Ty’Ron Hopper brings added ‘stopping power’ to Packers LB room

Green Bay Packers third round pick Ty’Ron Hopper will bring an added physical presence to the linebacker position.

“He’s really physical, he can run,” said GM Brian Gutekunst after Day 2 of the draft, “but his stopping power, when he takes on blockers, is pretty impressive. Very serious-minded guy, I think he really helped change that defense.”

Hopper totaled 200 tackles in his three year playing career at Missouri, and was also utilized as a blitzer, recording 49 pressures over the last two seasons.

While he is physical and willing to take on blockers, he has the athleticism to go with it, with excellent vertical and broad jump testing numbers and sideline-to-sideline speed that shows up on tape, especially in the run game, filling gaps that appear.

“I would say range,” said Hopper when asked what type of player he is. “I feel like I can do many different things. Mizzou put me in those positions to basically highlight different aspects of my game. So yeah, I’d basically just say range. Like I was saying earlier, I can play the run very well. I can also play the pass and being an off-the-ball blitzer and things like that, so I’d say range.”

With Quay Walker, Edgerrin Cooper, Isaiah McDuffie, and Eric Wilson, the Packers don’t necessarily need to rely heavily on Hopper right away. In fact, he may not see many defensive snaps to begin with. But where he could fit into this defense if we were to put him in a bucket is as a strong side linebacker when the Packers are in their base 4-3 defense.

However, where Hopper will make the biggest impact right away is on special teams. Hopper played 468 career special teams snaps at Missouri and did so across four different phases.

“I think he was in the high 4.5s for us,” said Gutekunst about Hopper’s speed. “He ran fast, so that was pretty good for us, and he’s an explosive athlete. So no, he runs fast on tape, he ran fast for us on the watch, so it all came together.”

Although much of the offseason has been spent pontificating on who will have what role in Jeff Hafley’s 4-3 defense at the linebacker position, filling those specific Mike, Will, and Sam roles hasn’t been Gutekunst’s M.O.

Instead, he’s wanted to fill that room with “interchangeable” players, who can fill a variety or roles, giving Hafley more flexibility as he puts together the game-plan and makes adjustments, along with keeping opposing offenses off-balanced, not necessarily knowing who will be lined up where or what their reponsibilities are.

“Well first of all, like we’ve talked about a lot, this is a 4-2-5 league,” said Gutekunst. “So I just think if those guys are interchangeable and they can do everything we’re asking those guys to do, it just gives you flexibility. I think if a player is limited in some form or fashion, then that can be a problem and to me, really, speed is the game.

“They gotta be able to run and I think the two guys we selected today — 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.”

So although Hopper’s ability as a tackler and willingness to take on blockers to free up his teammates may make him better suited to be on the field during running downs, the draft is about projecting who a player can become, and with the vision that Gutekunst has for the linebacker position, in the long run, he sees Hooper fitting that interchangeable mold.

“The teams we play – the NFL’s become much more of a sideline-to-sideline game,” said Assistant Director of College Scouting Pat Moore, “and those guys have to go and make plays, and that’s what those guys show. We’ve got other linebackers who can run, too. The game’s getting more and more to big guys that can run. Probably always has been but those guys and the other guys we have in that room will continue to do that.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire