The Green Bay Packers don’t often draft off-ball linebackers. The team never selected an inside linebacker earlier than round four with Ted Thompson in the general manager role, and with the development of Blake Martinez and a promising hybrid player in Josh Jones on the roster, it’s tough to imagine them picking one on day one or two this year unless the value is particularly impressive.
Martinez and Jake Ryan were fourth-round picks in back-to-back years, Ryan in 2015 and Martinez in 2016. This year, the Packers may have a target in mind if they choose to draft a player at that position early on day three once again.
According to Ian Rapoport, the team hosted Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks on an official visit this Tuesday. Burks played his final two years for the Commodores at linebacker after playing safety for his first two seasons. He recorded three interceptions as a sophomore playing in the secondary, but posted two picks, 4.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss in his two years as a linebacker.
As one might expect from a converted safety, Burks is a bit on the lighter side, but he is an excellent athlete. Measuring in at 6-foot-3 3/8 tall and 233 pounds at the 2018 NFL Combine, Burks ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.59 seconds and had excellent agility numbers with a 6.82-second time in the 3-cone drill and a time of 4.15 seconds in the short shuttle run. He also excelled in explosiveness drills, with a 39.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot-11 broad jump, giving him one of the best all-around Combine performances of any off-ball linebacker.
The Packers appear to like quicker linebackers, as both Martinez and Ryan ran the shuttle in 4.20 seconds and had cone times of 7.11 seconds or less. Furthermore, Burks appears to fit the trend of lighter, more athletic linebackers who can cover well and play on all three downs.