Packers: No edge rusher in two-round post-combine mock draft

BLOOMINGTON, IN - OCTOBER 13: T.J. Hockenson #38 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs for a touchdown against the Indiana Hossiers at Memorial Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, IN - OCTOBER 13: T.J. Hockenson #38 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs for a touchdown against the Indiana Hossiers at Memorial Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Our latest two-round Green Bay Packers mock draft.

I’m feeling like the Green Bay Packers are sitting on a 2019 draft of potentially epic and team-changing proportions.

Sure, I’m a fan of the team and of course I’m going to say this, but let’s look at some facts pointing towards a team-changing draft.

1. Regime change is complete: It’s been written various other places how Ted Thompson‘s draft classes were getting less effective and having less of an immediate or any impact at all, a la first-round busts Ahmad Carroll, Justin Harrell, Jamal Reynolds, Derek Sherrod, Abdul Hodge, Darren Colledge, and others.

The Packers have now had complete regime change with a new head coach, mostly-new assistant coaches and a new offensive system being added in 2019 for the first time in 13 years. Let that sink in for a minute. This is going to inevitably lead to different kinds of players being regarded highly by management both in the draft and free agency.

2. The rebuild is upon us: There has now been an official declaration by the sports media that the Pack is in a “soft rebuild”, which I would argue started as soon as Brian Gutekunst took the reins at GM.

We’ve seen the quiet departure of personnel the last regime was hung up on like Ty Montgomery. Armed with around the league average with $34.43 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap, and two first-round picks, it would seem like game on for Gutekunst in 2019 after only a year at the helm. Which leads me to my next point…

3. Free agency is an option: There are potentially a lot of free agent pass rushers on the market this offseason, and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Packers sign someone after moving on from both Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.

Sure, maybe it’s wishful thinking but neither of these guys can a) stay on the field, and b) produce sacks. Gutey wasn’t afraid to make a few splashes in his first year, and while maybe the biggest signings didn’t have much impact, there’s no reason they won’t step up this year with better injury luck.

Being more active in free agency will allow the Packers to target other holes on the roster early in the draft, putting them in a position to potentially turn around the roster faster. For example, the pick at #12 could be used to take the only first-round graded WR or TE in the draft, rather than one of the five or six first-round graded edge players.

I believe these picks are pretty fluid at this early stage before free agency even opens. The Packers have lots of holes and depth needs on the roster, and their draft is going to be influenced by what they do in free agency.

Mock draft

Round 1, Pick 12: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

The biggest point here is that I do not believe the Packers are as desperate to grab an edge rusher as many mock drafters project. As stated previously, there is a dearth of talent available at the edge position both in free agency and the draft.

The Packers can fill more holes on the roster, making sure they get a top talent at another position with this pick and either take an edge rusher later in the draft or pick up a free agent.

Secondly, Mike Pettine’s system gets pressure from the scheme as shown by Blake Martinez’s highest sack total of his career in 2018, so as long as the IDL gets healthy, a role-player rusher could be used, and those can be found later in the draft.

Matt LaFleur’s offense uses a lot of decoy blocking and/or actual in-line blocking from the fullback or TE position. It’s key to his run game approach and I expect finding the right fit for that position will be assigned a higher value.

Although I’ve seen Noah Fant’s workout, I still think Hockenson is the scheme fit as the total package TE. This pick will also allow GM Gutekunst to jettison the overpaid and underperforming Jimmy Graham experiment next season (2020) freeing up more money for the ongoing rebuild.

*I could see the Packers going OT here as Bryan Bulaga is probably done after 2019, but it would be a departure from taking the best talent available at the spot, unless Jawaan Taylor is available, which I highly doubt.

Round 1, Pick 30: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma

Now the Packers take Bryan Bulaga’s future replacement. Unfortunately, having both Bulaga and David Bakhtiari healthy at the same time has been a challenge for a few years now, and Bulaga’s contract runs out after 2019.

The most obviously glaring problem for the Packers during the current run of mediocrity has been the O-line and injuries to Aaron Rodgers. Let’s hope this helps stop the bleeding.

Familiarity with a zone-blocking scheme from his time in Oklahoma helps Cody Ford step right in at right guard, and in a perfect world he gets a year to learn or rotate, before stepping in at RT in 2020, or when Bulaga inevitably goes down to injury again.

If he’s not available, or there’s an early run on the OT position, I could see the Packers reversing the order of the top two picks or even packaging the pick at #30 to move up slightly and nab Ford, who I see falling slightly, due more to the ascendance of Jawaan Taylor and Andre Dillard than any change in his own talent.

Round 2, Pick 44: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

The Pack doesn’t need a run-support safety as much as a talented center-fielder, and they get it in Adderley. A true free safety with range and speed, he will probably put on some weight to handle the NFL.

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He has nine interceptions in his last two seasons with Delaware, including four in 2018 along with seven pass breakups, a forced fumble and 86 tackles. He will add more physicality to a potentially sneaky-good defensive backfield in 2019, pending how starters come back from injury.