Labor Day Weekend is upon us, which means College Football is back in full swing. It also means that dozens of NFL scouts from around the league have hit the road again to assess next year’s future crop of NFL stars. As one of CHTV.com’s resident scouts, I’ll be “hitting the road” week in and week out to give you the latest risers and fallers for the 2022 Draft Class relative to the Packers’ upcoming personnel needs.
This week’s Indiana at Iowa game may not come off as “sexy” to many, but you have to give these programs credit for being steady contributors to NFL rosters. Just two years ago, Offensive Tackle Bryan Bulaga out of Iowa was a mainstay on the Packers offensive line as a former 1st Round Pick (and who can forget his notorious MNF introduction). Going back further, Defensive End Mike Daniels, also from Iowa was a force in the trenches for the better part of a decade. Last but definitely not least, I’ve never seen another player make the number 74 look so good as Aaron Kampman did, the former 5th Round Pick from Iowa made 54 sacks in the Green and Gold and is #9 on the Packers’ All-Time Sacks List and #6 in Packers’ history for forced fumbles with 11.
But enough about the past, the NFL Draft is about the future. Here’s the scoop on Saturday’s Hoosiers and Hawkeyes who might be of potential interest to the Pack:
Zach VanValkenburg, DL – Iowa
VanValkenburg could have came out in the Draft this past year, but was wise to return to Iowa City with the extra year of eligibility given out by the NCAA due to the pandemic. He has decent length and athleticism, but power is the name of his game. VanValkenburg’s ability to cause disruption on the edge should be of plenty use to the Packers, who have suffered from poor run defense for several years. I really want to see how far his rush plan has developed since last year, as he can sometimes have trouble with OTs who have excellent length. Indiana’s starting OTs Caleb Jones and Matthew Bedford are both listed as 6’6+ so it should be interesting to see if he can win with his raw power or if he’ll have to get creative to pressure Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. Current Projection: 5th-6th Round Pick
Tyler Linderbaum, C/G – Iowa
When the Packers took Josh Myers out of Ohio State in the 2nd Round, he was the #1 Center on my board. In the case of Linderbaum, had he declared, he probably would have been #2. Linderbaum was a Rimington Finalist in 2020, the award given to the Nation’s best Center; in fact, he finished ahead of Jason Myers as the runner up to eventual winner Landon Dickerson out of Alabama. While this may seem like a luxury pick, I assure you it is not. The Packers had some issues running the ball at times during the preseason, and more than a couple of rough snaps. While I’m certain there should be no issues with Myers, I believe Brian Gutekunst will continue to search for additional flexibility on the offensive line, with specific focus on the interior this year. Linderbaum, a converted DT who understands what opposing defenders are trying to do at the snap, would be a step in the right direction for achieving that. Current Projection: 2nd Round Pick
Ty Fryfogle, WR – Indiana
Another WR? But the Packers just drafted Amari Rodgers?! In 2022 the Packers only have two WRs under contract, Amari Rodgers and Randall Cobb. Fryfogle, the reigning BIG Conference WR of the year is back for more in 2021. Fryfogle is remembered for leading Indiana on 4-0 run that catapulted the Hoosiers to 11th in the Top 25 before losing to #3 Ohio State in a barn-burner at The Horseshoe. A 6’2 possession receiver who can win at the catch point, Fryfogle showed last year that the bright lights of the NFL won’t be too much for him. I really want to see how he runs at the Combine, but speed isn’t everything. Green Bay’s Davante Adams, considered the best WR in the NFL by his peers only runs 4.56. If Fryfogle can peg a 4.49 or faster, he might be too hot for the Packers to snag him late. Iowa’s secondary this year doesn’t have any premier defenders on the outside this year, but they are quite formidable as a unit. I know Fryfogle will have a good game, but will he have a great game? I’ll be watching closely. Current Projection: 4th Round Pick
Tiawan Mullen, CB – Indiana
Mullen is only a Junior, but he’s on my short list of underclassmen who might be the first to declare if he has a good season. Mullen in 2020 was a 1st Team All-American as a Sophomore, the first ever in Hoosiers history. What I like more than his coverage skills is the fact that he is plays hard against the run. Mullen was a stat sheet stuffer last year in the Crimson and White, with 27 solo tackles, 3 interceptions, and 3.5 sacks. I’m not sure what the Packers do with Kevin King after 2021, and Kabian Ento being cut and not making the practice squad was the only real surprise I saw from the preseason. It’s clear to me that Brian Gutekunst is going to continue to churn the roster at the CB position until he finds a suitable Nickel. Mullen has the plus athleticism to fit that role nicely. If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because Tiawan’s older brother Trayvon was a 2nd Round Pick in 2019 out of Clemson to the Raiders. Mullen also has a cousin in the NFL who you might have heard of….Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Current Projection: 3rd Round Pick
#17 Indiana kicks off against #18 Iowa at 2:30pm CST at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa. Catch the game on the BigTen Network, FOXSports Stream, or check your local listings.
Make sure to check back every Friday for the next installment of “NFL Draft Prospects to Watch”, as I highlight the next generation of prospective Packers superstars in the NFL Draft.
CORRECTION: The Packers drafted C Josh Myers from Ohio State, not to be confused with K Jason Myers on the Seattle Seahawks.
Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on CHTV.com leading up to that year’s upcoming Draft.