Pro Day Tour: Stud Corners at UConn and FSU

The Packers obviously could use a cornerback and saw two of the best of them at pro days on Tuesday. Florida State and Connecticut were two of the four pro days with confirmed attendance by a Packers scout.

After losing Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency, the Green Bay Packers’ need at cornerback is obvious.

They saw two of the best prospects in this draft at pro days on Tuesday with Connecticut’s Byron Jones and Florida State’s P.J. Williams. Both could be options for the Packers with the 30th pick of the draft or perhaps by moving into the top of the second round.

Florida State

FSU’s top prospects are quarterback Jameis Winston, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and center/tackle Cameron Erving. The Packers obviously won’t pull the trigger on Winston or Erving. For what it’s worth, a source said Winston’s workout has divided the Buccaneers, who own the No. 1 pick. The guys making the football decisions aren’t in love with him; the guy signing the checks knows he’ll energize the fan base and sell a bunch of tickets. Goldman (6-4, 336) would be an intriguing option if available at No. 30 but with more immediate needs and Monday’s re-signings of B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion, would Thompson add another nose tackle — even if Goldman is the best player available?

Williams is FSU’s fourth first-round option. Williams (6-0, 194) ran in 4.57 at the Scouting Combine, leading to speculation that his best spot might be safety. However, he improved to 4.45. Why the difference? Besides home cooking, Williams said he had a temperature of more than 100 at the Combine. He also boasted a 41-inch vertical jump (up from 40) and 11-3 broad jump (up from 11-0) on Tuesday.

He fits the Packers’ mold with his size, ability to attack the ball and run-stopping ability.

"I'm a physical corner," he said. "I can play the slot, outside, press-man, zone, come up in the box and make tackles. I'm versatile and athletic and bring an aggressiveness."

We have more on Williams straight from the NFL’s head scout.

Receiver Rashad Greene, running back Karlos Williams and tight end Nick O’Leary are three more FSU’s other prospects who should interest the Packers based on team needs and player draft stock.

Greene (5-11, 182) led the team in receptions all four seasons and piled up a four-year total of 270 catches, 3,830 yards (14.2 average) and 29 touchdowns. Those figures rank third, first and fourth, respectively, in ACC history. He also scored two touchdowns on punt returns as a sophomore. He stuck with his 4.53 from the Combine. He’d be an intriguing option if on the board at the end of the second.

Williams and O’Leary are considered fourth-round options. Williams (6-1, 230) has the size the Packers covet at the position. After a breakout 2013, Williams managed 689 yards (4.6 average) and 11 touchdowns and wound up playing second fiddle to a freshman down the stretch. But he’s got a great blend of size and speed (4.48 at Combine), and he did catch 29 passes in 2014. O’Leary (6-3, 252) won the Mackey Award as a senior, when he caught 48 passes for 618 yards (12.9 average) and six touchdowns. He’s arguably the best route runner and blocker at the position, but he’s not big, he’s not fast (4.93 at Combine) and he’s got small hands. An injured hamstring kept him on the sideline on Tuesday.

Connecticut

Due to playing on a lousy team and shoulder surgery that cost him the final five games, Jones was sailing under the radar entering the scouting season. But with a record-setting Scouting Combine and an almost unrivaled combination of size and speed in this year’s cornerback class, Jones has worked his way into a possible first-round pick.

Jones started at safety as a freshman and sophomore and at corner as a junior and senior. As a senior, he allowed 12 completions in 48 attempts thrown his way.

Jones (6-1, 199) didn’t run the 40 at the Combine but posted a sizzling 4.40 on Tuesday, according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt. Coming off the surgery, he posted an impressive 18 reps on the bench.

We have more on Jones straight from the NFL’s head scout.

The Huskies have one other draftable prospect. Receiver Geremy Davis (6-2, 216) was limited at the Combine with a sore hamstring. On Tuesday, according to Brandt, he ran in 4.48. He caught 71 passes for 1,085 yards as a junior and 44 passes for 521 yards as a senior.

Yale

Depending on the future of Pro Bowl John Kuhn, Yale’s Tyler Varga would be an interesting prospect in the middle of Day 3 of the draft. The native of Kitchener, Ontario, was a second-team FCS All-American running back as a senior and the Ivy League MVP. He rushed for 1,423 yards and an FCS-best 26 total touchdowns (22 rushing). Varga was a finalist for the Campbell Trophy — aka the Academic Heisman. Varga scored two touchdowns in the Senior Bowl, where he worked at running back and fullback.

Varga (5-11, 222) ran in about 4.60 with a 38.5-inch vertical leap at a private pro day attended by 29 teams. At the Combine, he put up 23 reps on the bench. He’s getting looks at fullback and running back. Based on how Kuhn’s been used in the past, it’s easy to see Varga in that role.

“I guarantee I will be the toughest guy coming out of the draft,” he said. “I’m mentally and physically tough. I’m cut from that cloth. I won’t have any off-the-field issues; I know that’s a big thing in the NFL. No character problems. I’m intelligent, I can pick up an offense just like that. I learned two different positions in less than 24 hours at the Senior Bowl. I’m the hardest worker you’ll find and very detail-oriented. I think that’s what it takes to be a professional.”

Notre Dame

Midround tight end Ben Koyack, easily the Irish’s best prospect, had a good day after not testing at the Combine. Koyack (6-5, 255) ran his 40 in 4.72, according to the school. Koyack caught 30 passes for 317 yards (10.6 average; 69.8 percent catch rate) and two touchdowns as a senior. He’s not great at anything but he does everything at a decent level.

“I’m just trying to show them my name should be called sooner, not later,” he said. “Trying to cement myself as a guy they see as versatile, see as someone they could put into any situation.”

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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