We are now less than two months away from the 2013 NFL Draft.
NFL teams have been able to study the college prospects quite a bit over the past couple of months. There has been the East-West Shrine game, the Senior Bowl, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and, most recently, the NFL Scouting Combine.
Plus, we now have the various Pro Days that are ongoing, as prospects try to improve their draft stock.
About a month ago, I composed another mock draft for the Green Bay Packers that was done before the combine. This mock draft is updated and composed of completely different selections. However, like the previous version, I'm looking at picking players who I believe the Packers and Ted Thompson would be interested in.
Weight: 231 pounds
To most NFL draft observers, there is only one running back who will most likely be drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft: Eddie Lacy of Alabama.
Draft guru Mike Mayock of NFL Network has Lacy ranked first in his list of running back prospects for the draft.
Lacy has a strong resume on film as well, as he has put up some excellent numbers in the biggest of games.
What stands out most is the fact that Lacy shined in key moments of national attention. In the SEC Championship Game versus Georgia, Lacy ran for 181 yards. Then, in the BCS National Championship game against Notre Dame, he rushed for 140 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, plus caught two passes for 17 yards and had another score, as the Crimson Tide won handily.
Overall, in his career with the Crimson Tide, Lacy rushed for 2,402 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Lacy is a tough, powerful runner inside the tackles, but is also light on his feet. The Packers have been looking for a running back with that skill set for years.
Ted Thompson has never drafted a running back in the first round since he took over as head of the Packers in 2005. The closest he ever came was in 2011, when Thompson was strongly considering Mark Ingram of Alabama with his pick. That situation became a moot point when the New Orleans Saints selected Ingram instead.
If Thompson liked Ingram, he has to love Lacy, as he is a better all-around back.
The Packers would have a formidable running attack with Lacy being teamed with DuJuan Harris, who looked pretty good down the stretch in 2012 at running back.
Also, the Packers need to become more balanced offensively. Too many times in 2012, the Packers faced two-deep safety coverage to help contain the passing firepower of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Why the two-deep safety coverage? The opponents did not respect the running game of the Packers.
That will change with Lacy.
One area Lacy needs to improve is his blocking. To remain on the field on third-down at running back for the Packers, backs must have ability to not only serve as a safety valve for the quarterback, but pick up blitzes and pass-block.
Lacy didn't work out of the NFL Scouting Combine due to hamstring issues, but will have his opportunity at the Alabama Pro Day on March 13.
Weight: 208 pounds
The Green Bay Packers have struggled in their attempts to replace Nick Collins at safety, after he suffered a career-ending neck injury early in the 2011 season. Now the Packers must also find a replacement for veteran Charles Woodson, who was recently released.
Collins and Woodson were true ball hawks who always seemed to get key interceptions for the Packers, taking several of those picks back to the house. Collins had 21 career interceptions as a Packer, four of which were returned for touchdowns.
Woodson, meanwhile, had 38 career picks for the Packers, with nine of those interceptions returned for touchdowns.
So, is there anyone in the draft this year who has similar attributes? Yes, there is. His name is Phillip Thomas of Fresno State.
Thomas led the entire nation in interceptions in 2012 with eight picks. Thomas also returned three of those interceptions for touchdowns.
Thomas was was named to the AP All-American first-team and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
The former Bulldog was not just a one-trick pony either, as he had 82 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up and four forced fumbles.
I talked to an opposing coach from the Mountain West Conference a couple of weeks ago about Thomas and he was very impressed. I kept hearing words like athletic, instinctive and physical.
Thomas also looked good at the Senior Bowl, where he impressed the scouts with his coverage skills in the drills for the North team.
Weight: 314 pounds
There are some who believe the Green Bay Packers will select a offensive tackle in this year's draft. Don't count me among them. However, I do believe the Packers will use one of their picks on a versatile lineman who can also play on the interior of the line.
That brings us to Brian Schwenke of California. He is a proven center, who has proven he can play guard as well. Right now, the Packers don't have any depth behind Evan Dietrich-Smith at center. Dietrich-Smith is also currently a restricted free agent.
Schwenke didn't play for a very good Cal team in 2012, as the Golden Bears were just 3-9, but Schwenke's play on the field stood out. In fact, he was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 First Team.
Schwenke also stood out at the Senior Bowl. Mike Mayock was one of the folks who Schwenke impressed with his play there. In fact, Mayock has Schwenke ranked as the number-two center in the draft this year.
Schwenke has a lot of nice attributes. For one, he is very quick off the snap and can get to the second level with ease. He also plays with a low pad level and knows how to use leverage as an advantage.
