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Build, physicality stand out with Packers' third-round picks

USC RB MarShawn Lloyd, Missouri LB Ty’Ron Hopper bring an attractive style of play

RB MarShawn Lloyd, LB Ty'Ron Hopper
RB MarShawn Lloyd, LB Ty'Ron Hopper

GREEN BAY – If there's a commonality that attracted Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst to the two players on opposite sides of the ball he drafted just three picks apart in the third round Friday night, it's this:

He likes how they're built, and how they use that build to get an edge on the field.

On USC running back MarShawn Lloyd, whom Gutekunst chose with the No. 88 overall pick: "He's a 220-pound man," he said of the powerful 5-9 dynamo. "He's packed in a tighter frame … he breaks tackles. We think his best football's ahead of him."

Then on Missouri linebacker Ty'Ron Hopper, who's 6-2, 230 and was taken at No. 91: "He's really physical, he can run. But his stopping power, when he takes on blockers, is pretty impressive."

It's a wonder who would win the one-on-one confrontation between the honorable mention All-Pac-12 back and second-team All-SEC 'backer. Maybe there'll be a moment in training camp to find out.

That aside, Gutekunst addressed the Packers' depth and injected competition at both positions with intriguing players who possess some standout college numbers.

Lloyd finished his career at USC after three years at South Carolina, where he lost a year to an ACL tear and played two modestly productive seasons. Wanting to play for Southern Cal head coach Lincoln Riley, he excelled to the tune of 7.1 yards per carry (116 rushes, 820 yards, nine TDs) and 17.8 yards per reception (13 catches, 232 yards) in 2023.

He proved to be a handful in Riley's offense, and despite 4.46 speed, he attributed his gaudy per-touch averages to gaining a lot of yards after contact.

"That's the biggest thing, especially being a running back, you never want to be taken down by the first person, maybe not even the second person," he said. "So I feel like the yards after contact is what really matters."

Coincidentally, he said his coaches often compared him to the Packers' new No. 1 running back, Josh Jacobs, who's an inch taller and in the 220-pound range.

Lloyd's also not shy. Having heard that NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah called him the best running back in the draft moments after the Packers selected him – he was the fourth one taken, after Texas' Jonathon Brooks, Florida State's Trey Benson and Michigan's Blake Corum – he simply agreed.

"I'm the best running back in the draft, for sure," he said. "I'm super confident with that. I definitely do feel like he's telling the truth."

Meanwhile Hopper sensed the Packers' genuine interest during a formal interview at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, followed by a pre-draft visit.

During that trip to Green Bay, he was studying some film not just with linebackers coach Anthony Campanile, but with defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley and Head Coach Matt LaFleur, too.

"That made me feel like they were very interested in me," he said of meeting with multiple coaches. "They were the one team that I knew was on me the heaviest."

Hopper was the second off-ball linebacker the Packers chose Friday night, after taking Texas A&M's Edgerrin Cooper in the second round.

Gutekunst believes he added not only a lot of speed to the position group, with those two players joining Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie atop the depth chart, but also valuable special-teams ability.

"Speed is the game," Gutekunst said. "They've got to be able to run … obviously you guys know Quay can run. We've gotten faster. Isaiah can run. So I really like that group and where we're headed with that right now."

Statistically, Hopper's speed was evident in his back-to-back seasons with double-digit tackles for loss. He had 10 in his third year at Florida in 2021 before transferring to Missouri and posting 14 in 2022. He then served as a team captain at Missouri this past season.

"Very serious-minded guy," Gutekunst said. "I think he really helped change that defense. The Missouri defense this year was excellent.

"I think they're very well-coached there, another one of those programs where we felt really good about taking somebody, because of how they do things there."

An interesting side note, Hopper's position coach and co-defensive coordinator at Missouri was former Packers linebacker D.J. Smith, a sixth-round pick in 2011 who played two seasons in Green Bay.

Hopper also met his soon-to-be fellow rookie linebacker and teammate Cooper at the combine and on a pre-draft visit to Dallas.

In summary, Gutekunst called them "guys that can run and hit."


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