Apr 26, 2012; New York, NY, USA; A general view as members of the military are honored during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The pre-Super Bowl 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 while we at LombardiAve.com have the end of the regular season and playoffs to worry about, it’s just about the start of draft season for most teams. We Packer fans have our own opinions about what needs the Packers should try to fill using the 2013 draft. In this article we’ll explore some possibilities for the Packers first pick.
Draft positions are set save for the Super Bowl participants. Barring a trade, the Green Bay Packers will make their first selection with the 26th pick.
Oct 27, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Jonathan Cooper (64) on the field in the first half at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
According to FanSided, with the 26th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Line, North Carolina
Analysis: Jeff Saturday is calling it a career, so the Packers need to find a replacement in the middle of their offensive line. Cooper is a player who would bring the ability to play both center and guard, so his versatility will be attractive to NFL front offices.
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Jonathan Cooper. Here’s what I wrote earlier this month about the possibility of the Packers selecting him:
"From a talent standpoint, Cooper would be a tremendous value at pick 30 (the Packers projected draft slot at the time). Despite this, he doesn’t make a ton of sense for Green Bay. Cooper’s best position is left guard where they’ve just invested long-term in T.J. Lang. Cooper does have the ability to play center, but if that’s why you’re drafting him you’re just better off with Barrett Jones."
Three weeks later and not a lot has changed. Jonathan Cooper is still a very good player who probably should go before the Packers select at 26. If we pretend for a moment that the only options are Cooper and Alabama’s Barrett Jones, the question becomes where you plan to play the draft pick? Both players are extremely versatile, and while Jones is the only one that can play on the outside, chances are both will end up playing along the interior. If we compare each player at their best position – Cooper at left guard and Jones at center – Cooper is the superior prospect.
T.J. Lang Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
So should the Packers draft Cooper? He’s definitely the better value in the vacuum, but he may not be the best value to Green Bay. I say “may” because the determining factor is T.J. Lang. Lang’s performance this year has drawn some criticism. He was merely passable at right tackle after Bryan Bulaga went down and couldn’t get back to his 2011 form when he returned to left guard. A big reason for this was a serious elbow injury that no one – not even Lang – gave enough attention to during the season. Lang will be healthy come training camp, but has his 2012 season caused the team to reconsider his role? Recall that after center Scott Wells left Green Bay for St. Louis, the team openly considered moving Lang to center to replace him. Lang is a pretty sizable at guard, but he’d be near gargantuan at center. If the Packers still feel Lang can make that transition, perhaps they could maximize Jonathan Cooper’s value by keeping him at left guard.
So who else out there might interest Green Bay?
Nov 23, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; LSU Tigers safety Eric Reid (1) during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. LSU defeated Arkansas 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
As was the case the past month, LSU safety Eric Reid presents a very intriguing possibility. Green Bay is still reeling from the loss of Nick Collins, and while Morgan Burnett made strides in 2012, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll become the field-tilter Collins was. The moment Reid joins the NFL he’ll become one of the fastest players at his position. He’s also a tremendous tackler, finishing with 91 tackles this past season. While he hasn’t recorded a sack, Reid’s 4.5 tackles for loss demonstrate an ability to play the run. Finally, Reid has 6 career interceptions and 2 forced fumbles, demonstrating his ability to be a ballhawk and playmaker.
Louisiana Tech Bullldogs wide receiver Quinton Patton Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve discussed for months now that Green Bay needs to bring in some new blood at receiver. We’ve dissected players like USC’s Robert Woods, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, and Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson. All would be great contributors.
The name I’m hearing most now is Quinton Patton. Patton isn’t likely to come off the board in the first round, but he could go early on the second day. Patton has good but not great speed being clocked between 4.42 and 4.52 in the 40. Similarly, at 6-0 Patton possesses good but not great size. His college production at a mid-major has been off the charts, catching over 100 passes for just a tick under 1,400 yards his senior year alone.
It should, because that’s a remarkably similar resume to former second round pick Greg Jennings. The offense Patton played in was a bit “gimmicky,” but he proved at the senior bowl that he has the tools to be a factor at the NFL level. If the Packers don’t go receiver in the first round, Patton should be seriously considered in the second.
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.