Focus is on defense in sixth round

Jolly, Culver will have to fight to make roster

With two sixth-round selections acquired in draft weekend trades with the Rams and Eagles, the Packers chose two players at positions where they are deep because of off-season moves.

Johnny Jolly, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive tackle out of Texas A&M and Tyrone Culver, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety out of Fresno State were chosen with the 183rd and 185th overall picks, respectively. They will have to be impressive in training camp to earn a spot on the 53-man active roster based on the competition.

Jolly's a leader If one thing stands out about Jolly, it is his leadership. He was a two-time member of Texas A&M's Leadership Council, and on the field, he started the final 35 games of his career as one of the more competitive players on defense.

"I'm a team leader," he said shortly after being picked by the Packers on Sunday. "I love this game. I worked hard to get where I'm at, and I'm just ready to come there and show the Green Bay Packers that I can play football."

Known mainly as a run-stopper with the Aggies, Jolly did more than just occupy two blockers. He averaged nearly five tackles per game over four years and totaled 28 tackles for loss. Improved efforts in the weight room helped Jolly become more explosive as a player and undoubtedly made him an NFL Draft pick. In 2005, he recorded the best vertical jump of any Texas A&M lineman, leaping 34 inches. That agility translated into numbers on the field. He blocked two kicks and deflected 16 passes over his career.

Jolly said he has played both defensive tackle positions and some limited time at defensive end which can only help his cause in Green Bay. He will be competing against a number of young interior defensive lineman with the Packers, including free agent signings Ryan Pickett and Kenderick Allen and holdovers Colin Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Kenny Peterson, and Corey Williams, all who made significant contributions to the Packers' defense last year.

Jolly knows he is fighting an uphill battle as a sixth-round pick, but he is ready for the challenge.

"I was always told it doesn't matter where you go," he said, "it's just what you do when you get there. When I get there I have to go out and show that I can play."

Jolly was a teammate of current Packers' defensive end Mike Montgomery two years ago at Texas A&M, working next to him along the defensive line.

Culver's an all-around student
Smarts alone will give Culver the opportunity to succeed in the NFL. He is a four-time Academic All-WAC performer, a pre-dental student, a leader, and a capable defensive back on the football field. His coaches called him "a coach on the field" for his heady play and initiative in calling the secondary adjustments.

What will translate on the field with regard to Culver's athleticism is that he has experience atypical of many safeties. At Fresno State, he played deep, near the line of scrimmage, and covered receivers one-on-one in the slot. Those skills made him an attractive pick for the Packers. His frame suggests that he could become a cornerback in time.

"I would just like to come in and be able to be a player that makes a difference on a team," said Culver. "Everybody aspires to be that star, and that's anybody you would ask, but I just want to go in, especially a place like Green Bay with all the history around it, and just come in and be an impact player."

The Packers are deep at safety with second-year players Nick Collins and Marviel Underwood and veterans Mark Roman and Marquand Manuel, but Culver's ability could land him a specialized role at least initially. That may include special teams or time at cornerback, where he played some his first couple of seasons at Fresno St. for depth reasons. He eventually settled, though, at safety, starting every game the final two seasons.

Culver said the best game he played last year came at Southern California, when the Bulldogs nearly upset the No. 1 Trojans late in the season. There he got a chance to go up against some top-quality NFL prospects and performed well.

"I had a lot of plays, actually a lot of opportunities to make plays in that game," he said. "Just the players on that field with (Reggie) Bush and (Matt) Leinart, it was a real good game to play in. That's what you play football for."

Culver has just three more classes to finish his pre-requisites for dental school. For now, though, he will focus on football.


Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.


Packer Report Top Stories