Pro Day Tour: Hunt Headlines Huge Day

Hunt (Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports)

Towering and athletic Margus Hunt of SMU, a strong possibility to be the Packers' top pick, worked out at outside linebacker on Wednesday. Plus, there were several stars on display at LSU, South Carolina and Connecticut.

Wednesday was the biggest day of the pro day season, with main events at USC (see separate story), LSU, SMU, South Carolina and Connecticut. The Green Bay Packers had scouts at all of them, as you'd expect.

SMU

Margus Hunt is a strong possibility to be the Packers' first-round pick. The 6-foot-8 defensive end tipped the scales at 282 pounds, up 5 pounds from the Combine, where he blew away scouts with a 4.60 in the 40, 38 reps on the bench and a 34.5-inch vertical.

We told Hunt's story after he had a formal interview with the Packers at the Combine. A native of Estonia, Hunt has played football for only four years. He had eight sacks as a senior and a stunning 17 career blocked kicks.

On Wednesday, he did only position drills, including outside linebacker drills led by Jets coach Rex Ryan. That's not to say Hunt will play linebacker, but his athleticism and footwork would make him an attractive chess piece in a zone-blitzing scheme like the one run by Green Bay's Dom Capers.

Zach Line is the No. 1-ranked fullback in Packer Report's upcoming draft magazine. Line (6-1, 230) rushed for 4,185 yards and 47 touchdowns in four seasons. He ran as fast as 4.62 with the win at his back.

LSU

Barkevious Mingo headlined a class that might have 11 or 12 players selected. Mingo is considered a top-15 or top-20 pick and arguably the top 3-4 outside linebacker prospect in the draft.

Kevin Minter is in the mix with Manti Te'o and Alec Ogletree for the best 3-4 inside linebacker. An All-American and finalist for the Butkus Award, Minter had 130 tackles, including 15 for losses, plus was all-SEC in academics. With A.J. Hawk's revamped contract, Minter might be out of the equation at No. 26 or a trade-back into the second. He improved his 40 time from 4.81 to 4.67 and his vertical from 33 to 34.5 inches.

"I feel like I did real good today," Minter told reporters, including Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com. "I might have turned some heads in the drills and the 40. I feel I didn't do nearly as well as I should at the Combine. I had a bad start. I felt I had something to prove. I knew I was faster than that and I needed y'all to know that."

Eric Reid (6-1, 213) is the best safety in the draft purely from a physical standpoint. The consensus All-American picked off two passes in each of his three seasons. He's a big hitter but an inconsistent tackler. He ran in 4.50, an improvement over his 4.53 from the Combine, and stuck with his 40.5-inch vertical from the Combine. He'll probably go in the second round.

Another outside linebacker prospect, Sam Montgomery (6-3, 257), failed to improve on his 40 time, with a 4.81 at the Combine and a 4.83 on Wednesday. He tallied 17 sacks and 26.5 tackles for losses over the past two seasons. He also should go in Round 2.

Corner Tyrann Mathieu had an impressive day but he's almost certainly not on the Packers' board because of his height (5-foot-9) and off-the-field baggage.

Another corner, Tharold Simon (6-2, 202), ran in 4.39, a big improvement over his 4.51 from the Combine. Scouts question why he came out after starting just one season. He did pick off four passes in 2012 but he's expected to go in Day 3. During position drills, he took a faceplant while trying to track down a deep pass.

Center P.J. Lonergan (6-4, 302), a three-year starter who didn't earn any all-SEC recognition as a senior, ran in 5.01 with 27 reps on the bench.

Running backs Michael Ford (5-10, 210) and Spencer Ware (5-10, 228) were early entrants and have the big-body stature the Packers prefer. Ford ran a 4.44 with an explosive 39.5-inch vertical.

South Carolina

Incredibly, running back Marcus Lattimore went through drills just five months after tearing three ligaments in his right knee.

Devonte Holloman (6-1, 243) is an under-the-radar possibility as an inside linebacker in the third or fourth round. He ran 4.76 at the Combine and 4.79 on Wednesday. A former five-star recruit as a safety, Holloman picked off seven passes in his career.

D.J. Swearinger (5-11, 208) is a hard-hitting safety with enough coverage ability to figure as the dime defensive back, as well. He intercepted two passes and forced two fumbles as a senior. He ran 4.67 at the Combine and 4.63 on Wednesday, and also figures in the third- to fourth-round range.

Without Tom Crabtree and with Andrew Quarless having missed the season with a knee injury, the Packers could be in the market for a blocking tight end. Justice Cunningham ran in 4.81 (into a stiff breeze) and showed some explosion with a 35.5-inch vertical. A physical blocker, Cunningham caught 23 passes for 324 yards as a senior, practically matching his first three seasons of 27 receptions for 257 yards.

Byron Jerideau (6-1, 334) could merit a look at nose tackle. Jerideau, who started all 13 games as a senior with 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for losses, put up 37 reps on the bench and ran a respectable 5.12.

Connecticut

The Huskies might have four players taken in the first three rounds with linebackers Sio Moore and Trevardo Williams and cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

Moore (6-1, 245) could be a second-round target at inside linebacker. He had a monster Scouting Combine with a 4.65 in the 40, 38-inch vertical and 29 reps on the bench. Moore had eight sacks, 15 tackles for losses and 11 pass breakups in 2012 and three interceptions in 2011.

Williams (6-1, 241) was even better at the Combine with a 4.57, 38-inch vertical and 30 reps. A defensive end at UConn, he figures to be an outside linebacker in the NFL — though one scout liked him on the inside in a 3-4. He is the school's career leader with 30.5 sacks and 40.5 tackles for losses. He was OK in position drills as he was slowed by a litany of nagging injuries.

Gratz (5-11, 201) is the underrated prospect in the eyes of most media analysts. One NFL position coach called Gratz his favorite corner in the draft. Gratz intercepted eight passes during his career and is smart and physical. One scout likened him to Casey Hayward, with his ability to play corner, nickel and even safety. He stuck with his 4.47 and 38-inch vertical from the Combine.

Wreh-Wilson missed most of 2011 with a knee injury and bounced back to be named the team's defensive MVP. He had one interception to give him eight for his career. He had a 4.53 and 36-inch vertical at the Combine. He was the only one of the "Big Four" to run the 40, and he ran a blazing 4.36, according to a source.


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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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