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Packers added some Southern flair to the roster in 2017

Green Bay took an unusual dip into the Deep South’s pool of talent this offseason.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Since 2012, Sam Seale has been among the most important members of the Green Bay Packers’ front office.

As the Green Bay Packers’ West Regional Scout for the past 21 years, Seale certainly seems to hold the winning cards on Draft Day. Green Bay has selected a Pac-12 Conference player with its first pick in five of the past six seasons, and chose a player from the Western region of the country with a staggering 18 of 53 picks (33%) during that span. That includes this year’s first pick, cornerback Kevin King from the University of Washington. With the draft-and-develop philosophy Green Bay has adopted toward building its organization under Ted Thompson, the Packers’ roster had suddenly become saturated with players from colleges and universities in five states.

It was stirred up like sweet tea this offseason.

Intentional or not, Green Bay has shied away from drafting prospects from the top programs of the South under Thompson’s leadership. Of those aforementioned 53 selections since 2012, Green Bay has taken a combined nine players from the Southeastern (SEC) and Atlantic Coast Conferences (ACC). This is an incredible statistic when considering these two conferences have accounted for ten of the past eleven college football national champions.

When the Packers chose Auburn’s Montravius Adams and LSU’s Malachi Dupre in April’s draft, it marked the first time Thompson had picked any players from the SEC since Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in 2014. Thompson didn’t stop there, making safety Josh Jones of North Carolina State his first ACC selection since 2013 (Kevin Dorsey).

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but Green Bay also signed two notable free agents from current SEC schools in tight end Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M) and defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois (LSU). Undrafted free agent Johnathan Calvin, who this writer believes will strongly challenge for a spot as an edge rusher, hails from Mississippi State.

From multiple personnel interviews during the draft, it was a priority to get “bigger and faster,” especially on defense. With some of the top training facilities, coaches, and annual recruiting classes in the country, the ACC and SEC are well-documented for their fast, physical styles of play. It doesn’t take many highlight reels to see those traits in Adams and Jones, who display a “mean streak” in shedding blockers and meeting ballcarriers head-on with their impressive size-speed combinations.

Maybe the draft board fell differently this year. Maybe the Southern scouts in the war room were just a tad more persistent. Maybe it’s all just a coincidence.

But maybe, just maybe, Thompson changed his approach to solving Green Bay’s defensive woes by adding a Southern wrinkle this year.