Unpacking Future Packers: No. 6, Michigan LB Junior Colson

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL draft.

The Green Bay Packers failed to add a veteran linebacker to pair with Quay Walker in free agency. With it being a weak linebacker class, Brian Gutekunst will have to strike early in hopes of landing a potential difference-maker to team with Walker. 

A linebacker that Gutekunst could target early in the draft is Junior Colson. The Michigan product checks in at No. 6 in the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown.

A four-star recruit out of Tennessee, Colson recorded 61 tackles during his first season in Ann Arbor. The following season, Colson recorded 101 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks. 

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This past season, Colson played a pivotal role in helping the Wolverines win the National Championship. He finished the season with 95 tackles and two tackles for loss.

Mister in the right place at the right time. That sums up Colson’s game. He’s always where he needs to be and hunts the football. His instincts help him get a head start and he knifes through gaps with burst. He has the lateral quickness and agile feet to make plays sideline-to-sideline. 

Colson is a reliable open-field tackler, who missed 17 tackles during his three seasons at Michigan. He has good length to lasso ball carriers to the ground. He uses that length to get off blocks and keep himself clean. When he arrives he delivers a pop. 

“His play recognition and open field tackling standout,” Devin Jackson, the sports editor and NFL Draft writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, said. “He’s in almost every play and has the requisite speed and athleticism to move sideline-to-sideline.  Colson is assignment-sound, always in the right place at the right time, stacking and shedding opposing interior offensive linemen in the run game.”

Colson trusts his eyes in coverage and gets proper depth in his drops. The Michigan linebacker has good reactionary quickness to arrive quickly on throws in front of him to limit YAC. 

“Colson has shown promise in coverage, getting to his depth on passing downs with the ability to get his hands on the football and recording two pass breakups in the Big Ten championship game against Iowa,” Jackson said. 

Fit with the Packers

The Packers not only need depth at the linebacker position they need to add an impact player to pair with Walker. Colson is ready-made. He could step in on day one and help shore up Green Bay’s run defense. 

“Still fairly young in his development, Colson is a modern three-down linebacker who understands his run fits, ability to stack and shed, with good eyes in coverage at his stage of development,” Jackson said. “On his current trajectory, Colson can become a starter by the end of his rookie season. His play recognition is second to none in this class and has the physical makeup to be a difference-maker at the second level.”

With his instincts, downhill toughness, movement skills and age (21), Colson checks a lot of boxes.

The Packers need to get their hands on one of the Top Three linebackers in the class. They’d accomplish that by taking Colson with one of the two second-round picks they own. 

Colson is a steady presence in the middle and a reliable tackler. He looks like a veteran out there and would give Jeff Hafley a leader in the middle of the defense. 

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire