Category Archives: Zach Kruse

25

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida

NFL Draft Profile: Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey

Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey

Player information:

  • Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida
  • 5-foot-8, 180 lbs.
  • A world-class track athlete who can do far more on a football field than just run.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.45 40-yard dash*
  • 3.93 20-yard shuttle*
  • 11.06 60-yard shuttle*
  • 6.50 3-cone drill*
  • 120″ broad jump
  • 36.5″ vertical jump
  • 16 bench press reps

* =Top performer

News & Notes:

Won two straight USA Today high school National Championships while at Lakeland (Fl.) High School…Played in four games his freshman season but received a medical hardship waiver after hurting his shoulder…Ran for 682 yards and four scores during his redshirt-freshman year, earning SEC All-Freshman honors…Finished his college career with 2,393 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, plus 66 catches for 764 yards and six more scores…Returned 25 punts and 18 kickoffs…Lost seven fumbles during his four years…Was charged with aggravated stalking in 2010 after sending his ex-girlfriend a threatening text message, later suspended by the school…Those charges were dropped when he completed a program of community service and anger management…Has experience playing running back, receiver and special teams…He’s been one of the nation’s most productive punt blockers over the last four years, as his six blocked punts set a SEC record…Struggles blocking out of the backfield but has a solid, compact frame…Most compare him to Percy Harvin, his former teammate at Florida and current Minnesota Viking…If used right at the next level, could have Darren Sproles like impact…Given his versatility and rare athleticism, the Packers could realistically afford to use a roster spot on him as another Swiss Army knife type player.

What they’re saying about him:

CBS Sports: ”Perhaps the most explosive cutting ability and straight-line speed of any athlete in the 2012 draft. Can make defenders look silly due to his lateral agility and sudden acceleration. Versatile. Saw time as a running back, receiver, punt returner and kick returner for the Gators … Looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield and has shown the ability to track the ball over his shoulder and snatch passes outside of his frame …”

24

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

Georgia CB Brandon Boykin

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

Player information:

  • Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
  • 5-foot-9, 182 lbs.
  • Broke his leg during the Senior Bowl, which robbed him of the opportunity to compete at the combine and Georgia Pro Day.

NFL Combine (DNP, leg):

  • N/A 40-yard dash
  • N/A 20-yard shuttle
  • N/A 3-cone drill
  • N/A broad jump
  • N/A vertical jump
  • N/A bench press reps

News & Notes:

A prep star in Georgia, Boykin stayed home and went to school in Athens. He appeared in 13 games his freshman season before going on to start 38 of the next 40 games for the Bulldogs. A jack-of-all-trades, Boykin registered nine interceptions, 19 tackles for losses and 18 passes broken up on defense, plus five return scores and three offensive touchdowns. He became the first player in SEC history to score three or more touchdowns of 100 yards. While Boykin is definitely on the short side (5-9) for cornerbacks, players his array of skills are hard to find. Boykin represents good value in the second round or later at a position that has three good players but struggled in 2011.

What they’re saying about him:

Frank Cooney (CBS Sports):  “Boykin may have a small frame, but he came up big to win the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player in 2011. He is a formidable athlete as both a cornerback and a kick returner. Boykin, who may run 40 yards under 4.4 seconds, had three touchdowns on kickoff returns as a sophomore, two for 100 yards each and then added another in 2010 to become the only player in SEC history with three plays of at least 100 yards. He is hardly bashful as a corner, where he surprises bigger opponents by getting right in their face as much as he can rather than playing off and using his speed to catch up.”

National Football Post (Wes Bunting): ”Plays much bigger/strong than his frame would indicate. Has the ability to press on the edge, but might be better suited to play as a slot guy in the NFL. Either way can play a role on a defense in either a man or zone scheme.”

22

March

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Frustrating Player

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Frustrating Player

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Tramon Williams. It was very frustrating watching Williams go from a top-tier CB to a complete mess. Hopefully a better pass rush and a fully-healed shoulder gets him back on track in 2012.

Al: So many candidates… I’ll stay away from the obvious choice (cough… Finley… cough…) and go with Charlie Peprah. The Packers won a Super Bowl with Charlie Peprah at safety. Last season, he was a disaster. Made mistake after mistake and gave up one big play after another. Obviously, without Nick Collins around for guidance, he was just lost back there…

Chad: Jermichael Finley, hands down. (Pun intended.) This year we saw the drops bug move from James Jones to Finley, and boy was it frustrating to watch. Finley is a dominant player and such a threat to defenses that seeing him consistently drop passes was gut-wrenching. Here’s hoping this problem goes away with a fresh year and a fresh contract.

