The Green Bay Packers' draft needs are well-documented at this point. At the inside linebacker position, the team has already cut one player, Brad Jones, loose after moving outside linebacker Clay Matthews inside and replacing A.J. Hawk. At defensive tackle and cornerback, the team faces the prospect of losing multiple key players to free agency when that process begins in two weeks.
As such, those three positions appear to be the most critical to evaluate for the Packers and their fans as we go through the draft preparation process. Now that the Scouting Combine is in the rear-view mirror, let's take a look at one or two players from each position who saw their draft stock increase or decrease as a result of their performances and interviews in Indianapolis.
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Kendricks was engaging and intelligent in his media interview, and he ran a good 4.61-second 40-yard dash. He also showed explosiveness with a solid 38" vertical jump and 10'5" broad jump. Though he was already widely-thought of as a first-round pick, his performance confirmed his athleticism and coverage ability, and that could cause him to go off the board in the teens instead of the twenties or thirties.
Ben Heeney, Kansas
Expect to see more talk of Heeney as a possible day-two pick, as he impressed in all his drills. His 4.59 40 was the fourth-fastest of any linebacker, and he crushed the agility drills with a 6.68-second cone drill (second-best at his position) and the top linebacker times in both shuttle drills - 4.00 seconds in the short shuttle and 11.06 in the long. For further comparison, his cone and short shuttle were Jeff Janis-like times (6.64, 3.98). Heeney probably is still a day-two pick at best, but there is a lot of short-area quickness in his skill set.
Paul Dawson, TCU
Come on, you knew this would be the first name up here. It's not just his 4.93 forty or his 28" vertical, it was his attitude in his media interview which had many media members buzzing about a lack of enthusiasm or sufficient explanation for his issues at TCU. However, at this point his stock should be at an all-time low; as teams and draftniks continue to watch his tape, they'll keep seeing the player who was getting buzz in the back end of the first round and will bring him back up gradually.
Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga
Who? Yes, we're going down the board with this one. Lott ran under 5 seconds in the 40 (4.99 to be exact) at 6'4" and 314 pounds. He also had some of the best cone and shuttle times of any linemen who project to tackle - in fact, his times were more consistent with players 50 pounds lighter than him.
Joey Mbu, Houston
Despite being one of the more engaging interviews at the combine, Mbu really seemed to struggle when he took the field. He timed at 5.54 seconds in the 40, only recorded a vertical of 22.5" (a full four inches shorter than the next-lowest defensive lineman), and was among the slowest performers in the cone and short shuttle drills.
Byron Jones, Connecticut
This one is obvious. Jones practically jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium, posting a 44.5" vertical. But it was his broad jump that blew everyone away - he broke the previous record of 11'7" by a full eight inches, jumping 12'3". In fact, the world record in the broad jump was set at 12'2" in Norway back in 1968. That's right, Byron Jones just did a longer standing broad jump than any other human has ever performed.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State
4.35 speed - that's what Waynes has to go along with his six-foot frame. He was already in the running to be the first corner taken in the draft (and to go ahead of his high school teammate Melvin Gordon), but that time probably locked up both of those factors for him. As much as we at APC love Waynes as a prospect, the odds that he falls to the 30th pick are now virtually zero.
Doran Grant, Ohio State
Ohio State's senior captain talked on Saturday about his speed, and he backed it up on Monday, running a 4.44. He also impressed in the weight room, benching 225 pounds 21 times. The trouble for Grant (at least in terms of Green Bay's interest in him) is that he's just 5' 10-1/4", a bit shorter than the corners that the Packers traditionally are interested in.
Anthony Jefferson, UCLA
Jefferson is here due to his timed drills. He was below average for his position in the agility drills, but put up the only 40 time above 4.70 among all cornerbacks, timing in at 4.72. Granted, he wasn't expected to be picked until day three, but he might find himself looking for an undrafted free agent contract at this point.
Kevin White, TCU
We'll admit that we're grasping at straws here, but if you're going to make it as a corner in the NFL at 5'9", you'll likely need to make up for the lack of height with some serious speed. Look at TCU corner Jason Verrett a year ago - he's 5'9", but ran a 4.38 forty and had a 39" vertical. White came in at 4.63 with a vertical of 35.5", suggesting that his other skills will not necessarily be able to fully compensate for his shorter stature. However, White is another player with very good tape, like his teammate Dawson, and should climb back up boards a bit as the film gets another look.