The Green Bay Packers rarely draft conventional off-ball linebackers. The team has only really drafted two of them in the past four drafts, and they have not drafted any on days one or two of the draft since selecting A.J. Hawk in round one and Abdul Hodge in round three of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Combined with the development of Blake Martinez last season and the availability of Josh Jones to play the other inside linebacker spot, it appears unlikely that the team would invest a pick at the position before day three once again. This is a good thing, because based on the trends that the team has tended to draft for, there appear to be few options that truly fit all of the Packers’ trends prior to round four, but several who look to be good options after that point.
Justis Mosqueda’s look at trends at the linebacker position suggest that the team looks for players with higher-than-average weight — 235 pounds or more — and good lateral agility, with cone times under 7.18 seconds and shuttles under 4.26. However, the team’s use of Jones and Joe Thomas at weak-side linebacker opposite Martinez suggests that they are not opposed to lighter, faster players. As such, we expanded the weight range out to 230 pounds, though we acknowledge that this number still falls above those two players’ listed weights.
As for the agility times, we offered just a bit of flexibility as well, taking the shuttle cutoff up to an even 4.30 and the cone up to 7.20. Combined with the weight adjustment, that added another couple of players in as options for the Packers late on day two, though we suspect that they will still wait to select any linebackers until Saturday if they draft any at all.
What we did find when looking through the NFLDraftScout database are several players projected to go in round six or later who do fit the Packers’ tendencies for linebackers, several of whom were passed over for invites to the 2018 NFL Combine. These names should be worth keeping in mind for late picks or as undrafted free agent targets on Saturday evening.
All told, with other more pressing needs and the team’s tendency not to draft off-ball linebackers early, it would be a big surprise to see the Packers go after a Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith in round one, particularly if it would take a trade up to get them. Instead, the team would seemingly be better off going after a defensive back or edge rusher early and finding an athletic off-ball linebacker late on Saturday.
One final note is that there is an intriguing player projected in round seven who just missed the cutoff but who could be a consideration if the Packers don’t mind going a little lighter: Foyesade Oluokun from Yale. He weighed in at 229 pounds at 6-foot-2, but reportedly ran a 4.48-second 40, a 6.94 3-cone, and a 4.12 short shuttle, while posting a 37” vertical at his Pro Day.
Here’s our board for the linebackers based on the trends described above. As always, remember that bolded players meet the thresholds, italicized players have incomplete testing profiles,
strikethrough means a test fell short of the cutoff, and ALL CAPS indicates a player who had an official meeting with Green Bay. Finally, asterisks indicate that the measurement came from the player’s Pro Day rather than the Scouting Combine.
- TREMAINE EDMUNDS, Virginia Tech; Round 1; 6044, 253; 4.54 40, no 3-cone, no shuttle
- Roquan Smith, Georgia; Round 1; 6007, 236; 4.51, no cone, no shuttle
- Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State; Round 1; 6042, 256; 4.65, 6.88, 4.15
- Malik Jefferson, Texas; Round 2; 6022, 236; 4.52, 7.12*, 4.18*
Fred Warner, BYU; Round 2; 6033, 236; 4.64, 6.90,
Josey Jewell, Iowa; Round 2-3; 6010,
234; 4.82, 6.80, 4.27
- OREN BURKS, Vanderbilt; Round 3-4; 6031,
233; 4.59, 6.82, 4.15
- Micah Kiser, Virginia; Round 4; 6003, 238; 4.66, 7.05, 4.24
- JACK CICHY, Wisconsin; Round 5; 6021, 238; no 40, 6.88*, 4.19*
- Jason Cabinda, Penn State; Round 6; 6010, 239; no 40, 7.00*, 4.22*
- Mike McCray, Michigan; Round 6; 6011, 243; 4.76, 7.05, 4.25
- Matthew Thomas, Florida State; Round 7; 6026, 232; 4.58, 6.85, 4.28
- Azeem Victor, Washington; Round 7-UDFA; 6021, 240; 4.72, 6.94*, 4.27*
- Christian Sam, Arizona State; Round 7-UDFA; 6010, 244; 4.75, 7.03, 4.25
- Quentin Poling, Ohio; Round 7-UDFA; 6003, 235; 4.58*, 6.88*, 4.22*
- Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State; Round 7-UDFA; 6025, 251; 4.86, 7.09, 4.23
- Zaire Franklin, Syracuse; Round 7-UDFA; 6001, 239; 4.62*, 6.97*, 4.22*
- Colton Jumper, Tennessee; Projected UDFA; 6015, 235; 4.64*, 6.89*, 4.21*
- Richard Jarvis, Brown; Projected UDFA; 6016, 239; 4.65*, 6.85*, 4.25*