Gerald Hodges tries out for the Rockettes. - Justin K. Aller
Keep an eye on a few of these players in this Saturday's Shrine Game, as they could potentially be on Ted Thompson's radar for the 2013 Draft.
As Kevin noted this week, Ted Thompson is already hard at work scouting the draft-eligible players coming out of college football. Many of this week's potential draftees will be participating in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida, and there are several intriguing prospects in this year's game. There aren't a whole lot of upper-tier prospects, as the Senior Bowl is a more high-profile game, but let's take a look at a few players anyway.
G Sam Brenner, Utah, West team
Brenner is a two-year starter, and was a second-team All-Pac-12 player this season. He's ranked fairly highly among guard prospects, and has good size and athleticism.
C Ryan Turnley, Pittsburgh, West team
Turnley also started two straight seasons, and was a second-team honoree in his conference. You'll notice a trend coming up here, as I'm sure the Packers will scout lower-round centers in case they don't (or can't) pursue a higher-rated prospect like Barrett Jones of Alabama or Travis Frederick of Wisconsin. Turnley is very big for a center at 6'5", 320, and projects as a bit of a mauler.
C/G T.J. Johnson, South Carolina, East team
Johnson was named second-team All-SEC this year, behind Jones. Johnson is projected as a late-round pick, but he's seen by many as a smart player with good technique but without the strength or physical attributes to back it up.
C/G Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State, East team
A first-team All-Big Ten player, Stankiewitch was also a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is given out to the top college Center. At 6'2", 300, he needs to rely on technique more than strength against bigger defensive tackles, but could grade out in the lower rounds of the draft.
LB Gerald Hodges, Penn State, East team
Hodges was another All-Big Ten honoree and a finalist at his positional award, the Bednarik. He has been impressing in practices so far this week. With his size (6'1", 238) he's probably best suited inside in a 3-4 defense.
OLB Nathan Williams, Ohio State, West team
Williams was a 5th-year senior in 2012, who got a medical redshirt in 2011. He played defensive end at Ohio State, but his skill set and size could fit well as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, as he is about 6'3" and 250 pounds. He'll probably still be viewed as an injury risk and will likely be available on the third day of the draft, but he's a high-motor, high-character player who could be valuable in an OLB rotation opposite Clay Matthews. In a way, he's a poor man's John Simon, who was Williams' teammate at Ohio State and will be playing in the Senior Bowl.
DL William Campbell, Michigan, West team
Campbell was unimpressive in college until his senior year, when he was an All-Big Ten honorable mention playing defensive tackle. It would be tempting to think of him as an end in the Packers' 3-4 (6'5", 310) but because of limited athleticism he may be better suited putting on some weight and staying inside at tackle. Campbell is probably a late-round pick as well.
DE/OLB Devin Taylor, South Carolina, East team
Taylor spent the season opposite Jadeveon Clowney, and was fairly effective. His best season actually came as a sophomore in 2010, when he was a first-team All-SEC honoree. He's a unique package at 6'7" and 267 pounds, and I could see him bulking up to play end in the 3-4.
QB(?) Collin Klein, Kansas State, West team
Klein doesn't look like he translates well to playing quarterback in the NFL, as he is more in the Tim Tebow mold, and we all know how that's turning out. It's possible that he could have a role as a tight end or H-back, but it remains to be seen whether he'll run any plays out of those positions this week. I certainly wouldn't advocate drafting him on the first two days, but if he shows some athletic ability he might be worth a look in the 6th or 7th round as a prospect with room to develop.
Obviously, there are many more players in the game, so check out the full rosters here. The game will be televised on NFL Network this Saturday at 3 PM Central Time.