23

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

C.J. Fiedorowicz

TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

Packers prospect profile:  TE  C.J. Fiedorowicz

Player Information:

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE  Iowa,  6-7, 265 pounds  Hometown: Johnsburg, IL

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.76

Vertical jump: 31.5″

225 lb. bench: 25 reps

Broad jump: 9’8″

News and Notes:

Named Most Outstanding tight end at 2014 Senior Bowl. . .2013 First-team All-Big 10 by coaches. . .had a reception in 31 straight games. . .career-high six touchdown catches in 2013. . .Coaches Appreciation Award, Offense recipient

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Good versatility, showing the ability to come off a down block to get past defenders as a receiver. Good body control and soft hands for such a large man.  Fast in a straight-line and is a physical and attentive blocker.
  • NFL.com:  Has outstanding size and big hands. Has size to widen the hole or seal defensive ends. Good balance and body control for his size. Surprising lower-body flexibility to sink his hips to run sharp-angle routes. Has stature and enough speed to threaten the seam. Understands how to use his frame and physicality to create subtle separation. Makes athletic hands catches off his frame. Sizable catch radius. Shows toughness and concentration in traffic. Lowers his shoulder to deliver a blow after the catch. Can line up in-line or split out. Smart and durable. Builds to average speed. Fairly straight-linish athlete. Not elusive after the catch. Can improve as a move blocker and develop more of a mean streak to finish blocks. Average production. Could stand to adopt a more blue-collar work ethic when people aren’t watching — is not a self-starter and has been able to cruise on his rare size and natural ability.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel.
  • Shows quite a bit of Fiedorowicz’s blocking abilities, which are good.  Spent more time in three-point stance than a few other TE’s I have profiled
  • Not quick getting into his routes and does not change direction well
  • Speed is not an asset, won’t pick up much yardage after the catch
  • Can make some tough grabs in traffic and uses his size well
  • Seems to be the type of receiver who needs to be in the right offensive system to thrive.  Won’t likely do it on ability alone

If drafted by the Packers:

22

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Eric Ebron

Eric Ebron

TE Eric Ebron

Packers prospect profile:  TE Eric Ebron

Player Information:

Eric Ebron, TE  North Carolina,  6-4, 250 pounds  Hometown: Greensboro, NC

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.60

Vertical jump: 32″

225 lb. bench: 24 reps

Broad jump: 10′

News and Notes:

Second-team All-American in 2013. . . semi-finalist for Mackey award (most outstanding tight end in college football). . . had 973 receiving yards in 2013, breaking Vernon Davis’ ACC record. . . started at least one game in all four years at North Carolina. . . was second-leading receiver on the team during his sophomore season

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Smooth, gliding athlete with easy acceleration to speed past defenders in coverage and finish. Agile feet and dangerous after the catch to create with quick cuts to make defenders miss. Quick release off the LOS with route fluidity and natural flexibility. Smooth adjustments to pluck the ball with his hands away from his body – large catching radius. Physical when he wants as a blocker with strong initial power at the point of attack. Very good toughness and plays unintimidated and confident. Good football awareness and plays alert. Versatile experience lining up in-line, but mostly in the slot – also plays on special teams coverage. Still far from his ceiling. Still developing his body with room to add bulk and get stronger. Still learning how to use his size to his advantage. Needs to show more authority in his routes and is too easily redirected – needs to be more physical in this area to match up in tight spaces. Needs to be more aggressive and strong at the catch point, especially in contested situations. Has his share of focus drops and needs to be more consistent finishing catches. Good length, but won’t overwhelm defenders in the run game. Blocking technique needs developing – somewhat untested as an in-line blocker. Room to refine and sharpen his routes. Right shoulder injury in 2013.
20

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: S Jimmie Ward

Jimmie Ward

S Jimmie Ward

Packers prospect profile:  S  Jimmie Ward

Player Information:

Jimmie Ward,  S  Northern Illinois,  5-11, 192 pounds  Hometown: Mobile, AL

STATS

Pro Day:

