Green Bay Packers: Grading Picks from the B/R Community Mock Draft
Bleacher Report recently had a community mock draft involving featured columnists from B/R who cover all 32 teams in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers war room was led by Matt Stein. Matt was assisted by other featured columnists who cover the Packers, including Matt Smith, Michael Dulka, Zach Cruse, Michael Kimble and myself.
Overall, I think Mr. Stein did a fine job leading the Green Bay contingent in this mock draft. This draft was able to address a number of the Packers' needs and concerns. In addition, Matt was able to trade up twice to select a player that had excellent value at that point of the draft.
I will address each player individually.
Bottom line grade of the draft- B+
1st Round: OLB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)
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Acquired Courtney Upshaw by trading Green Bay's 28th and 123rd picks for Houston's 26th and 161st picks.
40 Time: 4.70
Most mock draft boards have Upshaw slotted in the late teen-range, so trading up to select Upshaw at this point of the draft had real value. Upshaw did not have a particularly good day at the Combine, nor did he wow the coaches and scouts at the Alabama Pro Day. That is why his stock may be slipping.
Still, the tape of his play with the Crimson Tide does not lie. Upshaw had 31.5 tackles for losses the past two seasons for Alabama, plus had 15.5 sacks during that time.
Upshaw is a fierce competitor who always has his motor running on high. He plays the run well and rushes the passer with power. Upshaw was the definite leader of an Alabama defense which led the Crimson Tide to another national championship in 2011.
The Packers desperately need a productive bookend to Clay Matthews at ROLB. Upshaw has the ability and temperament to be that type of player.
2nd Round: DE Jared Crick (Nebraska)
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40 Time: 4.94
Jared Crick is another player that had excellent value at the time of his selection. Crick missed most of the 2011 season due to a torn pectoral muscle. But his production at Nebraska the previous two years show exactly why this pick is very solid.
In 2009 and 2010, Crick started and played in all 14 games each season. Crick also averaged 71.5 tackles each season and had 32 tackles for losses, not to mention 19 sacks.
Crick plays the run well, using his strong hands to shed blockers. Has the ability to rip under blocks when he is rushing the passer.
The Packers need to add quality depth along the defensive front after the team sorely missed Cullen Jenkins in 2011. The Packers have already addressed the defensive line issue by signing Anthony Hargrove as a free agent.
3rd Round: S Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State)
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We acquired Markelle Martin by trading the 90th and 163rd picks of the Packers for the 84th pick of the Bengals.
40 Time: 4.45
I had selected Markelle Martin in one of my own mock drafts. Martin is a natural free safety who also doesn't shy away from the physical part of the game. Martin did not have any interceptions in 2011, but he did have 74 tackles, 11 passes broken up and two forced fumbles. In 2010, Martin had three picks and 55 tackles.
The Packers need to select a safety fairly early in this draft for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is the questionable status of S Nick Collins (neck injury). The Packers and Collins will make a decision very soon as to whether or not the All-Pro can continue his NFL career, perhaps as early as next week.
The Packers also need to add a safety just to add quality depth to the position. Charlie Peprah had five interceptions in 2011 filling in for Collins, but was a liability in coverage.
4th Round: RB Robert Turbin (Utah State)
40 Time: 4.44
Robert Turbin had a great 2011 season for Utah State, rushing for 1,517 yards and 19 TDs plus catching 17 passes. He catches the ball very naturally, as he had 67 career catches for Utah State despite suffering a torn ACL in 2010.
Turbin is a very physical back, but also has some speed to run away from tacklers, plus he protects the ball well.
Right now the Packers only have James Starks, Alex Green and Brandon Saine on their roster at RB. Ryan Grant is testing free agency and some believe that he might re-sign with the Packers, but that is not a given.
Starks has had some injury issues in his first two years in the NFL and Green is coming off a torn ACL in 2011, while Saine looked okay in his limited playing time in 2011.
Turbin is the type of RB that would fit well in the Packers offense and add quality depth at the position.
4th Round: DE Malik Jackson (Tennessee)
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40 Time: 4.91
Malik Jackson was a two year starter at Tennessee with good size and athleticism. He plays the run well and flashes some pass rush ability at times, totaling 13 career sacks as a Volunteer.
The Packers need to add quality depth across the defensive line, as the squad got only six sacks from their defensive line in 2011.
