The 2017 “Underwear Olympics” have officially begun, with workouts scheduled to begin tomorrow. Whether it be from a small-school underdog, a favorite battling back from off the field issues, or even imaginary girlfriends, you can expect the NFL Combine to shake things up and overhype the most under classified of men. Here are a few guys to watch that could be potential candidates to hear their name called in April for the Green Bay Packers: (No imaginary girlfriends included)
Desmond King: Safety – Iowa
Here’s the deal with King. Coming into the 2016 season, I didn’t think there was a better guy out there at the corner/safety position. King had every opportunity to leave for the NFL after his junior year, but decided to stay with his team and earn his degree.
The 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner and unanimous Consensus All-American ranked second in the FBS with eight interceptions. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as well, starting 14 times, making 72 tackles and breaking up 13 passes. King was a first-team All-Big Ten pick again as a senior. He has tremendous football instincts and is the complete iron man. Obsessed with getting the ball; nabbed 14 interceptions in college and 29 in high school. Has ball-tracking, hands and high-point talent of a wide out.
So where’s the conundrum? Guy seems like a sure shot 1st round pick? He does. But there is his ultimate question of size. Listed at 5’10 (most likely generous) he struggles with the bump and run abilities needed in the NFL.
This is one of the players I can see dropping in the Combine due to “physical limitations”. Prime example of letting the numbers speak over the player
Avery Moss: Defensive End – Youngstown St.
And your first off-the-field incident guy shows up! Moss started his collegiate career with Nebraska before being dismissed from campus for “exposing himself to a fellow student”. I cannot comment on the issue because I don’t know any more about it.
On the field, this guy has the materials to be a disruptive force. He was given a chance at Youngstown St. by his former coach at Nebraska, Bo Pelini, and shined in his senior season. In 15 games, he had 59 tackles, 17.5 for loss, 10.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles on his way to first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference accolades.
A long-limbed athlete who has quick movements and explosive hips. Former Basketball player (Ted is salivating) he has the range and motion to get around blockers. Shoulder dip around edge is his go-to move. Burst to the quarterback will catch your eye.
Moss will show in Indianapolis and wow scouts with his athleticism and juice off the edge. Small school player with big time abilities. A 2012 incident will be the only thing weighing this player down. If he would have finished his career at Nebraska we would be discussing him a lot more. Expect to hear his name a lot in the next few weeks.
Cole Hikutini: Tight End – Louisville
Part of the dynamic offense that Louisville had last year with Heisman winning Quarterback Lamar Jackson. At 6-5, 248 pounds, Hikutini (hick-uh-TEE-nee) is a monster target with solid speed and athleticism for his size in addition to solid hands, rarely dropping passes. Able to bend linebackers and safeties out of position with certain routes. Good acceleration out of his turns to separate and present quarterback with easier throws. Can track it and adjust in space. Natural hands pluck it away from his frame. Has speed and athleticism to extend plays after the catch.
A strict pass catching tight end who struggles in run blocking. In today’s league, he is the perfect tight end. The combine will be a great showcase for him to show off his natural abilities and garner some more attention. Let’s be honest, everyone is looking for that next Gronk, Kelce, Olsen. The Pack with Cook and Hikutini would be scary good!
Fabian Moreau: Cornerback – UCLA
Because it wouldn’t be a Ted Thompson draft without grabbing someone from UCLA. If it was to be anyone, I like this kid. Former running back who was sidelined his Junior season after a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. He bounced back in 2016, receiving honorable mention All-Pac-12 notice by leading the Bruins with 10 pass breakups, to go along with two interceptions.
He showed a tremendous ability to jam and reroute receivers at Shrine Game practices. He’s patient from press, and a fluid athlete with good lateral quickness and agility to press and match against plus athletes. Great speed. Great size. Great tackler.
The only real concern is his lack of coverages in that he is limited to mostly cover 3 and press man. Moreau will enter the combine as a 3rd or even 4th round idea in most scouts and leave in the 2nd. Mark it down!
Cooper Kupp: Wide Receiver – Eastern Washington
Every year there’s gotta be one. Kupp is the one. The one who will raise the stakes at the combine. The one you know nothing about today, but surely will. Kupp is the most prolific pass-catcher in Football Championship Subdivision history, setting all-time records in total receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464), and receiving touchdowns (73).
He is the son of a former NFL player (Craig was a fifth-round pick in 1990) and grandson of a New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer (Jake was an offensive lineman in the NFL from 1964-75). He won just about every award he could win in his four years with the Eagles, staring with the Jerry Rice Award as the top FCS freshman when he started all 15 games, making 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Kupp fought through an ankle injury but was still an All-American receiver (104-1,431, six TD), third-team punt returner (10-162, TD), and Academic All-American.
He won all those awards again in 2015, in addition to the Walter Payton Award as the FCS’s best player as he led the nation in all three major categories (114-1,642, 19 TD). Kupp again proved to be the best receiver in the FCS in 2016, leading all with 117 receptions, 1,700 receiving yards, and 17 receiving touchdowns in another consensus All-American season. Do you need more?
He is terrific. He is from a small school and therefore you have never heard of him. It is ok. You will find out quickly about him. The real question is: who will shell out a top pick for a white kid from Eastern Washington? I know someone who would…