Undrafted free agents
Starting to get word on some undrafted free agent signings. Here's what we know:
- Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton, a compact runner and great pass-catcher.
- Receivers Kole Heckendorf of North Dakota State and a Mosinee, Wis., native; and Iowa's Andy Brodell.
- Tight end Carson Butler of Michigan.
- Utah receiver Brian Johnson will be here on a tryout basis during the rookie minicamp that starts Friday, according to Scout.com insider Adam Caplan.
- According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers signed receiver JaRon Harris, who we featured last week, as well as receiver Jamarko Simmons, who broke Greg Jennings' record with 104 catches last season at Western Michigan. Harris is the son of former Vikings draft pick Ron Harris but grew up a Packers fan to tease his mom.
Sutton is a good get for the Packers, who got little third-down production from their running backs and surprised some observers by not drafting touted Liberty running back Rashad Jennings in the sixth or seventh rounds.
Sutton rushed for 890 yards and caught 35 passes as a senior. The four-year starter rushed for almost 3,900 yards and had 159 receptions.
Sutton, the leading receiver in Ohio prep history, went to Northwestern because he "wanted the degree to mean something." He showed his sense of humor at the Scouting Combine, recalling basketball games against Ohio State star back Chris Wells while they were 9 years old. The 5-foot-8 Sutton joked that Wells was about 6-foot-4 back then.
"It's like LeBron James vs. Spud Webb."
At 5-8, 210, he's reminiscent of Darren Sproles but lacks big-time speed and durability. He rushed for 1,474 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2005.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Heckendorf is the leading receiver in Bison history. He caught 41 passes for 744 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, running his career totals to 178 catches for 2,732 yards. He caught passes in 41 of 43 career games, and had eight catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns against Austin Peay and nine catches against Youngstown State in 2008.
"I couldn't have asked for a better story," he told Packer Report on Sunday night. "Small-town Wisconsin kid from a smaller college coming back home to get a chance with the Green Bay Packers. I'm just going to give it all I got."
Heckendorf said four or five teams were pursuing him.
"I've always wanted to be a Packer growing up as a little kid. It's a good fit for me and a good opportunity."
Heckendorf's college teammate, defensive end Joe Lardinois, will sign on a tryout basis for the rookie camp, we've been told. He played at Green Bay Notre Dame.
Mike McCarthy wraps up the draft
- "I think this defense has improved from last year for a number of reasons (scheme, individual workouts). The ability to add a full draft class definitely helps us. You're either improving or you're going the other way, and I feel very good about the improvement we've made. I'm very excited about the additions."
- Rookie linemen at right tackle?: "We were talking about the offensive line rotation. I want to get off this merry-go-round that we've been on in moving our offensive linemen. We haven't made the decision on exactly where our young guys will go. (Mentions Allen Barbre and Breno Giacomini at right tackle) ... We'll see what happens.
- Adding defensive linemen and linebackers: You can not have enough of those type of players. That in itself will improve our special teams and give us a much more improved run defense on first and second down.
- Josh Sitton will play right guard.
- Raji and run defense: Not just one player, "but I will tell you this, we're gonna play better run defense."
- Crabtree available: "Big 4, Big 5 was mentioned a few times. The conversation that went on wiht Ted and I, it was a scenario we talked about. When Cleveland traded out, we were pretty confident that B.J. and Crabtree were going to be there. I think Michael Crabtree is an outstanding prospect."
- Drafting offensive and defensive linemen: "They're hard to find. You can not have enough big people. You go back to the first pick. It's very tough to pass those guys up."
- Quinn Johnson: "The first thing that jumps off is his physicality. I recall Ted coming back from his LSU visit (in the fall), and Quinn Johnson was somebody he was very excited about. He's our kind of player. He's a hard-nosed fullback. At that point in the draft, we couldn't pass it up."
- Raji and Matthews needed: "We weren't trying to sell tickets the last two days. We were trying to find good football players. We think they're an excellent fit for the direction we're going." Went on about Raji being able to play all three downs.
- Rookie camp starts Friday: "I think it's been excellent for our younger players, both the drafted rookies and the free agents and we'll have some walk-on candidates. It gives us a chance to introduce these young players to the Green Bay Packers. When you have a minicamp, they don't really take in the other aspects of going to work with the Green Bay Packers." Half the day football, half to administration and Rob Davis ... "everybody that has the ability to touch these players." Will practice Friday-Sunday.
