NFL Mocks has the Green Bay Packers selecting tackle Austin Jackson in their latest mock draft.
The Packers could find their long-term replacement for Bulaga in the opening round and still have plenty of picks in the later rounds to address other needs such as wide receiver and inside linebacker. They will also have the chance to address those positions in free agency.
A recent mock draft by Evan Bachman of NFL Mocks has the Packers selecting USC tackle Austin Jackson in the first round.
Bachman writes that drafting Jackson would be with a focus on the long term as he needs some time to develop his game.
That said, he could eventually become a starter for the Packers at tackle. And as Bachman notes, not only is Bulaga a free agent when the new league year begins next week, but All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari only has a year remaining on his current deal.
At this stage, it’s hard to see a scenario in which Bakhtiari isn’t given a long-term extension, possibly even as early as this summer. Even in a worst-case scenario, Bakhtiari would be a candidate for the franchise tag next offseason.
Much sooner than that, we’ll find out where Bulaga will be playing. He’s yet to re-sign with the Packers and time is running out before free agency gets underway. If he becomes a free agent next week, there’s a good chance he’ll be gone.
The concern with drafting Jackson is that he might not be ready to start right away. The Packers would then need to find a veteran to start, perhaps moving Billy Turner to right tackle or re-signing Jared Veldheer on a one-year deal.
The Packers are focused on winning now so using a first-round pick on a player who may not be ready to start until 2021 might not be considered a great move.
They might be better off using free agency to sign a tackle, whether that’s re-signing Bulaga or Veldheer, or looking elsewhere. Draft another tackle in the middle rounds, but use the first pick at a position like wide receiver or inside linebacker where they could find Day 1 starter. Of course, there would be other options at tackle in the first round, too.
But Jackson has the potential to become an excellent player with time to develop. What are your thoughts on the possibility of drafting Jackson in the first round?