2012 NFL Mock Draft: Who Are the Experts Projecting to the Green Bay Packers?

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2016

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: General manager Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers looks on after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Welcome to part three of our look at who may go to NFC North teams in the first round of the NFL Draft. Monday, we looked at the Lions. Yesterday was the Bears' turn.

Today, we check out who people are projecting to the Green Bay Packers. To keep it consistent, I'm still using the same group of analysts from the prior pieces.

They are the following: Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Scott Wright of Draftcountdown.com, Wes Bunting of National Football Post, Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sportsline, Shawn Zobel from Draft Headquarters, Bleacher Report's very own Sigmund Bloom, Chad Reuter of NFL.com and Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football. As before, all of the links above go to the analyst's mocks, save Kiper and McShay, who are both behind the ESPN pay wall.

There are two consistent players who pop up over and over in the analyses. Let's see who they are.


McShay: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson

Here's what he said:

Packers OLB Clay Matthews clearly needs pass-rush help, and Branch can provide that with his motor and ability to get after the quarterback. He has the athleticism to move to outside linebacker in Green Bay's 3-4 defense, where he also can hold up well against the run.

My take: Branch has definitely been a popular pick for a conversion linebacker project for the Packers. If the Packers can grab a straight OLB prospect who can step in quickly, I can see them going in another direction. Overall though a decent pick and nothing surprising.


Kiper: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Here's what he said:

By the end of last season, the Packers were sacking quarterbacks at a rate that was the worst in the NFL. They simply have to find players who can create matchup problems for offenses often trying to play catch-up via the pass. Perry is another convert option, but the Packers can do a lot with their looks and find a place for a pass-rusher with his upside.

My take: Again, same as with McShay's pick, I'm not sure how much this pick will happen if the Packers can get an OLB straight up. Here's the interesting thing: Kiper has Branch as a mid-second rounder. However, I would say that it's a better chance the Pack goes with Branch, who is more willing to convert than the hesitant Perry.

I happen to like Perry a lot, though, and if he was open to the move, I think he might have a greater impact for the team than Branch.


Wright: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Here's what he said:

USC’s Nick Perry played defensive end in college and racked up 29.5 tackles for a loss and 21.5 sacks in three seasons but he could also transition to outside linebacker in an odd front at the next level. However, regardless of where Perry lines up there is no denying that he is one of the most explosive edge pass rushers in this draft. The other main consideration for Green Bay would probably be a defensive end since Mike Neal can’t seem to stay healthy and is now facing a suspension and there isn't much depth to speak of.

My take: Again, Perry's hesitation to convert could give the Packers pause, but I like that Scott acknowledges that the Packers could always use him as just a straight up defensive end.

Whether D-End is a big enough need to warrant this high a pick is debatable. However the Packers will take the best available player who fits a need, so this isn't completely outside the realm of believability.

I would also point out something I didn't the last two articles. Scott has Jonathan Martin drop to the Giants here, and I have a hard time believing that would happen—he's just too talented. Of course, anything is possible in the NFL Draft.

By the way, I am beginning to sense a pattern....do you?


Bunting: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Here's what he said:

Perry has worked out well all post-season and is a versatile 43 DE or 34 OLB prospect who could line-up all over. His versatility on third down gives the Packers even more options in pressure situations.

My take: Again, I think Perry will be more comfortable and effective as a defensive end. That said, Bunting, as the guys before him did, makes a good case for Perry based on athletic ability. The question remains: will he willingly do it?


Rang: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Here's what he said:

The biggest difference between the 2010 Packers that won the Super Bowl and the 2011 team that lost in the divisional round of the playoffs was the team's dropoff last season in pass rush. Green Bay finished tied for second in the NFL with 47 sacks in 2010 but dropped to a four-way tie for 27th in the league last year with just 29. To put that into perspective, the Packers produced just six more sacks than the last-placed Bucs and just one more than the 31st ranked Titans. Perry emerged as a star defensive end for the Trojans in 2011 but is viewed by some as a better fit at outside linebacker.

My take: See above, repeatedly.


I'm going to stop here for a second and point out one thing that is a unifying theme in all these picks: the Packers need to hit the quarterback more often.

Whether it's with a defensive end, a linebacker paired with Clay Matthews or a ninja popping out of the turf, the Packers need to get to the quarterback more often. The pass defense was atrocious for much of the last season, but that wasn't all on the secondary (though Tramon Williams had issues).

This is a team which needs another weapon (at least one) on the front seven. Every analyst here knows this and regardless of the pick, the only way the Pack returns to the Super Bowl is by fixing this.


Brugler: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

Here's what he said:

Despite All-Pro Clay Matthews rushing the passer, the Packers finished 27th in the league with only 29.0 sacks this past season so this pick should be a front-seven defender. Still might be the most physically gifted defensive tackle in this class, but inconsistency will push him down some draft boards. He has the frame, length and versatility that will be attractive to a three-man front and might be ideally suited as a five-technique end.

My take: Another Perry pick. Oh wait, it's not!

Another potential conversion though, with Brugler saying Still maybe moves over to end. It's not that they don't need a tackle (they could use one), but Brugler, ahead of the curve, has Shea McClellin going a few picks later and as hot as that McClellin to Pack rumor is, I don't see them taking Still over McClellin.


Zobel: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

My take: Again, Zobel has no explanation of the pick on the site, but I assume that much like Brugler, he's thinking of a potential conversion to end or added depth at tackle.

I like Brockers a lot, and given the way Zobel's mock falls, he's the best option left at the time of the mock.  


Bloom: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State

Here's what he said:

Like the Steelers, the Packers have focused on a prospect at a position of need that has a very a high chance of being there when they pick in the first. McClellin's energy is a mirror of Clay Matthews intensity.

My take: Credit where credit is due. Bloom was way ahead of the curve on this one, as he often is. If you're not following him on Twitter or reading him at Huge Upside, you're missing great info.

I hadn't realized that McClellin had rocketed up boards until the end of last week when Bloom pointed it out to me. I was really high on McClellin but apparently not high enough.

He would be outstanding across from Matthews. If it falls like this, the Packers could be very, very good this season.


Reuter: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

Here's what he said:

In recent years, the Packers have sat back and waited for players to unexpectedly fall to them in the first round. Upshaw's ability to set the edge against the run, as well as rush the passer when given the chance, makes him a real find at this point in the draft.

My take: It'd be interesting to see Upshaw fall this far, especially past a team like the Jets who are desperate for a natural OLB pass rusher. If Upshaw fell like this, it'd be hard to pass him by, even for a prospect like the aforementioned McClellin.

It's a great pick, which I suspect won't happen because Upshaw is too good to last long in the daft.


Cherepinsky: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State

Here's what he said:

OK, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon. I've been mocking Shea McClellin to the Packers in the second round because it's been widely reported that they're smitten with him. But there's been such a buzz about him moving up draft boards that there's now a really good chance that he'll sneak into the first round. Like quarterbacks and cornerbacks, pass-rushers tend to get pushed up on Draft Day.

It's not exactly an earth-shattering revelation that the Packers need help across from Clay Matthews. Erik Walden and the other rush linebackers were largely ineffective last year. Perhaps Green Bay's pass defense will improve in the wake of an upgraded pass rush.

My take: As he points out, Cherepinsky has been mocking McClellin to the a pack in round two, but I think he's right that the talented player will not be there in round two for them. As I said for Bloom's pick, this is the way I'd go if the board falls like this.

I think Cerepinsky was smart to move him up as I believe he is moving up just about every team's draft boards as we speak.