With the NFL offseason all but started for 28 NFL teams, it’s time we turn our focus towards those who may end up wearing the Green and Gold this upcoming season. This year’s East-West Shrine Game, pretty widely regarded as the second-highest regarded collegiate all-star game, has a much more talented roster than it featured a year ago.
Here are some of the players who will be worth keeping an eye on:
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State - 6010 220 10” hands - While Barrett lacks some of the polish you’d prefer from a quarterback, he gives you a lot to like. He’s a well-built kid who has shown the ability to take punishment as a runner. He holds almost every quarterback record in Ohio State history, and is simply a winner. He may never be anything more than a clipboard holder in the NFL, but he’s what the Packers look for. They worked out Blake Sims in 2015, Barrett is better than Sims was.
Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa - 6015 210 - Fountain is a Madison native and an alum of Memorial HS before heading to UNI. He’s an impressive athlete, and can really fly. He’s already impressed in practice, and could be a riser in the later rounds that ends up sticking on a team. His ability after the catch makes him intriguing, and he has above average body control to help out less than ideal throws.
Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State - 6026 217 - Matthew Thomas is a former 5* recruit in the same HS class as Laremy Tunsil, Derrick Henry, Alex Collins and Vernon Hargreaves III, but injuries and suspensions in college have given that road to stardom a detour. Thomas is an enigma athletically and could be a valuable player for the Packers in the Joe Thomas LB type role, as well as his versatility to go from a Will Linebacker in a 4-3 and play the same spot in a 3-4, which under Mike Pettine is a premium skill.
Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech - 6014 195 - Facyson burst onto the scene as a freshman in Blacksburg, however his prowess for intercepting the ball hasn’t been displayed as much since then. Facyson is an athletic kid who is long and will have NFL scouts drooling over him. Green Bay, in all actuality, needs help on all levels of the defense, so look for Facyson to be a target of the Packers, who are still building the cornerback room.
Kentavious Street, DL, North Carolina State - 6022 285 - Street was overshadowed by his superstar teammate Bradley Chubb. Street, who was listed in Bruce Feldman’s Freak List at the beginning of the season, is a plus athlete for a man his size and, again, has the versatility to play both end and tackle in an even front and an end spot in an odd front. He’s a disruptive player who could slip to the mid rounds, and be a nice value.
Bonus player to watch: Chad Thomas, EDGE, Miami - 6051 275
Jordan Thomas, WR/TE, Mississippi State - 6051 269 - Now I understand you’ll see the weight and wonder how he’s listed as a wide receiver. But Thomas is an extremely nimble man for being his size. He was used primarily as a receiver at Mississippi State, but will need to adapt to blocking, which he’s already had addressed, in order to move to tight end full time. He could be a jumbo slot receiver in Green Bay.
Devante Boyd, WR, UNLV - 6010 178 - Boyd is possibly the best route runner in St. Petersburg. Boyd has been a star in a less than stellar UNLV offense over the past couple seasons, and he was thought to be a candidate to leave school early a year ago. Boyd will be a Day 3 wide receiver, but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make a team.
Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, OLB, Arkansas State - 6013 245 - Rolland-Jones had 13 sacks this season for the Red Wolves. He was a hand in the ground defensive end, but will likely have to transition to an off-ball linebacker in the NFL. The Packers need versatility and pass rushing help in the front seven, so Rolland-Jones fits the bill.
Leon Jacobs, OLB, Wisconsin - 6012 245 - Jacobs, as Badger fans know, has had an interesting career. After being recruited as a running back by Penn State, he played outside linebacker for Wisconsin, only to be moved inside, then to fullback, then back to inside linebacker, and finally resting back at outside linebacker for his senior season, where he played well. He’s an athletic freak who should test well, and you’re going to get tired of me saying this, but his scheme versatility will appeal to the Packers, who nabbed Vince Biegel out of Wisconsin last year.
Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin - 5105 200 - Jamerson is another former Badger who dealt with multiple position switches. After playing receiver as a true freshman, he played cornerback for two years before switching to free safety for his senior season. His ability to play multiple positions in the secondary will be attractive to NFL teams, but his most valuable skill may be as a special teams gunner, where he could have a 10 year career as a gunner, similar to Matthew Slater of the Patriots or the Cardinals’ Justin Bethel.