18

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Ryan Shazier

 

Ryan Shazier

LB Ryan Shazier

Packers prospect profile:  LB Ryan Shazier

Player Information:

Ryan Shazier  LB, Ohio State,  6-1, 237 pounds  Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL

STATS

NFL Scouting Combine:

40 time: 4.36 (unofficial at Pro Day)

Vertical jump: 42″

225 lb. bench: 25 reps

Broad jump: 10’10″

News and Notes:

Declared for NFL draft following his junior season at Ohio State. . . had over 100 tackles during his sophomore and junior years. . .44.5 tackles for loss during college career. . .Two-time first-team All Big-10 in 2012 and 2013. . .Butkus award finalist (nation’s top college linebacker) in 2013. . .tied an Ohio State record with a 20-tackle game vs. Indiana and first time a Buckeye defender had 20 tackles in a game since A.J. Hawk vs. Wisconsin in 2004.

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Rangy athlete with terrific closing acceleration and burst. Explosive first step as a blitzer to force the QB from his spot. Very good bend off the edge with momentum to fight through blocks and disrupt the pocket. Flexible ankles and flattens easily. Uses his length well at the point of attack with good take-on strength to deliver a pop, filling hard vs. the run. Eyes are always elevated with good ball vision and anticipation. Breaks down well on the move and gets low, showing clear improvement with his tackling technique. Smart and puts himself in correct position to make plays. Sniffs out the ball and almost always finishes when he’s in the area. Never quits working to the ball and relentless in pursuit. Team leader and uplifting teammate with strong personal and football character. Versatile skill-set to drop in coverage, blitz and cover both sidelines. Lean frame and lacks elite bulk. Doesn’t have the body type to get too much bigger. Needs to continue to get stronger to better shed at the point of attack. Too easily engulfed when attacking the line of scrimmage. Sometimes content throwing his shoulder and not wrapping up. Overaggressive at times in coverage and needs patient and alert. Will lose track of his assignment in man. Needs to stay disciplined and tidy up his timing to avoid late hits and unnecessary flags. Needs to keep his composure and keep his emotions in check.
3

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Shayne Skov

 

Shayne Skov

LB Shayne Skov

Packers prospect profile:  LB  Shayne Skov

Player Information:

Shayne Skov  LB, Stanford,  6-2, 245 pounds  Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico

STATS

NFL Combine:

Did not participate in Combine and to date, has not participated in any pre-draft drills

News and Notes:

Started nine games as a true freshman in 2009. . .led Stanford in tackles in 2010. . .lost the 2011 season to an ACL injury. . .was instrumental in Stanford’s run to the PAC-12 title and Rose Bowl run in 2013. . .2013 All PAC-12 first-team. . .very upbeat and vocal leader

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Ideal size and temperament for the inside linebacker position. Possesses broad shoulders, a trim middle and thick lower-body. Terrific instincts and physicality. A tone-setter in the middle, who frequently made big plays at key moments for the Cardinal. Demonstrated more explosiveness in 2013, in his second season removed from a torn ACL. Explodes through holes in the offensive line to make emphatic tackles in the backfield. Aggresive in taking on and shedding blockers in the hole. Displayed greater patience in 2013 when breaking down with ball-carriers in the open field because he has regained his explosive closing ability. This has led to less lunging by Skov and more secure textbook tackling. Likely limited to inside linebacker duties in a 3-4 alignment due to the fact that he does not possess ideal speed to beat backs to the edge, nor the fluidity for extensive coverage responsibilities. Working to break a bad habit of lunging. Over-aggression caused Skov to take himself out of too many plays early in his career.
  • NFL.com:  Outstanding instincts and recognition — plays much faster than he clocks on a stopwatch. Goes full throttle and plays very hard. Times up the blitz extremely well. Explosive tackler. Alert in coverage.  Intense emotional leader. Has a love for the game and it shows. Ideal special-teams temperament.  Marginal foot speed — limited twitch and agility to adjust to movement in coverage and could be exposed by NFL backs and tight ends. Can play with too much abandon and recklessly miss some tackles flying to the ball (out of control). Long-term durability is a concern — has already had multiple knee surgeries.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel
18

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Chris Borland

 

Chris Borland

LB Chris Borland

Packers prospect profile:  LB Chris Borland

Player Information:

Chris Borland, LB  Wisconsin, 5-11, 248 pounds  Hometown: Kettering, OH

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.83

Vertical jump: 31″

225 lb. bench: 27 reps

Broad jump: 9’06″

News and Notes:

Three-time first-team All Big 10 three years in a row (2011 – 2013). . .Wisconsin’s all-time leader with 14 forced fumbles. . .2013 second-team AP All-American. . .high-character, was a finalist for Lott IMPACT Trophy (biggest influence on team). . .41.5 tackles for a loss at Wisconsin. . has drawn many comparisons to Zach Thomas, former NFL linebacker who was “undersized” yet had a successful 12-year career in the league.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Heady, passionate player. Consistently diagnoses action correctly, attacking seams to make plays near the line of scrimmage and showing better than advertised speed and change of direction while dropping into coverage. He is a no-nonsense LB, showing impressive pop and determination to get to the ball. Borland is disciplined in space and is rarely fooled, showing good body positioning and timing in coverage. Despite stellar production, Borland’s pedestrian size and athleticism hurt, but there is some validity to the Zach Thomas comparisons. He lacks elite speed and range to consistently play sideline-to-sideline, but effort and motor aren’t questions. Lack of length shows near the line of scrimmage.
  • NFL.com:  Is built low to the ground and bends his knees. Keen eyes and instincts — has a nose for the ball. Quick to fill downhill. Motor runs hot — pursues hard and seldom quits on plays. Flows well laterally. Aware in zone. Capable of bringing pressure as a blitzer. Good leaping ability. Intense competitor who loves to play and it shows. Defensive playmaker — piled up 50 career TFL and 14 FFs. Started 45 career games. Special intangibles. Is short. Too easily neutralized (struggles to disengage). Eclipsed by larger offensive linemen. Can do a better job protecting his legs. Average explosion, tackle strength and pop on contact. Lets runners escape his grasp. Exposed in space. Has man-coverage limitations, especially against tight ends (lacks length to match up). Durability could be an issue.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel, so does not show any of Borland’s weak spots
27

July

Packers Sign Middle Tennessee LB Jamari Lattimore

The Green Bay Packers agreed to terms with Middle Tennessee State linebacker Jamari Lattimore on Tuesday, according to his representatives and JSOnline.

