Packers' position priorities take shape through pre-draft visits
GREEN BAY – Based on the players the Green Bay Packers brought in for pre-draft visits over the past three weeks or so, it’s not hard to figure out their priority.
Sure, you can’t assume just because the Packers use one of their 30 allowed visits on a player, they’re interested in or are going to draft him. Sometimes they’re just getting more information on an injury or a character question.
But this year, the Packers used at least six of their visits on offensive linemen, five of them tackles. With two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 30) and a second (No. 44), they’ll have a shot at three ready-to-play prospects.
It’s no secret the Packers want to bolster their tackle and guard positions given oft-injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga just turned 30, backup swing tackle Jason Spriggs has provided little and the right guard position is open even with the addition of Denver free agent Billy Turner, who received a $9 million signing bonus on a four-year, $28 million deal.
The fact they brought in arguably the two best tackles in the draft – Washington State’s Andre Dillard and Alabama’s Jonah Williams – means they’ll have a better idea of what to do if either of the two falls to them at pick No. 12. They also brought in two other potential late first-round picks in Washington’s Kaleb McGary and Mississippi’s Greg Little, means they’ll be better prepared if either of them is available to them at No. 30.
The Packers also reportedly brought in Missouri quarterback Drew Lock for a visit, but chances are that was to make the rest of the league wonder if they would take a quarterback at No. 12 or No. 30 so new coach Matt LaFleur would have his own pick to groom. The bluff could cause them to convince another team to give up a lot more to move up to No. 12 or No. 30 to take Lock.
The Packers also brought in multiple edge rushers, tight ends, defensive linemen and a long snapper.
Here are 25 of the 30 draft-eligible players who made a visit to Green Bay to meet with personnel staff and coaches. PackersNews.com uncovered independently all the players except where another media outlet is cited. The figures listed after the player's name, position and school are height, weight, 40-yard dash time, vertical jump and bench press. Testing numbers are from either combine or pro day results.
JONAH WILLIAMS, OT, Alabama: 6-4 ½, 303, 5.12, 28, 23. Started at right tackle as a freshman for the country’s premier college program, then moved to the left side. His tape shows he’s quick off the ball, which would help him function in LaFleur’s “wide zone” run game. Might be able to play guard.
ANDRE DILLARD, OT, Washington State: 6-5 ½, 307, 4.96, 29, 24. Began playing the game late and still has things to learn about the position, but he started his final 39 games and really showed up at the Senior Bowl. He turns 23 in October.
KALEB MCGARY, OT, Washington: 6-7, 317, 5.05, 33 ½, 23. Started for four years at right tackle. Despite being 6-7, he doesn’t have the wing span of some of the other top tackles, but his vertical jump shows he’s got some juice in his legs. He has been cleared to play despite a heart arrhythmia.
GREG LITTLE, OT, Ole Miss: 6-5 ½, 310, 5.33, 25, 15. He started 29 games at left tackle in three seasons. He was too heavy his freshman year but after losing 20 pounds he began to show what a good football player he is. He blocked for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in high school and was a first-team all-SEC selection last year. Low bench press is because he hit the rack with the bar and had to stop.
TYTUS HOWARD, OT, Alabama State: 6-5, 322, 5.05, 29 ½, 21. He played quarterback in high school and walked on as a 225-pound tight end in college. He grew four inches and gained 100 pounds in college.He started on the right side once he moved to tackle and took part in the Senior Bowl, where he looked like he belonged.
NATE HERBIG, OG, Stanford: 6-3, 335, 5.41, 24, 29. He started as a freshman and played mostly guard. He’s a massive man in the mold of longtime NFL guard Mike Iupati. He can’t afford to get too much bigger or he risks losing quickness. He’s much bigger than the guards the Packers usually like.
DREW LOCK (ESPN), QB, Missouri: 6-3 ½, 228, 4.69, 31, DNP. He had a college-best 62.9 completion percentage as a senior but still only completed 56.9 percent in four years. He set an SEC record with 44 touchdowns as a junior and threw another 28 as a senior. He has a big arm and showed on tape that he can get out of the pocket, but he doesn’t always throw over the top and accuracy is an issue.
MONTEZ SWEAT (NFL Network), Edge, Mississippi State: 6-6, 260, 4.41, 36, 21. He’s the real deal physically. He absolutely blew up the combine with his 40 time, vertical jump and bench press. There have been reports that a heart condition – described as an enlarged heart – may have resulted in him being taken off some draft boards.
