Pro Day Tour: Te'o Leads Inside Linebackers

It was a big day for inside linebackers, with Notre Dame's Manti Te'o joined by Iowa State's A.J. Klein and Jake Knott as well as North Carolina's Kevin Reddick. Plus, the Packers got another look at first-round receiver prospect Quinton Patton. We have the scoop that we guarantee you won't find anywhere else.

Tuesday's pro days were all about the inside linebackers.

With a new and less-expensive contract solidifying A.J. Hawk's future with the team, the Green Bay Packers presumably wouldn't have to make a decision on Tuesday's headliner — Notre Dame's productive but polarizing Manti Te'o — should he be available when the Packers are on the clock at No. 26 of the first round.

Two other inside linebackers, however, would provide great value in Day 2 and another could be a steal late in the draft.

Here is where we were told the Packers sent scouts on Tuesday.

Iowa State

Two Packers scouts were at Iowa State, where underrated inside linebacker A.J. Klein was the featured attraction.

Three scouts recently told Packer Report they have a third-round grade on the native of Kimberly, Wis. Klein stuck with his 4.66 from the Scouting Combine and did 24 reps on the bench (up from 20) and a 33-inch vertical (didn't test at Combine due to a tweaked MCL).

Klein was a unanimous first-team all-Big 12 selection and an honorable mention for Defensive Player of the Year, an award he won as a junior. The tackling machine piled up 117 stops and finished his career with 368; plus, he tied the NCAA record for a linebacker with four pick-sixes.

The other inside linebacker is Jake Knott. A late-round prospect, he was first-team all-conference despite missing the final four games with a shoulder injury that required surgery and kept him from performing at the Combine. He finished his career with 347 tackles and eight interceptions. He ran in 4.75 and put up 20 reps on the bench on Tuesday

Forever in search of big, rugged defensive ends, the Packers saw an under-the-radar gem in Jake McDonough (6-4, 305). He had a monster day with 37 reps on the bench and an impressive 5.24 in the 40. He was first-team all-conference (coaches) with two sacks and 5.5 tackles for losses in 13 starts.

North Carolina

Touted guard Jonathan Cooper will be long gone and 5-foot-8 running back Gio Bernard won't be a consideration, based on the Packers' draft history.

Kevin Reddick is considered one of the top inside linebackers in the draft and should vie with Klein and UConn's Sio Moore to be the fifth off the board (behind Te'o, Georgia's Alec Ogletree, LSU's Kevin Minter and Kansas State's Arthur Brown).

Reddick (6-1, 243) was first-team all-ACC after a standout senior season of 85 tackles, including an ACC-leading 18.5 tackles for losses and team-high two forced fumbles. He was a two-year captain and unquestioned team leader. He stuck with his 4.72 in the 40 and had a 30.5-inch vertical. He showed his coverage skills by working out with the defensive backs.

Defensive lineman Sylvester Williams (6-3, 313), a possible late first-round prospect, stuck with his 5.03 and 27 reps from the Combine. He was athletic enough to do some coverage drills at linebacker. Offensive tackle Brennan Williams (6-5, 311) could move into Day 2 consideration. He missed the final four games of the season with a torn labrum but was an honorable mention at right tackle on the all-ACC team, anyway. His father, Brent, was an NFL defensive lineman for 11 seasons and tallied 45.5 sacks. On Tuesday, Brennan Williams ran in 5.20 but skipped the bench to protect the shoulder.

Notre Dame

Te'o had a strong day, with a 40 time as fast as 4.69. That was a big improvement from his 4.82 at the Combine. Packer Report asked four scouts who they'd take, Te'o or Ogletree, with three of the four siding with Te'o.

While Te'o probably no longer is a first-round option because of Hawk's contract, tight end Tyler Eifert would be hard to pass up if he fell to No. 26. Eifert, who won the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, stuck with his 4.68 from the Combine but had an outstanding workout. He caught 44 passes for 624 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 after reeling in 67 passes in 2011.

