Three years after my last article, I am looking forward to contributing to the Packers writing community on Bleacher Report.
For my first article, I am going to take the popular route and put out my late-March Packers' mock draft. With the recent signings of center Jeff Saturday, defensive tackle/end Daniel Muir and the possible addition of defensive end Anthony Hargrove, the outlook of the draft seems to be changing.
Mike McCarthy also stated that Nick Collins may not play this season, so that will have an effect as well. With that said, here is my 2012 mock draft. Enjoy.
Chandler Jones, Outside Linebacker, Syracuse
Weight: 250 pounds
Its no secret that the Packers' pass rush was abysmal last season. The opponents' ability to double- and triple-team Clay Matthews was the main reason that quarterbacks were able to exploit the Packers defense. The rotation of Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Brad Jones and Vic So'oto was an absolute failure.
With the first-round pick, I believe the Packers will select an outside linebacker to be the bookend to Clay Matthews. That outside linebacker is Chandler Jones, a defensive end from Syracuse. With Jones being 250 pounds, he will make the transition to outside backer in the Packers 3-4 scheme.
At 6'5", Jones also has the length to be decent in the pass game, and should be able to hold his own at the point of attack against the run.
Chase Minnifield, Cornerback, University of Virginia
Weight: 185 pounds
The Packers secondary took a giant leap backward last season. Tramon Williams struggled with a shoulder injury and didn't make the plays he is known for. Charles Woodson's age started to show, and Sam Shields was by far the secondary's worst tackler. Woodson will be 36 this season, making it imperative that the Packers bring in and groom a young replacement for him.
Chase Minnifield could be that replacement. At 6' tall, he has the size that Ted Thompson looks for in cornerbacks. He excels in locating the ball and getting his hands on anything around him. He loves to play up in the receiver's face.
He lacks the thickness to be a solid tackler and gets his fair share on interference calls. But with the proper offseason program, Minnifield could be a steal in Round 2.
Mike Martin, Defensive Tackle, University of Michigan
Weight: 307 pounds
The Packers lack of a pass-rusher was apparent from both the outside linebacker and defensive end positions. The Packers used a failed combination of Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal opposite Ryan Pickett.
Wynn led the defensive ends with three sacks. The Packers added DT/DE Daniel Muir and appear to be on the verge of signing DE/OLB Anthony Hargrove, though his role seems unclear.
The Packers would add Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin to secured the right end position. With newly drafted teammate Chandler Jones, Martin would bolster an anemic pass rush.
Martin's strength is nearly unmatched. He is almost unstoppable one-on-one. He can also slide inside in certain packages to give B.J. Raji some rest.
Although he may never be a dynamic pass-rusher, he should be able to get to the quarterback more than the defensive ends already in Green Bay.
RB Isaiah Pead
Pick No. 123: RB Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati
Weight: 195 pounds
Running back may not be the Packers' biggest need, but Ted Thompson is one of the best at adding the best available player regardless of position.
Of the returning backs, Ryan Grant may not return. James Starks seems like a situational back. Brandon Saine is an ideal third-down back, and Alex Green is coming off of a nasty knee injury that ended with a trip to the injured reserve list.
Pead has shown the ability to be a third-down back.
Pick No. 132: Safety George Iloka, Boise State
Weight: 210 pounds
With the recent comments made by Mike McCarthy, if Nick Collins is even 95 percent ready to return after his spinal fusion surgery, he may not allow Collins to play. I fully agree with McCarthy that he wouldn't put Collins' life on the line for the sake of the game.
Therefore, I have the Packers selecting safety George Iloka. At 6'3'', Iloka is a giant of a safety who could be a force in the Packers secondary.
Pick No. 133: Center Mike Brewster, Ohio State
Weight: 295 pounds
With the Packers losing Pro Bowl center Scott Wells to the St. Louis Rams, Ted Thompson signed 13-year veteran center Jeff Saturday, a huge pickup in my mind. Saturday will be an excellent stop- gap for the Packers until they groom the center of the future.
That center is Mike Brewster. Listed at 293 pounds, he may not be the biggest center in the league, but solid weight programs in the NFL should get Brewster bulked up and ready to take over after Saturday retires.
#70 Matt Reynolds
Matt Reynolds, Tackle/Guard, Brigham Young
Weight: 325 pounds
With the uncertain status of left tackles Chad Clifton and Derek Sherrod, the Packers will undoubtedly add some depth on the offensive line. Left tackle Demetrius Bell is scheduled to visit Green Bay next week. Based on the visit-to-sign ratio in Green Bay, it seems as though Bell will most likely be signed.
Regardless of that, Clifton could be cut to save his $5.5 million dollar cap hit. Plus, it never hurts to have quality depth on the offensive line.
The Packers also could move Brian Bulaga to left tackle and have Marshall Newhouse and Matt Reynolds battle it out at right tackle.
Brian Linthicum, Tight End, Michigan State
Weight: 245 pounds
Ted Thompson always seems to draft a tight end, and I do not think this year will be any different. The Packers have a promising, yet streaky tight end in Jermichael Finley. They also have third-year tight end Andrew Quarless, solid run-blocker Tom Crabtree and rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor.
Of those returnees, Quarless suffered a bad knee injury this past season, Crabtree will never be a star, and Williams and Taylor are more of a project than a sure thing.
So I believe the Packers will bring in Linthicum. With his height and hands, Linthicum could be a sleeper candidate to steal snaps from the backup tight ends.
No. 235: B.J. Coleman, Quarterback, Tennessee-Chattanooga
Weight: 210 pounds
The Packers recently lost Matt Flynn to the Seahawks, and Graham Harrell is slated to take the role of Aaron Rodgers backup. The Packers are high on Harrell, but seem intent on bringing in a quarterback to compete for the backup role.
No. 241: Danny Trevathan, Inside Linebacker, Kentucky
Weight: 230 pounds
A.J. Hawk has to be the worst tackler on the Packers and could see more limited playing time with the emergence of D.J. Smith. Trevathan is a quick linebacker who would add depth to the Packers defense.
No. 243: Tysyn Hartman, Safety, Kansas State
Weight: 206 pounds
Hartman would be brought in to compete for a backup role if Nick Collins can't return from his neck injury. Charlie Peprah is a decent backup, but is easily outmatched against good teams.
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Defensive Tackle, Kent State
Weight: 335 pounds
This pick is conditional, so its place in the draft order has yet to be determined.
Kitchen is a huge specimen who could easily make this team and help spell B.J. Raji, whose workload has been ridiculously heavy since joining the Packers in 2009.
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