The Free Agency edition of the FanSided 2013 NFL Mock Draft has been released.
The fine folks over at FanSided.com do a new mock draft every week right up until the actual draft in April, and we at LombardiAve.com have plenty of offseason information to pass along to our readers. Many of the players we’ve mentioned in previous mock draft posts have their Pro Days coming up, and we’ll get a good opportunity to eyeball them once again and evaluate their performance.
Draft positions have been set. Barring a trade, the Green Bay Packers will make their first selection with the 26th pick.
Analysis: The only knock on the Packers offense over the years has been the utter absence of a running game and the Alabama hammer can fix that right up. Running back is one of the most popular skill positions for fans to pull for and Lacy will help make the Packers offense even more dangerous than it already is. Besides, if you think Alex Green and Cedric Benson are the answer at running back for the Packers, please review the Packers 2012 running game and then check out how well Lacy ran in a devastating offense with the Crimson Tide. Lacy is rising on draft boards, and after losing out on running backs in free agency, the Packers may decide to get one at any cost in the draft.
The notion that Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson may decide to draft a running back “at any cost” seems ignorant to me. As Packers fans know, Thompson is one of the most patient and value-oriented general managers in the league. He would never reach for a player, choosing instead to go a different direction or drop back in the draft. Thus, the idea that Thompson would reach for Lacy at 26 seems patently ridiculous. Running back does need to be addressed at some point, but that doesn’t mean Green Bay will select one with their top pick. As of right now, the Packers are one of two teams reported to be interested in former-New York Giant Ahmad Bradshaw, and Thompson could easily snap up a tailback on day two of the draft.
For what it’s worth, most draft projections have popular Packer targets D.J. Fluker and Jonathan Cooper off the board before Green Bay selects. Fortunately, many valuable options remain. Alec Ogletree stands as the most likely player to significantly outperform his draft status. While the Packers have Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk returning, there may be a starting spot opening a year from now. Ogletree would be a wise investment now, especially with Bishop coming off of hamstring surgery and key reserve D.J. Smith recovering from a torn ACL.
While many fans have lamented Greg Jennings’ departure, the Packers wisely prepared for the defection. Last season, Randall Cobb broke out in a big way and became Rodgers’ go-to receiver in the slot. With Jordy Nelson and James Jones nailing down the outside receiver spots, there’s a vacancy for someone who can fill Jennings’ old role. If California’s Keenan Allen falls a little due to his knee injury, he could provide the Packers a complete receiver to take over that role. Otherwise, the Packers could look in the second round at a number of wideouts. Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton and USC’s Robert Woods provide much of what Jennings did: good speed, great quickness and change of direction, and a knack for the big play. Both are talented, but if forced to choose I’d favor Woods. Woods is a better route runner despite being over two years younger, and he’s a near identical profile to Patton.
Finally, if Green Bay doesn’t feel comfortable with Jerron McMillian or M.D. Jennings, they could pick a safety. Florida’s Matt Elam is a hard hitter with cornerback speed. He plays as well at the line of scrimmage (22 tackles for loss and 4 sacks since 2011) as he does in centerfield (6 interceptions and 18 passes defensed, also since 2011). He plays a lot like Bob Sanders, but with a little added size. If he’s not on the board, there’s also Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien. Unlike Elam, Cyprien has prototypical safety size. He racked up tackles and sacks for FIU (365 and 13.5 respectively since 2009) and has been a decent playmaker. While he’d be a perfectly acceptable selection, Elam probably offers more of what Green Bay’s defensive backfield needs.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Lombardi Ave. He has previously written for Hail to the Orange, College Hoops Net, Mocking the Draft, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JBHirschhorn.