CURTIS BOLTON, ILB, Oklahoma: 6-0, 228, 4.58, 38, 17. He played mostly as a reserve early on, appearing in just three games as a sophomore and eight as a junior due to an ankle injury. But he became a starter last year and had 142 tackles, including 12 for loss and 4 ½ sacks.
ULYSEES GILBERT, ILB, Akron: 6-0, 224, 4.52, 39 ½, 20. He was elected first-team All-MAC his sophomore and junior years and second-team as a senior. In 2018, Gilbert notched 85 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, two touchdowns and a pass breakup.
KADEN ELLISS, Edge, Idaho: 6-2, 238, 4.69, 34 ½, DNP. Son of former Detroit Lions defensive lineman Luther Elliss. He has been drawing a lot of interest of late, visiting Miami, Baltimore, New Orleans and Seattle in addition to Green Bay. Had 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He played outside and inside linebacker and caught three passes for 20 yards as a tight end.
E.J. SPEED, Edge, Tarleton State: 6-3, 227, 4.58, 27 ½, 14. He entered school as a quarterback but quickly moved to wide receiver. Settled in on defense and led the nation in forced fumbles as a sophomore. Speed recorded 12 tackles for losses, five sacks and an interception. He was charged with organized criminal activity in an identity scam last year but the case was dismissed.
JACE STERNBERGER, TE, Texas A&M: 6-3 ½, 253, 4.75, 31 ½, 17. He started out at Kansas, transferred at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and played one season at Texas A&M. The former 5-9 high school quarterback averaged 17.1 yards per catch and scored 10 touchdowns last year.
ANDREW BECK, FB/TE, Texas: 6-3, 252, 4.63, 34, 23. He broke his foot three times, missing the entire 2017 season. He was a two-time team captain after switching from linebacker to tight end in 2014. Medical evaluations will be key in determining if he gets drafted.
KAHALE WARRING, TE, San Diego State: 6-5, 250, 4.67, 36.5, 19. He is definitely a height, weight and speed prospect. He didn’t play much football in high school and had to build up his body to play tight end. He missed 10 games in 2016 due to a foot injury, but he caught 31 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns last year.
DEANDRE THOMPKINS, WR, Penn State: 5-11, 192, 4.34, 34, 13. He did not receive an invitation to the combine, but drew notice with his blazing 40 time. He’s a slot receiver who Thompkins returned 66 punts for an average of 10.2 yards per return and two touchdowns.
JEFF SMITH, WR, Boston College: 6-0, 191, 4.38, 36 ½, 15. He started out as a quarterback and moved to receiver in ’16. He caught 20 passes for 387 yards and six touchdowns and ran 19 times for 142 yards and a touchdown last year.
GREG GAINES, DT, Washington: 6-1, 312, 5.16, 31.0, 30. Inside run-stuffer who was named best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 the last two years. He had 149 career tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks.
RANDY RAMSEY, Edge, Arkansas: 6-3, 238, 4.78, 30, 24. Played defensive end in college but projects as an edge rusher in the pros. Last year, he played in 10 games and finished with 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks.
JESSE ANIEBONAM, DE, Maryland: 6-3 ½, 258, 4.66, 32 ½, 21. Aniebonam led the Terappins with 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks last year, adding 46 tackles. Where he’ll play is a big question mark because he lacks size to play in a three-point stance.
TRYSTEN HILL, DT, Central Florida: 6-2 ¾, 305, 5.04, 35, 28. Part of the impressive defensive line class, he can get off the ball and has lots of potential. But he only started one game last year and reports say he clashed with the coaching staff.
SEAN BUNTING, CB, Central Michigan: 6-0, 195, 4.42, 41 ½, 14. An impressive playmaker who was first-team All-MAC and totaled 37 tackles, including three for loss, along with five passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick.
KA’DAR HOLLMAN, CB Toledo: 5-11 ¾, 196, 4.39, 38 ½, 18. He was a three-year starter who produced 112 tackles, 27 pass breakups and two interceptions for the Rockets. Had a tremendous pro day and clubs will be eyeing him for special teams.
JOHN LOVETT, FB/QB, Princeton: 6-2, 234, 4.65, 32, DNP. He’s an all-purpose player who would fit the mold of a Julian Edelman. He completed 66.1% of his passes for 1,833 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran 141 times for 894 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
JOHN WIRTEL, LS, Kansas: 6-3, 243, 5.22, 26, 19. Like Hunter Bradley, the Packers’ long-snapper pick last year, he suffered two torn ACLs at Kansas. Made it back for his senior year and has a chance to hook on with a team because of his accurate snaps.