GREEN BAY – When Malachi Dupre was in high school, he used to sit around the family table, visualizing what it would be like to catch passes from the NFL’s truly elite quarterbacks.
Each time Dupre would go through the exercise, the five-star receiving prospect always came back to one particular quarterback: Aaron Rodgers.
That dream is now a reality for the LSU junior receiver, who was the second of the Packers’ two seventh-round picks (No. 247 overall) on the third and final day of the NFL Draft Saturday.
As soon as Dupre saw the 920 area code pop up on his phone, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound receiver got emotional as the moment began to sink in.
“When I got the phone call from Green Bay, immediately my mind shifted to football and who would be my quarterback,” Dupre said. “I promise you that’s a dream come true on its own. He’s a great, great quarterback. I cannot wait to get out there and get to work with and build a relationship with him.”
Dupre actually has played at Lambeau Field before. Last September, he caught three passes for 24 yards when the Tigers opened the season with a non-conference game against Wisconsin.
Leading up to the game, Dupre had a chance to tour the stadium and view the Packers’ four Super Bowl rings and Lombardi trophies.
“That’s always been a dream of mine since I was a young kid,” said Dupre of playing at Lambeau. “When we got to play against Wisconsin, it was a surreal feeling playing out there on the same field as so many guys before me. I remember it being one stadium that I always wanted to play at as a young kid.
“Now that the Packers have selected me to play for them, it’s an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to do a Lambeau Leap one day.”
The New Orleans native arrived on LSU’s campus as a five-star recruit in 2014. At the time, ESPN.com actually rated him as the top receiver prospect in the country.
As a true freshman, Dupre caught 14 passes for 318 yards to earn a spot on the All-SEC freshman team in 2014. He then led the Tigers in receiving during both his sophomore and junior seasons.
Dupre announced his intention to enter the draft after catching 41 passes for 593 yards and three touchdowns as a junior in 2016.
Although he had to endure a long and stressful wait to hear his name called late Saturday, Dupre has no regrets about the decision.
“Any guy who’s trying to determine whether he should stay in school should be based on if he feels he’s prepared to make that step mentally and physically, and handle the things that comes with it,” Dupre said. “I feel I’m ready to take that step to be a contributing factor to whoever I’m honored to play for. I still haven’t wavered or changed throughout this whole process.”
A few moments before taking Dupre, the Packers used their first seventh-round pick (237th overall) on Utah State senior Devante Mays, who was the third running back Green Bay drafted Saturday.
The 5-foot-11, 230-pounder started his career at the JUCO level with stops at Tyler and Blinn junior colleges in Texas before transferring to Utah State as a junior in 2015.
His first year was a promising. Mays ran for 966 yards and nine touchdowns on 165 carries in 13 games with six starts, only increasing the optimism for his senior year.
Unfortunately for Mays, his final year at Utah State was hampered by a knee injury. He was effective when he was on the field, rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries (7.0 yards per attempt) in six games with two starts.
The one silver-lining for May is he didn’t require surgery.
“I think the injury knocked me off a lot of people’s radar, and I was never able to show everyone what I can do,” said Mays of his senior year. “Now that I’m healed up and 100 percent, I know I’m going to surprise a lot of people because they’ve never really seen anything besides my junior year, which I thought was decent, and I thought my senior year was going to be a lot better.”
There will be a lot of competition in the Packers’ backfield with two other draft picks – Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones – joining Mays and returning veterans Ty Montgomery, Christine Michael and Don Jackson on the offseason roster.
“I don’t really look at that,” Mays said. “I just look at it as an opportunity for me to compete with those guys, compete for a spot to play. I don’t really care if there was one or five, I’m always going to go out there, work hard, and try to be No. 1.”
2017 DRAFT TRACKER