I last did a full 7-round mock NFL Draft for LombardiAve.com back in late-April. Now that we’re only a day and change away, and I have been able to do some more research on the prospects, here’s a newly revised look at a full nine-pick Packers draft.
First, my overall guidelines for how I selected players and why I excluded some prospects:
– I only looked at prospects with average or above average size. No diminutive, shifty, one-hit-straight-to-I.R. guys. Nobody with height-challenged portfolios. Specifically, nobody below 6 feet in the secondary, and many well over that. I stuck with prospects there and everywhere else as tall and fast as possible. I looked only at linemen of considerable “presence.” The Packers are too small in several key spots- especially going up against the wideouts in the NFC North these days. Let’s get real Packers fans. Small, athletic guys with character are great, but give me large, athletics guys with character (and a mean streak if that’s not too much to ask) over small athletic guys every time.
– Because I’m not plugged into the Packers scouting department I’m not up on quite as many player facts and minutiae as Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutenkunst, but I do the best I can with what I have. Despite researching them as much as possible, the reality is that Division II and III players are not heavily represented on my list. As luck would have it they are almost always well represented in Packers drafts though. I will always eschew prospects with known “character issues” and dubious buzz. I want the Packers to have good locker room guys just as much as the Packers want them.
– Mock drafting is a tricky business. To the best of my knowledge no human being has ever accurately predicted as much as a single full first round of any NFL Draft. Ever. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun though. An even dicier proposition is trying to predict what Packers GM Ted Thompson will do in any given draft.
– Let us not forget the bountiful harvest that is the free agent period post-draft. The Packers have made hay signing and developing undrafted free agents for many years, and I expect this year to be no different. Drafting guys is fine, but I think the Packers front office does their best work after the draft is over. All three days of it!
Take the best player available? Well that’s the normal hyperbole associated with Packers drafts, but look no further than last year to see that sometimes it’s about plain and simple need. I tried to combine both best player available with some of the Packers needs…and came up with these picks:
Round 1 (21st overall pick): C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama. (6-2, 234, 4.65). Given the way things seem to be shaking out the Packers might be able to land Mosley at 21. He would be an excellent addition to the Packers porous LB group. With good speed and prototypical size, Mosley is a ballhawk, plays pass defense well, and he tackles. If Mosely is already off the board then there are plenty of ways TT can go…including trading down to stack some additional picks. There are few Packers “needs” in this draft that carry a mid-first round grade, so if TT sees value down the board a ways he could go that way.
Alternate: Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State. (6-1, 237, 4.45). Though smaller in stature than Mosley, Shazier has serious speed. That speed could translate into some of the big plays the Packers need from their LBs. He also tackles well and forces turnovers. Either Mosley or Shazier would be a good get for the Packers. With any luck at least one of these guys is left at 21. I might even have gone with Christian Jones from Florida State as an alternate here if he hadn’t reportedly failed a Combine drug test. Dumb.
Last Week: Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville and alternate Louis Nix, Defensive Tackle / Nose Tackle, Notre Dame.
Round 2 (53rd overall pick): Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State. (6-1, 211, 4.49) Bucannon has a good reputation as a hitter and it’s said by those who know these things that he can play all over the field. He has good ball skills and can play in the box or cover. His work at the Combine turned more than a few heads. He could play either strong safety or weak safety for the Packers. He reminds me of Nick Collins.
Alternate: Dion Bailey, Safety, USC. (6-0, 201, 4.66). While not as quick as Bucannon, Bailey has enough speed and above-average agility. He played linebacker for USC as well. Either of these guys would help the Packers at safety.
Last Week: Keith McGill, Cornerback, Utah and alternate Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End, Notre Dame.
Round 3 (85th overall pick): Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas (6-5, 312, 5.26). I still like Swanson here. He’s a larger guy who is nasty at the point of attack and an effective pass blocker. He is widely reputed to have a “mean streak”. I see nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think the more mean and nasty offensive linemen the Packers have, the better. The Packers need a center. Swanson fits in this pick well.
Alternate: Marcus Martin, Center, USC. (6-3, 320, 5.09). I like Swanson better than Martin, but Martin has played more guard so he fits that versatile OL category well. Other versatile OL guys that might play some center for the Packers include David Yankey from Stanford and Cyril Richardson from Baylor.
Last Week: Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas and alternate Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback, Nebraska.
Round 3 (98th overall pick- compensatory for Greg Jennings): Dontae Johnson, Cornerback, North Carolina State (6-2, 200, 4.45). A “bonus” pick, Johnson is a big, fast, tackling CB who has played LB and a member of a group of second and third round-rated CBs with size, quickness, and good tackling and ball skills.
Alternate: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback, Nebraska (6-3, 218, 4.61). Outstanding size, good speed, great hands, and versatility have kept Jean-Baptiste in the third round for me. He could also make an excellent safety. Like offensive linemen, the Packers always benefit from having versatile DBs. CB Keith McGill of Utah would also be a great pick here if he lasts. Johnson, Jean-Baptiste, and McGill are the three biggest mainstream CB prospects in this draft.
Last Week: Dontae Johnson, Cornerback, North Carolina State and alternate Dion Bailey, Safety, USC.
Round 4 (121st overall pick): Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin (6-1, 195, 4.5). Still a bit of a sentimental pick after additional research, Abbrederis is not the biggest, fastest, or highest rated WR in the draft. However, he has shown that he’s a rabid competitor, a great route-runner, and that he has sure hands and deceptive speed. Sort of like Jordy Nelson. He went a long way toward carrying Wisconsin’s passing game last season. I’d take as many of those guys as I could get.
