October 13, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive end Datone Jones (56) defends against Utah Utes offensive linesman Sam Brenner (74) and offensive linesman Jeremiah Tofaeono (76) during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mock draft: Will the Green Bay Packers be a team to take a risk?


Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke, in his Audibles column, takes a look at the NFL Draft and the safe picks for NFC North teams and those that are being considered as surprise picks.

Burke sees the Packers going defensive line and talks about how UCLA defensive end Datone Jones would be the safest pick, saying:

Somewhere along the line in this draft, the Packers need to add some depth up front on D. Last year’s second-round pick, DE Jerel Worthy, tore his ACL in late December and may not be ready to go in 2013, leaving the Packers thin behind their three starters (Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson).

Not only would Jones represent terrific value at No. 26, but also the versatile former UCLA Bruin could plug in just about anywhere the Packers wanted. Solid both as a run-stopper and pass-rusher, Jones would add the pop Green Bay needs.

He’s right. The Packers defensive line is in deep flux right now with the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Worthy, the aging of Pickett and the inconsistency of Wilson. The Packers will most likely attempt to extend the contract for Raji, but the team needs more depth and younger legs along  the line.

North Carolina Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

However, it’s Burke’s surprise pick that I really like – Giovani Bernard. The North Carolina running back, in my opinion, would infuse a new playmaking element to the Packers backfield – a dynamic back who can catch the ball out of the backfield is what the Packers need. Whether Ted Thompson goes offense or defense is the debate that will continue right up until the Packers selection is announced.

Here’s what Burke said about Bernard:

Bernard might be the missing piece. Carrying some injury concerns, Bernard has taken a back seat to Alabama’s Eddie Lacy throughout most of the draft process, but he may wind up in the more productive role. That’s especially true if he finds his way to a place like Green Bay, where a wide-open offense can take advantage of his quickness and ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

This would be a luxury pick more than a need-based one, but the Packers are close enough to Super Bowl contention to be able to roll the dice like that.

Burke’s projections for the Lions, Vikings and Bears are as intriguing as his picks for the Packers. Check them out by going to Burke’s page. And don’t forget to tell us how you feel about all this by leaving a comment below, liking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter.

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Tags: Chris Burke Datone Jones Giovani Bernard Sports Illustrated

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