Packers busy with pre-draft visits

Weston Hodkiewicz
View Comments
Temple's Robby Anderson (19) breaks away from East Carolina's Montese Overton (51) and DaShawn Benton (6) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Greenville, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

GREEN BAY - Every team in the NFL is busy putting the final touches on its big board with less than two weeks until the draft.

One tool that general managers and front offices have at their disposal in assessing whether to select a player or sign him in college free agency is the 30 official prospect visits every NFL team is given each year.

The Green Bay Packers’ approach to pre-draft visits always tends to differ from the rest of the NFL. Whereas many teams use their visits to meet top prospects, the Packers prefer to bring in possible late-round sleepers or likely undrafted free agents they want to get to know a little better.

The number of players that Green Bay drafts or signs in college free agency after pre-draft visits varies from year to year, but there’s always a few who make it to training camp and even the active roster after pre-draft encounters.

Related: Complete Packers draft coverage

Last year, general manager Ted Thompson drafted two players who visited (tight end Kennard Backman and fullback Aaron Ripkowski) in the sixth round. Several others signed with the team as undrafted free agents in the weeks and months that followed, including tight end Mitchell Henry, offensive lineman Matt Rotheram, defensive back Rob Daniel and quarterback Ryan Williams.

With 29 roster spots to fill before the May 23 start of organized team activities (the offseason workout program begins Monday), here's a brief synopsis of a few NFL prospects the Packers have scheduled for a pre-draft visit or already hosted, which either have been reported by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin or sourced to another outlet.

Robby Anderson (6-3, 187), WR, Temple

Ran a 4.36-second time in the 40-yard dash at his Temple pro day with a 36½-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-8 broad jump, 7.07-second time in the three-cone drill and eight bench reps of 225 pounds, according to NFL Draft Scout. … Led the Owls with 70 catches for 939 yards and seven touchdowns as a redshirt senior. Anderson was dismissed from the program during his redshirt junior year for academic reasons, but head coach Matt Rhule remained his strongest advocate. He also briefly left the team after spring practices during his redshirt sophomore year, but returned as a non-scholarship athlete and led Temple with 44 catches for 791 yards and nine touchdowns.

Moritz Boehringer (6-4, 227), WR, Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (German Football League)

Ran a 4.41 time in the 40 at his pro day conducted at Florida Atlantic with a 39-inch vertical, 10-11 broad jump, 6.64 time in the three-cone drill and 17 bench reps of 225 pounds. He was the German Football League rookie of the year in 2015 after catching 59 passes for 1,232 yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 games for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. If Boehringer is drafted, he’d be the first German-born player to be selected without playing collegiate football in the United States. draft analyst Lance Zierlein compares Boehringer’s makeup to Packers third-year receiver Jeff Janis.

Kevin Byard (5-11, 216), S, Middle Tennessee State

Many observers consider Byard to be among the top draft prospects who weren’t invited to February’s scouting combine. Ran a 4.49-second time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day with a 38-inch vertical, 10 jump and 22 reps of 225 pounds, according to the Tennessean. A four-year starter, Byard finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in career interceptions (19), interception return yards (377) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (four). He also ended his time at Middle Tennessee State as the sixth-leading tackler in program history (312) and forced 25 turnovers over 49 career games.

Devin Fuller (6-0, 194), WR, UCLA

Ran a 4.39-second time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day with a 36-inch vertical jump, 10-4 broad jump and 7.03 time in the three-cone drill, according to NFL Draft Scout. Fuller came to UCLA as a four-star quarterback, but agreed to move to receiver due to the emergence of current Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley. Fuller caught 146 passes for 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns in 45 career games (24 starts) for the Bruins. He also returned kickoffs and punts for UCLA as a senior. Caught 102 passes over his sophomore and junior seasons before injuries hampered his senior season (24 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns). He visited Green Bay on Friday.

Mitch Mathews (6-5½, 222), WR, BYU

Ran a 4.49-second time in the 40-yard dash at his March 25 pro day with a 36-inch vertical jump, 10-9 broad jump, 6.99 time in the three-cone drill and 12 bench reps of 225 pounds, according to NFL Draft Scout. Mathews had 152 catches for 2,083 yards and 24 touchdowns over 41 career games at BYU. Led the program in receiving during his final two seasons. Had his most productive year as a redshirt junior when he caught 73 passes for 922 yards and nine touchdowns. Already 25 after serving a mission in Florida Orland Mission from 2009-11. He visited Green Bay on Friday.

Roy Robertson-Harris, OLB/DE, UTEP

Ran a 4.8-second time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day with a 35-inch vertical, 9-11 broad jump and 23 bench reps of 225 pounds. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound edge rusher didn’t put up monster numbers at UTEP (138 tackles and 10½ sacks in 47 career games), but possesses intriguing length and size. He worked out privately for Chicago and Green Bay before both NFC North teams brought him in for a visit this week. He could fit into the Packers’ 3-4 scheme as an elephant rusher. “A lot of teams would want me at an outside linebacker spot in the 3-4,” Robertson-Harris said last week. “After pro day, most of the drills that I ran were pretty much standing up and working on my drops and working on my feet. Working on coverage so that if they do want me playing outside, I can show them I can play.” He visited Green Bay on Friday.

Noah Spence, OLB/DE, Eastern Kentucky (NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport)

Ran a 4.8-second time in the 40-yard dash at both the NFL scouting combine and his March 4 pro day. He posted a 35-inch vertical, 10-1 broad jump, 7.21 time in the three-cone drill and 25 bench reps of 225 pounds in Indianapolis. He’d be an unquestioned first-round pick if it wasn’t for a well-publicized Ecstacy addiction that resulted in multiple failed tests at Ohio State and a permanent ban from the Big Ten. An all-Big Ten linebacker, Spence transferred to Eastern Kentucky in hopes of clearing his name rather than declaring for the NFL draft last year. He went through a drug rehabilitation program and passed several tests during his time with the Colonels. Spence stood out on the field with 63 tackles (22 ½ for a loss) with 11½ sacks and three forced fumbles. He reportedly visited April 8. and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

View Comments