Kris:  Finley. The kid has all the potential to be a revolutionary player at the tight end position, which made his drops even more maddening.  If the guy’s head is in the right place, he can be dominant but after only about two and quarter seasons, we have yet to see if Finley can mentally handle the pro game.

Michael: James Starks. Following his surprising play down the stretch in 2010 and into the playoffs, Starks appeared to be on his way to becoming the Packers primary running back. Instead, Starks was injured most of the year and when healthy, failed to consistently run the ball well. With Ryan Grant likely gone via free agency, Starks will need to improve his vision and his ability to stay on the field throughout the season.

Thomas: D.J. Williams.  What happened to that guy?  During training camp he looked smooth and controlled in the offense and then when the regular season rolled around, he fell off the map.  When Williams was drafted, I figured he would get looks at slot reciever/away from the formation tight end and in the backfield as a pseudo-fullback with lots of flares and curls to catch linebackers and defensive linemen, but in the end Williams barely was active let alone on the field.  Hopefully a full offseason and a years worth of experience will help Williams entrench himself in the lineup and he can start to contribute earnestly.

19

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Janzen Jackson, S/CB, McNeese State

S Janzen Jackson, McNeese State

Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL draft prospect profile: Janzen Jackson, McNeese State

Player information:

  • Janzen Jackson, S/CB, McNeese State
  • 5-foot-11, 188 lbs.
  • Impressive athlete who transferred out of Tennessee after run-ins with the law and a clash with new coaching staff.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.64 40-yard dash
  • 4.15 20-yard shuttle
  • 6.90 3-cone drill
  • 125″ broad jump
  • 36.5″ vertical jump
  • 9 bench press reps

News & Notes:

A five-star recruit and one of the more heavily recruited players coming out of high school…Started in the second game of his freshman year at Tennessee and went on to start nine more in 2009…As a sophomore, led Tennessee with five interceptions…Was only Volunteer to earn All-SEC honors in 2010 as a second-teamer…Numerous character concerns, including an arrest for armed robbery and charges of substance abuse…Left UT in the spring of 2011, was welcomed back by coach Derek Dooley in July and then dismissed at the end of August…Transferred to McNeese State, in his hometown, where he started at both cornerback and safety. Intercepted three passes…Might be in the hybrid cornerback/safety mold at the next level…Red flags will knock Jackson down many boards…Far from “Packers People”—would be interesting to see if GM Ted Thompson even has him on his board—but talent and ability to play a hybrid role (i.e. Charles Woodson) makes him an intriguing prospect for Green Bay.

What they’re saying about him:

Rob Rang (CBS Sports): “Lean, athletic build with plenty of room for additional muscle mass. Legitimate NFL-caliber athlete. Possesses good straight-line speed, fluid hips to turn and run and explosiveness out of his breaks. Good vision and anticipation as a free safety. Reads the quarterback’s eyes and gets an excellent break on the ball. Is a considerably bigger hitter than his slight frame would lead you to believe. Closes quickly and generates an explosive collision on impact that can separate the football.”

National Football Post (Wes Bunting): “A talented kid who can run, track the football and can be a violent striker on contact. However, isn’t the most sound of wrap-up guys, is raw with his footwork and has character concerns. Nevertheless, has the talent to play in the NFL and should get a shot because of his ability to run and strike.”

18

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Alabama safety Mark Barron

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: S Mark Barron, Alabama

Player information:

  • Mark Barron, S, Alabama
  • 6-foot-1, 213 lbs
  • Underwent double hernia surgery but still projects as the draft’s top safety

NFL Combine: (injured, did not participate):

News & Notes:

Barron stepped onto campus his freshman year and tallied 11 special teams tackles, the third most on the Alabama roster. From there, Barron took over the starting safety position and proceeded to rattle off three-straight first-team All-SEC selections. Arguably his most productive season came in 2009, when Barron intercepted seven passes as a sophomore. Two years later, Barron is the unquestioned No. 1 senior safety in the 2012 draft class. Most project him in the top-30 picks.

What they’re saying about him:

Wes Bunting (National Football Post): Has the makings of a heck of a special teams player who can also attack downhill vs. the run game, play inside the box and drive on the football in front of him in the pass game. Isn’t going to be a major threat turning and tracking the football, but his improved instincts makes me think he can start in the league early on.

