Category Archives: NFL Combine



10 Players Packers Fans Should Watch at the NFL Combine

Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.

Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.

The NFL Scouting Combine starts on Saturday and Packers general manager Ted Thompson will be there to observe all of the young NFL hopefuls who could potentially fill holes on the Packers roster.

Yes, it’s that time of year where words like “athletic” and “upside” become part of our everyday vocabulary and we pay extra close attention to how long a player’s arms are and what kind of motor he has. Keeping track of everything going on at the NFL Combine and the buzz about various prospects can be overwhelming. That’s why is here to help.

I picked out 10 players to watch at the NFL Combine if you’re a Packers fan. I have no idea if Thompson himself will be closely watching these players over others, but these 10 players are a mix of possible first-round targets for the Packers, or mid-round picks that appear to have the tools to help the Packers in one way or another down the road.

Of course, after the NFL Combine wraps up, will have more NFL draft profiles on possible future Packers than you will be able to handle. For now, keep an eye on these 10 players and we’ll see if any of them wind up in Green Bay come April.

HaHa Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
The Packers need a safety and Clinton-Dix might be the best one in this draft class. Scouts rave about Clinton-Dix’s instincts when the ball is in the air and his ability to shift directions and accelerate. His tackling could use some work, but the Packers desperately need a safety who can close on the ball and help eliminate big plays in the opponent’s passing game. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s really hard to get over the top on Clinton-Dix. Teams have had no problems getting over the top on the Packers safeties ever since Nick Collins was injured. If you’re a Packers fan, you might actually hope Clinton-Dix has a poor showing at the combine to increase the chances that he’ll fall to the Packer at pick No. 21.



Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #5 — Perry’s improvement

Nick Perry was a project last summer. Is he ready to be a difference-maker across from Clay Matthews?

Nick Perry was a project last summer. Is he ready to be a difference-maker across from Clay Matthews?

When the Green Bay Packers selected Nick Perry with their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they envisioned him and Clay Matthews being their version of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.

Prior to the draft, the 270-pound Perry made it clear that he’d rather play with his hand in the ground in a 4-3 scheme.

“I prefer 4-3,” Perry said. “I like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I’m rushing and getting to quarterback I’m fine whatever it is.”

Last summer throughout training camp, Perry was brought along slowly by outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Athletically, the transition wasn’t much of a problem for Perry, who clocked a 4.55 40-yard dash and posted a 38.5-inch vertical at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The biggest obstacle for Perry was the mental aspect of playing in space after playing on the defensive line for four years at USC.

As a rookie in Green Bay, Perry was the opening-day starter at outside linebacker across from Matthews. Perry appeared in six games before suffering a wrist injury which caused him to miss the remainder of the season.

The highlight of Perry’s rookie year was the crushing blow he delivered to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Perry wasn’t blocked on the play and drew a 15-yard penalty for hitting Luck on the chin; however, that type of aggressiveness is what the Packers envisioned when they spent the No. 28 overall pick on him a year ago.

When Perry went down, Erik Walden stepped in and filled his shoes in the starting lineup. Walden signed a four-year, $16 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts earlier this offseason, leaving the Packers thin at the position.

Behind starters Matthews and Perry, the Packers have an inexperienced group that includes second-year player Dezman Moses and rookies Nate Palmer, Andy Mulumba and Donte Savage. Needless to say, the Packers are counting on an improved Perry for a more effective pass rush in 2013.

Will Nick Perry show considerable improvement this season?

It’s not as if Perry got a ton of on-field experience as a rookie. Sure, he was a Week 1 starter, but the wrist injury ended his rookie year after just 211 regular-season snaps.



High Praise for Packers 7th Round Pick Sam Barrington from NFL Analyst Greg Cosell

Is Packers LB Sam Barrington the latest draft steal for GM Ted Thompson?

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell had high praise for Packers seventh-round draft pick Sam Barrington on Tuesday.

Speaking with with Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports on the Shutdown Corner podcast, Cosell called the 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker from South Florida an “athletic kid,” whose “athletic ability was a second- or third-round pick.”

“I think this kid has a chance, and certainly to stick on special teams because of his athleticism,” the highly respected Cosell said. “But I thought he was far more athletic than a lot of linebackers I watched and I was surprised he was not talked about.”

