By P.J. Root
Special to Lombardiave.com
We know how Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson understands value and looks in every college crack and crevice for the unheralded players – these are not the guys walking the New York pavement draped in sparkling jewelry and the newest threads.
But they are in the dance.
In the Green Bay Packers’ case, the deeper rounds of the draft pose the greatest challenge for uncovering talent. Considering the transition and attrition that comes with age and injury, Ted Thompson desperately needs to reinvigorate the stunted offensive line and hampered strong safety position to compete in 2013.
With the departure of retired center Jeff Saturday, and injury woes of tackle Derek Sherrod, the Packers urgently require upkeep. Ranked twentieth in rushing in 2012, the ground game has suffered, leaving quarterback Aaron Rodgers solely responsible for offensive production.
As for the last line of defense, Thompson has made it clear that he would rather cut the cord earlier than later with the hybrid playmaker Charles Woodson. Atari Bigby, Charlie Peprah, and Matt Giordano each had cups of coffee at the position since 2007 and produced either short spans of production, or in Giordano’s case, a great view of the back of an Arizona Cardinal’s jersey …
Here are two of those under-appreciated prospects looking for their chance to fill these urgent needs …
• Malcolm Bronson, Safety, McNeese State
At 5-11 and 187 pounds, Bronson exhibits the sledge-hammer strength needed to strike fear into opposing receivers with 15 reps of 225 pounds at his pro day. Along with 10 interceptions in his college career, Bronson has a nose for the ball and would be a welcome successor to the role vacated by Nick Collins.
Bronson’s physicality is on full display against MTSU last year. With the ever-expanding rule book concerning contact, Bronson’s ability to form tackle is a relief to a unit looking to go back to the basics.
However, questions surrounding his knee after missing his senior season linger. Due to a knee injury sustained against Weber State, Bronson’s health has soured suitors’ interest. An FCS All-American, Bronson’s potential is intriguing, but can he last an entire season? If his playmaking ability is any indication, the juice could be worth the squeeze.
Columbus, Ohio, native Mark Jackson, is a perfect prototype lineman at 6-foot-6 and a whopping 325 pounds. A two-time All-WVIAC first-team selection, and starting since his sophomore year, Jackson helped produce 71 scores and more than 8,000 yards for Glenville State during his collegiate campaign.
Tape from 2010 shows the infinite promise through Jackson’s pure power and fierce devotion to finishing blocks. The Glenville product would be a welcome addition to a struggling run game, and help elevate Packers HB DuJuan Harris to the next level.
The enormous knock on Jackson was his molasses 40-time (5.65) and poor fundamentals, leaving him lost in the mix of other lineman in the draft. With coaching and patience, Jackson could be carved into a stable anchor, but time is not a luxury at the next level.
Jackson and Bronson are not the only products that await a deep draft class, but for teams like the Packers, going beneath the topsoil of talent is not just for the momentary benefit, but the benefit of the future.