With one of the deepest classes of safeties in memory, the Packers probably will try to upgrade — or, at least, find a challenger — during the draft. They saw two second-round prospects at pro days on Monday.
At Georgia Tech, Morgan Burnett (6-foot-2, 209 pounds) helped boost his draft stock after a strained hamstring kept him from working out at the Scouting Combine. On campus, he turned in a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. That would have topped the field of safeties at the Combine. He added a broad jump of 11 feet, and times of 3.94 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.8 seconds in the three cone. His broad jump and 20-yard shuttle also would have topped the heap at the Combine.
Burnett is a big-time ballhawk. As a sophomore in 2008, he tied for the national lead with seven interceptions. That was more than the entire team had in 2007. He wasn't quite as impactful this past season, finishing with four interceptions to give him 14 for his three-year career.
Burnett is regarded as a prototype center fielder and a more than willing player in the run game. He played some nickel corner for the Yellow Jackets.
A source said he met with the Packers at the Scouting Combine.
One other name to remember is running back Jonathan Dwyer. The Packers have showed a lot of interest in Dwyer, according to our Ed Thompson. He rushed for 1,395 yards and 14 touchdowns last year as a junior. He had just five catches in Tech's wishbone offense this past season. The 5-foot-11 Dwyer weighed 225 at his pro day, down four pounds from the Combine because his training had been hampered by a toe injury. Thus, he trimmed his 40 time from a disappointing 4.59 at the Combine to 4.52.
After projected first-round picks Taylor Mays of USC and Earl Thomas of Texas, LSU's Chad Jones might be the best of the rest. He might not be the explosive athlete that Burnett is — Jones' 40 time of 4.54 on Friday was on par with his 4.57 at the Combine — but he's a big, agile man at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds.
A 13th-round draft pick by the Houston Astros as a left-handed pitcher, Jones was a two-sport star at LSU. He began his football career as the Tigers' nickel corner before blossoming into a stud safety. He picked off three passes as a junior in 2009. He's a real standout in the run game with plenty of hitting ability and a bit of a work in progress in coverage as he learned the position on the fly.
Despite his size, he's not really strong. He had just nine reps in the 225-pound bench press at the Combine and did 11 on Monday.
"I think scouts saw that if I get in the weight room, I definitely can get stronger," he told reporters.
The Tigers are loaded with NFL talent. A late-round safety prospect, Harry Coleman, posted 40 times of 4.45 and 4.48 on Monday. Coleman (6-1, 212) played linebacker as a senior — winning defensive MVP honors — and showed some promise at the Combine as an in-the-box defender.
Ciron Black, a four-year starter at left tackle who was voted the SEC's top offensive lineman as a senior, met with the Packers at the Senior Bowl. At 6-foot-4 and 327 pounds, scouts wonder if he's athletic enough to play tackle in the NFL.
"I just wanted to show them that I could move my feet a little bit more. By the time I got to the shuttle and the three-cone at the combine I was so tired because I already did more drills. I wanted to improve my time in those and I did. Also here you get the work with a one-on-one coach here."
A rising late-round prospect is cornerback Chris Hawkins, who at 6-foot 1/2 inch has the requisite size for the Packers. He ran a 4.40 40 on Monday and had five interceptions in his two years as a starter. He's well-suited to playing the aggressive style that the Packers prefer from their corners.
Other pro days
Packer Report confirmed the Packers had scouts at Eastern Michigan, Grand Valley State and Montana, where Sam Seale "as usual came early and stayed late," a source said.
— At Grand Valley State, members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference put on a pro day. Wayne State's Joique Bell, the winner of the Division II version of the Heisman Trophy, was the star performer. He posted back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons and scored 29 touchdowns last season. He ran subpar 40 times of 4.63 and 4.65 seconds on Monday, but impressed teams at the Senior Bowl.
Division II runner-up Grand Valley running back P.T. Gates, safety Jacob McGuckin and all-American left tackle Nick McDonald also participated. All will go undrafted. Gates (5-9, 195) rushed for 1,012 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 25 passes for 287 yards, and averaged 8.1 yards on punt returns and 20.5 on kickoff returns. McGuckin was the Lakers' No. 2 tackler and picked off four passes. McDonald is 6-5, 310 pounds and worked out for the Chiefs recently.
— Montana's top prospect is 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive tackle Levi Horn, a third-team All-American who helped the Grizzles reach the FCS championship game. He played left tackle for the Griz but probably will move to right tackle in the pros.
— Eastern Michigan's top-ranked prospect is punter Zach Johnson. He averaged 40.4 yards per punt with 17 inside-the-20s vs. five touchbacks. Of his 48 punts, 15 resulted in fair catches. He's a proven holder and has kicked field goals.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.