Will the Packers have yet another successful draft in 2012?
As may have been expected due to the Packers loss of former starters Cullen Jenkins and Daryn Colledge as well as key members Brandon Jackson and Jason Spitz, the Packers received the most compensation picks allowable in this year's upcoming NFL draft.
Further exemplifying General Manager Ted Thompson's draft-and-develop mentality, the Packers signed zero free agents last year.
For this third incarnation of a mock draft, I've factored in the Packers compensation picks which ended up being two additional fourth rounders and two more seventh rounders. The Packers have a total of 12 picks now, a feat that must make Thompson giddy with anticipation even for a 15-1 team.
Here are 12 picks that would fit the Packers well factoring in recent signings of center Jeff Saturday, defensive lineman Daniel Muir and the signing of another DL Anthony Hargrove.
Like my previous mocks, for the first round I'll include a trade-up, trade-down and stand pat pick since this is the round with the most investment.
When I did my first two mock drafts, almost all other sites and scouting profiles had Perry gone by the time the Packers would pick.
Since then, a combination of other prospects' stock rising and Perry's mysteriously falling ever-so-slightly has him landing to the Packers in this mock.
Perry would need a transition period going from a defensive end at USC to playing outside linebacker for the Packers. Then again, Perry could be used with his hand on the ground in passing situations, since the Packers are rarely in a base 3-4 formation anyway.
The Packers would be the perfect hybrid defense for Perry's development and Perry would reward the Packers with an improved pass rush from day one in training camp.
Trade up: Fletcher Cox, DT (6'4", 295lbs)
Cox is the versatile, high-motor, productive and athletic defensive lineman that all teams seek (with the ideal frame to boot). Thompson is going to see major question marks in some of the other highly-touted defensive linemen that don't exist with Cox. Cox will bring it every down and mark a great improvement at 3-4 base end for the Packers.
Trade down: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina; Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State; Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn; Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington; Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma or Kevin Zeitler, C/G, Wisconsin.
I know a mock is supposed to predict the one singular guy who would go at a particular spot, but my point in listing so many great talents here is to express high-value, top-talent second and third rounds of this year's draft.
For this reason alone, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Thompson trades out of the first round, even with all his compensation picks coming later.
More picks means Thompson can stockpile his favorites.
With his record of finding a plethora of talent after the first round, trading down may be a good strategy. I could picture Thompson trading down in the first, but then trading up in the mid-rounds (i.e. move up his fourth-sixth round standard picks knowing he's got his comp picks that can't be traded). This list barely even gets the ball rolling on ultra-talented second and third-rounders available via trading down.
When you think of schools that are factories for prospects the last one anyone could conjure up is probably Midwestern State but that won't stop Ted Thompson from making this pick.
Silatolu would be a classic "best player available pick" if available in the second. Silatolu wouldn't have to start on day-one and if he had to play early on he would bring nastiness to the line as well as an adequate pass blocking ability necessary to keep the NFL MVP upright. Assuming Derek Sherrod recovers fully from a devastating broken leg injury, the Packers line is well-stocked at tackle but may be lacking at guard and, in the long-term, center.
Thompson has been among the league-leaders in drafting prospects from small schools. The problem with Silatolu is the rabbit's out of the hat so-to-speak. Some even think Silatolu could be drafted in the first round.
The small school run continues. Don't be fooled by where Norman comes from, he's got bona fide NFL-caliber physical attributes and talents as well as a nose for football instincts.
When Thompson drafted Nick Collins out of Bethune-Cookman many were skeptical about using a second-round pick on a small school prospects. Years later, Packernation is on the edge of their seats awaiting news of whether the top-tier safety can return from what may be a career-ending neck injury.
With special thanks to a reader who suggested I shouldn't consider short corners in my mock draft, I did further research and found many corroborating reports that verify Thompson's scout team's desire to draft those above 5'11" if possible.
I still contend that if Thompson saw a "can't miss" 5'8" corner he'd take him but some reports suggest Thompson learned from Ron Wolf's blunder of drafting the 5'8" Terrell Buckley in the first round and seeing the Cowboys bigger receivers dominate in the Packers void at corner on their path to dominance.
Many paralels could be drawn today since the NFL's passing game is only going to be more prominent and receivers keep getting faster and bigger by the generation.
In Norman's case, his resume shows he performed well against big school talent, albeit in a small sample size for the East-West Shrine game and associated activities.
Here are some interesting tidbits from Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout in regard to Norman's East-West Shrine Game week:
Perhaps the most impressive prospect of all this entire week, Norman turned heads every day in practice with his quick feet, closing burst and natural ballskills. He looks natural in reverse with good hip action and body flexibility. Norman intimidated physically with imposing size for the position at 6-0, 203 pounds with 32-inch arms, showing safety size with cornerback skills. He was considered a late-round prospect entering the week, but now looks like a borderline third/fourth round pick.
Martin making a block on special teams in the Tostitos bowl against Stanford this past season.
With news of Nick Collins' future playing status likely to become official in the next two weeks, safety could become a greater priority for the Packers.
