Pro Day Tour '14: Big Day at Louisville

First-round quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater got all the headlines but safety Calvin Pryor and several of his teammates were the focus for the Packers on Monday. Louisville was one of six pro days — including a big one in Florida — in which a Packers scout was in attendance.

Louisville, of all places, might have been the most important pro day of the year from the Green Bay Packers' perspective.

Never mind quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's tepid performance.

The Packers need a safety. Louisville has Calvin Pryor, who could be a first-round consideration at No. 21. Even his running mate, Hakeem Smith, could add depth late in the draft.

The Packers could use another impact linebacker. Louisville has Marcus Smith, who would be a strong consideration if he's still available in Round 3 after posting 14.5 sacks as a senior.

The Packers could use an infusion of talent at inside linebacker. Preston Brown could pack a punch in the fifth round.

The Packers might need a fullback, depending on veteran John Kuhn's free-agent fate. How about 280-pound bruiser B.J. Butler?

The main attraction, obviously, was Pryor. Pryor (5-11, 207) stuck with his Scouting Combine numbers, which included a 4.58 clocking in the 40-yard dash, a 34.5-inch vertical jump and 18 reps on the bench. According to a source, Pryor looked sharp during the positional drills and did nothing to make teams reconsider selecting him during the bottom one-third of the first round.

"I've been getting great feedback," Pryor told reporters. "They've been saying first round or early second, but you never know what to expect. I'm just taking it a day at a time and focusing on my craft."

Smith (6-3, 251) ran in 4.68 in the 40 with a 35-inch vertical and 23 reps at the Combine. He stuck to position drills and did nothing to hurt his stock.

Brown (6-1, 251) shaved about one-tenth of a second off his Combine time with a 4.76, plus improved with a 34.5-inch vertical and 26 reps on the bench. He had five sacks, 14 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles as a senior.

Butler measured in at a stunning 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds. He played on both sides of the ball for the Cardinals and caught just three passes during his career. He had 22 reps on the bench and caught every pass during drills.

Florida

In a bizarro world, Florida fielded a terrible team and yet the Gators might have five defensive players taken in the first four rounds.

Cornerbacks Marcus Roberson (6-0, 191), Louchiez Purifoy (5-11, 190) and Jaylen Watkins (5-11, 194), all Day 2 prospects, have the height that seems to be the Packers' standard. While Watkins — the brother of Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins — ran in 4.41 at the Combine, Roberson and Purifoy both ran in 4.61. Running indoors on Monday, Roberson and Purifoy improved "by about a tenth but nothing remarkable," a scout said. Watkins, who probably has passed Roberson and Purifoy on most draft boards because of the 40 time, aggravated a strain from the Senior Bowl and pushed through position drills on essentially one foot.

"Not really," Gators coach Will Muschamp told Scout.com's Florida site when asked if he was surprised about the times of Roberson and Purifoy. "Those guys play a lot faster than they're going to run 40 in. That's what a lot of the coaches and comments I hear from the scouts is. At the end of the day, they're going to watch the tape and see it."

Powell is an interesting story. The former No. 1 recruit in the nation had a so-so college career, due in part to a pair of ACL tears that sidelined him for all of 2012 and the start of 2013. The 6-foot-3 linebacker went from 237 pounds at the Combine to 247 at pro day in order to give scouts a different perspective on his skill-set. He put up 25 reps on Monday after a top-three 40 time of 4.65 at the Combine. For a 3-4 team like Green Bay, he could play inside or outside linebacker. With scouts intrigued by his versatility and background, and with the knee passing muster from medical staffs, he could rise up boards.

Jonotthan Harrison, a late-round prospect at center, said scouts like "my intelligence, hand violence (and) lower-body strength." Receiver Solomon Patton (5-9, 179) was considered a free agent until running in about 4.30. He led the team with 44 receptions, 556 yards and six touchdowns and averaged 29.2 yards with a touchdown on kickoff returns. Plus, he blocked three kicks.

"Some teams (would want him) as a slot receiver that has return skills, a big time kickoff returner," Muschamp said. "He is a great special teams guy. He is one of the better kickoff coverage guys I have been around and then you look at the amount of blocked punts he has since he's been here. He is a guy that will make a team, it is a matter of what is the right fit for him. He is a wonderful young man and represents our University in a first class manner."

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley, a second-round option who might be better suited to a 4-3 scheme, will work out for scouts on April 18 as he recovers from a torn ACL.

Boise State

Outside linebacker prospect DeMarcus Lawrence (6-3, 251), who had 10.5 sacks, a conference-high 20.5 TFLs and three forced fumbles as a senior, ran in 4.65 after a 4.80 at the Combine, a source said. The big deal was how he looked in linebacker drills. He'll be a Day 2 consideration after his workout.

Receiver Aaron Burks (6-3, 203) ran in 4.43 with a 40.5-inch vertical and had an excellent positional workout. Another under-the-radar receiver, Geraldo Boldewijn, ran in 4.49 with a 34-inch vertical, a scout told the Idaho Statesman. Quarterback Joe Southwick, a free agent option, ran in 4.70 after breaking an ankle against Nevada in October, according to a source, and threw the ball better than scouts expected.

Offensive linemen Charles Leno (6-4, 305) and Matt Paradis (6-3, 307) are considered Day 3 prospects. Leno was Boise State's left tackle; the Packers have made a habit of drafting left tackles and moving them inside. Paradis is a center; the Packers don't have a starting center after losing Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency.

Wake Forest

Nikita Whitlock ruined game plans while playing nose tackle for the Demon Deacons. As a senior, he tallied nine sacks, 19 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. He's a three-time all-ACC first- or second-team selection.

At 5-foot-10 and 254 pounds, he's not a great fit to play defensive line in the NFL. But with a staggering 43 reps on the bench press and a 4.74 in the 40 — a good time considering the players ran outside on what a source called a "miserably cold" 29-degree day with sleet and snow — Whitlock will get a chance. But at what position? On Monday, he worked out for scouts at fullback, defensive line and linebacker. The source said he could see Whitlock playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Spencer Bishop would offer another option as a tight end/H-back. Spencer (6-2, 245) played tight end for Wake Forest, catching 19 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. He ran in 4.77 with 25 reps on the bench and a 36.5-inch vertical.

Memphis

Lonnie Ballentine (6-3, 218) was considered a sleeper safety prospect by scouts. Not anymore. Even though he was sick, he ran in 4.38 with a 38.5-inch vertical. He might even get a look at cornerback. He started during his final two seasons, with all three career interceptions coming in 2012. Athleticism is in his DNA: His mom played professional basketball in France.

Houston

The Cougars' top prospect is punter Richie Leone. Cornerback Zachary McMillian (5-10, 178), who had back-to-back seasons of five interceptions, ran in 4.68 with a 36-inch vertical. His father, Aundra McMillian, played nine seasons for the Oilers and Vikings. Austin Wilson (6-0, 225), a career backup linebacker, had the best day with a 4.70 in the 40 and a 40.5-inch vertical, according to the school Web site.


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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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