Rising Cornerback Ranks High On Packers' List

This All-American and academic all-conference performer picked off 13 passes during his standout college career. Who is he? Packer Report talked to this possible second-round pick (he's a big fan of Charles Woodson) in our latest Packer Report exclusive.

Alterraun Verner's not the biggest cornerback in this draft. Nor is he the fastest.

What he is is one of the most productive.

Verner intercepted 13 passes in his career at UCLA, including five during an All-American senior season.

At 5-foot-10, Verner lacks the elite size the Packers covet at the position. And with a 40-yard time of 4.52 seconds, he's not a speed merchant. Nonetheless, the Packers have been among the most interested teams in the high-character player, a source told Packer Report.

With strong positional workouts at the Scouting Combine and at UCLA's pro day — which attracted Packers general manager Ted Thompson — Verner has positioned himself as a possibility to go to Green Bay late in the second round.

That would put Verner on the same team as one of his favorite players, reigning NFL defensive player of the year Charles Woodson.

"Charles Woodson does what I would love to do at the next level," Verner told Packer Report last week. "He just makes plays. I think he had eight interceptions (nine, actually) and ran three of them back for touchdowns. I've seen him make big plays in the run game. He came up and made a lot of big stops That's the type of game I like. Not only does he just shut down his guy but he's making plays on the ball and he's converting them into touchdowns."

Verner enjoyed similar all-around productivity with the Bruins. A three-year starter in predominately a man-to-man scheme, Verner scored five career touchdowns (four on interceptions, one on a blocked field goal). While lacking ideal size and strength, Verner was presence on run defense with at least 72 tackles in each of the last three seasons.

Despite his consistent production, Verner is lacking the buzz of the "elite" cornerbacks in this draft. He ranks 15th in this deep, deep class of cornerbacks, according to Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber. Nonetheless, insiders say Verner's stock is rising among the teams.

Alterraun Verner scored five TDs at UCLA.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
"I guess I'm a little bit surprised" by the lack of hype," Verner said. "But, all in all, that's kind of been the story of my life. Coming out of high school, I was quietly recruited. Coming out of college, it's basically the same thing as this, so I'm not stranger to it. With the way my life has been, I probably should just expect it."

Scouts like Verner's playmaking ability, toughness, intelligence and character.

"They see myself being in the league for quite some time because they think I'll do the right thing," he said.

Additionally, Verner has the type of character the Packers prefer in their players. A three-time all-academic selection in the Pac-10, Verner enjoys working with his former youth football program, the Carson (Calif.) Colts, or going to elementary and middle schools to talk to students about the importance of working hard in the classroom and not just athletics.

"It's something I enjoy," he said. "I love helping people. That's really an easy way for me to do it, just to give a small part of my time in talking to people and just giving them my life background, my life story, and helping them to reach their goals or at least having them strive to be the best that they can be. Just giving people that hope. Sometimes, that's all they need is just a little hope, a little encouragement, and seeing it from me, hopefully would help take them over that hump."

Along with UCLA's pro day, the Packers kept a close eye on Verner at the East-West all-star game. His timed speed is a concern — though his three-cone drill tied for second among the corners at the Combine — but as scouts go back and watch the tape, Verner's stock is rising. Along with his impressive senior season, he had four interceptions and led the country with 20 passes defensed as a junior.

"It's going to be so surreal," he said of being drafted. "I just know that growing up and watching the draft and hoping that one day I'd get an opportunity to see my name across the screen or get that phone call. It really has been a dream since I was about 7 or 8. It's going to be so crazy that I can't even put words to describe it right now. It's going to be a relief to know I made it — but the work's still not over."

"I have no doubts at all," he added. "I'm just going to wait for my opportunity, and when it comes, I'm not going to look back. Hopefully, I can emulate a career that Charles Woodson had or even try to go beyond that. But there's no doubt in my mind that, if given the opportunity, that I will seize it."

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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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