2012 NFL Draft: How Each Pick Fits into Green Bay Packers' Plan
The Green Bay Packers plan to win the Super Bowl next season, and a few of their draft picks can help the team do just that.
Each player the Packers picked has an excellent chance to make the roster in 2012, and some could be fixtures in the starting lineup for years to come.
For this article, a projected role and overall ceiling is assigned to each drafted player.
"Ceiling" is a somewhat subjective term, and, obviously, any player, drafted or undrafted, could go on to be a Hall of Famer. In this case, the term refers to the level a player would have to exceed in order to surprise the majority of fans and pundits.
Here is how each Packers' draft pick will fit the team's strategy going forward.
Pick No. 28: Nick Perry, OLB, USC
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2012 Projection: Starting OLB
Ceiling: Pro Bowler
Nick Perry is exactly what the Green Bay Packers' defense needed.
The USC standout played defensive end in college, but is a fluid athlete with the ability to drop into coverage and be effective.
This skill set makes him a perfect fit for the outside linebacker position in Dom Capers' scheme. He should excel here, just like Clay Matthews has.
With Erik Walden as his main competition for the spot opposite Matthews, Perry should be the starter come Week 1.
Perry and Matthews will bring plenty of pressure on the edges, as teams will find it difficult to assign extra blockers to both players. Perry is going to see a lot of one-on-one matchups in 2012, and that should lead to a fair number of sacks.
Look for Perry's confidence to grow with every game. He should be a fixture on the Pack's defense for many years to come. He and Matthews could help each other earn a few trips to Hawaii.
Pick No. 51: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
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2012 Projection: Starting DE
Ceiling: 10-year pro
Ted Thompson worked his draft magic again this year to get his hands on a first-round talent in the second round.
Jerel Worthy is big, fast, strong and athletic. He also plays on the defensive line, which was arguably the Green Bay Packers' biggest weakness last season.
Worthy played defensive tackle for Michigan State, but will shift to end to fit the Packers' 3-4 scheme.
He has elite quickness for a player his size, and will hopefully fill the role that Cullen Jenkins played during the 2010 season. Jenkins was a constant threat to opposing quarterbacks, and ensured that Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji did not face an unnecessary amount of attention.
Worthy's ability to be a three-down player, like Jenkins was, will be the key to his success in Green Bay. He may not beat out the veterans on the Packers roster right away, but his talent will land him the starting role at some point during his rookie season.
A 3-4 lineman is not the most glamorous position, and much of Worthy's hard work will result in benefits for his teammates. Worthy will have to do the dirty work in the trenches, and this does not often result in accolades such as Pro Bowl selections.
However, consistent effort is always appreciated in Green Bay, and if Worthy can hold down his post, he'll have a long, successful career in Titletown.
Pick No. 62: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
2012 Projection: Nickle/Dime DB, special teams player
Ceiling: No. 2 Cornerback
The Green Bay Packers need to make significant changes in how they approach pass coverage, as the team allowed the most passing yardage in NFL history last year.
The front office confirmed their recognition of the problem by trading up for Casey Hayward out of Vanderbilt.
Hayward is an instinctive corner who processes the game very quickly. He is not an elite athlete, but has a very high football IQ and plays with an edge.
He will need to work on his technique, especially in press coverage, but has the foundation to turn into a solid starter in the NFL.
For now, though, he will be limited to packages designed for obvious passing downs and will have to make most of his plays on special teams.
Pick No. 132: Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
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2012 Projection: Backup DE
Ceiling: Situational DE
With every pick that Ted Thompson used on a defensive player, he proved how seriously he views the problem on that side of the ball.
Mike Daniels will be a solid addition and could be a productive player if used in the right role.
Thompson has missed in the past on defensive linemen. Justin Harrell was a first-round pick in 2007 who is no longer with the team, and Mike Neal, who went in the second round 2010, is looking more like a bust every season.
Both Harrell and Neal suffered from injury problems, and Thompson is hedging his bets with the defensive ends he drafted this year.
He picked Jerel Worthy in the second round, and the Michigan State product will likely become a starter. Daniels is not as talented as Worthy, but he is as tough as any player in this year's draft.
Daniels is undersized for a defensive lineman, but he has exceptional quickness for the position. This will make him useful on passing downs, and he can become an important part of the defensive line rotation this season.
Going forward, his tenacity and work ethic will stand out, even among NFL players. His small frame may keep him from being an every-down player, but he will still be an effective pass-rusher.
Pick No. 133: Jerron McMillian, S, Maine
2012 Projection: Special teams player
Ceiling: Special teams standout
Jerron McMillian is a small-school prospect who really likes to hit people.
While the Green Bay Packers need help at safety, he will not be a starter this season, and likely won't ever become one.
In college, he was a superior player among inferior competition, racking up 88 tackles in his senior season at Maine, 10.5 for a loss.
McMillian is also an elite athlete. At the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds, had the best three-cone time among strong safeties and had the highest vertical leap of any defensive back.
However, McMillian has never proved himself in coverage. Stiff hips and an over-eagerness to play the run are two of the primary concerns about his transition to the NFL.
Ultimately, McMillian may just be too raw to ever develop into a starter at safety, but his athleticism and fearlessness make him an ideal gunner on special teams. He could truly excel in this role.
Pick No. 163: Terrell Manning, OLB, North Carolina State
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2012 Projection: Backup MLB, special teams player
Ceiling: Starting MLB
Terrell Manning was an extremely productive player in college and should turn into another solid linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.
Manning played on the weak-side for North Carolina State, which plays a 4-3 defense, but he will likely switch to middle linebacker in the Packers' 3-4 defense.
The Packers have two established starters at the position in Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk. Bishop is 27 years old and Hawk is 28, so both could start declining in the next few years.
This gives Green Bay time to develop Manning and last year's late-round pick, D.J. Smith. Both played outside linebacker in college and have excellent instincts.
The two are both highly motivated players and will push each other. Ted Thompson has his middle linebackers of the future in Manning and Smith.
Pick No. 241: Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
2012 Projection: Backup OT/OG
Ceiling: Starting G
Andrew Datko was a four-year starter at left tackle for Florida State and has all the intangibles an NFL team could ever want.
The Packers waited a long time to pick an offensive player in the draft, but they found themselves a good prospect in Datko.
He possesses some physical limitations and has a bad shoulder that could cause him problems. However, he was a fixture on the ACC All-Academic team during college and won Florida State's Unselfish Leadership Award last season.
The Packers will likely use Datko the same way they use most tackles they pick in the draft, meaning they will move him to guard. Both Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang played tackle in college, as did Daryn Colledge, who started before leaving the team via free agency in 2010.
As long as he can remain healthy, Datko has all the tools to successfully find a spot on the roster as a guard.
Pick No. 243: B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga
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2012 Projection: Backup QB
Ceiling: Backup QB
B.J. Coleman has all the physical tools to become a solid NFL quarterback, but the small-school prospect has a lot to learn before he is mentally ready to play at the next level.
Coleman should feel blessed that he ended up with the Packers, as Aaron Rodgers is not going anywhere and he will have plenty of time to study his playbook.
Neither Graham Harrell nor Nick Hill, the other QBs on the roster, were drafted and neither has thrown a pass in the NFL.
Coleman has big hands and a big arm. He will compete for the backup role immediately and has a good shot at winning it.
Unfortunately, Coleman would reach his peak early if he started the season second on the depth chart. He likely will never become more than an understudy.