A top-50 pick from the 2018 NFL draft spent has caught the attention of the Green Bay Packers.
According to Tuesday’s official NFL workouts/visits list, the Packers hosted former Kansas City Chiefs second-round pick Breeland Speaks for a visit on Jan. 11 along with tight end Bronson Kaufusi. They also brought in sixth-year offensive tackle Andrew Donnal for a tryout on the same day.
To make room for Jared Veldheer, the Packers are putting G Simon Stepaniak on IR.
Also, they had two workouts: TE Bronson Kaufusi (BYU) and DE Breeland Speaks (Mississippi).
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) January 12, 2021
Speaks — who the Chiefs traded up for at No. 46 overall in 2018 — played in all 18 games of his rookie season for the Chiefs, including the playoffs, and finished the year with 26 tackles, three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. A knee injury in the 2019 preseason, however, forced the Chiefs to place him on injured reserve during August’s roster cuts and wiped out his second year.
Speaks only made things worse for himself in December 2019 when the NFL suspended him four games for violating its substance-abuse policy. While he returned and finished out the year in IR, the Chiefs went on to win a Super Bowl without him available and parted ways with him after 2020 training camp. (He did get a ring, though.)
Speaks has since spent time as a practice-squad player for both the Las Vegas Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys, sticking with the latter until his contract expired on Jan. 11.
The Packers announced two roster moves on Tuesday, but neither of them was related to recent visits or workouts. It is possible the Packers are considering Speaks for a reserve/future contract, which would add him to their 2021 offseason roster and give him an opportunity to earn his keep during OTAs and next summer’s training camp.
The Packers announced their first batch of futures contracts on Jan. 8 when they inked wide receiver Chris Blair, defensive back Innis Gaines and linebacker Ray Wilborn for 2021.
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Speaks Was Defensive Monster for Ole Miss
Speaks didn’t come into the 2018 draft with the same level of prestige as first-round defensive tackles Vita Vea or Daron Payne, but the monstrous finish to his college career at Ole Miss bought him a good amount of stock as an NFL prospect. The Chiefs were so convinced they used their first pick of the year on him.
In his final six games alone, Speaks recorded 45 tackles, six sacks and a fumble recovery for the Rebels at defensive tackle, finishing his junior season as a second-team All-SEC honoree. His final three-season tally was 121 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, a pair of fumble recoveries and the reputation of an all-around smasher at the point of attack.
The peculiar thing about the Chiefs’ interest in him — especially so much higher than he was considered to be rated by ESPN — was that they want him to play as an edge rusher … as a 6-foot-3, 283-pound defensive end. While his rookie numbers no doubt showed some success out there, it raises the question of whether he’d be more valuable to a team like, say, the Packers looking for a little support between their pass-rushing outside linebackers and star nose tackle.
If the Packers were interested, a futures contract would be the most likely route for giving him an opportunity, but an active-roster addition isn’t outside the realm of possibility with Kingsley Keke still on the injury list with a concussion. Of course, they did just sign defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
On the other hand, if Speaks did land with Green Bay, they would have both the No. 45 and No. 46 overall picks from the 2018 draft, the other being cornerback Josh Jackson.