UPDATE: The Packers drafted Donnerson with their final selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, the 248th overall pick.
The Green Bay Packers have drafted plenty of front seven players from college football programs outside the power conferences in the past few decades. Think back to players like Nate Palmer from FCS Illinois State, C.J. Wilson from East Carolina, or D.J. Smith of Appalachian State. If you go back even farther, you can find names like Dave Tollefson from Northwest Missouri State, whom Ted Thompson selected in the seventh round of the 2006 draft.
This year, if you look in a different direction in the state where Tollefson played college ball, you just might find another edge rusher who would fit the Packers and who may end up being one of the team’s late-round draft picks in 2018. That player is Kendall Donnerson, who played at Southeast Missouri State.
Donnerson, who is regarded as a fringe draft prospect or a priority free agent, has a visit lined up with the Packers this week, according to Hero Sports. Although the Packers did not attend SEMO’s Pro Day on Monday, Donnerson had worked out previously at Missouri Western’s Pro Day, where he made some serious noise.
In that workout on March 26th, Donnerson reportedly posted some of the most impressive numbers of any edge rusher in this year’s draft class. According to a representative from Ignition, Donnerson’s athletic training group, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound prospect ran his 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and put p a 7.03-second time in the 3-cone drill. He also reportedly recorded a 40-inch vertical and a 10-foot-11 broad jump. All of those numbers save for his cone time would have led the edge rushers at the 2018 NFL Combine, while his 3-cone time is still in the top 25% of players at his position.
In addition to his athletic tools, Donnerson has a solid set of numbers to reference. As a senior in 2017, he recorded six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, adding three forced fumbles and an interception. That earned him a first-team nod on the All-Ohio Valley Conference team and came after a junior season that saw him post another 13 TFLs and four sacks. Furthermore, the Redhawks are one of the rare college football teams that employ a base 3-4 defense, which would likely simplify Donnerson’s learning curve somewhat if he ended up in Green Bay.
For a team like the Packers, who like to take fliers late in the draft on top-level athletes who need refining as football players, Donnerson makes a ton of sense, and the reported visit adds to the connection there. Don’t be surprised if his name pops up next to a Packers logo sometime in the latter stages of April 28th.