for losses, 136 tackles and a whopping six forced fumbles, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors for a second consecutive year. He started at safety as a sophomore. A late-round inside linebacker prospect, Steve Beauharnais, ran in 4.60. Both players were excellent in position drills.

Logan Ryan (5-11, 191), perhaps the most underrated cornerback in the draft and a potential first-round pick because he does everything at a high level, stuck with his so-so 4.56 from the Combine.

Michigan State

If the Packers lose out on Jackson, big Le'Veon Bell would be the perfect option. Considered a third- or fourth-round pick by many in the media, a scout told Packer Report that his team would look to get Bell in the middle of the second round. Another source predicted Bell wouldn't get out of the first round. Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin took Bell out to dinner on Tuesday night, according to another source.

Kicker Dan Conroy, who also participated in Northwestern's pro day last week (he's from suburban Chicago), made 15-of-18 attempts, including from 53, 56 and 60 yards.

Marshall

Receiver Aaron Dobson, who didn't test at the Combine, solidified his status as a Day 2 prospect with a startling 4.37 in the 40. Dobson (6-3) hauled in 57 passes as a senior to earn second-team all-Conference USA honors. He ranks fourth in school history with 24 touchdown catches and ninth with 2,398 receiving yards.

Maryland

Big defensive lineman A.J. Francis (6-5, 321) ran in 5.01 with 24 reps, continuing a strong postseason that began with a big week at the East-West Shrine Game. He's started at all three spots in the Terps' 3-4 scheme.


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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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