Whether it's because of the plan to use Nick Perry and Mike Neal in the new "elephant" position. Maybe it's because of those players' injury histories. Maybe it's all just a smokescreen.
Either way, the latest prospect getting more than token interest was Jackson Jeffcoat, who was the star attraction at Texas' pro day on Wednesday. Jeffcoat, somehow, is flying a bit under the radar, even though he had prolific production, had a strong performance at the Scouting Combine and is the son of former NFL star Jim Jeffcoat.
Not only was he a first-team All-American, but he was the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year and the winner of the Ted Hendricks Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive end. Jeffcoat led the team in tackles (86), tackles for losses (22), sacks (13.0) and quarterback pressures (19), and tied for first in fumbles recovered (three). He was the only FBS lineman to lead his team in tackles. He had at least one sack in 18 of his final 26 games, and he leaves Texas ranked second in school history with 60 tackles for losses.
He stuck with his Combine performance — 4.63 in the 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical jump and 18 reps on the 225-pound bench press. On Wednesday, he went through position drills — including outside linebacker. He looked good in those drills, according to a source at the workout, though he dropped some passes.
"I went out there and showed that I was in shape, showed that I've been working," Jeffcoat told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "… The goal was just to show that I could move in space, able to change direction and show that I can play defensive end and outside linebacker."
Said his famous father, who piled up 102.5 career sacks: "He's a lot more explosive, a lot more talented than I ever could hope to be."
Receiver Mike Davis, who didn't test at the Combine because of a stress fracture in his foot, ran his 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.43 but had a less-than-impressive 32.5-inch vertical, according to Scout.com's LonghornDigest.com
Davis was a productive three-and-a-half year starter, finishing his career ranked fourth in school history with 200 receptions for 2,753 yards and fifth with 18 touchdowns. As a senior, he caught 51 balls for 727 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. While the media pundits like Davis better than Indiana's Cody Latimer (referenced below), a scout said, "No contest. Latimer, easy."
Late-round cornerback prospect Carrington Byndom (5-11, 177) ran in 4.37 with a 36-inch vertical. He started the final 39 games of his career, posted five career interceptions and was second-team all-conference as a senior.
Donald Hawkins (6-4, 295) fits the mold for a Packers offensive lineman. He started at left tackle for two seasons — earning second-team all-Big 12 as a senior — but has the versatility to move inside to guard. Trey Hopkins (6-3, 307), with 28 starts at guard and 12 at right tackle, put up 28 reps on the bench with a 32-inch vertical. He was first-team all-conference at guard as a senior. Guard Mason Walters (6-5, 320), a four-year starter at right guard who opened the final 51 games of his career, is recovering from January surgery needed to repair a knee injury that plagued him during his senior season. He did 23 reps on the bench, though that number was also impacted by the knee. He's hoping to be 100 percent healthy by the end of April.
Cody Latimer's big pro day put him right into the Day 2 mix at wide receiver.
Other than electric Randall Cobb, the Packers have shown a preference for big, strong, physical receivers. Latimer certainly fits the bill. At 6-foot-2 1/2 and 215 pounds, Latimer has the size. With a wide receiver-high 23 reps on the bench press at the Scouting Combine, he's got the strength.
And now, he has speed.
After foot surgery mostly sidelined Latimer for the Combine, he put up an eye-popping workout. He ran his 40 in 4.38 seconds and posted a 39-inch vertical jump, according to a source.
"I think I put up some good numbers that caught scouts eyes," Latimer told the Indianapolis Star. "That's all I needed to do."
Because he's still on the road to recovery, Latimer didn't do any position drills and only has been "jogging through routes." Only recently has he started to cut. He will have a workout for teams, including Green Bay, at some point.
Still, with 72 catches for 1,096 yards (15.2 average) and nine touchdowns in 2013 and back-to-back all-Big Ten second-team honors, there's no doubting Latimer's talent. Two knocks from a scout: small-ish hands and he lacks polish as a route-runner. Davis, he said, is the better blocker between the two.
Another Hoosiers receiver, Kofi Hughes (6-1, 217), ran in 4.52 with 24 reps on the bench and a 35.5-inch vertical, according to a source. He caught 47 passes for 739 yards (15.7 average) and seven touchdowns as a senior. He's likely a priority free agent and should be of interest for the Packers, as well. Tight end Ted Bolser, another free agent prospect, caught 35 passes for 320 yards and six touchdowns as a senior and 117 passes for 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns for his career.
Finally, safety Greg Heban (6-0, 205), a free-agent possibility, ran in 4.56 with a 36.5-inch vertical. His performance in the vertical, shuttle, three-cone and broad jump would have ranked in the top five among the safeties at the Combine. The Academic All-Big Ten selection and three-year starter had three interceptions for the season and nine for his career. He pitched for the Hoosiers' baseball team in 2010 and boasted a 90 mph fastball.
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley (6-3, 306), a late-round prospect, stuck with his work from the Combine (5.06, 33.5-inch vertical, 26 reps on the bench). He was a three-year starter who had a big senior season with 14.5 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles.
Running back Jerome Smith's 40-yard time of 4.84 was almost the slowest of the running backs at the Combine. Smith (5-11, 220), who topped 2,000 yards over his final two seasons, ran in 4.58, according to Syracuse.com.
Tight end Beckett Wales (6-2, 252), who projects as an H-back, ran in 4.68 with 21 reps on the bench and a 29.5-inch vertical. Wales caught 52 passes for 523 yards for his career. After catching 35 passes as a junior (with Ryan Nassib at quarterback), his production declined to 10 catches for 78 yards as a senior, as he was asked to do more of the dirty work. He missed the end of the season after a broken collarbone.
Cornerback Keon Lyn picked off three passes as a junior and started five games as a senior before suffering a fractured kneecap, and he was not allowed to go through testing (other than 15 reps on the bench). He's almost fully healed and, at the very least, will take a bunch of team visits in the final month-plus before the draft.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.