Pro Day Tour: Third-Down Backs

RB Johnny White (Joe Robbins/Getty)

We continue our daily pursuit of the Packers' scouts with three pro days. The big ones were at North Carolina and Hawaii, with both schools featuring talented receivers and arguably the two best third-down backs in the draft.

In one of the most hotly anticipated days of this year's scouting circuit, the Green Bay Packers dispatched area scout Brian Gutekunst to Chapel Hill for North Carolina's pro day on Thursday, a source told Packer Report.

One of the elite prospects in the draft, defensive lineman Robert Quinn, along with standout defensive lineman Marvin Austin and receiver Greg Little, were suspended for the 2010 season as part of a scandal involving illegal benefits from agents.

Neither of the defensive linemen are in play for the Packers. Quinn is a potential top-10 pick as a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker, and Austin, while a second-round prospect, is more of a 4-3 tackle than a 3-4 end.

Little, on the other hand, was one of the players of interest for the Packers. At a shade less than 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he's got the size that matches the team's draft trend of using early picks on Jordy Nelson and James Jones. According to a source, Little's 40-yard time was 4.50 seconds with a 38-inch vertical, and he flashed great hands during the positional drills.

"I knew it was a defining moment in my life," Little told The Daily Tar Heel when asked about the suspension. "It definitely shaped me and changed my morals and values and really got to soul searching about who I was. I know I'm going to make mistakes, I'm gonna drop balls, I'm gonna do things that aren't right or wrong. And I did some things that were very wrong and very selfish, so to speak. I know I've got to move on from that and show everybody who I really am as a person.

A real wild card for the Packers is running back Johnny White and the future of Brandon Jackson. If Jackson were to sign elsewhere in free agency, they'd be without a third-down back. White could certainly handle that duty. White (5-10, 205) started at running back as a freshman, played cornerback for most of his sophomore season and split time between running back and receiver as a junior. He was back at running back as a senior, rushing for 720 yards and catching 24 passes in eight games before his season ended with a broken collar bone. That he played in a pro-style system, is good in pass protection and is a weapon on special teams (whether it's as a returner or on the coverage units) just add to his appeal. White, a possiblity in the fifth round, according to a source, ran his 40 in about 4.5 seconds.

Hawaii

General manager Ted Thompson and West Coast scout Sam Seale were in Carson, Calif., to see Hawaii's standouts: receiver Greg Salas and running back Alex Green.

For the same reasons as White would be a consideration, so would Green. Green is a big back at 6-foot and 220 pounds, and his straight-ahead style is what the Packers prefer given they play so many late-season games on bad fields. He rushed for 1,199 yards — the first Hawaii player to top 1,000 yards since 1992 — caught 27 passes and also is strong in pass protection. However, Hawaii's run-and-shoot attack looks nothing like an NFL attack, so there'd be more of a learning curve. Like White, Green would be a midround target.

Salas (6-1) posted prodigious numbers, with 119 catches and 1,889 yards as a senior while mostly manning the slot in Hawaii's wide-open attack. Scouts wonder about his ability to adapt to a pro offense and beat press coverage, something he didn't have to do at Hawaii. What they don't question are his hands. They might be the best in this draft. Given Donald Driver's age, Salas, who stuck with his Combine time of 4.57, would be an interesting addition in the third round because of his slot abilities.

Stephen F. Austin

The sole attraction was Jabara Williams, an undersized linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds. With that size and speed (4.58 in the 40), safety might be his ultimate destination. Williams started games at linebacker and running back as a freshman before becoming a two-time All-American at linebacker.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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