Packers 2018 Draft: First-round predictions from Lombardi Ave staff

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 05: Derwin James
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 05: Derwin James /
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Kevin Culligan: Packers select Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

This is an optimistic prediction. Fitzpatrick is considered a top-five or top-10 prospect in the draft. It is possible that Fitzpatrick is selected before the Packers pick at #14, with some of the most likely culprits being the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #7, the San Francisco 49ers at #9, the Oakland Raiders at #10, or the Washington Redskins at #13.

Due to at least four quarterbacks being drafted very early and some other potential surprises, it’s possible that the all-purpose Alabama defensive back is available at pick #14. I predict that in a stroke of good fortune, he is, and Brian Gutekunst makes Fitzpatrick his first pick as general manager.

Most see Fitzpatrick as a safety, but he also has experience playing in the slot as a nickel corner. That will be his role in Green Bay—the “star” position that Damarious Randall’s departure has left vacant.

In this position, he’ll be able to use his all-around skills to cover receivers man-to-man, match up with receiving tight ends, rush the passer, defend against the run, and generally do anything that Mike Pettine needs. He probably will never become Charles Woodson, but he could easily be an upgrade over Randall/Micah Hyde and develop into one of the best defensive backs in the league.

Cornerback is by far the Packers’ biggest need, and outside of Denzel Ward, Fitzpatrick is the draft’s best corner prospect. This scenario is a dream come true for Green Bay, akin to being able to select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix when free safety was such a huge need in 2014.