Improving the inside linebacker position has been the refrain over the past several months from many of those following the Green Bay Packers. With A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones gone (after unfortunately not contributing much in 2014), the need is logical.
However, in recent days multiple Packers beat writers have penned articles downplaying the urgency of the inside linebacker spot and campaigning for the Packers to focus on the secondary. According to most draft analysts, the cornerback position has remained a steady need throughout the process, even more so than inside linebacker. Mel Kiper continues to insist on mocking LSU's Jalen Collins to the Packers at 30, and SB Nation's Dan Kadar has gone back and forth between Collins and Byron Jones from UConn.
However, one name has gradually crept into the mix for the Packers at pick number 30: Eric Rowe.
Like Jones, who seems to have set a world record in the broad jump in Indianapolis, Rowe's impressive Scouting Combine performance appears to have driven many draft analysts back to his 2014 tape. That tape is impressive, and as such he has been building more and more momentum as a possible late-first round pick over the last few weeks.
On April 6th, Tony Pauline wrote that the Packers and Eagles were teams showing keen interests in Rowe, and that the feeling was growing that he would end up being a top-40 pick. Pauline further emphasized the Packers' interest in the defensive back on Tuesday. While discussing Packers executive Alonzo Highsmith's support of linebacker Denzel Perryman (from Miami, Highsmith's alma mater), Pauline addressed the positional issue and mentioned one name in particular:
The belief is Green Bay still values a cornerback with that first pick and I hear Eric Rowe continues to be in the mix.
We at Acme Packing Company made it no secret last month that we think Rowe would be an ideal corner for the Packers as a second-day draft pick. His size (6' 3/4", 204 pounds) and speed (4.45-second 40) make him an ideal physical specimen for a boundary corner. Furthermore, if upside is a factor, he has only played the position for a year, meaning he would likely improve greatly under the tutelage of cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt. Rowe is also free of any off-the-field concerns such as those surrounding Marcus Peters (formerly of the Washington Huskies), another player who might be available at #30 overall along with Jones and Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest.
Whether the Packers would prefer Rowe over Jones, another converted safety, or the other corners is of course unknown. However, Rowe seems to have all of the qualities that the Packers look for, both on and off the field. He has excellent size as well as excellent straight-line speed, and at Utah he played a great deal in press-man coverages like those that the Packers employ.
With all that in mind, we would not be shocked if Rowe is the choice once the Packers are on the clock at #30.