2013 NFL Draft: Day Two Prospects the Green Bay Packers Should Consider
The Green Bay Packers are on a roll right now, despite the fact that they have many key players missing due to injury and several holes in important positions.
The way the Packers like to fill those holes are through the draft, as GM Ted Thompson prefers to keep his draft picks instead of signing expensive free agents.
As evidenced by the team's performance so far, the Packers have quite a few glaring weaknesses, with positions like running back and spots on the offensive line falling hard.
While Day One of the NFL Draft gets all the hype, there are more than a couple second or third-round prospects that could give Green Bay a big boost.
Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
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At only 275 pounds, Jones is too heavy to play outside linebacker in Green Bay's 3-4 defense and would probably have to gain some weight in order to fit.
At 6'4", though, he has the frame to do it.
Although Jones isn't as heavily mentioned as many of the defensive line prospects, he has a big upside.
The UCLA player has been moved along the defensive line and has showed versatility in that position.
He's also extremely athletic and has good strength, but will need to pick up more moves in the NFL instead of relying mainly on his athleticism.
Jones may not be an exact fit in Green Bay's system right now due to his weight, but there's no denying his pass-rushing capability and Green Bay's need for someone to generate pressure up front.
Brandon Jenkins, OLB, FSU
Probably a first-round pick prior to a foot injury that has forced him to miss all of his senior season, Jenkins is a candidate to slip a couple rounds even if he's healthy by the time the draft comes around.
The Packers still need pass-rushing help, and while they spent last year's first-round pick on Nick Perry and have promising UDFA Dezman Moses, Erik Walden has been awful.
Clay Matthews has his annual hamstring issues pop up every now and then, and his absence has left the team devoid of a pass rush.
Jenkins has the burst and size to be an effective pass-rusher that rotates in every game and provides vital depth; all at the cost of probably just a third-round pick.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
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I'm not in love with any of the tight ends this year, but the Packers need to find someone who can replace Jermichael Finley, who won't be back at his scheduled salary for next year.
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is a solid TE, but not good enough to spend a first-round pick on.
Stanford's Zach Ertz, though, seems like a good fit for the Packers in the second round if they choose to spend that high a pick on a tight end.
Ertz has a nice build and speed at 6'6", 252 pounds and has been the Stanford Cardinals' best receiving threat all year.
He could improve some as a blocker, but Ertz has the tools to become a dominant receiving tight end if he can improve his route running.
For that reason, Ertz could fly up draft boards and get selected in the late-first, early-second round with good testing, putting him out of the Packers' reach.
For now though, he's within their range.
Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
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The Packers barely have any threat running the ball.
The aging Cedric Benson is injured and James Starks and Alex Green have been utterly ineffective.
If the Packers don't address running back in the first-round, they'll have to address it here.
One option is Ellington, who is a good fit for the Packers' zone running scheme.
Ellington has excellent vision, lateral burst and cutting ability to go along with the home-run hitting ability Green Bay sorely needs.
The only problem here is that, at 190 pounds, Ellington might not be able to handle the rigors of being a workhorse.
Luckily for him, the Packers are a pass-first team, which makes that less of a problem.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
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Eddie Lacy is a bit different of a back than Ellington is.
Lacy is a big power back at 6'1", 220 pounds so there should be no concerns about his ability to endure a full workload.
He'd step in immediately as Green Bay's No.1 back.
Despite his size, Lacy possesses surprising speed and athleticism and tore up a Georgia defense loaded with NFL-caliber talent in the SEC Championship game.
Lacy's numbers are impressive, as he's averaged 6.8 yards per carry for his career in the nation's toughest conference.
Alabama has a history of producing first-round backs such as Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.
Although Ingram was a first-round pick, Lacy is a better prospect. That said, Ingram wasn't worth a first-round pick in the first place.
Philip Thomas, S, Fresno State
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Because he plays against relatively weak competition at Fresno State, Thomas doesn't get the attention he deserves.
Especially when the safety class has been weak for the past couple of years.
The thing about Thomas is that he's an absolute play-maker. He's picked off eight passes and forced four fumbles this season.
Thomas has great instincts and the fluid hips necessary to become a star defensive back in the NFL. He's agile and athletic with solid size at 6'1", 215 pounds, but can get burned on double moves, which is something he'll have to work on at the next level.
He also missed his junior year due to an ankle injury.
Charles Woodson is getting old and Thomas could add young talent to a secondary already loaded with players like Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, Davon House, Morgan Burnett and Jerron McMillian.
The Packers wouldn't necessarily need to spend a second-round pick on a safety, but there are worse uses.
Kyle Long, OT, Oregon
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There are three main things to love about Long: his bloodline, frame and potential.
First, Long's dad is Howie Long, a former defensive star, and his brother is Chris Long, a current defensive star. Scouts love bloodline.
Second, the Oregon lineman has a great, large frame at 6'7", 311 pounds, which is even bigger than his father's 6'5" frame.
Third, Long's potential is enormous. He hasn't even played one full year of football at Oregon (as of now) yet his improvement over the course of the season has been evident.
Although large frames limit the mobility of many tackles, Long has great movement skills due to his athleticism. He has the ability to pull from an interior position.
He's still a bit raw, but Long also has surprisingly sound fundamentals for a JUCO transfer.
The former JUCO transfer has limited tape and experience, but he should have a great pre-draft process should he not return to college for a sixth year.
The Packers need help on the offensive line, and Long would fit the bill as a well-rounded player with star-caliber upside.