- Will sign a quarterback because they need an arm for rookie camp.
Thompson wraps it up
Packers general manager Ted Thompson just wrapped up the draft by spending a few moments with us in the media auditorium. Here's what he had to say.
- On seventh-round pick Brad Jones (OLB, Colorado): Brad Jones is a very interesting player. Watched a lot of tape last month. "The more you watch, the more you like." It's "not unlike" what USC did with Clay Matthews in moving him around with coverage ability and pass-rusher. "We thought he was a nice get in the seventh round."
- General thoughts: "I think we have some guys targeted in spots where it worked out for us. All things considered, it was a pretty successful weekend."
- Thrilled to get anyone?: "They're sort of like children. You love them all, and you love them all the same. In the fourth round, we were trying to get T.J. Lang, and we had to watch for such a long time that I probably watched him more than the others."
- Best player available but fill needs: "We stick with it. I've never said need doesn't factor in. We went into this draft feeling we didn't have to draft anyone at a certain position."
- How do Packers stand in the division: "Quite frankly, I've been so focused on what we tried to do, I can't even recall what everyone's done. I know Chicago played for a quarterback a couple weeks ago. ... The NFL is a hard business. This division is alays tough." Will focus on rest of teams starting on Monday. "I'm not there yet."
- Tauscher's future: No determination made. "It's still a medical thing. The timing of when he's going to be well and that sort of thing."
Sounded cold when asked if the door was still open: "It's a question of timing and the medical thing."
- Comfortable with current roster on defense: "We were in a position where we didn't have to do anything. ... I don't necessarily think we have any gaping holes, nor did I think we did before."
- Hard to sit out second and third; chance to move back up: No opportunities to move back in, "nor did we try to. Once we spent those picks yesterday, I was pretty much done giving away picks." ... "It's a long round for us when you don't have any picks, especially when you go two and three."
Packers pick another LB in 7th
The Packers selected Colorado outside linebacker Brad Jones with their seventh-round pick, possibly wrapping up the draft.
Jones played in a 3-4 at Colorado. He feels his strengths are rushing the passer and playing coverage. Packers like his versatility. Defense revolved arouns his versatility.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder was a three-year starter. He had 14 for losses, including seven sacks. He led the team in both categories, as well as quarterback hurries with 14.
Jones, who earned a degree in economics in December, finished his career with 9.5 tackles and 20 tackles for losses.
General manager Ted Thompson will be joining us shortly, which signals the Packers likely are done with the draft.
Assistant scouting director Shaun Herock on Underwood
He's a big kid who's got length.
CB or S: I think that does add to his versatility that he can do a little bit of both. With that length and speed, you want to try him on the outside.
Dismissed from Ohio State for academics. Feels it's taken care of: "Paid his own way a little" at Cincinnati. "Opened his eyes a little bit."
Physical: I think he uses his length very well. As a safety, I don't think that was his trade to be a killer, but he got guys down.
Drafted earlier without issues: That's hard to say. We don't just go to Cincinnati and ask questions. We go back through his career. Ohio State loved the kid. They thought he was one of the most talented kids to go through that program. That's an eye-opening thing. ... They felt it was time to move on. They felt they had kids that they had and they could play with them.
Bump?: He played both. One thing that's nice about him as he does have that length. He can get his arms stretched out and ride them down the field."
Thompson on ESPN
ESPN didn't give GM Ted Thompson much air time. I guess they'd rather have Tom Jackson and Suzie Colber yack it up.
On Raji: Has the quickness and agility to put pressure on the passer.
2007 Raji academically ineligible: "Well, everyone goes through a learning process and I think it was a learning process for him. He got some advice from a counselor and didn't have the right grades or something like that. But at the end of the day, he took responsibility for it."
Changes in defensive scheme: We kind of wanted to go in another direction. That's always a tough charge when you have to let coaches go and things like that, but I think the new staff's come in with a lot of energy. Dom Capers is very experienced and a great guy. I think it's going to be a good fit.
Fans look forward to on defense: Hopefully they're going to stop them more often. I think you're going to see a good defense. I think we have capable players.
