INDIANAPOLIS – Coach Mike McCarthy would love for center Scott Wells to return to the Green Bay Packers, but if the team can’t reach an agreement with the soon-to-be unrestricted free-agent center, could the University of Wisconsin’s Peter Konz fall to them at No. 28 in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft?
The Packers certainly have other, more obvious needs heading into the draft – particularly on defense, where they could use defensive end, outside linebacker and secondary help – but if Wells were to depart, they’d be lucky to land Konz, who’s rated as the top center in the draft and whom general manager Ted Thompson scouted in Madison last season.
Konz, who’s from Neenah and entered the draft after his junior season with the Badgers, was a media darling in Madison, and he was one of the more popular players in the media room at the NFL Scouting Combine Friday. While he didn’t generate the capacity crowds of quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, it was standing room only around Konz’s table.
Asked what makes him a good center, Konz’s immediate reply was, “I’m able to talk to the media.”
He wasn’t entirely kidding.
“My major is radio-television-film. I love it. I love attention!” Konz said later. “I don’t know. As a kid, my mom would put on Brett Favre interviews and I loved how he didn’t talk about, ‘We played a great game. We gave 100 percent. We respect the other team.’ I wanted to break that cycle. I wanted to be that guy to say, ‘You know what? I’ve got a personal story. I’ve got more tied into this game than somebody else might have.’
“For instance, I’m in Indianapolis and I feel at home because I was baptized at a church on Meridian Street and my grandparents live here, I’ve got cousins here. It’s just nice to be in Indy and it’s a great honor to be here.”
While Konz was terrific in his media session – and, presumably, in interviews with the various NFL teams – he did not fare as well on the bench press, where he said he managed just 18 reps of 225 pounds. For comparison, Michigan center David Molk's 41 reps were the third most by an offensive lineman at the Combine since 2000.
Konz offered up his bench-press total on his own, and he said that he wasn’t overly concerned about the low number. But it could affect his draft status and give the Packers a shot at him near the bottom of the first round.
Of course, the point is moot if the team gets a deal done with Wells before free agency opens on March 13. The backup center is Evan Dietrich-Smith, with practice-squadder Samson Genus is the only other center on the roster.
Asked who’d start at center if Wells left, McCarthy replied: “The beauty of that is we don’t play any games for a while so we’ll figure that out. I’m very hopeful, confident that things can work out from a business standpoint with Scott. But if it does not, than we have to move in another direction. Those are really projections and scenarios I hope we don’t have to talk about.”
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