This fourth round selection picks one of the best players available at this round figuring if Collins is a full-go you still add an improvement in depth as well as a developmental prospect for the long-haul.
Charlie Peprah is an admirable back-up with great intangibles but his ceiling is reached and he is a liability as a starter. Martin presents the Packers with the ability to contribute as a rookie and the possibility of being a respectable starter in the near future.
For a scouting summary of Martin, check out Walter Football's Charlie Campbell write-up here.
Bobby Rainey against Nebraska
4a.Tony Bergstrom, OL, Utah, 6'5", 313 lbs
For a detailed analysis of Bergstrom's game and how he'd fit with the Packers, check out my last mock draft page on him.
I had Bergstrom at the end of the third round in that mock but have seen other mocks with him lasting into the fourth and fifth rounds.
4b. Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky, 5'7" 207lbs
Many folks want to see a different Rainey of the Florida variety to add as a multi-facetted weapon to the offense in the mold of Percy Harvin or Darren Sproles (see Rainey, Chris for that profile).
Bobby Rainey is a very polished runner for a late 4th round pick. He may be short but he's a lot more powerful than you'd think for having such a small frame.
With Ryan Grant's future with the team in limbo (despite McCarthy's desire to keep him) and James Starks' injury history the Packers could use a running back in this year's draft. Rainey could be a good fit alongside the bigger-bodied Alex Green (who is also coming back from injury).
Brandon Lindsey getting to the quarterback.
Great prototypical size and athleticism to be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
With that said, are the once-dominant defenses of yester-year going to have to adapt greatly to the dramatic increased prominence of the passing game?
You won't have Lindsey playing pass coverage too often in the NFL but what Lindsey adds is another developmental pass-rusher with impressive collegiate production.
The other nice thing drafting Lindsey does is add some friendly rookie competition to the outside linebacker spot. It also allows the Packers to unload any one of the myriad of undrafted outside linebackers they currently have to help end a carousel at the position.
I suspect Vic So'oto will be kept for development while Brad Jones and Frank Zombo are in danger of being cut if they exhibit a poor showing in training camp this season.
My analysis from Mock Version 1.0 still remains valid about Austin Davis. Now that Flynn's departure is confirmed since the first mock, picking a developmental quarterback will be in the cards for the Packers.
Graham Harrell may or may not be the answer at No. 2 and the Arena League Nick Hill could be the next Kurt Warner or the next local high school coach by season's end.
McCarthy has said he prefers having four quarterbacks in camp since it's the most important position on the field. Thompson will be impressed with Davis' ability to win with his back up against the wall as well as Davis' respectable athleticism and contagious field-general leadership.
Robert Blanton picks off Michigan State's Kurt Cousins.
The seventh round is an underappreciated territory in the NFL but for a general manager like Ted Thompson it's a bountiful playground.
In a draft-and-develop franchise, seventh rounders mean the chance to secure a guy who would have otherwise been a UFA free to choose whatever team he wants and you still get to add UFAs after the last round's picks.
With an uber-talented roster already fairly set for 2012, Thompson can use the end-of-draft picks to take a risk on a guy with high upside who wasn't 'seen' on the national stage or developmental guys who may have had an injury senior year. Like recent years, regardless of who Thompson picks in the 7th round, don't be surprised to see plenty of other teams snatch up the guys the Packers have to cut.
Seventh Rounder; Vaughn Meatoga, DT, Hawaii, 6'1" 294lbs: The Packers could still use more competition on the defensive line after signing Daniel Muir and Anthony Hargove. Meatoga has good size to be a 3-4 end but will need time to develop NFL awareness. Possible prospect to stash on a practice squad without being raided by another team too.
7a; Nicholas Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor, 6'2" 335lbs: Prototypical nose-tackle frame with raw skills-- perfect for line coach Mike Trgovac to work with in light of Howard Green's departure and Ryan Pickett entering the twilight of his career.
7b; Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame, 6'1" 197lbs: Like all 7th rounders, Blanton will have a lot of weaknesses to improve upon but getting a CB of his physical stature who's played against elite college competition is worth taking a flyer on.
Blanton's style of play is aggressive. He doesn't shy from contact and succeeded multiple times rerouting receivers and getting in their heads a bit. He struggles mightily when left alone on an island in man coverage, but does a nice job in zone and should get a few looks at free safety. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
7c; Scott Wedige, C, Northern Illinois, 6'4" 304lbs: View this pick as a no-risk investment in a darkhorse, future replacement for Jeff Saturday. Ideally a center prospect is picked earlier in the draft but if none is found until the 7th, Wedige could be a surprise small-schooler exemplifying how Thompson leaves no rock unturned.
No draft covers every purported 'need' equally and if any general manager will surprise us as far as what positions are picked early in the draft, it's going to be Ted Thompson.
This mock combines 'best player available' mentality with the respect Thompson displays towards hungry, small school prospects. Simultaneously, the DE/OLB hybrid picks may address pass rush needs that fit a 3-4 base and hybrid schemes Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers enjoys employing.
Arguably, this mock misses finding a future center in the early-to-mid-rounds.
What do you think of these picks? What does your mock draft look like?
Let us know in the comments section.