Packers pick Underwood with other sixth-rounder
The Packers finally got a defensive back.
The Packers just picked Cincinnati cornerback Brandon Underwood with their second sixth-round choice. The selection came in a 2008 draft-day with the Saints.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder brings versatility. He started the season at safety but moved to cornerback when standout Mike Mickens went down with a knee injury. He earned all-Big East first-team honors with three interceptions.
He's got good size and ran a 4.48 40 at the Scouting Combine.
Wynn meets the press
"I'm glad to get a chance and show my production. It's going to be very exciting."
Expect to be drafted?: "I really didn't know. It was up in the air. I heard third all the way down. It's a blessing to get to this point. It's every child's dream from where I'm from."
Did the Packers say a position?: "The only thing they said is they want me to gain weight. It's easy for me to gain weight." Weighed 283 once. "I'll do whatever it takes."
Went to Georgia Military College because of poor grades. Called it a blessing because of the disciplined and regimented style. Went to a military school to help push himself.
Best days ahead?: Yes, sir. With God on my side, I can do anything. I'm going to come here and work hard. I know I'm going to be a better player. That's how I feel in my heart."
Packers take DE Wynn in sixth round
The Packers used the first of their sixth-round picks on Jarius Wynn, a 6-foot-3, 273-pound defensive end from Georgia.
He had two sacks against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl in January.
He could be a better pro than a college player. He was not a standout for the Bulldogs, starting seven games and playing in 13 last season. In two seasons at the school, he had four sacks, five tackles for losses and 15 quarterback pressures.
He's got ideal height for a 3-4 defensive end but needs to add 15 or 20 pounds. In that regard, he's a lot like holdover Michael Montgomery.
Meredith meets the press
It was a long two days for South Carolina offensive tackle Jamon Meredith, who was expected to be drafted in the second or third round.
Meredith isn't sure what happened, and not-so-jokingly said he was hoping someone would tell him.
He says he's a natural left tackle, though he can play either side or guard. He has started at left tackle, right tackle and left guard.
"I guess it's wherever they need me," he said when asked where he'll play in Green Bay.
How will he prove his doubters wrong?: "Just by playing. Just by people getting to know me and prove them wrong. I've been doing it my whole career so this is nothing different."
Packers take OT Meredith
Jamon Meredith, who was supposed to be a second- or third-rounder, fell to the Packers with their second fifth-round selection.The South Carolina blocker is well-versed in a zone blocking scheme. He started at right tackle in 2006, left tackle in 2007 and left guard in 2008, when the Gamecocks were having problems with the interior of their offensive line.
Read our predraft exclusive on Meredith here.
Back on the clock
The Packers will be back on the clock momentarily with the second of their fifth-round draft choices.
Many of the players listed before remain in play, including South Carolina offensive tackle Jamon Meredith, Michigan State running back Javon Ringer, Liberty running back Rashad Jennings and Virginia running back Cedric Peeerman. Cornerback and quarterback could be two other places they'll turn.
Edgar Bennett on Quinn Johnson
Probably some of his greatest attributes, No. 1 would be his attidue." Calls him a "physical and very aggressive."
Compared his toughness to William Henderson. "Creates a pretty good competition" with John Kuhn and Korey Hall. "Competition makes your team stronger."
"I think he can catch and I think he shows some ability to run the football in certain situations."
Can he move his feet: "He has shown that ability to make the necessary adjustments. That shows up. The kid shows up with power and strength."
Special teams (with his linebacker experience): "Special teams come first and then offense and defense. You have another guy that can run that can tackle. It just adds another piece to the puzzle." Welcome to Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Packers take Quinn Johnson
The Packers just selected Quinn Johnson, who is regarded as the top-ranked blocking fullback in the NFL.
Check out our story on Johnson from two weeks ago. The Packers were hot on Johnson's trail at the Scouting Combine and his pro day, so this choice was no surprise.
The 6-foot, 246-pound Johnson was recruited to LSU to play linebacker but was moved to fullback under then-new coach Les Miles. He brings that physicality and mentality to the position.
"I just love the contact," he said in a conference call with poor reception. "It's just something it doesn't matter who it is. If you're in front of me, that's my job. I take my job very seriously."
