The April Fools 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 are making their final impressions on NFL teams, 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.
Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert (80) catches a pass defended by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Dee Milliner (28) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Elfert was ruled out of bounds on the play. Mandatory Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
According to FanSided, with the 26th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame
Analysis: Green Bay needs help up front, but another way to help Aaron Rodgers would be to get him a capable tight end for the future. Jermichael Finely is sticking around for now it seems, but he’s not a long term option anymore as animosity grows. Eifert gives Rodgers his Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, and that makes him even more dangerous than he was before. Menelik Watson and other offensive lineman will be available on the second day for the Packers to flirt with, but Eifert won’t be and if they want to help Rodgers, they’ll get him a giant tight end.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) catches a touchdown pass while being defended by San Diego Chargers safety Steve Gregory (28) during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
This mock draft makes a lot of assumptions about the Packers’ relationship with Jermichael Finley. Primarily, it assumes that Finley and the Packers have become acrimonious towards one another.
While fans may be growing more spiteful toward Finley, there’s not enough evidence to suggest such is the case with the front office. Such an argument is even harder to make when the deadline for Finley’s roster bonus came and passed without any real chance of a renegotiation or release.
If fans can put down their pitchforks for a minute, they’d realize what good news this is. After Randall Cobb, Finley was the Packers’ best pass catcher the second half of the season, catching 33 passes for 402 yards while dropping zero balls. With Greg Jennings leaving via free agency, Finley should see his usage spike.
That doesn’t necessarily mean drafting a tight end early is a bad move for the Packers, however. After all, Finley’s contract expires following the 2013 season. Should Finley have a big year, it’s possible he’ll have priced himself out of Green Bay.
Alternatively, if Finley has a bad year or is injured, Packers GM Ted Thompson could choose to let the tight end walk. In either of those scenarios, a replacement would be needed. The in-house options – D.J. Williams and Andrew Quarless – have shown promise, yet neither has provided bankable production in the passing game so far. Thus, it’s easy to see where a talented rookie tight end might find a niche with Green Bay.
San Diego State Aztecs tight end Gavin Escobar (88) catches a 29 yard pass while defended by Army Black Knights defensive back Lyle Beloney (15) during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
That said, I don’t think Tyler Eifert is that guy. His athleticism, while more than average, doesn’t stand out the way a first round tight end should. His best attribute is his ability to high point the ball on his jumps, but that’s his lone exceptional quality.
Considering that Aaron Rodgers’ passes rarely require fantastic feats of athleticism to bring down, the value of that ability is diminished. More importantly, there are several tight ends of comparable quality who should be on the board much later.
Zach Ertz is a comparable body tight with similar athleticism, and probably would be an ideal target should the Packers trade out of the first round. If the Packers stay in the first round, San Diego State’s Gavin Escobar should still be around at their second pick. Escobar possesses comparable athleticism and college production to Eifert and Ertz, but at a much lower cost.
Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) tries to avoid a tackle by Purdue Boilermakers defensive tackle Kawann Short (93) quarter at Memorial Stadium. Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
Since we’ve discussed receivers, running backs, safeties, and offensive lineman to death, here are some defensive lineman that might intrigue the Packers.
Kawann Short is an impressive specimen at 6-3, 299 pounds. Because of his long arms, Short batted down 11 passes at Purdue. He also blocked four kicks. What Short mainly gets docked for is his motor, which isn’t always running in top gear.
That’s not uncommon for defensive lineman, and given Short’s production in college that shouldn’t be too much of a worry. His stock is thought to be rising, so he might be gone by 26.
UNC’s Sylvester Williams is another talented but inconsistent lineman who would fit in the Packers’ 3-4. Williams, who played defensive tackle in the Tar Heels’ 4-3, notched six sacks in 2012. The catalyst for that impressive production is his swim move which should translate to the next level. Unfortunately, he’s a one trick pony at this stage of his career. While Williams should develop into a very good player, he may be too much of a project in round one.
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins (52) against the Indiana Hoosiers during the 2nd half at Memorial Stadium. Ohio State defeated Indiana 52-49. Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Finally we come to Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins. Hankins is one of the true nose tackle prospects in his draft class, and accordingly may be snatched up early. Should he last to Green Bay, Hankins would immediately allow graybeard Ryan Pickett to reduce his snap count. Hankins would also solidify B.J. Raji’s move from nose tackle to 3-4 end. More than anything, Hankins would be a plus defender against the run. With Adrian Peterson not likely to slow down in 2013, adding another beefy defensive lineman could be a wise move.
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.