Schwenke demonstrated quickness and burst at the NFL Scouting Combine, as he had the best time among all offensive linemen in the 3-cone drill, completing it in 7.31 seconds.
He also has good awareness, recognizing stunts and helping with double team blocks.
Schwenke needs to get stronger, but that will happen at the NFL level.
Don't be surprised if you see a former Cal Golden Bear snapping the ball to another former-alumni (Aaron Rodgers) in the near future.
Weight: 233 pounds
Even though Donald Driver retired about a month ago and Greg Jennings is expected to play for another team in 2013 once he hits free agency, the Green Bay Packers are still pretty deep in terms of receiving threats.
Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb will all be back in 2013, while the Packers have a couple of interesting young prospects in Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin.
Still, I expect Ted Thompson to draft a wide receiver in this year's draft. For one, Jones will be a free agent again after the 2013 season.
Thompson was able to sign Boykin as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012. Boykin played his college ball at Virginia Tech, where he put up some very good numbers. Thompson may once again look to the land of the Hokies for another wide receiver in the draft this year.
Marcus Davis is the player that comes to mind for me. Davis has outstanding size, which he uses to his advantage, especially on deep passes. He is also a very good runner after the catch.
As a senior at Virginia Tech, Davis caught 51 passes for 953 yards and five touchdowns. Davis also had a whopping 18.69 yards per catch average.
Davis is still a bit raw as a wide receiver, as he initially came to Blacksburg as a quarterback prospect. He has gotten better every year in his development as a wide receiver.
At the combine, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds and posted the best vertical jump of all the wide receivers, leaping 39.5".
Davis still needs to refine his skills somewhat, but he is a very intriguing prospect at receiver.
Weight: 280 pounds
You might be familiar with the name Kruger, especially If you followed the Super Bowl XLVII Champion Baltimore Ravens this season. Outside linebacker Paul Kruger was certainly a force for the defense of the Ravens.
At least one more Kruger will be entering the NFL this year: Joe Kruger, Paul's younger brother. Like Paul, Joe played his college football at Utah.
Joe Kruger had a very nice season in 2012 as a junior, as he had 30 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception, a blocked kick and a pass broken up. It certainly didn't hurt that Kruger was playing next to probable top-five pick in Star Lotulelei.
Kruger also had three sacks in his sophomore 2011 campaign.
Kruger is an intriguing prospect at defensive end with his size, wingspan and his productivity on the field. He also has the frame to add some bulk.
The Packers are looking to get taller at the defensive end position and Kruger would be a very nice option on day three of the draft.
Weight: 244 pounds
Travis Johnson played defensive end at San Jose State, but looks to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Johnson had quite a senior year, as he was named to the All-WAC First Team and was named the 2012 WAC Defensive Player of the Year, as the Sharks went 11-2, capping their season with a win at the Military Bowl.
Johnson recorded 60 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and 12 sacks in 2012. Johnson had another sack in the Military Bowl as well.
Johnson also is the WAC’s all-time leader in sacks with 32.
Johnson also played at the East-West Shrine game, where he impressed in drills and in practice.
The Packers will be looking to add to their depth at outside linebacker in 2013, as unrestricted free agent Erik Walden may not be back, plus there a number of injuries at the position last year.
Johnson looks to be selected on day three of the draft, probably in either the fifth or sixth round.
Weight: 212 pounds
Yes, there may be another Mr. Rodgers in the Green Bay neighborhood. He would be late in the draft in the form of Jordan Rodgers (brother of Aaron) of Vanderbilt, a selection that is a definite possibility.
It all depends on the comfort level that the Packers have with backup Graham Harrell and third-string quarterback B.J. Coleman, who spent the entire 2012 season on the practice squad, after being drafted in the seventh round of last year's draft.
You certainly have to like the pedigree of Rodgers. Not to mention he played in the toughest conference in college football (SEC) like Jordan did.
Jordan followed the route of his brother Aaron, as he first played at Butte Community College before heading to Vanderbilt.
As a senior at Vandy, Rodgers threw 15 touchdowns against just five interceptions, passing for 2,539 yards leading the Commodores to a 9-4 record and a win in the Music City Bowl.
Rodgers also played in the 2013 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he completed 8 of 11 passes for 87 yards.
Jordan doesn't have the size or arm strength of his brother Aaron, but he does possess many of the same intangibles, as he is always looking to improve and has a strong work ethic.
Getting a chance to learn from his brother, along with coach Mike McCarthy and Tom Clements, could only help his development in the NFL.