The Green Bay Packers need help at the safety position, and they needed to find it in the 2012 NFL draft. They selected a defensive back, Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward, in the second round, and maybe that will lead to another cornerback, such as Charles Woodson, being moved to safety. Or maybe Hayward could be converted to safety. But the coaches expect Hayward to remain at cornerback and I think he was selected to pressure Sam Shields, who slumped last season. Also, I don't expect any of last season's cornerbacks to change position. Mike McCarthy has said he's not going to move Jarrett Bush back to safety, and none of the coaches seem eager to move Woodson either. So the Packers needed someone else in the mix at safety, and they grabbed a talented, raw prospect in the fourth round.
Round 4, Pick 133. Maine SS Jerron McMillian. Most mock drafts are hopelessly wrong, and often the players themselves have no idea. McMillian was just hoping to be drafted in any round, much less the fourth round. The Journal-Sentinel also wrote about how shocked McMillian was to be invited to the draft combine in February, and the players at Maine are typically players who receive no scholarship offers.
At 5-11 and 203 lbs., McMillian is about the same size as former safety Nick Collins. He runs a 4.36 in the 40, and in college, he was known as a big hitting strong safety who played close to the line of scrimmage. His combination of size, speed and strength make him an intriguing prospect, but one with a steep learning curve as he goes from Maine to the NFL.
It's up to McMillian himself whether he'll be a candidate to start in 2012. Morgan Burnett was thrown into the mix as a starter in 2010 as a rookie by working very hard over the summer to learn the defense, and he went out and proved it to the coaches during the OTAs. It also depends on what role Burnett will play. Will he spend the offseason preparing to take over for Collins as the deep safety in coverage? Then McMillian might be a natural fit as a safety who plays closer to the line of scrimmage.
Sometimes a player emerges during training camp, but I haven't seen anything from Charlie Peprah, M.D. Jennings, or Anthony Levine that makes me believe in them as a starter. I wouldn't expect a player like McMillian to have a shot to start as a rookie, but he doesn't haven't a lot of quality competition either.