Green Bay Packers Mock Draft: Fresh Projections After the Super Bowl
Welcome to the NFL offseason.
With the Super Bowl circus behind us, it's time to focus on the NFL Draft. The Green Bay Packers select 26th in the first round this season, and after another early playoff exit, Packers GM Ted Thompson is no doubt ready to once again re-stock his team with fresh talent.
On offense, the Packers need to shore up protection around Aaron Rodgers who was sacked a career-high 51 times in 2012. They also need to look to add a running back and potentially a wide receiver to replace the likely-departed Greg Jennings.
Defensively, the Packers will need to continue to build around Clay Matthews. The secondary is young thanks to last season's draft, but has shown potential. The focus this year should be on adding another fast linebacker as well as beefing up the defensive line.
Here's how the Packers' draft card could look after the 2013 NFL Draft concludes.
Round 1: Barrett Jones, OG Alabama
The Green Bay Packers gave up 51 sacks last season to opposing defenses and their center, the now-retired Jeff Saturday, benched himself late in the season.
The Packers for now seem to be committed to Evan Dietrich-Smith as the center of the future. Even if he performs well, the Packers have a pressing need along the offensive line, and drafting Barrett Jones would instantly improve the line.
Jones played all over the offensive line for Alabama, most recently at center and also played at right guard and left tackle. With Marshall Newhouse continuing to display inconsistency at left tackle, Jones very well could start immediately at that spot if drafted by the Packers.
Jones is very fundamentally sound (something the Packers have had issues with on the offensive line) and uses both of his hands and feet to beat defenders. His ability to keep his feet moving after contact shows he doesn't give up easily and could do very well defending Aaron Rodgers' blind side.
Round 2: Manti Te'o, LB Notre Dame
The recent scandal involving the "death" of Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend could have significant impact on his draft stock as scouts may avoid a Te'o circus like the plague.
The Green Bay Packers, especially, do not like a media circus, but given their issues on defense, Te'o could serve the Packers well.
Te'o is fast and can cover the entire field. His physical play would be an assist to Clay Matthews as the Packers try to build their defense around him. Te'o would be the presence inside that A.J. Hawk never was, and would also help Desmond Bishop as he returns from an injury that cost him his entire 2012 season.
Te'o also has an excellent football IQ as he is quick to diagnose a play. He'd be a steal if he falls to the Packers in the second round.
Round 3: Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
The Green Bay Packers have avoided drafting many Wisconsin Badgers as of late, but Montee Ball would be a good fit for a team still seeking its identity at the running back position.
DuJuan Harris will likely enter training camp as the starter, but the selection of Ball gives the Packers more options. Ball had a good offensive line at Wisconsin, but he will still do well in Green Bay. He can change direction very quickly and runs with purpose.
He's also very difficult to bring down, a type of back the Packers have not had since Ahman Green.
Round 4: Dion Sims, TE Michigan State
Even if the Green Bay Packers keep Jermichael Finley, he would be entering the final year of his contract and the Packers could very likely be in the market for a new tight end.
Dion Sims would be a great addition for the Packers in the passing game. Finley hasn't developed into the all-world tight end many thought he would and Sims represents the hitting of the reset button at the position. He is very agile and quick and possesses the ability to rack up yards after the catch—a Packer specialty on offense.
He missed the 2010 season due to a felony charge but has seemed to mature. Time in Green Bay would do well for him.
Round 5: Everett Dawkins, DT Florida State
With Jerel Worthy possibly missing a good chunk of 2013 due to injury and Ryan Pickett in the twilight of his career, the Green Bay Packers are going to need to address the defensive line at some point.
Choosing Everett Dawkins in the fifth round would be a good value pick. He has good burst and is able to adjust to mobile quarterbacks when they move outside the pocket, something the Packers struggled with against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs this past season.
He doesn't have elite size or strength and can have poor pad level, but that's something the Packers can work on as Dawkins is not expected to start immediately and could be a good situational player.
Round 6: Caleb Sturgis, K Florida
It seems like every Green Bay Packers mock draft has a kicker listed, and that's no surprise.
Mason Crosby was atrocious last season and the Packers have to bring someone in to compete with him. Crosby was never an elite kicker, but the play of the Packers offense in 2010-2011 minimized the need for him to be called upon. 2012 was a different story, and Crosby self-destructed.
Caleb Sturgis would be an excellent choice. Though he hasn't kicked in a cold climate like Wisconsin, he's incredibly accurate. Sturgis finished 23-of-27 in field goals this year, but three of those four misses were the result of blocks. He also was 8-for-9 in field goal attempts from 40 yards and beyond in 2012.
Round 7: Josh Boyce, WR TCU
Former seventh round pick Donald Driver retired this offseason as the Green Bay Packers' all-time leading receiver. Could the Packers have such luck again in this year's seventh round?
Keep in mind they don't need to find a big play receiver, especially this late in the draft, but the Packers can never have enough weapons for Aaron Rodgers to throw to and Ted Thompson has found offensive talent all over draft.
Josh Boyce would be a superb choice for the Packers this late. With Greg Jennings likely gone via free agency, the Packers still appear to be set with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. The selection of Boyce would be a depth pick, but with how the Packers run multiple formations, he could see some playing time in 2013.
Boyce is built to be a slot man in the NFL. He runs excellent routes and is very competitive, which will help given how deep the Packers are at receiver.