On Friday, the Packers were at Vanderbilt, which featured standout Kenny Ladler. Ladler's 40-yard time, two scouts told Packer Report last week, would be key in his assessment. Ladler, running with a tight hamstring, turned in a 4.70 clocking at the Scouting Combine, with 4.60 considered adequate for the position.
Ladler improved to 4.64, according to Vanderbilt's Web site, but he tweaked the hamstring during his sprint. So, while the time was an improvement, it might have scouts looking for more information before the draft begins on May 8.
"I'm not too sad about my (40 time)," Ladler told The Tennessean. "It could have been better, but it was still good. I was able to finish up all my other drills and get something down on paper just so they could see, because I wasn't able to do it all at the Combine."
What makes Ladler such an intriguing prospect is his playmaking potential. He single-handedly was involved in 10 turnover-producing plays as a senior -- most in the nation. He picked off five passes and tied for the NCAA lead with five forced fumbles. The interceptions didn't come against a bunch of chumps -- he had picks in conference play against Texas A&M, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. He's a big hitter, intelligent and comes with the certification of Casey Hayward, his former Vanderbilt teammate who was at Friday's workout.
"Kenny Ladler was very productive," Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage told Packer Report. "He's an active player in run support. Seems to show up in the right place. His test numbers were somewhat disappointing. Most have him characterized as a strong safety. He's going to make his living as a backup and special-teams player. Intangibles-wise, he'll figure out what it takes to make it long term."
Longtime NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas, on the other hand, called Ladler his "sleeper" at safety with a chance to be an excellent starter.
In addition to Ladler, Packers scouts watched Louisville's Calvin Pryor on Monday, Florida State's Terrence Brooks on Tuesday, Baylor's Ahmad Dix on Wednesday and Stanford's Ed Reynolds on Thursday.
Reynolds improved from 4.57 in the 40-yard dash and a 32.5-inch vertical leap at the Scouting Combine to 4.44 and 38 at pro day. A junior entry, two-time All-American and the son of 10-year NFL linebacker Ed Reynolds Sr., Reynolds picked off one pass in 2013 but six in 2012.
Dixon improved from 4.64 with a 32-inch vertical at the Combine to 4.51 with a 34-inch vertical at pro day. Baylor's nickel defender in 2011 and 2012, he turned in an All-American senior season at safety with one interception and one forced fumble.
Brooks, who is perhaps the leader of the pack to be the No. 5 safety off the board behind first-round candidates HaHa Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Pryor and second-round possibilities Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois and Deone Bucannon of Washington State, stuck with his Scouting Combine workout. Brooks' 4.42 and 38-inch vertical ranked first and second, respectively, among the safeties testing in Indianapolis. He recorded two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2013.
The week's main attraction was the hard-hitting Pryor, who stuck with his Combine numbers of 4.58 in the 40 and a 34.5-inch vertical. Pryor, a junior prospect, had three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2013 to give him a three-year total of seven interceptions and nine forced fumbles.
"I like Pryor," Savage said. "I think he's a little bit more physical than HaHa but probably not quite as fluid in space. He will smoke ball-carriers. He's a fierce hitter. With those two, it depends on a little bit on what you already have in place as the strong safety/free safety and which one might fit your current roster at this time the best."