The Green Bay Packers personnel department is officially in scouting mode for the NFL Draft. If you had any question about that, just know that on Monday, GM Ted Thompson was spotted at the site of the East-West Shrine Game practice an hour before it began.
Let's face it: Ted is a machine.
But who is he looking at this week? We ran through the Shrine Game rosters to take a look at a handful of names who might be of interest to Thompson, as well as to give you an idea of some of the names to watch throughout the draft season.
Although the Shrine Game generally lags behind next week's Senior Bowl in terms of star power, there are still a lot of really good pro prospects in this game, often from lower divisions of college football. Some of the more intriguing names on this year's rosters are a group of FCS pass-rushers who had huge success at that level.
In addition, Wisconsin Badgers fans may be interested to tune in, as four former Badgers are in St. Petersburg for the game, which kicks off at 4:00 PM Eastern on Saturday, January 23rd.
Perhaps the biggest name in this group is former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds (5'11", 205), who racked up 88 rushing touchdowns in the Midshipmen's triple-option offense. Illinois' Josh Ferguson (5'10", 198) could make an intriguing middle- or late-round addition as a receiving back. Devon Johnson (6'1", 244) from Marshall is an imposing figure who had a huge junior year but missed half of this season due to a back injury.
Fullback Derek Watt from Wisconsin (6'1", 236) is one of this class's top players at his position, while California's Daniel Lasco (6'1", 205) is the top-rated running back.
The East group is a bunch of likely late-round picks or UDFAs who had only moderate success receiving in their careers. Penn State's Kyle Carter (6'3", 252), Vanderbilt's Steven Scheu (6'5", 245), and Arkansas State's Darion Griswold (6'5", 255) make up that group.
For the West, David Morgan (6'4", 260) from Texas-San Antonio is the name to watch. He is balanced as both a receiver and a blocker, and should be a day-three pick.
Brandon Shell (6'6', 328) from South Carolina is one left tackle to watch, as is Memphis' Taylor Fallin (6'6", 330), who protected top QB prospect Paxton Lynch's blind side.
Badgers fans will know the name Tyler Marz, (6'7", 325), but he has reportedly been struggling so far in practice. Nebraska's Alex Lewis (6'6", 290) was the left tackle on an excellent line for the Cornhuskers this year and could be a mid-round pick as well. Former Colorado tackle Stephane Nembot (6'7", 320) is a native of Cameroon and moved to the offensive line from the defensive side in 2012 in the middle of a game.
One of the higher-rated prospects in the game is Florida State's Nile Lawrence-Stample (6'1", 302), who has a Mike Daniels-like frame and could help Christian Ringo back up the 3-technique spot. Anthony Zettel from Penn State (6'4", 284) might be a better fit in a 4-3, but is a solid prospect as well who racked up 8 sacks and three interceptions(!) as a junior.
Notre Dame's Romeo Okwara (6'4", 270) picked up nine sacks for the Irish this season, but the real pass-rushing stars of this game come from the FCS. For the East, it's Stony Brook's Victor Ochi (6'2", 255) who leads the way, as he picked up 13 sacks in 2015.
A pair of Big Sky players lead the way here. Watch for Montana's Tyrone Holmes (6'4", 250), who racked up a whopping 18 sacks this season and earned FCS Defensive Player of the Year honors. James Cowser (6'4", 258) from Southern Utah, who is the man pictured at the top of this article, beat out Holmes for the Big Sky Conference's DPOY award, and holds the FCS career record for most sacks.
D.J. White (5'11", 190) from Georgia Tech could be a fit, but keep an eye on his height, though, as Ted Thompson has not drafted a corner who measured 5'10" or less.
At safety, the big names are Miami's Deon Bush (6'1", 205), more of a free safety, and Notre Dame's Elijah Shumate (6', 224), who has the size to be an in-the-box safety. Each player picked up 50 or more total tackles in each of the past two seasons.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun (5'11", 190) represents Minnesota after picking off nine passes over his last two seasons. Fitting the ideal size better would be Arizona State's Lloyd Carrington (6', 195), a teammate of last year's first-round pick Damarious Randall.
Some safeties to watch include Tevin Carter (6'1", 215) from Utah and Wisconsin's Michael Caputo (6'1", 206).
Just for Funsies
Here are a few names worth mentioning, even though the Packers are likely not in the market for their services.
Embattled Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave will be playing for the East team, along with Michigan QB (and Iowa transfer) Jake Rudock. Tall wide receivers are the name of this game as well, as only one player at the position on either team is listed at less than 6'1", and seven of the twelve in attendance are 6'3" or taller.
Finally, for those hoping for a new punter, Drew Kaser from Texas A&M averaged a whopping 46.3 gross yards per kick in his career, and had 24 of his 53 kicks go for 50+ in 2015.