DE Mike Neal of the Packers will miss the first four games of the 2012 season because he violated the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances. Plus, Neal has been very disappointing his first two years in the NFL due to injuries, games missed and lack of production.
5th Round: C Quinton Saulsberry (Mississippi State)
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40 Time: 5.38
Quinton Saulsberry is another player I selected in one of my own mock drafts. Saulsberry is a versatile offensive lineman who played C last year at Mississippi State and was named a 2011 AP All-SEC conference honorable mention.
Saulsberry has played four of the five positions on the offensive line, and the Packers love that type of versatility in their linemen. In 2010, Saulsberry started at RG after moving from LG after 2009. As a freshman in 2008, Saulsberry started at RT.
The Packers lost C Scott Wells in free agency, but they signed veteran All-Pro C Jeff Saturday as a free agent. Saturday signed only a two year deal with the Packers, as he is 37 years old, so the Packers need to have their future center in place to learn under the tutelage of Saturday.
6th Round: CB/S Desmond Morrow (Toledo)
40 Time: 4.49
Desmond Marrow has the athletic ability to play either CB or S. Morrow was on the 2011 All-MAC first team at CB, and he had three interceptions in 2011 for Toledo plus 14 passes defended. He has had some injury issues.
The Packers need to add quality depth to their defensive secondary. I addressed the safety position in an earlier slide, but CB is another area where the Packers need to get better. Charles Woodson is not getting any younger, while both Tramon Williams and Sam Shields had subpar years in 2011.
Jarrett Bush is adequate when he gets an opportunity to play, and the Packers have high hopes for Davon House who they drafted in 2011. House played very little last season due to leg injury issues.
7th Round: QB Aaron Corp (Richmond)
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Acquired from the Jets in the Caleb Schlauderaff trade.
40 Time: 4.72
Aaron Corp had a decent senior season at Richmond, throwing 17 TD passes to 13 interceptions for 2,682 yards. Corp is a good athlete who has the ability to escape pressure. He started his career at USC before losing the starting job to Matt Barkley.
The West Coast offense is a perfect fit for Corp. The red flag on Corp is his injury history. Corp has suffered a broken leg, a torn MCL and a torn ACL.
The Packers currently have only Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell and Nick Hill (former AFL player) on their roster at QB. The team will need a 4th arm in training camp. If Corp can stay healthy, he certainly has a chance to stick with the Packers, perhaps as a member of the practice squad.
7th Round: OLB Sammy Brown (Houston)
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40 Time: 4.67
Sammy Brown was first team 2011 Conference USA at LB. Brown led the country with 28 tackles for loss, plus had 12.5 sacks. Brown was very disruptive on defense, which is exactly what the Packers are looking for at ROLB.
Brown would be an asset on special teams as well with his athletic agility and his ability to find the football.
In 2011, the Packers tried the trio of Erik Walden, Frank Zombo and Brad Jones at ROLB. They all had their moments, but overall the production was just not there. That is why the Packers will look for players who will be productive in free agency and the draft.
7th Round: RB Bryce Brown (Kansas State)
40 Time: 4.48
Bryce Brown transferred to Kansas State from Tennessee (after first verbally committing to play with Miami of FL). Brown has a ton of ability, but also has a bit of a checkered past which is why Brown would be a bit of a risk. Still, Brown has the type of talent that would make him a worthwhile pick late in the draft.
As I mentioned before, the Packers' RB depth chart is a bit unsettled. Brown has the ability to turn heads in training camp and push the other RBs. But he also needs to become much more mature and will also need solid reinforcement from the coaching staff if he has any chance of succeeding in the NFL.
7th Round: OT Bradley Sowell (Mississippi)
40 Time: 5.26
Bradley Sowell played LT at Mississippi and was a two time All-SEC performer at Ole Miss. He has a big frame but needs to get stronger.
The OT position for the Packers is in a bit of a flux. LT Chad Clifton missed most of the 2011 season due to a severe hamstring injury and recently had back surgery. Clifton's status will be closely watched in training camp.
Marshall Newhouse filled in for Clifton in his absence, and played okay, but also allowed 12.5 sacks in 2011. That is NOT okay. Green Bay's 1st round pick in 2011, Derek Sherrod, suffered a broken leg in two places late in the 2011 season. Sherrod is currently rehabbing to try and be ready for training camp.
RT Bryan Bulaga also missed some time in 2011 because of two separate knee injuries.