Seven rounds of the NFL draft came and went, and Jack Heflin’s name hadn’t been called.
But once the name Grant Stuard was read from the podium in Cleveland, the former Houston Cougars linebacker selected by Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay with the 259th and final pick, teams went into a frenzy of signing players who were still available. One of those signings came from the Green Bay Packers, picking up Heflin on Saturday as an undrafted free agent.
Heflin was an all-state lineman for the Erie-Prophetstown Panthers, and spent four years at Northern Illinois before playing at Iowa last season as a graduate transfer.
With the Hawkeyes in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Heflin started all eight games and made 13 tackles, assisting on eight others. He made 3.5 tackles for a loss and had a sack.
Before arriving in Iowa City as a graduate transfer, he led NIU in tackles and sacks in 2019 and was an all-conference pick in the MAC and an honorable mention on the Pro Football Focus All-American team.
Should Heflin make the team out of training camp, he would join a Packers defense which was ranked No. 9 in the league in 2020 in total yards allowed per game and 13th in scoring defense.
The Packers used four of their nine picks in the 2021 draft on the defensive side of the ball, taking cornerback Eric Stokes from Georgia in the first round, lineman T.J. Slaton from Florida, and defensive back Shemar Jean-Charles of Appalachian State in the fifth round and linebacker Isaiah McDuffie of Boston College in the sixth round.
“We think we got some players who can potentially help us,” Packers coach Matt LaFluer said in a post-draft press conference Saturday. “All these draft picks within every team, no matter where you’re drafted, everything’s an unknown at this point. Everybody feels good about their draft class, but the bottom line is guys have to come in and they’ve got to prove it.”