Lattimore (6-2, 230 pounds) wasn’t invited to the NFL combine but ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. He also posted 20 reps at 225 pounds and had a vertical leap of 31 inches.

College summary

Lattimore was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Blue Raiders, but he saved his best season for his senior year. He tallied 11.5 sacks in 2010, tying the school record set by the Packers own Erik Walden, and was named the 2010 Sun Belt defensive player of the year. A four-sack effort at Louisiana-Lafeyette and three more vs. Louisiana-Monroe  helped his numbers. Overall, the 11.5 sacks were good enough for sixth in the nation and first in the conference.

Lattimore ended his collegiate career with 20.5 sacks, placing him second on Middle Tennessee State’s all-time list.

Commentary

While a defensive end at Midde Tennessee, Lattimore is best suited for outside linebacker at the NFL level. Like any end making the transition, he’ll need to make the adjustment from rushing the passer with his hand down to standing up. Lattimore appears to have the body type and athleticism to make the switch.

There’s also no way you can count him out of the competition at outside linebacker, as the Packers aren’t afraid to play a young player if he can handle the position. Frank Zombo, Brad Jones and Erik Walden are all examples of that. You’d still have to assume he’s a long shot, but you just never know what camp will bring for that position. If he can show an ability to get to the quarterback at the NFL level, he’s obviously worth a look.

It’ll be interesting to see if linebackers coach Kevin Greene can shape another undrafted free agent into a NFL player. If he can’t crack the 53, then the practice squad would be a good place to stash Lattimore away while he hones his craft.

Video highlights

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

30

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — Sixth Round, No. 197: LB Ricky Elmore

With the 197th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Arizona linebacker Ricky Elmore.

He measures in at 6-5, 260 pounds with 31″ arms. He posted a 4.88-second 40-yard dash, 26 bench-presses, 4.32-second 20-yard shuttle and a 31.5″ vertical leap.

College history

Elmore finished his college career with nearly 150 tackles and 25.5 sacks for Arizona. He started the final 39 games and appeared in 51 games total.

Elmore led the Pac-10 in sacks in both 2010 and 2009 after finishing with 21.5 total over the two years. He was an Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 selection in 2009 and a First Teamer in 2010.

Commentary

The Packers took a pass rushing linebacker from Arizona, but his name wasn’t Brooks Reed. While that might be a disappointment to some, Elmore was the more productive of the two prospects and features a similar non-stop motor to Reed.

He certainly lacks the athleticism you want in a 3-4 outside linebacker, but Elmore has a knack for getting to the quarterback and won’t stop until the whistle blows.

And while there are certainly some holes in his game, Elmore can also come in and fight for playing time at a suddenly overflowing outside linebacker position. He’s also another high-character guy—a reoccurring trend for the Packers 2011 draft class.

Video:

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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30

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — Sixth Round, No. 186: LB D.J. Smith

With the 186th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Appalachian State linebacker D.J. Smith.

Smith measures 5-10, 240 pounds with 32.2″ arms. He posted a 4.75-second 40-yard dash, 20 bench-presses and a 31″ vertical leap.

College history

Smith has been one of the more productive linebackers in college football over the past four seasons. A four-year starter at Appalachian State, Smith racked up over 500 tackles and nine sacks in 50 career starts.

Smith was also a three-year All-American selection, including two First Team picks his final two seasons. In those last two years, Smith was a final for the Buck Buchanan award, given to the best defensive player in the FCS.

Commentary

Most fans wanted this position addressed much earlier (I not being one of them), but the Packers finally got their outside linebacker.

Smith is a well-built defender and has the production and experience to add competition to the position. He doesn’t seem to have the pass-rushing skills that would warrant starting on the outside, but the Packers obviously saw something in the way he was always around the football.

Video (DJ Smith is #9)

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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25

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Inside Linebacker

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the inside linebacker position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#50 A.J. Hawk
27 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2015

#55 Desmond Bishop
26 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#56 Nick Barnett
29 yrs. old / 8 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#54 Brandon Chillar
28 yrs. old / 7 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#49 Rob Francois
25 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#48 Cardia Jackson
22 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#57 Matt Wilhelm
30 yrs. old / 8 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

As it stands right now, the Packers are stacked at the inside linebacker position.

Nick Barnett is a well-seasoned veteran whose hair is almost as big as his reputation. He was a starter for Green Bay from day one, and has been an anchor at the position for the past eight years. He led the team in tackles for five of those years, set the single-season franchise record with 194 tackles, and ranks third in franchise annals with 986 career tackles.

Then there’s A.J. Hawk, the Packers’ top 2006 draft pick who finally seemed to make his mark this season with Barnett out of the picture. For the first three years, fans became increasingly frustrated with a performance that belied his first-round draft status. Finally, we have seen that his communication skills, good study habits, and great work ethic were a gigantic asset to the team. And for his efforts, Ted Thompson rewarded Hawk with a brand new five-year contract.