40 time: 4.47

Vertical jump: 38″

225 lb. bench: 9 reps

Broad jump: 10’5″

News and Notes:

Third-team All-American in 2013. . .First-team All-MAC in 2012 and 2013. . . had 92 tackles, 62 solo in 2013. . .seven interceptions in 2013. . .semi-finalist for Jim Thorpe award. . . had three blocked punts in 2010 as a true freshman

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Compact frame. Remarkably fluid athlete with quick feet, smooth change-of-direction agility and easy acceleration. Dropped down to cover slot receivers with solid man-to-man skills to handle a similar role in the NFL. Good balance and lateral agility, including the ability to sprawl to avoid cut-blocks. Physical, competitive defender who doesn’t back down from the challenges of bigger opponents. Very good diagnosis skills and closes quickly and forcefully. Takes proper angles in pursuit, limiting breakaway opportunities for opponents. Shorter than scouts prefer, a fact that could lead to some projecting him at cornerback. Good but less-than-ideal speed to recover if beaten initially. Gets too grabby once he’s turned around. Leaves his feet to tackle, creating some impressive collisions but occasionally failing to wrap up securely. Misses tackles against the bigger, stronger athletes.
  • NFL.com:  Flies around the field. Aggressive run supporter. Shoots downhill and chops down ball carriers. Breaks on throws and shows short-area burst to close. Has quick hands to snatch interceptions. Confident and energetic. Has a special-teams mentality and four blocked kicks to his credit. Size is just adequate — lacks ideal bulk and is built more like a cornerback than a safety. Can be a tick late diagnosing pass, gaining depth and digesting route combos. Lacks elite top-end speed. Has man-coverage limitations. Inconsistent downfield ball reactions with his back to the throw. Limited functional strength to discard blockers when he gets snagged. Shows lower-body stiffness in space. Has some maturing to do and needs to learn what it means to prepare like a pro. Could rub some people the wrong way.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel, so does not show any of Ward’s weak spots
  • Flies to the ball and not afraid to get physical with receivers
19

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DB Brock Vereen

 

Brock Vereen

Minnesota Gophers DB Brock Vereen

Packers prospect profile:  DB Brock Vereen

Player Information:

Brock Vereen, DB Minnesota, 6-0, 199 pounds  Hometown: Valencia, CA

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.47

Vertical jump: 34″

225 lb. bench: 25 reps

Broad jump: 117″

News and Notes:

Three-year starter. … Never missed a game his final three seasons. … First-team All Big-Ten coaches selection senior season.  … Switched from safety to cornerback throughout his career. … Broke up 22 passes and had 4 interceptions in final three seasons. … Father played football at UNLV and was drafted by Tampa Bay. … Brother is a running back for the Patriots.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • NFL.com: A very smart, pedigreed, rangy free safety with the athletic ability and cover skill desired on the back end. Lack of size and tackling strength could leave much to be desired when defending the run. Top-notch intangibles — toughness, instincts, competitiveness and leadership ability — should allow him to quickly emerge as a defensive leader and enhance his draft status.
  • 1500ESPN.com  In his first two seasons with the Gophers, he played primarily at cornerback. Heading into the 2012 season, he was shifted over to safety to address an issue of depth. Injuries last year forced the Gophers to make a midseason change, slotting him back out at corner.In turn, his ability to move between positions has helped his draft stock. He has talked with teams about playing at safety, nickel or corner, though he said he feels his best games have been at safety and in the nickel.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Vereen is No. 21 in the video
  • As a Gophers fan (don’t laugh), I’ve watched Vereen his whole career
  • Vereen’s range would be a welcome addition to the Packers lumbering and slow-to-react safety corp
  • However, even if Vereen is able to range over to a ball hanging in the air, is he big and strong enough to battle bigger NFL receivers once the ball comes down?
  • Not a great tackler, but he lays it all on the line when trying to make tackles
  • Has the quickness and burst to get sneaky sacks on slot blitzes
  • Smart player. Won’t lose contain in key moments of the game (*Cough. Jarrett Bush on Colin Kapernick. *Cough.)
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
17

