Edge-rush prospects still within Packers' reach in NFL draft

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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Kemoko Turay of Rutgers practices before the 2018 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

GREEN BAY – With his first pick as the Green Bay Packers general manager, Brian Gutekunst addressed a major need in drafting speedy cover corner Jaire Alexander, but another remains as Friday night’s second round approaches.

The Packers still desperately need to bolster their edge rush. They might be hoping a pass rusher such as Boston College’s Harold Landry, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter or Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard is available when they’re on the clock with the 13th pick in the second round (No. 45 overall in the draft).

It isn’t a very deep edge-rushing class this year, providing more urgency for the Packers to draft the position in the second round. But there are other needs on the roster, and perhaps the Packers could choose a receiver, tight end or right tackle if they feel a player at one of those positions has more talent.

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In that case, all would not be lost. Even though the Packers have no third-round pick, having traded it to the Seattle Seahawks when they moved back up in Thursday’s first round, they have enough assets to get one if they desire. Even more, there are some pass-rushing options down the board that could provide help this fall and beyond, even in a weaker class.

Here’s a look at four under-the-radar possibilities Senior Bowl director and former NFL general manager Phil Savage identified one week before the draft:

Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

Projected round: Second to third.

Measurables: 6-4 5/8, 253 pounds, 4.65 40, 33 3/8-inch arms, 9 5/8-inch hands.

The skinny: Didn’t have the Big Ten production to match his physical tools. Must develop pass-rush arsenal, but ideal size and athleticism for a team to work with. Had two shoulder surgeries before his junior season in 2016.

Savage: “He’s a prototype as far as an outside ‘backer: 6-5, 265 pounds. He ran 4.65. His production has never quite matched his potential, but I do think he’s someone that those 3-4 teams could really take a look at.”

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma

Projected round: Third to fourth.

Measurables: 6-1 5/8, 253 pounds, 4.77 40, 33 3/4-inch arms, 9-inch hands.

The skinny: Once considered a potential first-round prospect, Okoronkwo had 17 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at Oklahoma. A poor 40-yard dash at the combine matched with underwhelming size dropped him to Day 2, but Okoronkwo’s 38-inch vertical leap and 121-inch broad jump reveal his athletic burst.

Savage: “He hasn’t run a good 40, but sometimes that doesn’t really translate to whether you’re a good pass rusher or not, because really the quickness in the 10-yard dash and that initial acceleration is what is important. He would be a name I would keep an eye on.”

Ade Aruna, Tulane

Projected round: Fourth to fifth.

Measurables: 6-4 5/8, 262 pounds, 4.6 40, 34-inch arms, 10 5/8-inch hands.

The skinny: A Nigeria native, Aruna didn’t play football until his senior year of high school. Excellent physical tools, but extremely raw. Just two sacks as a senior last season, and never more than five in any season at Tulane. Still, a Day 3 project worth taking. Could be a diamond in the rough.

Savage: “He’s a developmental type of prospect. Ran 4.6 at the combine. He’s 6-5, 260-plus pounds, but more of a Saturday type of option for someone.”

Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

Projected round: Fourth to fifth.

Measurables: 6-2 3/8, 235 pounds, 4.67 40, 33 1/4-inch arms, 10-inch hands.

The skinny: Exists on the end of two extremes: excellent, quick-twitch burst off the snap, but alarmingly undersized. A pass-rush specialist in subpackage defense, doesn’t have strength to defend run game. Consistent production in four seasons at Ole Miss with yearly sack totals of 7.5, 10, 7, 7.5.

Savage: “One of our favorites from our game and during my time at Alabama watching the SEC. He’s really floated beneath the surface as a guy that’s got tremendous athletic skill and can really run. His 40-yard-dash time does not show up as much as his play speed, but Marquis Haynes from Ole Miss is an outside ‘backer, pass-rush specialist. He’s a guy who may show up in the league in a year or two.”

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