Were the Green Bay Packers checking out their first-round draft pick on Thursday?
Michael Oher, a first-round talent who has the potential to be a standout NFL left tackle, was the main attraction at Mississippi's pro day. The Packers had a scout in attendance, and no doubt they closely watched the 6-foot-5, 309-pounder.
Oher, who saw his stock drop a little after an uninspiring performance at the Scouting Combine last month, ran an impressive 5.08-seconds 40-yard dash (compared to 5.32 in Indianapolis) and did 25 reps on the 225-pound bench press (compared to 21 in Indy) on Thursday.
"I helped myself big time today. I improved everything dramatically since the Combine," Oher said. "It was more comfortable doing the tests here. This is home."
No. 9 may or may not be too early for Oher, and he could be the target if the Packers trade back a few spots in the first round. Scouts love his athleticism, long arms and upside, though consistency and brute strength in the run game are issues. He could get his feet wet at right tackle before taking over for Chad Clifton at left tackle.
Oher started 47 consecutive games for the Rebels and was a two-time All-American. He's probably better known as the main character in Michael Lewis' book "The Blind Side," which detailed Oher's rise from destitute and uneducated youngster to college star.
The Rebels' other first-round talent is defensive tackle Peria Jerry, who doesn't fit a 3-4 scheme. He showed his speed (4.88 40) and strength (28 reps) on Thursday, since he didn't test at the Combine because of a hamstring injury.
Receiver Mike Wallace, who ran the second-fastest 40 (4.33) at the Combine, could be a target if he's around on Day 2 of the draft. While some scouts see the 6-foot, 199-pounder as nothing more than a track guy, he looked crisp in his workouts, according to one insider. He averaged close to 20 yards per catch as a junior and senior with 13 touchdowns. Plus, he averaged 23.5 yards on kickoff returns with two touchdowns. He would provide an immediate upgrade for the Packers' last-ranked kickoff return.
The Packers were one of 16 teams at Louisville's pro day, where standout center Eric Wood was the headliner.
Wood, who is in the mix with Cal's Alex Mack and Oregon's Max Unger as the best center in the draft, started 49 games for the Cardinals and was first-team all-Big East as a junior and senior. He's quick, strong and intelligent, though with the Packers' addition of Duke Preston, they're probably not in the market for another interior lineman.
"My job was pretty easy today, doing offensive line work. That's what I do," the 6-foot-3, 310-pound former teammate of Brian Brohm and Jason Spitz said. "I didn't have to prepare too much for it. There was conditioning. You want to be fresh. You want to be sharp. At the same time, I didn't have to prepare like it was the Combine again."
The Packers were one of 14 teams at East Carolina's pro day, according to Steuber.
The main draw was Davon Drew, who at 6-foot-4 and 256 pounds is one of the few tight ends in this draft who scouts think can become a decent receiver and blocker.
Drew spent his first two years with the Pirates at quarterback before making the switch. He caught 43 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns last season, including five catches for 120 yards vs. Kentucky in a bowl game.
He's neither fast (4.82 40 at the Combine) nor strong (17 bench-press reps) but he's got some upside. He'll be a late-round selection.
Khalif Mitchell is an intriguing late-round/undrafted prospect as a 3-4 defensive end. At 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, he's got the ideal build. He spent his first two seasons at North Carolina and made only modest contributions in his two years (8.5 tackles for loss, one sack) at ECU. He's a decent athlete and strong (30 bench-press reps at the Combine).
The Packers' Alonzo Highsmith watched the Rice workout. The headliner was tight end James Casey, a phenomenal athlete and interesting story that we will feature in the coming days.
His sidekick, Jarett Dillard, was a touchdown machine. Scout.com's 11th-ranked receiver holds the NCAA record with 60 career touchdown receptions and ranks second with 292 career receptions. He caught 20 touchdown passes last season and 21 in 2006. He had at least two receptions in all 49 career games and scored in 37 of them.
At less than 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds with just a 4.5 in the 40, scouts wonder if his gaudy numbers were a byproduct of a high-powered offensive system facing suspect defenses. But he has a vertical of more than 40 inches and tremendous hands.
"You have to talk yourself into saying something bad about the kid because he shows so much that it's hard not to like him," one AFC scout told the Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon. "But say what you want, in this business we can't get away with too many mistakes. So, if we're going to make mistakes, we'll make them on big, fast and strong over somebody that did a lot against college competition."
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