Cosell also said he did some additional research on Barrington and found out that he may have dropped in the draft because of issues diagnosing plays and learning on defense, but that’s impossible to know for sure.

Barrington was also arrested four times at South Florida — all for driving with a revoked or suspended license. Getting arrested four times generally doesn’t help one’s draft stock, either.

Barrington’s numbers improved every season at South Florida, culminating with 80 tackles, two forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks in 11 games as a senior.

His 40-yard-dash time at the NFL combine was a ho-hum 4.89 seconds, but improved to 4.69 seconds on South Florida’s pro day.

After Packers GM Ted Thompson picked Barrington, he called him a “good value.” That’s about as boastful as you’ll hear the tight-lipped Thompson get about a pick he’s made.

The Packers have had success with seventh-round draft picks in the past. Is Barrington the latest steal for Thompson?

“I was really surprised that he was not drafted until the seventh round,” Cosell said. “The more I watched him the more I liked his game. I wouldn’t call him explosive, but he was athletic with really good movement. I always defer to film as opposed to 40 times, and I thought he played as an athlete.”


Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.




Packing the 2013 NFL Draft Stats: Explosion Number, Part 1

Packing the StatsA couple weeks ago, I presented some data in regard to some of the 3-4 defensive front prospects that the Green Bay Packers could be looking at in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. We calculated their “production ratios” based on big plays during their college years. This time around, we’re going to take some numbers from the NFL Combine to see how explosive some of these players are.

Taking another page from Pat Kirwan’s book, “Take Your Eye Off the Ball,” we’re going to take some of the combine measurable and plug them into a formula that will help to show how explosive these players are.

“On the snap of the ball,” writes Kirwan, “the front seven and the offensive line are going to engage physically. It’s a series of adjacent bar fights, and we need to be able to project who has the athleticism to win these all-important battles in the trenches. . . . A prospect with an Explosion Number of 70 or higher has my attention.”

So how do we calculate this number? Here’s the formula:


The bench press, vertical jump, and broad jump are three workouts at the combine that specifically test a player’s raw strength, power, and explosiveness. They comprise the core qualities that a defensive lineman needs to do his job. Other workouts like the 40-yard dash and three-cone drill don’t really factor into this equation, because they relate much less to these trench battles.

Without further ado, here are the numbers. The data is taken from NFL Combine Results, and the players listed are the only ones who have data for the required workouts. Some players skip certain workouts for health or preferential reasons, so their Explosion Number can’t be adequately measured. Additionally, I used to pare down the list to only those players projected as 3-4 candidates. The overall draft rankings are also based on DraftTek’s “big board.”

(Click the image to enlarge)


2013 NFL Draft Stats: Explosion Number of 3-4 Defensive Front Prospects

2013 NFL Draft Stats: Explosion Number of 3-4 Defensive Front Prospects


You’ll notice that only four players have an Explosion Number (EN) of 70 or greater: Brandon Williams, Cornelius Washington, Margus Hunt, and Nicholas Williams. None of them are projects as first round prospects, which is rather interesting; however, Datone Jones is extremely close with an EN of 69.8. Conversely, Ezekial Ansah is the highest ranked of the group, but only boasts an EN of 65.3.



Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Instead of a long intro this week, I’m going to save my bloviating for the non-Packers links and other nonsense section and get right to the Packers news of the week.

I’ll be back next week with a strong opinion on something related to the Packers or the NFL. For now, we’ll just catch up on Packers news and talk about a baseball text simulation game that everybody should own.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith signed his one-year restricted free-agent contract tender this week. I’m surprised no other team offered him more money to lure him away from the Packers. I’m also happy that Dietrich-Smith will be back. Should we be worried that no other team bothered to offer him more than the $1.323 million he got from the Packers? 
  • Jermichael Finley was on KFAN in Minneapolis this week with Vikings play-by-play broadcaster Paul Allen. The interview is painfully bad, but if you want to know what Finley had to say, read this summary from Jason Wilde’s ESPN Milwaukee blog. Finley says he wants to play like Tony Gonzalez. In other news, I want to write like Shakespeare.
  • Does the fact that the Packers no longer host a Fan Fest type of event mean that they have “little connection to the fans these days?” John Rehor thinks so. I don’t agree with John’s headline — saying the Packers have little connection to the fans because there is no fan fest type of event is over the top — but I agree with the entirety of John’s post (I’m one of those weird people that actually bothers to read an entire post/article instead of just reacting to the headline). Something could be done to resurrect fan fest and make it more accessible than it was before.
  • Good post here from Evan at Acme Packing Company about the Packers “needing” to draft a safety in the first round. It’s good have posts like this to help us wade through some of the nonsense that’s out there for draft coverage. When I becomePresident, I’m going to pass a law that says only people appointed to my NFL Draft Council will be able to write about and analyze the draft. Way too much draft coverage out there these days and the quality is diluted.


NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas

Kenny Vaccaro

Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: Safety Kenny Vaccaro

Player Information:

Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, University of Texas, 6’0″, 214 pounds Hometown: Brownwood, TX


NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.63

225-pound bench: 15 reps

Vertical: 38″

News and Notes:

Considered by many to be this year’s top safety prospect and a sure first round pick … was draft-eligible last year but stayed at Texas after receiving a second round grade. . .Uncle is A.J. Johnson, who spent seven years with the Washington Redskins and was a member of the Super Bowl XXVI-winning team. . .was a starter as a sophomore at UT … arguably the best safety in the Big 12 as a junior in 2011, posting 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight passes broken up and two interceptions. . In 2012 he was second-team All Conference with 107 stops, four tackles for a loss and five forced turnovers.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • ”Prototypical size and build for the position. Possesses a high-cut frame with good overall musculature. Shows very good straight-line speed, agility, balance and hip flexibility. Athleticism for coverage duties are enhanced by Vaccaro’s vision and instincts. Quickly locates the ball and shows an understanding of route-progression, rarely getting caught out of position.”
  • “NFL starting combo safety material with a very good blend of overall strength and athleticism. Often used as a nickel back despite a thick overall build. Very loose hips and good overall change-of-direction ability. Locks onto slot receivers at the line and has the agility and straight-game speed to stay with them on out routes and downfield. Physical with receivers trying to block him in the run game, has the strength to rip off and make a stop. Solid open-field tackler, uses great effort and his upper-body strength to drag down ball carriers. Strong off the edge as a blitzer, has bend to turn the corner and gets physical with running backs standing in his way. Flashes the hands and body control to catch passes away from his body. Good change of direction ability and shows the range to play the half-field in Cover Two. Attacks downhill against the run well, running the alley aggressively from deep-half coverage.”



Video Analysis:

  • Very fluid hips and changes direction well
  • Closes very well on the ball carrier.  Solid open-field tackler


NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Stepfan Taylor, RB Stanford

Stepfan Taylor

Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: RB Stepfan Taylor

Player Information:

Stepfan Taylor, RB Stanford
5-9, 214 pounds
Hometown: Arlington, TX


NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.76
Bench press: 17 reps
Vertical leap: 30.0 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.50

News and Notes:

Leaves Stanford as the career leader in rushing yards (4,300), touchdowns (45) and 100-yard games (21). … Ran for 1,530 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. … Big and thick, tough to bring down with an arm tackle. … Rose Bowl offensive player of the game in victory over Wisconsin. … Not great in any one facet of the game, just solid all around. … Alternate personality that is popular on YouTube.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • Dallas Morning News: “Overall, Taylor is a tough grade because he has some good game tape, but the lack of explosiveness is really concerning. He can do a lot of things well, but it will be difficult for teams to select him over other backs with obviously higher upside.
  • ”The Cardinal’s running back proved this season that he was capable of maintaining his level of play even without Andrew Luck at QB. While he isn’t exceptional in any one facet of the game, he is technically sound, and well rounded. Taylor is possibly the safest back in this class due to his ability to not only pass protect, but to catch the football, which will make him invaluable on third downs.”


Video Analysis:

  • He’s got some nifty feet. I like how he operates in traffic.
  • A definite north and south runner. You probably won’t see him outrun defenders to the edge very often.
  • Strong lower body makes him tough to arm tackle and provides a nice base for pass blocking.
  • Not very dynamic. The long TD run early in the clip was great, however…
  • Good hands. Seems smart when asked to go out and catch a pass and set up a screen.

If drafted by the Packers:

I see Taylor as another one of those running backs that the Packers could pick because he’s a good pass blocker, can catch the ball, and might “fit” the offense, whatever that means.