The fastest way to improve the Green Bay Packers’ defense is, well, getting faster on defense.
“I think you’re always trying to get faster,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “I don’t think it’s a negative thing. Football is about explosiveness, speed, athletic ability. This is not our grandfather’s football that we’re playing in this day and age. Everybody’s fast, everybody’s explosive and I think that’s what we’re trying to get at.”
The numbers back it up when you look at his four picks on defense.
Cornerback Kevin King (No. 33 overall): Ten cornerbacks were selected in the first two rounds and King blew them away athletically. You could stretch out the sample size to three rounds, four rounds, seven rounds or 170 rounds. No defensive player in the draft could beat King’s times in the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill.
Of the corners taken in the first two rounds, King finished first in the shuttle, three-cone and vertical jump. He ranked “only” fourth in the 40-yard dash with his 4.43. Six of the top corners completed all of the four aforementioned tests. Awarding one point for finishing first, two points for finishing second and so on, King had seven points. No other corner had fewer than 16 points (first-rounder Marion Conley).
King’s 4.43 in the 40 was faster than the two corners Thompson took in the first two rounds in 2015 (Damarious Randall, 4.46; Quinten Rollins, 4.57). Entering his draft, Thompson had selected 10 cornerbacks. Only Mike Hawkins and Pat Lee (both 4.41) could beat King’s time. King’s 3.89 in the shuttle and 6.56 in the three-cone beat Thompson’s previous corner picks (Casey Hayward’s 3.90 in the shuttle was the only sub-4-second time; Davon House’s three-cone time was 6.65).
Of course, King put up those times at 6-foot-3. Hawkins (6-1 1/4) was the only other cornerback taller than 6-foot-1 drafted by Thompson. In fact, Thompson’s previous five corners were shorter than 5-foot-11 1/2.
“One of our goals this year was to try and get faster,” director of football operations Eliot Wolf said. “I think we got the tallest corner in the draft and a guy that runs really fast and a guy that can make plays on the ball. We’re really excited about it.”
Safety Josh Jones (No. 61 overall): As was the case with King, the Packers didn’t just get fast when Thompson drafted Jones. It got fast and big when he drafted Jones (6-1 3/8, 220 pounds).
Eleven safeties were selected in the first three rounds. Jones finished second in the 40-yard dash at 4.41 seconds. Jones wasn’t as good in the other tests. Of the 11 first- through third-round safeties, nine completed all four tests. Jones finished sixth in our point scale.
Said director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst: “6-1 1/2, 220, 4.4, that’s impressive in its own right. But then you watch the tape and he backs it up. He’s not one of those guys that tested well and then you don’t see the athletic traits on the tape. You see it.”
Thompson had drafted seven other safeties. The previous fastest? Nick Collins, with a 4.49 40 in 2005.
Defensive lineman Montravius Adams (No. 93 overall): Seventeen defensive linemen who weighed at least 300 pounds were drafted. Adams’ 4.87 in the 40 was the fastest. While Adams wasn’t nearly as dynamic in the other tests, that 40 jumps off the page.
“He’s got good size, but he’s also tremendously quick and explosive at the line of scrimmage,” Thompson said. “He’s got natural hand use that is hard to teach and it’s good that you’re born with it. He’s been a good player, very much recommended by the staff there, and we were surprised and elated that he’s available at the time we picked him.”
Adams is the 14th defensive lineman selected by Thompson since the move to the 3-4. Only Datone Jones, who ran a 4.80 at 283 pounds in 2013, was faster than Adams.
Outside linebacker Vince Biegel (No. 108 overall): Twenty-one edge defenders were taken in the first four rounds. Of the 20 that ran the 40, Biegel’s 4.67 ranked eighth. Of the 18 that ran the 20-yard shuttle, Biegel’s 4.30 ranked sixth. Of the 18 that ran the three-cone drill, Biegel’s 6.92 ranked fourth. Using our point system, Biegel checked in at No. 5 out of the 18 edge players who did all three tests.
“When I visited Wisconsin for their pro day, I was very impressed with his overall makeup and what he could do,” senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith said. “He was very versatile. He was quick, he was athletic, very flexible athlete, and I liked the way he went about his business at the pro day.”
Biegel is the eighth outside linebacker selected by Thompson since the move to the 3-4 in 2009. He was third or tied for third in the 40, shuttle and three-cone.
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.