The latest NFL Spin Zone mock draft has the Green Bay Packers landing safety Derwin James in the first round.
The Packers have a number of needs on defense, and fixing the secondary is among the biggest priorities for new general manager Brian Gutekunst.
While finding an edge rusher or cornerback might be considered more important early on, Gutekunst could find it too difficult to pass up on a talent like Derwin James if he falls to No. 14 overall.
James is one of the draft’s premier defensive players, and he could give the secondary an immediate boost.
Randy Gurzi of NFL Spin Zone agrees in his latest mock draft. Due to an early run on quarterbacks, James falls to the Packers on Day 1. Here is what Gurzi wrote about the pick:
"“There will be some phones blowing up if Florida State safety Derwin James does indeed slip this far. His talent suggests he should be a top-10 pick, but the way this draft falls — and the rush for quarterbacks — keeps him on the clock until now. The Green Bay Packers are the team that’s able to get the talented safety, and they could end up looking brilliant simply by being lucky.”"
As Gurzi notes, James could easily hear his name called inside the top-10. If he doesn’t, it won’t be due to a lack of talent.
James made 15 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 5.5 sacks in effectively two years at Florida State (he only played two games in 2016).
It’s entirely possible the top three picks in this year’s draft are all quarterbacks. The Cleveland Browns and New York Giants are quarterback-needy teams picking first and second respectively. It’s hard to believe the New York Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3 to not take a QB.
It feels like a safe bet to say that three quarterbacks will be off the board by the time the Packers make their pick. But don’t count out the possibility of four being gone. The Buffalo Bills could look to trade up to No. 4 overall.
From Gutekunst’s perspective, the more quarterbacks that go early, the better. It simply pushes more defensive talent down the board and closer to the Packers. It’s possible a potential game-changer like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tremaine Edmunds or Denzel Ward falls to No. 14. In the case of this mock draft, it’s James.
James would give the Packers the same versatility Morgan Burnett offered, but with the potential to become one of the best safeties in the entire league. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would be able to line him up at various spots.
If James is still there when the Packers make their first selection, Gutekunst might have an easy decision.