Scouting Speedy Inside Backer

Where were the Packers' scouts on Thursday? We have confirmations on three pro days, with scouts watching a standout inside linebacker and a couple of sturdy nose tackles and defensive ends.

With Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop, the Packers are stocked at inside linebacker.

But with Hawk set to make $10 million in 2011 and Bishop headed for restricted free agency after this season, the Packers might be looking to the future. If so, they saw one of the draft's rising prospects on Thursday.

Mississippi State's Jamar Chaney lit up the Scouting Combine with a linebackers-best 40-yard time of 4.54 seconds and ranked among the leaders in every drill. While most players would rest on those Combine performances, Chaney ran the 40 again on Thursday and posted a time as fast as 4.45 seconds, according to National Football Post and confirmed to Packer Report.

Chaney, who met with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, could go as early as late in Round 2, though most insiders believe he's a third-round prospect. He led the Bulldogs with 90 tackles while adding two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

As his workouts indicate, Chaney has tremendous sideline-to-sideline speed. While he wasn't always sturdy in run defense in college, he was superb during the week of Senior Bowl practices.

The Bulldogs' other top prospect is running back Anthony Dixon. The 6-foot-1, 233-pounder rushed for a school-record 1,391 yards as a senior and set career marks with 3,994 yards and 42 rushing touchdowns for his career. Plus, he caught 52 passes in his last three seasons. He cut almost a tenth of a second off his 40 with a 4.61.

East Carolina

Results weren't available, but the Pirates have a few players of interest to the Packers: nose tackle Linval Joseph (6-4, 328), defensive ends C.J. Wilson (6-3, 290) and Jay Ross (6-3, 313) and punter Matt Dodge.

Joseph has ideal size to play nose tackle but has some real playmaking potential because of his quickness. He posted 13 tackles for losses last season. Joseph finished second among defensive linemen at the Combine with 39 reps on the bench press. Wilson, who stood out at the Senior Bowl, had 10.5 sacks as a junior and 5.5 as a senior en route to being named Conference USA defensive player of the year. He had 32 reps on the bench. Both figure to go late in Round 3 or in Round 4. Ross probably is an undrafted prospect after a so-so senior season.

Dodge has the muscle tone of a linebacker. He's got a huge leg — he ranked second nationally with a 48.5-yard average as a senior — but battled fits of inconsistency and showed a slow get-off time at the Senior Bowl. He's Scout.com's top-ranked punter.

Central Florida

Torrell Troup (6-3, 314) is another top nose tackle candidate. He's also got playmaking ability, evidenced by 12.5 tackles for losses as a junior. He faced a barrage of double teams in 2009 as UCF's run defense ranked fifth nationally (2.6 yards allowed per carry) and starting defensive ends Bruce Miller and Jarvis Geathers combined for 24 sacks.

He had 34 reps on the bench press at the Combine.

Geathers didn't work out because of injury. At 6-2, 238, he's a possible late-round prospect. If the last name rings a bell, it's because he's the son of former NFL defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers.

Murray State

The Packers did not attend the Racers' pro day. The noteworthy player is Austen Lane, a native of Iola, Wis., who was definitely on the Packers' radar at the Senior Bowl. At 6-foot-6 and 276 pounds, he's yet another second- or third-round possibility as an outside linebacker. He tallied 23 sacks over his last two seasons. Lane rank a 4.76 in his 40, about a tenth of a second faster than at the Combine, a source told Packer Report.


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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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