Green Bay Packers Draft: Pre-Free Agency Rankings for Positions of Need
By Dan Dahlke
*Adjusted 2016 NFL Draft Position rankings at each position of need on the Green Bay Packers roster following the NFL Combine.
Need #1 – Inside Linebacker
- Myles Jack, UCLA (6-1, 245)
- Darron Lee, Ohio State (6-1, 235, 4.47)
- Reggie Ragland, Alabama (6-1, 247, 4.72)
- Su’a Cravens, USC (6-1, 226)
- Joshua Perry, Ohio State (6-4, 254, 4.68)
- Deion Jones, LSU (6-1, 222, 4.59)
- Nick Vigil, Utah State (6-2, 239, 4.72)
- Beniquez Brown, Mississippi State (6-1, 229, 4.77)
- Blake Martinez, Stanford (6-2, 237, 4.71)
- Kentrell Brothers, Missouri (6-0, 245, 4.89)
*Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame (6-3, 240) – Injured
Risers: Nick Vigil, Deion Jones, Darron Lee, Joshua Perry
Fallers: Scooby Wright, Kentrell Brothers, Tyler Matakevich, Kris Frost
The inside linebacker class really separated itself after the combine. It’s easy to dismiss poor forty times for linebackers, but in today’s modern NFL, defenders are asked to play out in space more than ever. Now, there’s a premium on speed at linebacker.
If a player doesn’t cross the 4.8 threshold it can really hurt him. Many were high on Wright coming out of college, but a 4.90 forty is really going to cause him to drop on many boards. Similar stories ring true for other standout college linebackers like Kentrell Brothers (4.89), Tyler Matakevich (4.83), and Kris Frost (4.97).
However, I’m still high enough on Brothers’ film and short-area speed and quickness to keep him in my top ten. His three-cone (6.99) and 20-yard shuttle times (4.11) were still really good, showing his ability to change direction well.
On the contrary, deficiencies in athleticism and speed really show up in Wright’s film, which his combine numbers only reaffirmed. Now, many will still try to pull the “but he still has great instincts” argument when it comes to evaluating or ranking Wright.
However, a lot of linebackers in this class have great instincts, and they won’t be major liabilities in coverage or out in space. Players like Nick Vigil and Blake Martinez play with tremendous instincts, but they also possess the speed and quickness to put themselves in position to make plays.
Deion Jones and Joshua Perry also cemented themselves as early-round picks for the athleticism they showcased, and coupled with their ability to read-and-react on the field, make them potential day-one starters in the NFL.
On the other hand, Jaylon Smith’s draft projection is very difficult to figure out. He’s my top-ranked player in this class, but the combine revealed his injury may be worse than it initially appeared. Knowing he’s going to miss at least the 2016 season, it’s difficult to project where he’ll land in the draft.
It could be anywhere from the late-first round or all the way to the middle of day three of the draft.
New Names: B.J. Goodson (6-1, 242; 4.69), Dominique Alexander (6-0, 232), Nick Kwiatoski (6-2, 243, 4.73)
Goodson is a player I immediately tried to find tape on after the combine. Given his size, a 4.69 forty is tremendous, but he also led all linebackers in the bench press with 30 reps and finished near the top in the three-cone drill (7.05), showing good change of direction ability.
From the early samples I’ve seen, I like what Goodson brings to the field. He may sneak into my top ten as I evaluate more of his games.
Next: Need #2 - TE