Johnson rushed for three touchdowns. He only caught two passes, but he told Packer Report at the Combine that he would rank his hands a 9.5 out of 10.
He joins holdovers Korey Hall and John Kuhn at fullback.
Johnson was the 145th overall selection. The Packers have pick No. 162 later in this round.
Up next: Fifth round
The fifth round is under way. The Packers have the ninth pick in the round (No. 145) as well as the 26th pick (No. 162, as part of the Clay Matthews III deal).
Where to look? Cornerback and possibly tight end. James Casey, the do-it-all tight end from Rice who could implement the Wildcat in Green Bay, remains available. So is zone-blocking offensive tackle Jamon Meredith of South Carolina, pass-catching running backs Javon Ringer and Cedric Peerman of Virginia and linebackers Scott McKillop from Pitt and Jasper Brinkley of South Carolina.
All of the third-level quarterbacks are available, too.
Campen on Lang
"The kid can play them all," so all positions are in play. Not sure where he will start when the rookie camp and OTAs begin. Has never played center. Flexibility but "will certainly try to hone him into one position."
"Very tough football player, high-effort player." Converted defensive lineman and plays with that mentality. Very physical and disciplined.
Lang's visit: "Very good in-house visit. Very intelligent when on the board. Excellent retention. Fit in well with the whole staff." Met some of the current players and would "fit in very well with our group."
"When he speaks, he'll be heard amongst his peers."
Having lunch with Lang and he saw Kevin Greene. Asked if it was Greene and he said "wow." Campen said to Greene, "T.J. thinks he can take you right now one-on-one." ... Has great respect for the game.
Campen didn't deny my premise that the team is seeking bigger offensive linemen (drafted Josh Sitton last year and added Duke Preston in free agency). He said when you have a choice of two athletic linemen, you lean toward the bigger player.
Up next ...
While we wait for offensive line coach James Campen, the Packers' next picks are the ninth pick of the fifth round (No. 145) and No. 26 of the fifth round (No. 162; part of the Clay Matthews III deal). Barring a trade, of course.
Packers select T.J. Lang in fourth round: updated
With the 109th overall selection, the Packers grabbed Eastern Michigan offensive lineman T.J. Lang.
Lang is 6-foot-4 and 312 pounds. He started 36 consecutive games, including 26 at left tackle. He could be considered at tackle but more likely is a guard because he's not a great athlete at his size, though he's not sure where he'll fit initially. We will have more when the Packers discuss the pick later.
"I'm a competitve guy. I give it my best every play. I don't take plays off," he said in a conference call.
He visited the Packers and wanted to be drafted here. He liked the coaches and the small-town atmposphere. He was not invited to the Scouting Combine, which gave him "something to prove." He played left and right guard in the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game and said it felt natural.
While Mid-American Conference competition isn't elite, he did go up against Northern Illinois' Larry English in each of his last three seasons. English, a first-round pick by San Diego, did not get a sack in those games.
Eastern Michigan ran a spread offense, and Lang said the run game included mostly zone runs.
EMU's offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, who played for the Arizona Cardinals, called Lang a "natural leader."
"Football means the world to him. T.J. Lang would start at Michigan in a heartbeat," Anderson said after Lang's pro day.
While probably not athletic enough to handle rushers off the edge, he's got good enough feet to reach the second level, which is a necessity in the zone blocking scheme. He's also another bigger body than some of Ted Thompson's early linemen picks. Last year, he grabbed 310-pound Josh Sitton in the fourth round, and he added 325-pound Duke Preston in free agency.
"I think I can work on perfecting my technique and trying to play lower. I definitely think flexibility is my top think I'll need to keep improving on," he said.
Packers on the clock soon
Who could be the target with the Packers on the clock at No. 109?
How about running back Javon Ringer of Michigan State, who can run and catch? That's our W. Keith Roerdink's choice, with Kregg Lumpkin and DeShawn Wynn question marks. Ringer led the nation with 22 touchdowns and 1,637 rushing yards and 28 receptions as a senior.
Offensive tackle is a need, and South Carolina's Jamon Meredith, Eastern Michigan's T.J. Lang and Oregon's Fenuki Tupou are available. So is Tulane's Troy Kropog. Bill likes Meredith. Tight end would be interesting, with Southern Mississippi's Shawn Nelson, Florida's Cornelius Ingram and Rice's versatile James Casey. The Packers probably don't need a nose tackle, though Michigan's Terrence Taylor is out there. Inside linebacker Jason Phillips of TCU is available, too.
