But what happens between now and when the games start in late August? Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey shed some light on the subject with Packer Report as part of an upcoming magazine feature.
Work begins on the Class of 2011 toward the end of May, Dorsey said. The process starts with the National Football Scouting meetings. The Packers are one of 17 teams that work with NFS, which is based out of Indianapolis. (Several other teams are part of a similar group called BLESTO, an acronym that used to stand for Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization.) NFS has 10 regional scouts. While teams like the Packers are checking out that year's seniors during the college season, the NFS scouts are keeping tabs on the juniors and underclassmen.
At those weeklong meetings, the NFS scouts will provide career notes, heights/weights and workout numbers on more than 900 players — anyone deemed to be worthy of either being drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent.
That gives teams a jumping-off point to begin their own scouting efforts. Each of the Packers' regional scouts — Shaun Herock (Midwest), Lee Gissendaner (Northeast), Brian Gutekunst (Southeast), Alonzo Highsmith (Southwest), Sam Seale (West Coast) and Jon-Eric Sullivan (Midlands) — will write up reports on about 50 of the best players in their regino to get the draft process under way.
The one flaw in the system is the one-year wonder that flew below the radar of the NFS scouts — and, therefore, is missed by teams until late in the scouting process One example of that would be Eastern Illinois offensive tackle Chris Campbell, who had started only four games leading into the 2009 season. Campbell wound up starting all 12 as a senior. He wasn't drafted but signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent.
Meanwhile, at this time of year, the Packers' scouts have their attention focused on the Packers' roster.
"We flip our heads around and try to tweak the roster and see if there's players out there that are on the streets or other teams," Dorsey said. "And we begin to see what our needs are and what other teams' strengths or weaknesses are, and we begin the pro part of it and you study how to continually build the roster."
Class of 2011
Below is a look at NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 senior prospects for 2011, listed alphabetically, courtesy of Chad Reuter:
DE/OLB Sam Acho, Texas 6-3 / 260 / 4.65
The ten sacks he had in 2009 is just the start - Acho's strength and athleticism could lead to something big next fall.
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska 6-1 / 200 / 4.52
A first-team All-Big 12 pick grew as a player throughout 2009 and has prototypical size, physicality, and ball skills (five interceptions, 11 pass break-ups).
DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina 6-3 / 305 / 4.93
Highly-recruited out of high school, Austin is now starting to become the quick but strong three-technique pass rusher everyone expected to see.
DT/DE Allen Bailey, Miami, Fla. 6-4 / 288 / 4.79
Versatile college tackle/end who led the 'Canes with seven sacks, is likely to intrigue 3-4 teams as a prototypical five-technique.
OT Joseph Barksdale, LSU 6-5 / 315 / 4.95
Very athletic player moving to the left side to take over for four-year starter Ciron Black.
WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati 6-4 / 200 / 4.52
The 2009 second-team All-Big East pick scored 11 times, and could do so again as a senior connecting with up-and-coming QB Zach Callaros.
CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina 5-9 / 182 / 4.43
Though small, Burney's toughness and playmaking ability make him a likely second round pick, similar to Wake Forest star Alphonso Smith.
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College 6-7 / 295 / 4.94
Tall left tackle with better strength than you would think given his lean frame.
OLB Bruce Carter, North Carolina 6-3 / 225 / 4.57
Exceptional athlete whose production went down a bit in 2009, but who could explode as a pass rusher as a senior and show up large in Combine.
OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin 6-7 / 325 / 4.97
Replaced Joe Thomas at left tackle as a redshirt freshman and looks to be on pace to the next Badgers lineman taken in the first round.
DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa 6-3 / 282 / 4.83
Punching cab drivers won't help his draft status, but his strong, relentless play late in 2009 made him an instant favorite among scouts.
QB Pat Devlin, Delaware 6-4 / 220 / 4.78
Teams won't sleep on the next Joe Flacco, as the Penn State transfer looks the part of a future NFL starter.
CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia 6-2 / 200 / 4.54
Chris Cook is getting a lot of praise this year, and deservingly so, but Dowling was the corner Cavs' opponents didn't want to throw towards due to his size and receiver-like ball skills.
DE/DT Cameron Heyward, Ohio State 6-6 / 287 / 4.96
Ironhead's son is another elite 3-4 defensive end prospect, but 4-3 teams may consider him athletic enough to play strong-side end, as well.
OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State 6-2 / 290 / 5.26
Is not the largest of linemen, but is excellent on the move and plays with excellent leverage.
ILB Greg Jones, Michigan State 6-1 / 224 / 4.59
Undersized but extremely active defender, not dissimilar to current prospect Sean Weatherspoon.
QB Jake Locker, Washington 6-3 / 226 / 4.57
An exceptional athlete that, if he makes as much progress as a passer in 2010 as he did during 2009, could be the top overall pick.
SS DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson 6-1 / 210 / 4.45
Elite high school recruit make his mark on college football with eight interceptions, one for a touchdown, in 2009.
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M 6-3 / 240 / 4.56
Got on the radar as a 3-4 pass rusher with 17 sacks as a junior, and another year of strength and conditioning can only add to his all-around ability on the edge.
RB Demarco Murray, Oklahoma 6-0 / 214 / 4.46
Dynamic at times as a runner and receiver, but a strong 2009 season is needed to make scouts consider Murray more than just a perimeter back.
DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State 6-1 / 288 / 5.08
High-motor, strong player whose relative lack of size won't dissuade teams from picking him high.
OT Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh 6-4 / 305 / 4.98
First-team All-Big East left tackle doesn't have elite size but earns high marks for his aggressiveness and footwork.
QB Christian Ponder, Florida State 6-3 / 218 / 4.64
Was on his way up draft boards with his moxie and physical tools before he separated his throwing shoulder; watch for a strong comeback performance this season.
C Mike Pouncey, Florida 6-5 / 320 / 5.38
Brother Maurkice left early to head to the NFL, but Mike stayed behind to snap to and help protect QB John Brantley in the post-Tebow era.
DT Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss 6-2 / 340 / 5.16
Though it took him some time to get to Oxford because of academics, he now uses his strength and explosiveness to school SEC foes.
DE Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh 6-5 / 270 / 4.74
Length off the edge will endear him to the few remaining 4-3 teams needing pass rush help.
RB Evan Royster, Penn State 6-1 / 213 / 4.52
Nice combination of power, speed, vision, and receiving skills.
TE Weslye Saunders, South Carolina 6-5 / 280 / 4.80
Great size and receiving skills will create mismatches at the next level. Watch for a huge year if QB Stephen Garcia becomes more consistent.
OT Nate Solder, Colorado 6-9 / 305/ 4.89
Has the length and lateral movement to play the all-important left tackle spot in the NFL.
FS Deunta Williams, North Carolina 6-2 / 205 / 4.48
Former receiver heading into his fourth year as a starter; 12 career interceptions.
C Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State 6-3 / 298 / 5.16
Nephew of long-time NFL Steven is a tough, durable and athletic lineman that has top 50 pick written all over him.
OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn 6-8 / 320 / 5.18
Stepped right into the Tigers' line at right tackle as a true freshman and just might do the same in the NFL at left tackle, where he earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2009.
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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 email@example.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.