Ralph Mancini: SS Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee
Previous picks: DT Austin Johnson, ILB Deion Jones, DE Bronson Kaufusi, OT Joe Haeg, ILB Elandon Roberts, OG Connor McGovern
Ted Thompson can use some added depth at the safety position and he fills that need with a small school defensive back whose best trait is his route recognition. Byard can read quarterbacks and make plays on the ball. The fact that the four-year starter put on a solid showing in Senior Bowl practices indicates that the former Blue Raider has the traits to make a smooth transition to the pros.
In terms of his tackling prowess, Byard is very adept at closing in on opponents in the open field and wrapping up, though he isn’t known to be a fierce hitter in the mold of a Troy Polamalu. The fact that this four-time all-conference safety demonstrates a great feel and overall passion for the game of football is an added bonus any team will sign up for especially in this part of the draft.
In a recent interview, Byard stated that he doesn’t strive for mediocrity; he visualizes himself being an All-Pro safety in a few years. That should be music to the ears of any diehard Cheesehead.
Next: Kenn Korb