Thirteen players ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds or faster at the 2018 NFL Combine. The Green Bay Packers now have four of them on their roster, as astute Twitter user @buzzboy3 noted on Thursday.
Green Bay drafted cornerback Jaire Alexander and his 4.38 speed with their first selection in the draft last April, then picked up wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4.37) in round five. Following final cuts, general manager Brian Gutekunst also signed cornerback Tony Brown, he of the 4.35-second time, to the practice squad. Brown has since been promoted to the active roster to bolster an oft-injured cornerback unit.
Then on Wednesday, the Packers made a handful of roster transactions, one of which was claiming defensive back Natrell Jamerson on waivers. The former Wisconsin Badgers DB is the fourth player to hit that time cutoff in the 40, running in 4.40 flat at the Combine. Originally a fifth-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints, Jamerson failed to make it through final cuts, but was immediately scooped up by the Houston Texans. After suiting up for the team’s first ten games, Jamerson then sat out the past two weeks before his release on Tuesday.
Jamerson joins Alexander, second-round pick Josh Jackson, and Brown as DBs who we listed on the Packers’ potential draft boards prior to April’s selection meeting. Interestingly, although Jamerson was listed as a safety at the Combine and on the Texans’ roster, the Packers have him as a cornerback on theirs.
Jamerson’s size (5-foot-11, 201 pounds) and speed do make him a candidate to play corner as well as safety, and his lateral quickness helps as well. Although NFL Draft Scout published his 3-cone time as 7.07 seconds, Wisconsin’s officially-reported time was 6.87, right at the ideal cutoff time that we assumed this spring. His workouts earned him a value of 8.21 out of 10 on the RAS scale, putting him in the upper fifth of safeties in terms of overall athletic ability.
He also has a knack for big plays with the football; he scored a touchdown in the East-West Shrine Game in January on a fumble return. Jamerson then appeared to score a fumble return touchdown in week eight against the Miami Dolphins, but a replay review showed that quarterback Brock Osweiler’s arm was going forward and the play was ruled an incomplete pass. That comes in addition to a pair of touchdowns in college, one on a kickoff return as a sophomore and one on a pick-six as a senior.
As a cornerback, Jamerson appears well-suited to play a slot corner role for the Packers, having lined up there often in Madison during his three years as a defensive back. He also has the aforementioned kick-return ability, which could come in handy for a Packers squad that saw return specialist Trevor Davis go on injured reserve for the second time this year. Finally, Jamerson is talented on kick and punt coverage as well, serving as a gunner on those teams for years.
Even if Jamerson does not see much playing time on defense in the final four weeks of the season, he should get some run on special teams. He now has a month-long opportunity to show that he deserves to at least stay with the Packers through next year’s training camp.