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Jace Amaro

Jace Amaro

TE Jace Amaro

Packers prospect profile:  TE Jace Amaro

Player Information:

Jace Amaro,  TE  Texas Tech, 6-5, 265 pounds  Hometown: San Antonio, TX

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.74

Vertical jump: 33″

225 lb. bench: 28 reps

Broad jump: 9’10″

News and Notes:

AP first team All American . . .had 1,352 receiving yards in 2013 and averaged 104 yards per game. . .His 106 catches were most by a college tight end in 2013 and second most all time in NCAA history. . .was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of unauthorized use of a debit card.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Lining up mostly in the slot, Amaro is a big, fluid athlete who uses his thick body to gain proper positioning in coverage and uses his large, soft mitts to attack the ball in the air. He is a balanced route-runner and collects himself when changing direction with smooth moves to create separation. Amaro is dangerous after the catch and isn’t an easy ballcarrier to bring down, running with power and toughness.  Some maturity and attitude questions that will need to be addressed. Receiving tight end who won’t be a fit for all schemes unless he can get in an NFL training program and bulk up
  • NationalFootballPost.com:  Very athletic for a big guy and has excellent speed and body control. He is quick off the line and is a very good route runner. He can break down and get in and out of cuts very quickly for a big guy. On the shorter one-cut routes, he consistently gains separation. He has the play speed to get open on post and flag routes versus defensive backs. He has very good hands and can adjust to the ball. He is a competitive and tough kid who consistently competes for the ball in traffic. After the catch, he has a quick burst to pull away and has the quick feet and moves to make a defender miss. He uses his size well and can easily break tackles. He is an instant mismatch because of his size and athleticism. As a blocker, he looks like a big wide receiver blocking. He can use his hands and can stay with a block but he is not overly physical.  Amaro is the type of “tight end” that most NFL teams are now looking for. He has the speed and athleticism to play split out and can really be called a jumbo wide receiver.
12

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DL Ra’Shede Hageman

Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman

Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman

Packers prospect profile: DL Ra’Shede Hageman

Player Information:

Ra’Shede Hageman,  DL  Minnesota, 6-6, 310 pounds,  Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 5.02

Vertical jump: 35.5″

225 lb. bench: 32 reps

Broad jump: 114″

News and Notes:

Converted from tight end to defensive line during his redshirt freshman seasons. … Was two-time all-state tight end in high school … First team all Big Ten and third team All-American his senior season. … Received the Bronko Nagurski award, given to the team’s most valuable player, his senior season. … Had 13 tackles for loss senior season. … Foster child, mother was a drug addict, father died before Ra’Shede met him. … More about Hageman’s difficult childhood.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • Mike Mayock:  The Hageman kid is really interesting and especially given his background and where he’s coming from and what he’s had to go through in life, and I think the hard part is putting the tape on in one game, you see a kid that can go as a Top 15 pick and then you put the next tape on, and then he disappears for three quarters and that’s a fifth or sixth round pick and you have to rectify the whole thing if he blows up the Combine; who are we getting. That’s the important thing is trying to understand the kid, because the talent is certainly there.
  • NFL.com: Terrific movement, flexibility and range. Loose ankles. Can work the edges. Able to redirect and chase athletically. Fierce tackler. Rare leaping ability for his size (workout all-star). Disrupts passing lanes. Has a “wow” factor at his best. Has immense upside. Team captain.

Video:

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Video Analysis:

  • Size and length look very intimidating
  • Big-hitter
  • Good lateral movement and ability to make a tackle downfield
  • Slow to react at times
  • Extremely difficult to handle if he gains leverage

If drafted by the Packers:

Since I live in Minnesota and punish myself by watching the Gophers, I’ve followed Hageman’s entire career. Most of the scouting reports are accurate: He’s got a ton of ability, but tends to disappear for stretches. Some say his disappearing acts raise questions about his effort. Whenever I’ve observed Hageman go into hibernation, he appeared to be really tired. Hands on the hips, breathing heavy, slow of the ball — the usual signs. I wonder if conditioning was an issue for him in college and if an NFL conditioning program would fix that.