The Green Bay Packers have started lining up pre-draft visits with potential late-round picks and undrafted free agents in hopes of cultivating another diamond in the rough.
One prospect that seems to have caught their eye is Texas A&M Commerce receiver Ricky Collins. He's scheduled to meet with the Packers before the NFL draft later this month, according to a league source.
Collins (6-0, 198) dominated at the NCAA Division II level last season, catching 71 passes for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns. A native of Tyler, Texas, Collins has piqued the interest of many NFL teams because he's still a relative unknown.
Collins spent his first two years at Kilgore (Texas) Junior College before transferring to Midwestern State in 2012 where he caught seven passes for 98 yards in five games. He sat out the entire 2013 season after transferring to Texas A&M Commerce, which is also a member of the Lone Star Conference.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported that Collins timed between 4.48 and 4.52 in the 40-yard dash with a 36-inch vertical leap at his Commerce workout last month. He made an explosive tandem last season with fellow receiver Vernon Johnson, who also grabbed NFL scouts' attention after catching 70 passes for 1,350 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
Unlike most NFL teams, the Packers prefer to use their 30 official visits on potential late-round picks and undrafted free agents who didn't attend the NFL combine in February. It doesn't mean they're a sure bet to end up in Green Bay, but it is indicative of the Packers' interest in a particular player.
General manager Ted Thompson has been active in the market for DII receivers in recent years, taking Grand Valley State's Charles Johnson (2013) and Saginaw Valley State's Jeff Janis (2014) in the seventh round.
Last year, the Packers signed two undrafted players, South Carolina State linebacker Joe Thomas and Washington State offensive lineman John Fullington, after bringing them in for visits. In 2013, they drafted Illinois State linebacker Nate Palmer (sixth round), Maryland receiver Kevin Dorsey (seventh) and Johnson after visits in Green Bay.
Last week, the Packers surprised some when they scheduled a visit with Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty (6-3, 230), who is projected as a potential third- or fourth-round draft choice. A year ago, they took a similar pre-draft path with Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage, who was drafted by Houston in the fourth round.
The Packers have been busy setting up reported visits with Illinois tight end Matt LaCosse, Maryland defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, Marshall defensive back Darryl Roberts and Texas Southern cornerback Tray Walker.
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