Frank Cooney (CBS Sports): If his feet were as quick as his instincts he would be a great free safety, but Barron is built like and plays like an outstanding strong safety. He has exceptional read-and-react skills, gets a quick jump on passes and has great hand-eye coordination going for the ball. All this somewhat compensates for his lack of great speed. On run support, Barron plays with a good balance of patience and aggression that keeps or puts him in the middle of plays that others might overrun. While he does make the occasional big hit, Barron is more of a text book tackler.

NFL.com (Combine): Barron is an imposing defender on the back end for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. He screams “professional defensive back” from preparation, to warm-ups, to in-game productivity and presence. A stalwart at the position, he has the size and athletic ability to contribute right away in the NFL. He is a safety with great range and ball skills to make big plays, and also is a contributor in run support to use his size and instincts to be an active defender. Barron’s combination of size, speed, production and football instincts project him to be a top-50 pick.

17

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Chris Polk, RB, Washington

RB Chris Polk, Washington NFL Draft Profile

RB Chris Polk, Washington (Photo: SI.com)

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Chris Polk, Washington

Player information:

  • Chris Polk, RB, Washington
  • 5-foot-11, 215 lbs.
  • Tougher to bring down and overall more explosive, but Polk compares favorably to Packers’ RB Ryan Grant

NFL Combine:

  • 4.57 40yd dash
  • 4.21 20 yard shuttle
  • 7.13 3-cone drill
  • 111″ broad jump
  • 31.5″ vertical jump
  • N/A bench press reps

News & Notes: 

Stepped onto the campus at the University of Washington ready to contribute immediately. Polk started the Huskies’ first two games of his 2008 but injured his shoulder and was granted a medical redshirt. From there, Polk began his climb up UW’s career rushing ranks. Three-straight 1,000-yard seasons placed Polk No. 2 on the school’s all-time rushing leaderboard behind only Napoleon Kaufman. Was a Three-time All-Pac-12 selection and semi-finalist for the Doak Walker award in 2011. Increased his draft stock at UW’s Pro Day, trimming down to just 212 pounds and running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. Polk might now be a lock to be drafted within the top-60 picks, which could be out of the Packers’ range for a running back.

What they’re saying about him:

Wes Bunting (National Football Post): A strong, well put together back with natural girth through his lower half and a well defined upper body. Has experience running both from the gun and I-formation sets and showcases good patience when asked to decipher information. Looks natural diagnosing the action around him and never seems to be in a rush. Allows his blocks to set before accelerating through the hole… Is a big kid with a good feel inside, runs hard and will break some tackles. However, pad level, initial burst and lack of great change of direction skills make me think he’s potential NFL starter only.

Rob Rang (CBS Sports): An incredibly physical ballcarrier who rarely goes down to initial contact, Polk is among the runners vying to follow Alabama’s Trent Richardson as the second running back drafted in 2012.

16

March

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Underrated Player

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Underrated Player

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Scott Wells. I think readers of this site understand how good Wells was last season, but I doubt the average fan sees it. Yeah, he’s not the greatest run blocker, but he’s superb in pass protection and excels as the quarterback of the offensive line.

Al: Brad Jones. Jones is not Mr. Dynamic. He’s not going to give you a huge pass rush boost from ROLB, but of all the knuckleheads the Packers trotted out at that position last season, he is easily the most consistent and reliable. He became a forgotten man last year, as the Packers tried desperately to catch pass rush lightning in a bottle with Walden, Zombo, Latttimore and So ‘oto, but in the end, they came back to Jones as the Packers realized what they had given up. Now the Packers’ coaches are talking up Jones as an important player for next season

Chad: Though not a superstar player, I contend that Jarrett Bush is the most underrated player on the team (at least to fans). True, he has some issues with man-to-man coverage and finding the ball as a defensive back, but his contributions on special teams has gone largely unacknowledged. Bush is set to become a free agent this year, and if he leaves, there is a serious question about who will be able to take over the gunner spot. He was always quick to the punt returner and the ball, forcing a number of downs and fair catches.

Kris: I’m going to combine underrated with underappreciated here and say Tim Masthay.  Punters never get the credit they deserve and after an insane search by Mike McCarthy to find a punter that lasted from the time he got here in 2006 until 2010, the Packers finally have their guy.  Masthay has almost singlehandedly neutered Devin Hester especially with the Packers punt coverage being famously suspect. Masthay is one of the best in the game and here’s hoping he gets his due in 2012.

Michael: I agree with Adam and think that it is Scott Wells. With his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2011, Wells was rewarded for his contributions to the Packers offense, but many seem to have no issue with Wells leaving via free agency. I completely understand not wanting to over-pay for Wells, and would agree with that notion, but I think the Packers would be better off with Wells back under center.