NFL Draft 2012: Players the Packers Should Target in the Fourth Round
Entering the draft, Thompson's objective had to be upgrading a defense that was so poor in 2011, it set records for defensive futility. Therefore, it was no surprise when Green Bay used it's first three picks on defensive players, selecting USC defensive end Nick Perry in round one, then trading up twice in round two to select Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy and Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward.
Even though the Packers have addressed some of their biggest needs, they still have plenty of positions that require reinforcing. Therefore let's see who could be available for Green Bay with their back-to-back choices at the end of the fourth round (132 and 133 overall).
One player that would make sense for the Packers at the end of the fourth-round is Michigan center David Molk. Green Bay lost former starting center Scott Wells to free agency this offseason and replaced him with 37-year old Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday.
Saturday may be an adequate replacement for the upcoming season, yet the team needs a quality developmental prospect to groom as the center of the future. Molk is a four-year starter, who lacks elite size and has a slight injury history, causing his value to dip. However, he is a smart player with plenty of toughness and could easily develop into a starting center in a year or two.
The Packers entered the draft with a number of needs on defense, yet some forgot the team does not have a reliable starter at running back. Former starter Ryan Grant remains a free agent and third-year player James Starks has been injury prone and cannot be relied upon.
Therefore, a player the Packers could target at the end of the fourth round to address their need in the backfield is Washington running back Chris Polk.
Polk was a highly productive college player, rushing for over 4,000 career yards on 799 carries with an impressive yards per carry average of 5.1. In each of the last two season with the Huskies, he racked up over 1,400 yards rushing and, as a senior, he found the end zone 16 times.
Polk would be a great fit in Green Bay not only because of his ability to run the ball but also because of his skills as a receiver. The Packers are a pass happy team, meaning they want running backs who can catch the ball. At Washington, Polk proved he can be a reliable receiver, catching 79 passes in his career for 683 yards and four touchdowns.
Another big position of need for the Green Bay Packers is at safety, particularly with the recent release of former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins. However, there should be a few promising prospects available at the end of the fourth round, highlighted by Boise State safety George Iloka.
Iloka is a unique player with rare size for a strong safety at 6'3 225 pounds. He may remind hardcore Packer followers of former third round pick Aaron Rouse, who the team selected in 2007.
However, unlike Rouse, Iloka has surprisingly good cover skills for a safety of his size. He could potentially use his big frame to match up with the ever evolving tight ends that are starting to dominate the NFL.
Iloka started 45 games in his four-year Boise State career, intercepting seven passes, notching 24 passes defensed, as well as 167 tackles and three forced fumbles.
Yes, the Green Bay Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the National Football League. However, they do not currently have a reliable backup quarterback due to Matt Flynn's exodus to Seattle.
Knowing the emphasis that General Manager Ted Thompson places on the quarterback position, it would not be surprising to see the Packers pick a quarterback in round 4 to compete with current backup Graham Harrell.
One option that may be available for Green Bay at the end of the fourth round is Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins started a total of 39 games in his last three seasons with the Spartans.
For reasons unknown, Cousins was not drafted on day two of the draft, even though most scouts gave him a second or third round grade. He is one of the few NFL-ready quarterbacks out there, evidenced by completing 64% of his passes in college. He also had an impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio, tossing 66 touchdown passes compared to just 30 interceptions.
Cousins may well be gone by the time Green Bay picks, yet if he is there, he will be very hard for Thompson to pass up.
The Packers already added a defensive lineman from the Big Ten in the second round of NFL Draft when they selected Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy. Yet, as football fans know, you can never have enough quality defensive lineman. If Nebraska defensive end Jared Crick is still available when Green Bay picks in the fourth round, they should strongly consider selecting him.
At one time, Crick was projected to go in the first round of the NFL Draft, but a pectoral injury cut his senior season with the Huskers short after just five games, causing his draft value to free fall. However, he posted ten sacks in both his sophomore and junior seasons to go along with 32 tackles for loss.
He is a bit on the small side at 6'4 279 pounds. If he can add about ten pounds to his frame, he could potentially develop into a starting caliber 3-4 defensive end in Dom Capers defense and could push for playing time right away as a nickel pass rusher.