We’re approaching College Bowl season, one of the premier opportunities for hopeful college football seniors to showcase their talents in one last game for the NFL scouts they wish to impress.
This is great news for the Green Bay Packers, whose obvious needs in the 2013 NFL Draft have begun to take shape over the past few months. You can bet that Ted Thompson will be watching many of those games with an eye toward the team’s future.
While the exact order of the draft picks are still up in the air, it’s never too early to start making some educated guesses about the general direction that the Packers will take come April. Certainly we have enough information at this point to start indulging in mock drafts.
Before we dive into a mock draft, we must set a couple of rules. First, although we can reasonably guess based on the Packers current playoff seeding that they will pick in the latter half of the draft—likely the upper 20s and fingers crossed for the lower 30s—we don’t know exactly what their order will be.
Second, we also do not know what kinds of compensatory picks the Pack will land, if any. Therefore, we must assume just one pick per round right now.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this author’s very early seven round mock draft as we head into College Bowl season.
Questions are beginning to rise about whether Derek Sherrod, the man who was supposed to be the up-and-coming anchor for the Green Bay Packers offensive line, will ever recover enough from his gruesome broken leg to play again in the NFL.
Couple that with the rash of injuries along the offensive line that has hit Green Bay hard this season, and it’s easy to see that the backups are not ready to all be playing together at the same time. Some of them may never be truly ready to serve as anything more than backups.
Add in that Jeff Saturday was never meant to be a long-term fix at center, and you have the makings of a high-need position that Ted Thompson will want to fill through the draft.
Enter Barrett Jones, an exceptionally versatile offensive linesman from the University of Alabama, who has proven to be adept at pass protection and run blocking all along the offensive line. He is smart, capable, and the type of long-term talent that could thrive with a career in Green Bay.
The Packers might have to trade up in the first round to acquire Jones, but his talent at a position of such overwhelming need for the Packers would be worth it—especially if Sherrod is able to return as well.
The Green Bay Packers aren’t currently hurting too badly at safety, but they have had to go deeper down the depth chart than they should have in order to reach that point.
Add in the fact that Charles Woodson is not getting any younger, and you have a situation where the Packers need to start looking toward the future with the upcoming draft. Acquiring fresh new talent at safety to fill the void that Woodson will create when he inevitably leaves will help ease the hurt.
T.J. McDonald is a safety at USC who has shown a lot of talent on the field. He has been everywhere; defending passes, intercepting balls, and even blocking a kick. His intelligence and hard hits give him the potential to evolve into something really special with the right coaching.
Crowded out in a 2013 draft class that is more crowded at safety than the 2012 draft class was, McDonald looks poised to fall into the second round of the draft where the Packers can grab him.
Running back Montee Ball has put up great numbers this season in spite of the collapse the University of Wisconsin is in the midst of undergoing. As a result of his lower production this season, it is starting to look like Montee Ball will not fetch a first round, or even a second round draft pick.
Grabbing Ball, if he does indeed drop to the third round of the draft, will be a steal for the Packers. They have a lot of potential at running back on the roster, but they have not yet hit upon the every-down running back that can be the ground threat to Aaron Rodgers’ air game.
Ball can be that every-down back for Green Bay, with the added bonus of being an excellent extra blocker to help support the offensive line.
Since Philip Lutzenkirchen is out for the season with a hip injury, he will not have any additional means of showing off what he is capable of doing. That being said, what he has shown this season should have been enough for Ted Thompson to like what he sees.
Lutzenkirchen is not the flashiest tight end, but he is solid at what he does. He is a great pass blocker with good hands who can gain yards after the catch—all appealing qualities to the Green Bay Packers.
The Green Bay roster is already crowded with talent and prospects at tight end, but given the tension pouring off of Jermichael Finley and the boatload of money he will demand, it is worth questioning how sustainable the current situation is.
The Packers might be better off letting Finley go and focusing on bringing in young new talent to their system.
Zac Dysert is definitely not a high-profile prospect in the NFL. He did not play well when he needed to against stronger teams, but he has shown some flashes of potential with a strong arm and reasonable accuracy.
Fortunately, right now the Green Bay Packers do not need a starting quarterback. They need a solid backup who they can develop to give Graham Harrell some competition for the No. 2 spot on the roster, or even to spend time on the practice squad and start growing in the Green Bay system.
Dysert would be a good candidate for that position, and he has the potential to thrive if he is introduced into the NFL slowly.
Brad Madison had a breakout season in his sophomore year, but he has slowly faded throughout his junior year and the trend has continued into his senior year.
Despite flashes of brilliance, where he has been a presence on the field tackling for losses and earning sacks, Madison tends to fade into the background all too often—which is why he will fall deep in the draft.
The Green Bay Packers have built some depth defensively, which gives them the luxury of taking deep gambles in the draft to see if they can find a diamond in the rough.
Kenny Cain has had limited opportunities throughout his college career to make an impact, but he has taken good advantage of what time he has had on the field. He has played pretty well, making tackles and breaking up passes.
That being said, he has a long way to go developmentally and he needs a team that will be able to help him grow into the faster pace of the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers are pretty solid with their starting linebacker corps right now, but it never hurts to scoop up some raw talent with good potential.
Given the team’s history of needing to reach deep into their depth chart defensively to get through the season, Cain could see a good balance of developing and seeing some reps on the field in his first year.