GREEN BAY — During the 2017 NFL draft, current Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Malachi Dupre had to endure one of the most gut-wrenching and humbling experiences of his young life.
He had to wait.
There were 253 picks in the draft, and Dupre was chosen with the 247th pick.
After a solid — not great — sophomore and junior seasons for LSU, Dupre was expected to be a third- or fourth-round pick. Instead, he nearly went undrafted.
“It was very long. I didn’t leave as a junior to go seven rounds,” Dupre said of leaving LSU early. “Obviously when you expect one thing and it doesn’t happen, that’s a life-changing decision, a life-changing weekend. You can only control what you can control. I remember when my name got called I just told myself you can only control (things in your power) and that’s coming to Green Bay and be the best football player I can be... I’m doing that.”
Dupre slipped partly due to concerns about his route running and partly because he didn’t put up big numbers at LSU. Still, the dramatic draft fall was shocking considering Dupre’s physical attributes (6-foot-3, 200 pounds, 40-inch vertical and 4.5-second 40-yard dash). He is still trying to figure out what happened, but he feels fortunate to wind up in Green Bay.
“I don’t know what happened on draft day. I didn’t go where I was expected to go,” Dupre said. “But I am just taking that and running with it. I’m very pleased to be at a great place like this in Green Bay. It’s a winning organization, an organization that has a culture that knows how to win. The people here are tremendous. I have only been here a month, but I feel like I am at home.”
Dupre will have his work cut out as he enters a crowded wide receiver group with Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb as the top three receivers on the depth chart. Geronimo Allison appears to be entrenched at the fourth wide receiver slot, which leaves Dupre having to battle for the fifth or sixth receiver spot with fourth-year veteran Jeff Janis, second-year pro Trevor Davis, along with fellow rookie in fifth-round pick DeAngelo Yancey. Dupre appears up to the challenge, as he has turned heads.
“I think Malachi is a really good football player, really good instincts,” wide receiver coach Luke Getsy said. “He’s a sharp kid that works really hard at it. But I am excited to see what he can do.”
Dupre also has made a good first impression on Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy.
“He’s definitely an accomplished receiver coming out of college,” McCarthy said. “He has a very good feel for Cover 2 (defenses). He’s done a lot of good things; mentally he has picked it up probably the quickest of the position group. He’s having a real good offseason.”
On the field, Dupre has established chemistry with backup quarterback Brett Hundley. However, this was a relationship that started long before OTAs and minicamp. It began when Dupre was a highly sought after five-star high school recruit. Hundley pushed for Depre to come to UCLA where Hundley was the starting quarterback for the Bruins.
“Brett has been a guy I have known since high school,” Dupre said. “I was strongly considering UCLA and he knew that. He’s a guy that I have known for a longer period of time then most of the other guys.
“He’s a guy that if I need to know something about the offense, or the way the quarterbacks want things, that I can count on. He’s been a guy that I have been able to lean on since I have been here.”
That relationship has blossomed into a strong one on the field. This was on display the first day of minicamp when Hundley and Dupre connected a few times during team drills. The day was capped off with Dupre catching a touchdown on a corner route during the 2-minute drill. It was a route that requires exact timing and trust between the receiver and quarter and the duo had it down.
“I want to show these guys that I deserve to be here,” Dupre said. “When I am in there with them, there should be no drop off.”
Dupre understands he has a way to go, but he also knows it’s possible to earn a spot in a deep receiving corps. When asked if he knew of another former seventh round pick who went on to have a great career with the Packers, there was no hesitation.
“Yeah, Donald Driver,” Dupre said. “Of course I know that. But we will see how it goes and I am just out here being the best that I can be every day.”