The Packers closed out the sixth round of the draft on Saturday with a couple of linebacker prospects for Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense.
D.J. Smith, an undersized prospect out of Appalachian State, draws comparisons to another undersized App State product, Dexter Coakley, who starred for the Dallas Cowboys at linebacker in the 1990s. Arizona’s Ricky Elmore, 6-4, 256, is a tweener defensive end who’ll be making the move to outside linebacker with the Packers.
“I’m ecstatic that Green Bay saw my talent and decided to pick me up,” said Smith who, when asked how tall he is, joked: “On a good day I’m 5-11,” and then broke into a deep laugh. The Packers officially list Smith as being 5-11, 239.
He’s a likely candidate to play the weak side inside linebacker position, whereas Elmore will be given a chance to develop into the outside rush-backer role Capers’ scheme features.
Elmore played with Brooks Reed at Arizona. Reed was drafted in the second round by Houston but he had been linked to the Packers in mock drafts.
“They wanted to see if we could rush standing up,” Elmore said of a workout the Packers conducted jointly for Reed and Elmore. “Obviously, they liked what they saw.
“Brooks is a great athlete. It was always a friendly rivalry. We pushed each other in practice and in games. It’s what helps you get to the next level,” Elmore said.
Packers Outside Linebackers Coach Kevin Greene said he sees in Elmore “motor, effort, heart, passion, desire. He has a big heart and you really can accomplish a lot when you have a player with a big heart.
“If a guy is dripping with athletic talent but he has an empty hole where his heart should be, he’s not going to have passion to make the plays. I look at his physicality, his ability to move and run and hunt. Is he playing hard at the point of attack or is he giving ground? I think if he listens to me he’ll be absolutely fine,” Greene said.
Elmore runs in the 4.8-4.9 range, whereas Smith was timed at the combine at 4.75. “On a good day, I’m running 4.65,” Smith said.
“With my range and my ability, I feel I can be all over the field,” said Smith, who listed his strengths as “my ability to run all over the field, my hustle and my attitude toward the game.”