Pro Day Tour '14: Smith Brings Pressure

The Packers sent a scout to Arkansas, where a top center and outside linebacker and powerhouse fullback worked out for scouts. Plus, the team dispatched scouts to at least five other pro days on Wednesday.

If the Green Bay Packers want to fortify their pass rush outside of the first round, Arkansas' Chris Smith could be their man.

Smith delivered 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for losses as a junior and 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses as a senior. His 21.5 career sacks rank fourth in school history.

At Arkansas' pro day on Wednesday, Smith (6-1, 266) rested on his Scouting Combine performance of 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 37-inch vertical and 28 reps on the 225-pound bench press. According to a source who watched Wednesday's positional workout, Smith "looked like a natural in outside linebacker drills."

Smith is considered a Day 2 prospect. While his lack of height is a concern, his combination of speed, power and length (34 1/8-inch arms) will give him a chance against offensive tackles.

"I was blessed to get a lot of sacks standing up and blessed to get a lot of sacks with my hand in the ground," he said at the Combine. "So that's one thing I am just going to try to do is just be versatile and to the team that drafts me I will be that player."

Travis Swanson, who appeared to be the No. 1 center prospect in the draft, has seen his stock decline. At the Combine, Swanson (6-5, 312) ran in 5.28 seconds with 20 reps on the bench. On the field, though, Swanson started 50 consecutive games and was a finalist for the Rimington Award, which goes to the nation's top center. No results were available.

There's nothing small about fullback Kiero Small. Short? Yes. But definitely not small.

Small (5-8, 247) carried 40 times for 151 yards (3.8 average) and three touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 128 yards (6.7 average) and one touchdown in 2013. He missed most of 2012 with a broken foot. It was a gratifying season to complete his winding journey.

On Wednesday, he ran in 4.66 seconds, according to a source.

Before arriving at Arkansas, Small was a junior college All-American at fullback and linebacker for Hartnell Community College. In 2010, he had 120 tackles, including 21 for losses.

Along with Arkansas, sources told Packer Report that Green Bay scouts were at at least five other pro days on Wednesday.

Texas A&M

The Aggies have three potential top-10 picks in stud offensive tackle Jake Matthews, polarizing quarterback Johnny Manziel and towering receiver Mike Evans. With Manziel and Evans waiting to perform for scouts on March 27 and Matthews a likely top-five pick, the top attraction for the Packers might have been receiver Derel Walker.

The 6-foot-2 Walker spent 2010 and 2011 at Trinity Valley Community College and caught just eight passes for the Aggies in 2012. As a senior, he caught 51 passes for 818 yards (16.0 average) and five touchdowns. On Wednesday, he ran in 4.52 (adjusted to 4.62 since it was on an indoor track) with a 37.5-inch vertical, according to a school source.

Another name to remember is linebacker Nate Askew. Askew (6-3, 241) had a big day, with an adjusted 40 time in the mid 4.5s and a 38-inch vertical, according to the source. Askew, who played receiver for his first three seasons, had 1.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for losses and a team-high three interceptions.

Mississippi State

Guard Gabe Jackson, a likely second-round choice, won't be of interest for the Packers, given their strength of Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang.

Charles Siddoway, a two-year starter at right tackle, ran in 5.06 with 26 reps on the bench, according to NFL.com. He's got long arms (33.5 inches) and decent athleticism, and might be worthy of a late-round pick.

Running back LaDarius Perkins (5-7, 197) stuck with most of his Combine numbers (4.46 in the 40, 35.5-inch vertical, 23 reps on the bench) but had a strong positional workout. Two free-agent possibilities, safety Nickoe Whitley (knee surgery) and quarterback Tyler Russell (shoulder surgery) didn't go through the workouts. Russell expects to have a private workout for scouts in April.

Whitley played through a torn ACL, electing to have surgery after the season — a team-first move that is hurting him now. He had five interceptions while playing in 11 of 13 games. "Extremely, extremely intelligent guy," coach Dan Mullen told reporters. "He sacrificed his future for the good of the team and won two games for us almost by himself at the end of the season."

New Mexico State

The only draft-worthy prospect was under-the-radar receiver Austin Franklin, an early entrant. He caught 74 passes for 1,245 yards (16.8 average) and nine touchdowns in 2012. In 2013, after a four-game academic suspension, he caught 52 passes for 670 yards (12.9 average) and seven touchdowns. He's also returned kickoffs and punts. A source compared him to Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown.

Franklin (5-11, 191) stuck with his 4.56 in the 40 from the Combine because he slipped on what the source called a "horrible field." Franklin did improve his vertical jump 3 inches to 39.

Central Michigan

Jake Olson and Zurlon Tipton were the main attractions. Olson, a talented left tackle, had his career derailed by injuries. He missed most of 2010 and 2012 with leg injuries. Granted a sixth year of eligibility, Olson missed all but the season-opening game of 2013 with a broken wrist. Because of the wrist, Olson (6-7, 301) did not do the bench press.

It was a similar story for Tipton, who was clocked in 4.69 seconds with a 32-inch vertical and fits the Packers' mold at 5-foot-11 and 223 pounds. In 2012, Tipton rushed for 1,497 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. In the 2013 opener against UMass, Tipton sustained a broken ankle. Rather than sit out the season and apply for a sixth year of eligibility, Tipton plowed through his rehab and missed just seven games. With seven screws still in his ankle, Tipton started the final three games, rushing for 380 yards and seven touchdowns. On Senior Day, he rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns against Eastern Michigan.

Northern Arizona

At 5-foot-7 and 194 pounds, Zach Bauman doesn't seem to fit the prototype for a Packers running back. Bauman, however, is considered the only NFL-worthy prospect at the school, according to NFL Draft Scout's rankings. In his four-year career, he rushed for 5,132 yards, added 1,181 receiving yards and scored 51 total touchdowns. He topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of his four seasons.

Bauman, who had a strong week at the Shrine Game, ran in 4.50 seconds with a 34-inch vertical, according to a source at the workout. He's shifty, in the mold of Darren Sproles, rather than a one-cut runner like Danny Woodfield.


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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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