It's officially NFL draft season and you what that means: Mock drafts!
Almost immediately after the Super Bowl ends (and often before the playoffs even start), mock drafts begin popping up all over the web. Many undoubtedly have read a number of them here on Bleacher Report as well as other sites.
For the Green Bay Packers and their fans, each mock draft seems to project a different player going to Green Bay in the first round. Some have an offensive lineman, some have a safety and others yet have a running back or a linebacker. This goes to show that no one can fully know what general manager Ted Thompson will do in April but Thompson himself.
Still, it's fun to prognosticate!
Here are six of the bigger names on the web from various blogs and websites and who they think will be holding up a green and gold jersey on the first day of the 2013 NFL draft.
The depth of Green Bay's offensive line has been sorely tested in 2012 with injuries to former first-round picks Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod. The interior was steadier, especially since Evan Dietrich-Smith took over at center but the Packers' inability to protect Aaron Rodgers played a critical role in their loss to San Francisco. There is no simpler way to put it: the Packers offensive line lacks toughness and physicality - two of Fluker's most impressive traits.
Early on, many were thinking it would be Fluker's teammate, Barrett Jones, who would end up in Green Bay. However, Jones' stock has fallen recently, which has raised the possibility of the Packers selecting Fluker instead.
Fluker could be a nice upgrade from Marshall Newhouse, who has been serviceable, but not stellar, in protecting Aaron Rodgers' blind side. As Rang mentions, Fluker's toughness would be a welcome addition to a line that was not consistently tough enough against teams with physical defenses like the San Francisco 49ers.
This pick isn't to replace B.J. Raji, but rather to find an heir apparent to Ryan Pickett. Edge pass-rushing help would be nice, but without a realistic option here, Williams offers strength in the middle and flashes penetration by putting his opposition on skates.
Another Crimson Tide member to the Packers? It would be a solid choice, and more help is definitely needed along the defensive line. Ryan Pickett has been a good run-stuffer, but in a division with Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte it's time for a refresh at the position.
Williams would provide the same strong middle presence as Pickett and would ease some pressure off B.J. Raji, who has played a very high amount of snaps for a nose tackle. This would be another good pick for GM Ted Thompson as he tries to exorcise the ghost of Justin Harrell.
The Green Bay Packers lost Donald Driver to retirement and are likely to lose Greg Jennings to free agency. Even with Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb in place, the front office should look at wide receivers early in this class.
Keenan Allen is a versatile, dynamic wide receiver who can break big plays with excellent open-field vision and acceleration. What you won't see from Allen is game-changing speed when getting into his routes, but he does a good job separating from defenders with size and quickness.
In the Packers' wide-open passing game, Allen would be a dangerous asset and would fill a big need at wide receiver.
While the loss of Jennings is big, the Packers still have solid depth at the receiver position. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones are still one of the best receiving corps in the league, with Cobb having a breakout season in 2012. The Packers will need to add another home run threat at the position, but it shouldn't be a first-round priority.
Allen will be good receiver in the NFL, but he's probably not destined to catch balls from fellow Cal alum Rodgers.
I know, running backs in the first round don't make much sense in the NFL any more. But I love the idea of the Packers finally getting a No. 1 back who can threaten a defense, and I'm convinced Aaron Rodgers will second that motion. Time to add a consistent element to the at times non-existent Green Bay running game. The Packers know what Ball has done down in Madison the past three years, and let's face it, all the guy does is score touchdowns. Believe it or not, there's still a place for that in the NFL.
I appreciate a bold pick, but this one is a reach. The Packers rarely draft Badgers, but Ball is consistently appearing in many mock drafts as headed to Green Bay. Where Banks is wrong is how early Ball will be drafted; he could very well still be available in the second or third round, depending on the outcome of the scouting combine and Ball's pro day.
It'd be a very popular selection in the state of Wisconsin, but I just don't see Ball going quite that early. It would be nice to see the Packers finally get a feature running back, though.
Aaron Rodgers needs a running game to help him. If Lacy falls this far, the Packers should pounce.
Yet another member of the Crimson Tide projected to the Packers. It's not clear whether Lacy will fall this far, but the Packers definitely should look hard if he's available. Some are intrigued by how DuJuan Harris played late in the season for Green Bay, but the team is still missing a feature back. Lacy could very well be that guy.
"The Packers would like to find a left tackle in the first round, but there are none available worth the pick in this scenario. They can also address their need at running back in the second or third round. Nose tackle is not a pressing need, but it's tough to find massive pluggers with some mobility like Jenkins. He and B.J. Raji would give Green Bay versatility along its defensive front, and Jenkins could bolster a run defense that ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 4.5."
It was the departure of a Jenkins (Cullen) that some think sent the Packers into their current defensive free-fall, so wouldn't it be nice if a new Jenkins helped cure those woes? It's corny, but it's possible.
As mentioned earlier, Raji has played an obscene number of snaps for a nose tackle since his rookie year in 2009. In addition, with an aging Pickett, now is the best time for the Packers to bolster their defensive line. Green Bay was gashed for over 400 yards by Adrian Peterson in two games, and as McShay mentions, they finished near the bottom of the league in yards allowed per carry.
Unless an offensive tackle falls this far, the Packers very well could go defense in the first round.