The view from Detroit: Nate Caminata, Roar Report
Nate Caminata, who runs our Lions site, just provided his thoughts to us.
Detroit couldn't leave the quarterback position unaddressed, especially with an aging, injury-prone Daunte Culpepper as the team's only realistic option behind center. Matthew Stafford gives the Lions a signal caller, and one that by all accounts, has a bright future in front of him. Because of Culpepper's minicamp resurgence, the rookie won't be forced into action.
Pettigrew was a surprising but potentially strong pick for Detroit. He provides what OC Scott Linehan requires: a pass catching tight end that can block. Pettigrew's versatility will help quell some of Detroit's offensive line problems, and give the starting quarterback a sure-handed, large weapon in the middle of the field.
Detroit optioned to pad the secondary with immediate help with its second-round pick (No. 33) in Louis Delmas. Delmas is a run-stopping, ball-seeking, all-world safety. Although he's a tad on the small side (5-11, 197), he's a ferocious hitter and will start in the secondary opposite fellow safety Daniel Bullocks. Considering Detroit's secondary issues in 2008 (they allowed 404 passing yards ... per game, and collected just one interception all year), the pick makes sense.
The Lions walked out of the first day with the top-ranked players at quarterback, tight end, and safety. Not a bad start.
The view from Minnesota: Tim Yotter, Viking Update
Tim offered these thoughts this morning to Packer Report.
While many figured the Vikings were going to be left with a tackle to take in the first round, they rolled the dice on an explosive playmaker in Percy Harvin. The Vikings struggled to get separation from their receivers last year and that should be Harvin's strong suit. However, there are plenty of character issues in Harvin's past. The Vikings spent a lot of time trying to become comfortable with this pick, with Brad Childress flying to Florida for a half-day visit on Wednesday.
As it turned out, they got their offensive tackle in the second round when Oklahoma's massive Phil Loadholt slipped to them with the 54th pick. The Vikings thought they may have to trade up to get him, but they were already missing fourth- and sixth-round picks and didn't feel they had the ammunition to give up more and move up.
On Sunday, the Vikings can begin to address their depth, probably taking a cornerback with one of their first two picks and adding young depth at defensive tackle. With their two biggest needs filled on Day One, the Vikings can concentrate on the highest players left.
Quick hits from Day 1
- With the Packers' selection of Clay Matthews III joining Houston's Brian Cushing, USC became the first school to have a pair of first-round linebackers.
The last pairs came from Florida State and Ohio State in 2006. The Packers were part of that, of course, with A.J. Hawk (No. 5).
- Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was the first Georgia player taken No. 1 overall since end Harry Babcock in 1953.
- Kenny Britt (Tennessee) was Rutgers' first first-round pick. Donald Brown (Indianapolis) was Connecticut's first first-round pick. And Larry English (San Diego) was Northern Illinois' first first-round pick.
We are live from Lambeau Field
Myself and W. Keith Roerdink will be covering the proceedings today live from Lambeau Field. With no picks until the fourth round (No. 109, or the 45th pick today), today likely will lack the fireworks of Saturday. Then again, you never know what will happen after general managers have had a chance to digest some of the top names available after the first two rounds.
The Packers filled two needs by picking nose tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Clay Matthews in the first round. Other spots that the Packers should be looking to bolster today: offensive tackle, defensive end and cornerback.
At this point, the Packers have six picks today: Fourth round (No. 109); fifth round (Nos. 145 and 162); sixth round (Nos. 182 and 187) and seventh round (No. 218).
We will update this today as developments warrant. Or, we'll scour the Web for anything of interest to kill the time. Etiher way, make sure to refresh this story.
In case you missed it
Amid the stories we produced on Saturday, you may have missed these links provided by our insiders at Scout.com.
— B.J. Raji Analysis and video.
— Clay Matthews Analysis and video.
— Also, for what it's worth, the Packers were the "winners" of Saturday, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.
Scout.com national links
Keep tabs on what's going on around the league today or chat live with our experts.
— Chat live with Chris Steuber.
— Ed Thompson's live blog.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and 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. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.