Green Bay Mock Draft: Instant Contributors the Packers Can Find in Each Round
The Green Bay Packers have almost solely relied on the NFL Draft to restock themselves with new talent, and judging by the team's performance the past few seasons, the approach has served general manager Ted Thompson and the Packers well.
Thompson has hit more than he has missed since taking over in 2005, and the Packers have been able to find several players in various rounds who have had an instant impact in their rookie seasons.
Cornerback Casey Hayward, a second-round selection last year, is the most recent example.
Here are a few players Thompson can find in every round this year who can contribute instantly to the Packers in 2013.
Round 1: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Improved play along the defensive line will be crucial for the Packers in 2013 with defensive coordinator Dom Capers returning next season.
The Packers need to add another fast player along the line, and with Mike Neal healthier but still unreliable thanks to a history of injuries, Okafor would be able to step in right away.
Okafor is a powerful defender with good hands who plays the run well, a big plus considering the Packers play in a division with Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte. He has a high motor, which should fit nicely with Clay Matthews.
The only question is how well Okafor would adapt to a 3-4 defense.
Round 2: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
A lot of debate surrounded the Packers defense this season, but one thing is certain: The defense has changed in the wake of Nick Collins' neck injury.
Since Collins went down, the Packers defense has not dominated as it did in 2010. While replacing a player like Collins is difficult, the Packers can at least partially plug the hole by drafting Elam.
He could be taken in the first round, but if he falls to the second, the Packers absolutely need to nab Elam if he is available.
Elam is an extremely physical safety and can play in coverage as well as at the line of scrimmage. He is also a solid tackler, which the Packers lacked at times in the secondary in 2012.
Round 3: David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado
Every draft, Thompson seems to make one selection that causes you to scratch your head.
Selecting Bahktiari would be one of those. Colorado is anything but an NCAA powerhouse, but Bakhtiari earned second-team All Pac-12 honors and made a seamless transition from right to left tackle in 2010.
Bahktiari has initial quickness off the line and has the ability to control his opponents. His brother has been on and off the San Francisco 49ers roster in recent seasons.
It would be an under-the-radar find for Thompson, but Bakhtiari may be a second-round talent that falls to the third thanks to the woeful Colorado team that surrounded him in college.
Round 4: Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
Greg Jennings is all but gone from Green Bay, and the Packers will probably select a receiver in this draft despite being stocked with talent at the position.
Even so, Jennings was a difference-maker and just his presence affected how defenses would attack the Packers offense. Replacing a player like that is not always an easy task, but Bailey would be a good start and provide good value in the fourth round.
Bailey has a big build and can be difficult to bring down while racking up yards after the catch. He also has excellent body control on deep routes and excels at catching the ball in stride.
Bailey's size (5'10", 195 lbs.) is a bit of a concern, and he is known for being a little lackadaisical on plays where he is not targeted.
Hopefully some time with Aaron Rodgers and inside the Packers "all for one and one for all" wide-receiver group would change him for the better.
Round 5: Kenjon Barber, RB, Oregon
Running back has been high on the list for the Packers in many mock drafts, but some (this writer included) want to give DuJuan Harris a full year as the team's feature back.
That said, the backup position remains unsettled, as James Starks has consistently been battling injuries since his rookie year in 2010. Even as a backup, the Packers leaned towards a two-back rushing attack in 2012, and there is no reason to think that would change in 2013.
Here is why the selection of Barber would make sense: As a running back from Oregon, Barber is a threat to take the ball to the house on any play, and the Packers have not had a home-run threat at running back since Ahman Green.
With strong straight-line speed and an ability to shake defenders that are nearly on top of him, Barber could be a steal for the Packers in the fifth round.
Round 6: Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada
The urgency the Packers will have at this position depends on whether or not Jermichael Finley is back with the team. With Jennings likely gone and Donald Driver retiring, it can be reasoned Finley will be in Green Bay for 2013.
If that is the case, then the Packers can wait to draft a tight end. This means they can select Sudfeld in round six.
He missed two seasons with injuries at Nevada, but he has tremendous upside if he can remain healthy. At 6'7" and 255 pounds, he has optimum size for the position, and he is a solid pass catcher who can create separation if he gets out in the open.
He is an injury risk, but it is almost minimal since he is being taken so late.
If Sudfield can stay healthy as a rookie, there is no reason why he couldn't earn some playing time as the season goes on
Round 7: Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State
At the very least, Mason Crosby needs to face some competition in training camp.
Regardless of how strong he finished 2012, his career on the whole has been marred by inconsistency. If the Packers defense doesn't improve, moreover, the team will find itself in many close games.
Crosby didn't cost the Packers a game last season, but that was more luck than anything else.
Which is why Hopkins makes sense here. He was 24/28 on field goals (85.7%) and gave Florida State consistently good field position on kickoffs. Hopkins was paired with a good punter at FSU and would have the same in Green Bay with Tim Masthay.
Hopkins also set the NCAA scoring record. He would be an improvement over Crosby, whose inconsistency may cost him his job next season.