Under-Radar Backs Get Look

At three pro days on Wednesday, the Packers scouted three intriguing running back prospects. Who were they? Find out in our latest Packer Report draft exclusive.

The Packers were at three pro days on Wednesday, sources told Packer Report. They didn't see any blue-chip prospects, but each featured an intriguing running back.

North Carolina State

Toney Baker wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine and he isn't on anyone's who's-who list of running backs.

But he's moving up draft charts because of his size (5-10, 229), strength (27 reps on the 225-pound bench press; could have been 32 but failed to lock his elbow on five reps) and explosion (4.51 in the 40 with cleats on grass and a 37-inch vertical).

Baker, the No. 3 high school rusher in national history with 10,231 yards, played in only one game in 2007 and missed all of 2008 because of a knee injury that required two surgeries. In 2009, he rushed for 773 yards (4.8 average) and six touchdowns. His 28 receptions for 355 yards and three touchdowns gave him 65 for 676 yards and four scores in his 36 career games. He entered the draft rather than seek a sixth year of eligibility.

"I feel like I ran great today, so I think most of the questions were answered," Baker told Scout.com's James Henderson. "I wanted to put down some good numbers and show that I'm a football player. I can catch, I can run, and I'm explosive... a team that's looking for a big back, with balance, and can run in-and-out, I'm that guy."

Of note, former NC State reserve basketball player Simon Harris (6-4, 259) worked out at tight end.

Connecticut

The Huskies have a few late-round prospects.

One of them is 6-foot-3 receiver Marcus Easley, who ran an impressive 4.46 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine and rested on that effort on Wednesday.

At that height and with his speed, Easley should be a top prospect. Instead, he's a late-rounder because his 48 catches, 893 yards and eight touchdowns represent all but five catches and 94 yards of his collegiate resume. Outside of a drop on the first pass of the day, Easley caught everything in sight, a source said.

Running back Andre Dixon emerged from the shadow of impressive Colts rookie Donald Brown and rushed for 1,093 yards and 14 touchdowns. Two suspensions (team rules, 2007; drunken driving, 2008) are red flags. Dixon (6-1, 205) caught just 11 passes in 2009 but hauled in 24 n 2007. He's got good hands and is considered sound in pass protection. He ran a poor 40 at the Combine (4.60) but excelled in the other tests.

Lindsey Witten (6-5, 250) is a mid-round possibility as an outside linebacker. In his only season as a starter, he posted 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for losses. His height is a hindrance in the run game, which might limit his value to the Packers.

A fourth, cornerback Robert McClain, injured his hamstring but not before running a 4.42 in the 40. At 5-foot-9, he's probably too short for the Packers' tastes but his 12.3-yard average on punt returns is too good to overlook.

Central Michigan

Dan LeFevour, who is in the running to be the third quarterback off the board — yes, ahead of Tim Tebow — was the star attraction. All he did was account for 150 touchdowns in his career. Yes, 150.

The Packers, however, probably paid more attention to receiver Antonio Brown, linebacker Frank Zombo and Wayne State Joique Bell.

Brown was one of the most productive receivers in the collegiate ranks last season, with 110 receptions for 1,198 yards and nine touchdowns — along with three touchdowns on returns and 341 rushing yards. In his three seasons, he caught 305 passes and scored five touchdowns on returns. He ran his 40 in 4.47 seconds on Wednesday, which could boost him into the fourth round because he's not too big at 5-foot-10 1/2 and 186 pounds.

Zombo (6-4, 269), an all-conference defensive end, would move to linebacker in a 3-4. He tallied 21 sacks and 36 tackles for losses in his three years as the starter. He also worked at tight end and, according to a source, looked good running routes for LeFevour. He ran his 40 in 4.71 seconds.

The Packers met with Bell (5-11, 220) at the Senior Bowl. The winner of Division II's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, Bell has run plodding 40 times throughout the offseason and didn't break 4.75 on Wednesday, either. "Jerry Rice and Walter Payton ran slow 40 times, too," he told the Detroit News.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, 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.


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