GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you would’ve told the Green Bay Packers a year ago that they would be able to get wide receiver Malachi Dupre in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL draft, they would’ve laughed you out of Lambeau Field.
By at least one measure -- ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay’s “Way-too-early 2017 mock draft” -- Dupre not only was projected as a first-round pick but a top-10 selection.
So how did the Packers end up with Dupre as the 247th player taken in last week’s draft?
According to the scouting report in Nolan Nawrocki’s annual draft guide, Dupre was “underutilized in [LSU’s] run-first offense featuring an inaccurate quarterback and a cast of talented receivers.” Dupre’s small hands (9 inches) also worked against him. He also measured just 6 foot 2½ compared with the 6-4 that he was listed at in college.
Dupre caught 41 passes for 593 yards and three touchdowns as a junior in 2016, when LSU struggled and fired coach Les Miles in midseason. Those numbers were down from 43 catches for 698 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore.
“I wouldn’t necessarily agree that they struggled throwing the ball,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “They were a pretty wide open offense and playing big-time SEC football. You get a good ability to see how they play and how they match up against the kind of people they’re going to match up with in the NFL.”
Dupre was the second of two receivers Thompson picked on Day 3 of the draft. He took Purdue’s DeAngelo Yancey in the fifth round.
“I would not say they’re similar,” Thompson said comparing the two receivers. “They’re both good-sized guys -- Malachi is a little taller, a little more lean. He is kind of a home-run hitter, post-corner type receiver, good player. Yancey is kind of an all-purpose guy there, good production. So we’re happy to get them.”
One scout in Nawrocki’s report said he graded Dupre as a second-round pick last fall.
“I feel like the best part of my game is being a guy that can play multiple positions, play inside and outside,” Dupre said shortly after the Packers picked him in the seventh round. “I’m a guy that’s very versatile and I’m also a guy that’s smart and can pick up offenses very easily and recognize defenses. The mental part of my game is a part of my game that’s a strength also.”
Before you trash McShay for having Dupre as a first-rounder a year ago, you should know this: 14 of the players he had listed in that “way-too-early 2017 mock draft” ended up going in the first round last week. In that exercise, he had the Packers taking Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who ended up staying in school.
In this year’s version for 2018, McShay has the Packers taking Clemson receiver Deon Cain in the first round. That may depend at least in part on whether Dupre plays like a first-rounder or a seventh-rounder.