INDIANAPOLIS – The Green Bay Packers hope Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins will make their Year 1 to Year 2 jumps in Year 3.
Hope, however, doesn’t win games, with the poor play of the corners last season being the team’s damnation in the NFC Championship Game against Atlanta. In that light, the Packers have dug deep into a, well, deep class of cornerbacks. One of the players they had a formal interview with at the Scouting Combine was Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey.
Humphrey, the son of former Alabama and NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, played two seasons for the Crimson Tide. After redshirting in 2014, Humphrey was a Freshman All-American in 2015 and earned some first-team All-American honors in 2016. This past season, he had two interceptions — including a pick-six in the opener vs. USC — and five additional pass breakups. He started all 29 career games and finished with five interceptions.
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At 6-foot and 197, Humphrey has the size the Packers prefer – not too small but not too tall. He should test, well, too, when the defensive backs are put through workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. In high school, Humphrey won the 110-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles at the 2013 World Youth Track & Field Trials, won seven high school state championships and competed on the Crimson Tide track and field team.
“I want to run fast. I don’t know if I’m going to run ‘island’ fast but I definitely think I’m going to run fast,” Humphrey said, alluding to the Adidas offer to award an island to any player breaking the Combine’s 40-yard record while wearing its shoes.
It’s that combination of size and speed that makes Humphrey such an appealing prospect.
“I think my best attribute is my speed and toughness,” he said. “I think I can run with any guy. There isn’t a receiver besides (Washington’s) John Ross that I played (against) that I said, ‘This guy’s really, really fast.’ I think I can run with just about anybody. I think that’s my best trait.”
Humphrey’s father held Alabama’s career rushing record for more than a decade before it was eclipsed by Shaun Alexander and, 16 years later, Derrick Henry. But Bobby Humphrey’s post-football life has been limited by all of those hits. He persuaded his son to be the guy to do the hitting.
“I played running back when I was young,” Humphrey said. “My dad always pushed me away from running back. He would go work out with us and he’d be aching about his knees. He definitely saw that and him pushing me away from it made me turn into a DB.”
It was a wise decision. Humphrey projects as one of six or seven cornerbacks who could wind up being taken in the first round. Noted Rob
Rang in his scouting report at CBSSports.com, Humphrey has the arm length, balance and body control to excel in press coverage, and the speed to cover receivers down the field. Plus, his size and strength make him a factor in run support. He “boasts an exciting combination of size, straight-line speed and physicality for the position,” wrote Rang.
Coming in as a first-round pick means huge expectations. But that’s been the story of Humphrey’s life. High expectations are a way of life when your dad was a professional athlete and a college legend.
“High expectations but I always liked a challenge,” he said of growing up. “I feel like I want to rise to the top. I want to be expected to do big things because that’s how I think of myself. I think I should be doing big things.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.