Pro Day Tour: QB and Sleepers at Oregon State

Might Oregon State's record-setting Sean Mannion be the Packers' developmental quarterback? Packers scouts saw several sleepers at Oregon State and West Virginia and an intriguing tight end, among others, at Ohio State.

Coach Mike McCarthy has stated he’d like general manager Ted Thompson to get him a developmental quarterback in this year’s draft.

“I don’t think you ever pass on a quarterback,” McCarthy said at the Scouting Combine. “It’s the most important position in the game. If you have one at a value that you’re comfortable and he’s in a position to pick him, I think you pick him.”

One option, if available in the sixth or seventh round, could be Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, who had a strong pro day workout on Friday. The Packers have never had a quarterback like the towering Mannion, who measured in at 6-foot-5 5/8 at the Scouting Combine. Perhaps that’s too tall for the Packers’ tastes; Thompson’s sample size is too small at quarterback to take a projection.

There’s no denying Mannion’s production. He set the Pac-12 Conference record and ranks eighth in FBS history with 13,604 career passing yards. He started 43 games and completed 64.6 percent of his passes with 83 touchdowns.

However, he led all active passers with 54 interceptions, and Mannion’s mobility is a major concern. To improve his footwork and quicken his throwing motion, he’s been working with Jordan Palmer. He completed 46-of-53 passes, according to the Statesman Journal, with one incompletion hitting a low-hanging tarp.

Edge rusher Obum Gwacham (6-5, 246) is a late-round option. He stuck with his Combine workout of 4.72 in the 40 and a 36-inch vertical. He is a tall, long (34 3/8-inch arms) defender. As a senior, Gwacham recorded four sacks, 5.5 TFLs and 28 tackles as a reserve defensive end. He spent his first three seasons at receiver.

After that, it was sleepers galore.

Cornerback Steven Nelson was the Beavers’ best defensive back but, at 5-foot-10, he’s too short for Green Bay’s tastes. However, safety Ryan Murphy is a definite target in the latter rounds. The three-year starter finished his career with seven interceptions and, as a senior, he had 6.5 tackles for losses, one interception and eight pases defensed. Against USC, he returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

His pro-day workout is only going to help. Murphy (6-1, 214) ran as fast as 4.43 in the 40 along with a 39-inch vertical, 7.06 in the three-cone and 18 reps on the bench. His 40 time would have ranked second among safeties at the Combine. During drills, he grabbed an interception that was “nearly as spectacular” as the famous one-handed catch by the Giants’ Odell Beckham, according to a source in attendance.

Another under-the-radar prospect, defensive tackle Dylan Wynn (6-2, 283), had a big day to perhaps get into the end of the draft. He put up 43 reps on the 225-pound bench press — and that’s with scouts docking him three reps that weren’t quite up to their specifications. He broke 5.0 in the 40 on some watches. He even jumped 33 inches.

Wynn started 44 games. As a senior, he led the team’s defensive linemen with 54 tackles, which included 4.5 sacks and 12 for losses. He also got some work at fullback during drills.

"I'm trying to find a spot on a (NFL) team," Wynn said. "All I need is one team to take a shot on me and I promise they won't regret it because I will earn my spot anywhere on the field."

Finally, there’s Western Oregon receiver Tyrell Williams. Talk about physical skills: 6-foot-4, 205, ran as fast as 4.38 and had a 39.5-inch vertical. His three-cone time of 6.53 was faster than any receiver at the Combine; that wasn’t good enough for Williams, who wanted to run it again. Afterward, he got more attention from the scouts — some of whom had never heard of him — than any of the Oregon State players, according to the source.

As a senior, he caught 56 passes for 950 yards and eight touchdowns.

Ohio State

He wasn’t the biggest name but he might have been the biggest target for the Packers.

Tight end Jeff Heuerman (6-5, 254) went from 26 receptions (36 targets) for 466 yards (17.9 average) and four touchdowns as a junior to 17 receptions (26 targets) for 207 yards (12.9 average) and two scores as a senior. In the NFL’s official biography, Heuerman is compared to Mark Bavaro because of his “search-and-destory” blocking style. He’d be an interesting complement to catch-first Richard Rodgers.

Other than 26 reps on the bench, Heuerman didn’t test at the Combine due to an ankle injury. On Friday, he ran in 4.76 with a 35-inch vertical, a source said.

Star receiver Devin Smith, who might have been an option for the Packers in the first round had they not re-signed Randall Cobb, tried to show he was more than just a deep threat. So, he stuck with his 4.42 from the Scouting Combine and had a good day catching the ball. He shouldn’t get beyond the 40th pick.

“I thought it was very important to go out here and run all of the routes and show them that I’ve improved and I can run all of the routes,” Smith said.

Standout defensive tackle Michael Bennett (6-2, 293), a mid-second-round prospect, injured a hamstring running his second 40-yard dash and couldn’t do position drills. He didn’t test at the Combine because of a groin injury.

Receiver Evan Spencer (6-2, 208) was almost an afterthought on the OSU offense, with 15 catches for 149 yards, but coach Urban Meyer called him the team’s MVP because of his unselfishness and willingness to do the dirty work. He ran in 4.45. Linebacker Curtis Grant (6-3, 240), a possibility inside, ran in about 4.70, according to Cleveland.com. He was fifth on the team with 69 tackles, including one sack and five TFLs. Both are late-round/undrafted prospects.

West Virginia

Kevin White, taking aim at Alabama’s Amari Cooper to be the first receiver off the board, is far and away the Mountaineers’ best prospect. And fellow receiver Mario Alford made the biggest splash with a 40 time of 4.25, according to a source who sent along the official numbers.

That left edge rusher Shaquille Riddick as perhaps the top player of interest. He had a strong performance, as well, to solidify his standing as a fifth- or sixth-round option.

Riddick (6-6, 244) was a FCS All-American at Gardner-Webb in 2013. He decided to move up a rung to West Virginia for his senior season. It wasn’t quite like his 8.5 sacks and 19 tackles for losses from 2013, but Riddick provided instant impact with seven sacks and 11 TFLs in 2014.

He ran an impressive 4.59 with a 36-inch vertical and three-cone of 6.67. Those numbers blew away just about all of the defensive ends/outside linebackers at the Combine.

“The chip started when I was in high school when I didn’t have not one Division I offer to now with not getting invited to the Combine and no Senior Bowl,” he said. “I’m just going to grind. All I need is for one team to like me. One shot, and I ain’t going to let them down.”

Guard Quinton Spain (6-4, 330) ran an impressive 4.97. He started at left tackle as a sophomore and was honorable mention all-conference at guard as a junior and senior. Running back Dreamius Smith (5-11, 223), who rushed for 451 yards as a senior, was timed in 4.44.

Back to Alford: The Packers’ history suggests Alford, who measured in at 5-foot-8 1/2 at the Combine, will be of no interest, even with a late-round pick. However, he returrned two kickoffs for touchdowns with a 28.6-yard average and Green Bay had one of the worst kickoff returns in the league last season.

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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