Sleeper or longshot? DeShawn Wynn

Running back could be steal of Packers' Class of 2007

For those football fans still paying attention late on Day 2 of the NFL draft, Florida running back DeShawn Wynn was selected by the Green Bay Packers 228th overall in the seventh round. Usually players taken that late in the draft have a below average chance of sticking with the team, much less making an impact as a rookie.

Wynn has a golden opportunity to do both this season, and wind up as the steal of Green Bay's 11 draft picks. That is why it would be accurate to tag Wynn with the sleeper label as the Packers near their 2007 training camp at the end of this month.

Wynn's NFL career got off to a rough start when he strained a calf muscle during the first practice of the team's Rookie Orientation Camp in early May. He was forced to sit out of most of that camp, plus the team's mandatory minicamp a few weeks later. Wynn was given the green light by team doctors in the team's Organized Team Activities practices, and coach Mike McCarthy got a snapshot of how Wynn can be an asset in Green Bay's backfield this season.

"Talented young man," McCarthy said on June 7. "I know we're just in helmets and shorts and T-shirts, but I'm very impressed with his vision and his foot quickness. He's really had an excellent week of practice. Once again, that needs to transfer to the padded practice. He seems to be picking up the scheme, has an understanding. His instincts, obviously his size, and the thickness that you like to see with a guy who runs with his pad level. He's had a very good week of practice.

Wynn was the leading rusher for the national champion Gators in 2006 with an impressive 5.1 yards per carry average. Though he had some inconsistencies in his career, he still put up productive numbers (2,008 rushing yards and 24 TD's). Many compare him to the NFL's Stephen Davis.

So why did he fall to the seventh round? Many football experts feel his off-field issues played a part. He was suspended a few times while at Florida for missing classes and a parking violation. Some pointed out that he's an underachiever. At 5-foot-10, 232 pounds, Wynn also is in between a prototypical NFL running back and fullback.

The happy-go-lucky Wynn has shrugged off the criticisms, and feels he can play in the NFL.

"I'm just in here to prove myself and compete with some of these guys," said Wynn. "Wherever I end up is where I end up, but I'm going to definitely work for where I end up."

Wynn's ability to play both running back and fullback will help him land a spot as one of the team's five backs. As long as he leaves his character issues in Gainesville, his future is bright.

"We did our due diligence and studied him on and off the field and came away with the conclusion that he's an intriguing player that can kind of come in here and compete," said running backs coach Edgar Bennett. "I think after having some discussions with him, I think now in his career he knows he has to make certain adjustments. This is a business and he's coming here with the right frame of mind that he has to be professional about how he goes about his business on and off the field."

When many seventh round picks will be out of a job in early September, look for Wynn to step in and make an impact this season for the Packers.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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