Ted Thompson spent much of the offseason improving the defense. He added a young and athletic nose tackle, a speedy rookie linebacker, a former All-Pro cornerback and a hard-hitting strong safety. In fact, one of the only things he didn’t find was an outside pass rusher to compliment Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. As of now, Aaron Kampman is projected to be that player, but the fomer Iowa star lacks the explosiveness to be a consistent threat off the edge. “Kampman will beat some mediocre tackles with his superb technique and incredible tenacity, but the more talented players will shut him down rather easily,” said a former scout. “The Packers really need to find a better alternative, but that’s easier said than done. Those guys are few and far between.”
Truer words were never spoken. Jamal Reynolds, Joe Johnson, Chukie Nwokorie, Kenny Holmes and R-Kal Truluck are just some of the players who have tried – and failed – to fill that role over the past five seasons. So how likely is it that a pair of undrafted rookies will have success? Not very, but you never know. “I won’t get too excited until the pads go on later this month, but both Montez Murphy and Jason Hunter showed more potential as pass rushers in three practices than Reynolds showed in three seasons,” said the scout. “They’re developmental prospects worth keeping an eye on.”
Murphy started 19 games at Baylor and recorded 72 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Those modest numbers, plus a mediocre 40 time (4.89), kept him from being drafted. Hunter, who runs very well (4.55) and recorded 13 sacks last season at Appalachian State, was hurt by his Division I-AA background and a lack of size (6-4 242). “Both players need to stay low and use their hands better to disengage, but they are athletic and very coachable,” said the scout. “As pass rushers, their long arms and above-average burst are positives. They’ve got a chance.” For the Packers, who have spent millions of dollars trying to find another KGB, that’s good enough.