Second-Round Prospects to Remember

We turn to our sources to tell you about more than a dozen players at 10 positions who could be targeted with the 55th overall pick. The Packers have made a killing in the second round, especially at receiver. A small-school defensive back also could be an option.

So much of the focus is on the first round, but the second and third rounds are vital. That's especially true today because of the outstanding depth available in this draft class.

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has made a killing in the second round. Of his 12 picks in the second, Thompson has five big hits (Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Casey Hayward) and just two misses (Brian Brohm and Pat Lee). Daryn Colledge, Brandon Jackson, Mike Neal have been at least decent players, Terrence Murphy's career was cut short by injury and it's too soon to say on Jerel Worthy.

Here are some potential second-round targets.

Second round

Wide receiver: As expected, Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson went in the first round, and DeAndre Hopkins was a slight surprise in joining them. That leaves a bunch of talent available in the second round — a round where Thompson has hit home runs with receivers Nelson, Cobb and Jennings. In order from most likely to least likely to be available at No. 55: West Virginia's brilliant Stedman Bailey, Oregon State's Markus Wheaton, Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton, Cal's Keenan Allen and USC's Robert Woods. Bailey is just 5-foot-10 but brilliant after the catch and the best route-runner in the draft. Patton and Woods, who are both 6-foot, have some similarities with Jennings and are polished route-runners. Wheaton (5-11) is explosive. Allen is the only big receiver of that bunch at 6-foot-2 but has had injury issues. Woods and Allen have proven return value.

Running back: The Packers have not drafted a short running back under Thompson, so forget about Giovani Bernard and Andre Ellington. One target figures to be Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, a 229-pounder bruiser with a three-down skill-set. "For that style — zone running, downhill — he's a good back for that style of offense," said a scout who projected Bell in Green Bay's scheme. "Plus, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and he can block. To me, he's similar to Arian Foster but he doesn't have the feet that Arian does." A bit of a wild card is UCLA Johnathan Franklin, who a source said the Packers hold in high regard. He had a monster senior season and eliminated his history of fumbling. He's smart, a leader and certainly willing to block. While Bell could be the stud of a running game, Franklin (5-10, 205) would have to be part of a rotation.

Offensive line: After Justin Pugh — the Packers' first-round target, according to a source — went off the board to the Giants at No. 19, there were no more first-round-worthy offensive tackles on the board. Perhaps the most intriguing tackle of the draft, however, could be in play if he lasts to No. 55: Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Terron Armstead. A scout said the ultra-athletic Armstead could be ready to start at left tackle in Year 2. "He is really raw but he's unbelievably athletic. He's a ways away from where he needs to be but he really has the right makeup." For all the accolades earned by Alabama's Barrett Jones, Cal's Brian Schwenke (6-3, 314) was considered the better center prospect by our scouting contacts. "Tough SOB, good quickness, head's always on a swivel," said the NFL's top scout, Dave-Te' Thomas. "He's always looking for secondary targets to hit. Very few do you see at the center position that can get to the second level like Schwenke can."

Tight end: The Packers seemingly don't have any love for Zach Ertz but could go after San Diego State's Gavin Escobar. Thomas likened him to future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. NFL Network's Mike Mayock said watching Escobar catch the ball is like watching ballet. "Gavin Escobar is pretty damned good," a scout said. "He's better than I thought he would be. My impression is that he's a better player than Ertz from Stanford."

Defensive line: Datone Jones provides the defensive end the Packers badly needed. Now, a big, run-stuffing lineman could be an option with Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji heading into their final seasons under contract. Alabama's Jesse Williams (6-4, 323) probably will be long gone. Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins (6-3, 320) probably won't fall this far, either — a scout thought the Packers would take him in the first — but he didn't have a great senior season as far as making impact plays and didn't test all that well at the Scouting Combine. He's a lot like Pickett in that he does the dirty work well.

Outside linebacker: Two workout freaks are Southern Mississippi's Jamie Collins and Georgia's Cornelius Washington. Collins (6-3, 250) tore up the Combine with a 4.64, 41.5-inch vertical. Not only did he have 10 sacks and 20 tackles for losses as a senior, but Thomas called him the best coverage linebacker in the draft. Washington (6-4, 265) ran the 40 in 4.55 with a 39-inch vertical and 36 reps on the bench. A miscast defensive end in Georgia's 3-4 scheme, a scout said Washington showed "flashes of dominance" at the Senior Bowl. The scout said both would go in the second round or by early in the third.

Inside linebacker: Three of our top four prospects are available, but it would be a surprise if LSU's Kevin Minter, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o or Kansas State's Arthur Brown made it anywhere close to 55. Connecticut's Sio Moore (6-1, 245) would be an intriguing option because of his playmaking ability. He had 14.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for losses in his final two seasons, and lit up the Combine with a 4.65, 38-inch vertical and 29 reps on the bench. The Packers also are high on Rutgers' Khaseem Greene (6-1, 241), though scouts' opinions are strongly divided. The Big East's reigning defensive player of the year, who started at safety in 2010, had six sacks, 12 tackles for losses, 136 tackles and six forced fumbles as a senior.

Cornerback: Of all the corners available (Johnthan Banks, Jamar Taylor, Logan Ryan, Darius Slay and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, among others), the two that hold the most intrigue are Connecticut's Dwayne Gratz and Oregon State's Jordan Poyer. Gratz (5-11, 201) intercepted eight passes in 41 career starts. As a senior, he allowed 22 completions and just one of longer than 18 yards. He ran 4.47 with a 38-inch vertical and 22 reps on the bench at the Combine. Gratz could fit immediately at safety. As a senior, Poyer (6-0, 191) intercepted seven passes and allowed just 21 completions. Plus, he averaged 25.9 yards on kickoff returns and 10.2 yards on punt returns over his career. The Packers don't have a dire need at corner so he could fill the return role until he gains necessary strength.

Safety: This might be the name to remember: Georgia Southern's J.J. Wilcox. After spending his first three seasons as a dynamic player on offense with career averages of 7.0 yards per carry and 20.0 receiving, Wilcox was shifted to safety and immediately impressed. He moved up draft boards in a hurry after a strong week at the Senior Bowl, and has the versatility the Packers like at the position. "He has the versatility to play both (free and strong)," a scout said. "A guy like Wilcox, you'd get him at the end of the second or top of the third." Plus, he's a proven kickoff returner with a 25.2-yard average as a senior.


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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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