Bad to the Bone: Pack Likes Back

The Packers have done plenty of research on this hard-charging running back who would be a primary target in the second round. Who is he and why are the Packers so interested? We have the answers you need to know in our latest Packer Report draft exclusive!

One of Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy's pet formations is the inverted wishbone, with two fullbacks lined up about 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage and halfback Ryan Grant about 7 yards behind the center.

So, why not draft a running back who's an expert in the traditional wishbone attack?

The Packers have taken a keen interest in Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer, several sources told Packer Report. While they have not brought the bruising Dwyer (5-foot-11, 229 pounds) in for a pre-draft visit, the Packers watched him closely at Georgia Tech's pro day and have taken the extra steps of talking to some of Dwyer's high school teachers and coaches.

In replacing Tashard Choice — now a valuable backup in Dallas — Dwyer rushed for matching 1,395-yard seasons as a sophomore in 2008 and junior in 2009. In three seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Dwyer rushed for 3,226 yards (6.2 average) and 35 touchdowns. He never missed a game despite his sledgehammer running style.

Dwyer's 40-yard time of 4.62 seconds at the Scouting Combine and 4.52 at his pro day have taken him out of first-round consideration, but the Packers would have to take a long look at Dwyer if he's available when the Packers are on the clock in the second round.

"Dwyer is a tough, powerful runner who excels between the tackles," draft analyst Chris Steuber said of his fourth-ranked running back. "He has a thick frame and runs with great balance. He's patient, possesses excellent vision and cutback ability, the agility to elude defenders in space and surprising elusiveness in the open field. He rarely goes down on initial contact and uses his strong stature and forward lean to aggressively obtain more yardage. He's a strong runner in the clear and will fight off the opposition with a devastating stiff-arm. He's a willing blocker who displays his strength and toughness in pass blocking situations."

Jonathan Dwyer
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Scouts, of course, will have to decide whether Dwyer's production in an unorthodox offense will translate to the NFL. On the other hand, as a true freshman playing behind Choice, Dwyer rushed for 436 yards (5.3 average) and nine touchdowns under coach Chan Gailey — the Buffalo Bills' new head coach who had directed NFL offenses in Pittsburgh, Dallas and Miami before arriving at Georgia Tech.

"I'm going to be a different kind of back," Dwyer said at the Scouting Combine. "I could be the back who can make the home run play. Be physical. Every time I get the ball, I'm going to make sure that it's going to be positive yards. I just want to be a key factor in the offense for our team."

From the Packers' perspective, their ideal featured back would be a sure-handed receiver, and Dwyer caught only 15 passes in his three seasons. Of course, a wishbone attack isn't known for dump-off passes to the halfback. Steuber called Dwyer's hands "underrated."

To be sure, halfback isn't a "need" position for the Packers. Ryan Grant is coming off of back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons. But if Grant matches his 2009 output of 1,253 yards, he'd be due $9 million in base salary and bonuses in 2011. The Packers certainly wouldn't pay that, and Dwyer would theoretically offer an exceptional insurance policy. His one-cut, between-the-tackles running style would suit the Packers' running game perfectly. While his timed speed indicates Dwyer wouldn't be a home run threat like Grant, Dwyer probably would be able to produce more after-contact yards than Grant.

Dwyer, who frequently returns to Kell High School in Marietta, Ga., to use the weight room, watch games or talk to students, will have one big fan, regardless of where he lands.

"I can tell you this, he is a better person than he is a football player," Irv Sigler, the ex-head coach at Kell, told Packer Report.

"Knowing that he is a first- or second-round draft pick, and that he is among the best football players in the world, that will tell you something," continued Sigler, who said he was not contacted by the Packers. "I am a huge fan of his — because he is a great role model for my own children."

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

Packer Report Top Stories