Creating a mock draft for the Green Bay Packers is always a challenge. General manager Ted Thompson has made the Packers one of the more impossible teams to predict. With a good amount of talent and solid depth, the Packers could go in a number of directions with their draft picks.
Free agency has started to shape the draft and which players will be available at what times. As a team that drafts based on value rather than need, the Packers' draft selections will largely depend on what the teams in front of them do with their picks.
Here is the Packers' perfect seven-round mock draft, including their compensatory pick in the fifth round.
The Packers are keeping Jermichael Finley for next season at a steep price of $8.25 million. It's the last year in Finley's deal, and instead of being held hostage by the tight end, the Packers would be wise to grab Tyler Eifert in the first round.
Eifert is the top tight end in the class and possess good receiving skills that make him a fit in the Packers offense. He will be able to stretch the field and open things up underneath for Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offense.
He needs to improve his blocking on the line, but has shown improvement in that area throughout his college career.
The Packers have been known to draft for value rather than need. Selecting Eifert late in the first round would give Green Bay great value and protect against a need in the future.
Greg Jennings' departure provides Ted Thompson with the opportunity to grab a wide receiver early in the draft who can make an immediate impact. The Packers still have a solid core of James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as well young guys Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin. Jones is entering the last year of his deal and Nelson isn't far behind him.
In the Packers offense, they need various options at wide receiver.
Markus Wheaton in the second round would give the Packers another threat for Aaron Rodgers. Wheaton has good size at 5'11", 189 pounds, and a great ability to make plays with his speed. He's a big-play target with great hands and wheels to match. Rodgers would love the chance to play with Wheaton.
While the Packers got decent play out of Evan Dietrich-Smith down the stretch, they could use an upgrade at the center position. They need a player who can be more physical in the running game as well as provide solid protection for Aaron Rodgers.
Brian Schwenke in the third round would be a solid selection for the Packers. The lineman out of Cal is versatile and can play center or either of the guard positions in case of an injury.
Schwenke has great speed for size and matches that with his strong, physical play off the snap. He was incredibly durable during his college career, playing a remarkable 48 out of 50 games. Schwenke has the chance to come in right away and compete for a spot on the Packers offensive line.
The Packers are still searching for a player to replace Nick Collins in the secondary and pair with Morgan Burnett. Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings each were given opportunities, but neither was able to get a stronghold on the position. Using a fourth-round pick on Josh Evans allows the Packers a chance to give those returning guys an opportunity while bringing in another player to compete as well.
Evans would add some much-needed physicality to the Packers defense with his strong play. At times he is over-physical and takes too many risks because of it. At the next level, he needs to become more patient and be more prepared.
Another area in need of improvement is in coverage. He struggles when playing man, but has the quickness to be competent as an all-around safety.
The Packers have some talent on the defensive line, but they could use reinforcements, especially if Jerel Worthy is forced to miss a portion of the year with his ACL injury. Joe Kruger, younger brother of Paul Kruger, has great length and size to have an impact on the Packers defensive line. He may not be an every-down player right away, but he can be part of a solid rotation.
Kruger has a solid mix of size, including great arm length, and power that should allow him to develop into a starting defensive lineman. This pick might not pay off right away, but Kruger has the chance to become the guy the Packers are missing on that line.
The Packers need a player to replace Erik Walden after he signed a ridiculous deal with the Indianapolis Colts. After Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, the Packers don't have much depth at the outside linebacker position aside from Dezman Moses. Drafting Etienne Sabino in the fifth round would give the Packers a player who can compete for a spot.
Sabino's stock isn't as high because a broken leg caused him to miss a good portion of the year. While he's recovered from the injury, the injury concerns still remain. Sabino possesses great athleticism and agility, which would fit nicely in the Packers defense.
While many think the Packers are in dire need of a running back, I'm not of that opinion. DuJuan Harris gave the Packers a rushing attack at the end of last season and should be expected to do big things in his first full year with the team. If the Packers bring back Cedric Benson, they will have a good group of running backs.
Knile Davis would give the Packers something different from players on the roster or other prospects. His blazing speed makes him a difference-maker. The Packers showed their offensive creativity in using Randall Cobb, and the same should be expected if they draft Davis.
There are some injury concerns, but Davis is well worth the risk.
The possibilities for using Davis are nearly endless. Getting him in space would create huge problems for opposing defenses. With Harris, Benson and Davis, the Packers would finally have a threatening running game.
The Packers have a bunch of up-and-coming young talent at the cornerback position, but in the offensive-heavy NFC, a team needs as many good cornerbacks as it can get. Rod Sweeting out of Georgia Tech would add a physically gifted player to the roster with a chance to compete in training camp.
Sweeting plays extremely intelligently and showcases good fundamentals. His speed at times is a question mark, but he has the tools to have a successful NFL career. Another concern is his size at only 189 pounds. He may struggle against bigger receivers, but should do fine against small to medium size players.