Third-Round Prospects to Remember

The Packers will find inviting targets at just about every position when they're on the clock at No. 88 tonight. As was the case in the second round, the Packers might walk away with a small-school gem.

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.

The Green Bay Packers hold the 88th pick today. General manager Ted Thompson's track record in the third has been so-so, at best, with Abdul Hodge and Jason Spitz in 2006, James Jones and Aaron Rouse in 2007, Jermichael Finley in 2008, Morgan Burnett in 2010 and Alex Green in 2011. (Third-round picks in 2009 helped land Clay Matthews and in 2012 helped land Casey Hayward.)

Third round

All of the names from the second-round story plus:

Wide receiver: Baylor's Terrance Williams, Kansas State's Chris Harper, Georgia's Tavarres King and Marshall's Aaron Dobson. Williams (6-2, 208), Harper (6-1, 229) and Dobson (6-3, 210) are the kind of big receivers the Packers covet. They're not burners and they're not elusive but they are a load to handle with the ball in their hands. Plus, they're all considered outstanding blockers. The underrated King is 6-0. He's explosive, with a national-best 22.6 yards per reception as a senior, and has one of the best sets of hands in the draft. He had big games against Alabama and Nebraska.

Running back: Stanford's Stepfan Taylor (5-9, 214) is a wild card. The Packers haven't drafted backs of his size but he's a true three-down back. Taylor left Stanford as the school's career leader with 4,300 rushing yards, 45 touchdowns and 21 100-yard games. He never missed a game, playing in all 53 and starting 39. If he's still on the board, Wisconsin's touchdown machine, Montee Ball (5-11, 220), could be a consideration, though scouts are terrified of his 924 career carries and 1,001 touches. He's considered the best running back in the draft in terms of vision and making the right reads.

Offensive line: There's a chance that neither Colorado's David Bakhtiari, Kent's Brian Winters, Tennessee's Dallas Thomas, San Jose State's David Quessenberry nor Alabama's Barrett Jones get to the Packers. Of the five, Bakhtiari (6-4, 299) is the one who best projects to left tackle. The "gym rat" has the requisite 34-inch arms and great feet. Winters (6-4, 320) was a four-year starting left tackle, Quessenberry (6-5, 302) was a three-year starting left tackle and Thomas (6-5, 306) was a two-year starting left tackle who moved to guard as a senior. They all project to guard in the NFL. Thompson's preference is selecting college tackles and moving them inside, so they'd be excellent fits. Jones won practically every award imaginable for an offensive lineman, including the Rimington Award as the nation's top center, and is a high-character performer as the winner of the William V. Campbell Award (aka, the Academic Heisman). Surprisingly, scouts like him but they don't love him, seeing him as a blue-collar player who isn't a great athlete. A wild card could be Louisiana Tech's Jordan Mills (6-5, 316), who is seen as a Day 3 prospect but could work his way into Day 2. The cousin of Tramon Williams projects to a right tackle.

Tight end: Rice's Vance McDonald (6-4, 267) caught 36 passes for 458 touchdowns and two touchdowns despite missing three games with a foot injury. He's not a great in-line blocker and he doesn't have the greatest hands but he's big, smart, athletic (4.69), strong (31 reps led the tight ends at the Combine) and an above-average blocker in the second level.

Defensive line: Missouri Southern's Brandon Williams (6-1, 335) is one of the big sleepers of this draft class, regardless of position. The three-time Division II All-American is considered D-II's best defensive line prospect since John Randle almost a quarter-century ago. Williams finished with 68 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles as a senior. Of his 180 career tackles against the run, ball-carriers averaged minus-0.32 yards — the only defender in the draft with a subzero number. He's the school's career sacks leader with 27. He parlayed a strong senior season into a strong week at the Senior Bowl. He tied SMU's Margus Hunt for position lead with 38 reps on the bench at the Combine.

Outside linebacker: Ohio State's John Simon, Auburn's Corey Lemonier and Connecticut's Trevardo Williams could fortify the pass rush. Simon (6-1, 257) has been compared to Mike Vrabel and a source said he's a favorite of Kevin Greene. He's seventh in school history with 20 sacks and 43 tackles for losses, and just the eighth two-year captain in school history. Simon struggled in coverage at the Senior Bowl, however. He ran in 4.62 with a 34-inch vertical at pro day; a shoulder injury kept him from testing at the Combine or benching on campus. Lemonier (6-3, 255) is the better coverage prospect — so therefore might be a better fit in a rotation with Nick Perry. He had 9.5 sacks in 2011 and started this season with five sacks in the first four games but fizzled out with just one-half sack the rest of the way. He ran 4.60 with 27 reps. Williams (6-1, 241) would be more of a designated pass-rush specialist. He lit up the Combine with a 4.57, 30 reps and 38-inch vertical. His 30.5 career sacks rank second among active players.

Inside linebacker: Iowa's State's A.J. Klein and Penn State's Gerald Hodges. The Packers love both of these prospects, which is perhaps why they went with Datone Jones ahead of Kevin Minter on Thursday. Klein, a native of Kimberly, Wis., was a tackling machine with 117 stops and an interception as a senior. He finished his career with 368 tackles and tied the NCAA linebacker record with four pick-sixes. He started 50 games, both inside and outside, and was a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award. Klein ran 4.66 with 24 reps and a 33-inch vertical. As a senior, Hodges finished fifth in the Big Ten with 109 tackles and added 8.5 tackles for losses, two interceptions and seven passes defensed. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. He even was used as a punt returner in one game. He ran 4.70 with 22 reps and a 35-inch vertical.

Cornerback: North Carolina State's David Amerson (6-1, 205) set school and ACC single-season records with a stunning 13 interceptions and won the Jack Tatum Award as the nation's top defensive back in 2011. He added five interceptions in 2012 and was second-team all-conference, then headed for the draft a year early. Amerson said he was guilty of gambling too much to start this past season — especially in getting torn to shreds in the opener against Tennessee — in hopes of replicating his interception total. With his size, speed (4.44), leaping ability (38.5 inches) and nose for the ball, he'd potentially make an excellent free safety.

Safety: Georgia's Shawn Williams perhaps tops the list of safeties who could be available at this spot, ahead of the likes of Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson (too slow at 4.75), Fresno State's Phillip Thomas (ballhawk only), Georgia's Baccari Rambo and Nevada's Duke Williams (character concerns for both), Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas (too short at 5-9) and USC's T.J. McDonald (perhaps too tall at 6-3). Williams, a fiery leader and "punishing tackler," as one scout put it, ran 4.46 with a 36-inch vertical at the Combine. He's at his best in the run game but he has the ability to play deep.


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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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