When scrolling through WalterFootball.com’s list of player visits one thing becomes apparent. The Green Bay Packers have had far less player visits than most other teams. This may come as a concern to many Packer fans as one of Ted Thompson’s chief ways of stocking the team with talent is through the draft. The lack of player visits helps me however, as this column marks the beginning of a new cover32 Packers segment: Green Bay Packer Player Visits Analysis. Each column will look at a specific group of players that have visited the team based on position to determine when they may be drafted and the impact they may have on the team.
Today: Edge Rushers
T.J. Watt (Late 1st Round – Early 2nd Round)
A lot of the conversation around T.J. Watt begins with his brother. Yes his brother is former 11th overall draft pick and three time AP Defensive Player of the Year Award, J.J Watt. T.J. skeptics claim he is only rated so highly because of his relation to his brother. Others clearly think he is worth hype. Even his brother thinks so.
J.J. Watt on T.J. Watt: ‘He’s so similar to me. He’s farther along than me at that time. He’s a really special player.’
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 17, 2017
T.J. Watt was a one year starter at Wisconsin playing Outside Linebacker in the Badger’s 3-4 scheme. Previous to his highly successful junior year where he posted a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to earn First Team All-Big Ten and multiple All-American honors, Watt suffered injuries to both knees that kept him off the field. Watt gave up his senior year to declare for the draft.
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Watt would fill a need as an edge rusher and already has experience in a 3-4 scheme and, might I add, Watt is a home state product. However, if the Packers took him they would likely have to snag him with their first pick. With the Packers picking 29th overall, the selection would take Watt at the highest part of his draft stock. So if the Packers really want T.J. Watt they will likely have to reach for him.
Samson Ebukam (6th Round – 7th Round)
Samson Ebukam was born in Nigeria where he lived until the age of nine. At Eastern Washington, Ebukam earned Second Team Freshman All-American honors as an edge rusher without starting a game in his first year. Ebukam earned post-season honors after being recognized with All-Big Sky accolades each year of his career with the Eagles. As a senior Ebukam finished with career-highs in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, fumble recoveries, and forced fumbles. Ebukam played defensive end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive tackle.
Ebukam’s athleticism will likely get him drafted in the late rounds and earn him a spot on special teams to begin his career. After learning the nuances of the game however expect him to make an impact as an edge rusher.
Jonathan Calvin (7th Round – Undrafted)
Defensive end Jonathan Calvin was not invited to the NFL Draft Combine; however, he was measured at his school, the Mississippi State Bulldog’s Pro Day.
A junior college transfer, Calvin played his first two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. With Mississippi State as a senior, Calvin had a big year, recording 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks plus two forced fumbles, one recovery, and an interception.
At 6’3″ 260lbs, Calvin has decent size for an outside linebacker. If Calvin is drafted, and it is questionable that he will be, he will likely go in the last round of the draft.
Ryan Watson (7th Round – Undrafted)
Another potential sleeper Ryan Watson has also visited the Packers. In his senior year, Watson recorded 8 sacks and 10 tackles for loss in 11 games. Watson was also an All-Mountain West selection.
According to Air Force’s Pro Day, Watson is 6’3″ 249lbs and at that size, Watson projects mainly as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He also posted a 4.48 40 yard dash and did 23 reps of 225lbs at the Pro Day.
Watson will likely be competing with Calvin for last round selections while Ebukam may go around before them.