Alternate: Jeff Janis, Wide Receiver, Saginaw Valley State. (6-3, 218, 4.43). I like the combination of size and speed Janis brings to the position. He’s a small-school guy who plays big-time WR, and he’s going to make some NFL team better. I might even swap Abbrederis for Janis.
Last Week: Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin and alternate Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver, Indiana.
Round 5 (161st overall pick): Will Clarke, Defensive End, West Virginia (6-6, 271, 4.77) I still like Clarke here. He’s a quick and relentless defender who could fit into several places along the Packers defensive front seven. His combination of size and speed is rare. I see him as a depth-adder at first while he develops, but given the Packers draft-and-develop philosophy it would seem Clarke is a potential steal.
Alternate: Andrew Norwell, Offensive Guard / Tackle, Ohio State (6-6, 319, 5.15). Norwell is one of those versatile O linemen that the Packers like to draft and develop. Sound familiar? It should. With his body type he can play guard or tackle.
Last Week: Will Clarke, Defensive End, West Virginia and alternate Andrew Norwell, Offensive Guard / Tackle, Ohio State.
Round 5 (176th overall pick- compensatory for Eric Walden): Brock Jensen, Quarterback, North Dakota State. (6-3, 223, 4.65). I like Jensen here better than I did Savage last time I stacked them up. He has all the measurables. He’s a local (Waupaca) guy so it’s easy to root for him to go to the Packers. He even won a State Title at Waupaca. But what I like about him most is that he had his hands all over the NDSU West-Coast offense while winning three straight FCS Championships and compiling a 32-5 record. If he needs developing he would be going to a great place to do it.
Alternate: Walt Aikens, Cornerback, Liberty. (6-1, 205, 4.49). With a good combination of size and speed, if the Packers haven’t snapped up at least one CB by this point and Aikens is still out there, he could be a Packer. If he’s not there look for the Packers to go after CB Pierre Desir from Division II Lindenwood if he’s still on the board.
Last Week: Todd Savage, Quarterback, Pittsburgh and alternate Walt Aikens, Cornerback, Liberty.
Round 6 (197th overall pick): Marcel Jensen, Tight End, Fresno State (6-6, 259, 4.85). Jensen and alternate Najvar are essentially the same guy physically. With more experience actually catching the ball than Najvar, Jensen is graded slightly higher. With the uncertainty at the TE position the Packers need to get at least one solid addition into the fold. Jensen could go higher than the sixth round, so if the Packers can nab him here they’re having a good day.
Alternate: Jordan Najvar, Tight End, Baylor. (6-6, 256, 4.93). While playing at Baylor, Najvar wasn’t as productive as other TE prospects because the Baylor offense doesn’t really utilize the TE position much. The Packers offense definitely features the TE, and Najvar could be a valuable addition. He received praise for his work at the East-West Shrine game and his physical build is imposing.
Last Week: Jacob Pedersen, Tight End, Wisconsin and alternate Marcel Jensen, Tight End, Fresno State.
Round 7 (236th overall pick): Nickoe Whitley, Safety, Mississippi State. (6-1, 205, 4.53). Whitley is a tackler with ball skills who has played his best games against the best competition but with no falloff against lesser opponents. The Packers need to improve in the defensive backfield, and their recipe for improvement contains just one ingredient: competition. Whitley can play either safety position.
Alternate: C.J. Barnett, Safety, Ohio State (6-1, 202, 4.55). Barnett and Whitley are also essentially the same guy physically. Both would make good competition for Burnett and add some badly needed talent in the depth department.
Last Week: C.J. Barnett, Safety, Ohio State and alternate Ryan Hewitt, Fullback, Stanford.
Bonus: The All-Wisconsin Draft
Dezmen Southward, Safety, Wisconsin. Southward grades out as high as the third round. Good size and 4.40 speed.
Ryan Groy, Guard / Right Tackle, Wisconsin. 6-5, 318 size and versatility.
Jacob Pedersen, Tight End, Wisconsin. Good hands, toughness, and late round grades.
Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin. Game-changer grades out as a fourth rounder.
Beau Allen, Defensive Tackle, Wisconsin. High-value late round DT disruptor with good run defense grades.
Chris Borland, Inside Linebacker, Wisconsin. He’s actually rated as high as the second-best ILB in this draft but somewhat diminutive (5-11, 248) frame may not take NFL-caliber punishment. Borland has a great motor and is a solid run defender / tackler.
James White, Running Back / Returner, Wisconsin. Would have a better chance to contribute as a returner or special teams guy than as a RB on the Packers roster.
Cole Klotz, Linebacker, UW-Whitewater. Imposing (6-4, 244) frame with 4.9 speed could get him a shot at ILB.
Brian Wozniak, Tight End, Wisconsin. Described as tough and a good blocker, might be a value special-teamer.
That’s all for this week Packer Nation. I really appreciated the comments you posted about the last mock draft piece. Those of you keen enough to notice changes made in this version of my mock know some of them came about from your inputs. Keep ‘em coming! We do mock drafts, prospect interviews, and all kinds of draft coverage here on LombardiAve.com. Check us several times each day for fresh, insightful, and timely updates on your favorite team and ours…the Green Bay Packers!
As always…Go Pack GO!