"At the end of the day, it is your film that really matters," Eifert told reporters. "I feel like I've been doing this a while, which takes some of the pressure off it. It's not make or break if you don't do well at the combine or the pro day. You've shown what you can do on tape, and that's what really matters."

Running backs Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick had good days and could be of Day 3 interest. Riddick (5-10, 201), who ran as fast as 4.54, averaged 22.9 yards on kickoff returns as a freshman running back, caught a total of 79 passes as a receiver as a sophomore and junior, and led the team with 917 rushing yards (4.8 average) and five touchdowns while adding 36 catches and two more scores as a senior. Wood (5-11, 213) rushed for 742 yards (6.5 average) and four touchdowns in 2012 and ranks seventh in school history with 2,447 rushing yards. He ran as fast as 4.48.

Another Day 3 prospect, center Braxston Cave (6-3, 303), put up 32 reps on the bench. He skipped the bench at the Combine due to a shoulder injury.

If not for a torn Achilles that limited him to three games, Jamoris Slaughter might have been a coveted safety prospect. That he played everything from safety to cornerback to outside linebacker speaks to his skill-set. He's about 70 percent recovered from surgery and is "progressing rapidly ahead of pace," according to agent Chafie Fields. He might not be able to test for scouts before the draft, though.

Another safety, Zeke Motta, ran in the 4.6s with 16 reps, improving on his Combine numbers. Like Slaughter, Motta played outside linebacker early in his career. He made 30 career starts and had two interceptions.

Louisiana Tech

If the Packers think receiver is a pressing need after Greg Jennings' defection to Minnesota, they could go after a relative Jennings clone in the first round with Quinton Patton.

Patton caught 104 passes for 1,392 yards (13.4 average) and 13 touchdowns as a senior. His 116.0 yards per game ranked fourth in the nation, his 8.7 receptions per game ranked seventh and his total touchdowns were fifth among receivers. Patton lit up Texas A&M with 21 catches for 223 yards this season.

Patton, who had an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl, improved on his Combine numbers in the 40 (4.53 in Indy to 4.43 on Tuesday) and vertical (33 inches to 37), according to sources. Like Jennings, Patton isn't an elite athlete. However, he's quick, sure-handed and has shown he can beat press coverage.

"The expectation was to come in and just compete," he told The News Star's Matthew Vines. "I was really trying to do better than I did at the Combine. I was impressed with the progress I was making. I wanted to set the bench pretty high."

Texas

Kenny Vaccaro, the consensus top safety in the class, was limited due to a hip flexor injury sustained during a private workout with a team. Vaccaro ran a somewhat disappointing 4.63 at the Combine. He probably won't be on the board for Green Bay.

The other prospect of note is Alex Okafor (6-5, 262), though he's coveted more as a 4-3 defensive end than as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Okafor was dominant at the Senior Bowl. He notched 12.5 sacks, 18 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles as a senior, including 4.5 sacks against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. He ran in 4.88, according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt.

Monday's individual workouts

Sources told Packer Report that the Packers had scouts present at individual workouts held by Purdue's Kawaan Short and Ohio State's John Simon, who missed the Combine due to hamstring and shoulder injuries, respectively.

Short (6-3, 303) is considered a late first-round prospect, which could put him in play for Green Bay. He ran in 5.08 and did 29 reps on the bench, according to Brandt. Short was second-team All-American as a senior after leading the Boilermakers with seven sacks, 15 tackles for losses and four blocked kicks.

Simon (6-1, 257), a defensive end for the Buckeyes, could be a third-round possibility for the Packers as an outside linebacker. He ran a 4.62 with a 34-inch vertical and was "fantastic" in position drills, a source said. After struggling at linebacker at the Senior Bowl, the source said Simon looked better in coverage drills. He didn't bench because of the shoulder. Simon was the Big Ten's defensive player of the year after tallying nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses.


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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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