Green Bay Packers Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Predictions for Every Round
The Green Bay Packers' inactivity during free agency has given shape to mock drafts and what the Packers may or may not do during the NFL draft. By staying quiet and not filling holes with experienced veterans, the Packers are once again using their draft-and-develop philosophy.
By using that philosophy, the Packers should be able to turn their attention to giving Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews extensions worth big money.
For this approach to really work out, the Packers need to hit on many of their draft picks and get players that can contribute quickly.
Here is a look at the post-free agency predictions for the Packers.
Round 1: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
One of the most notable missing links on the Packers team is their lack of a solid defensive end to pair with B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett.
Since Cullen Jenkins left after the 2010 season, the Packers have tried and failed to find that guy. The lack of pass rushing from that position has hurt the rest of the defense.
While Mike Daniels and Jerel Worthy could turn out to be the guy, the Packers may not want to wait and instead grab an impact player in the first round.
Datone Jones has experience playing all over the defensive line and would fit in with the Packers coaching staff that likes to mix things up. His explosiveness off the snap would provide an upgrade over what the Packers already have on the line.
Round 2: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
With the departure of Greg Jennings, the Packers could be looking to replace their reliable target. Add in the fact that James Jones is in the last year of his contract and Jordy Nelson doesn't have too much time left on his and the need at wide receiver becomes real.
Adding Markus Wheaton to Jones, Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross, the Packers would once again have the best receiving group in the league.
Wheaton is a little smaller at 5'11", but uses the size he has very well.
His speed makes him a legitimate deep threat, but his game extends behind that. He has the route-running and catching ability to be a threat all over the field.
Round 3: Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
At this point, the Packers are somewhat tied to Jermichael Finley at the tight end position. They are paying him over $8 million this season with little proven experience behind him.
Andrew Quarless is coming off missing last year with a knee injury and Tom Crabtree is off the team. Ted Thompson doesn't like being boxed in by a player, so going tight end early in the draft wouldn't be a surprise.
Gavin Escobar should be available in the third round, providing good value for the Packers.
At 6'6", Escobar has great size. Paired with his athleticism and quickness, Escobar is the total package in terms of being a receiving tight end. He needs to improve his blocking but the physical tools are definitely there.
Round 4: Josh Evans, S, Florida
The Packers are still searching for a player to replace Nick Collins following his career-ending injury in early 2011. Morgan Burnett has solidified his role in the secondary and proven he can be a special player.
The Packers still need to find a solid player who can come in and have an impact next to Burnett and make the Packers secondary incredibly strong.
While the Packers will likely bring in another player, there is still a chance that Jerron McMillian or M.D. Jennings could take control of the position. Using a day three pick on Josh Evans gives the Packers a new body, but still allows players like McMillian or Jennings to grow and become legitimate starters.
Evans would add some much-needed physicality to the Packers defense. The hard-hitting safety still has work to do, but he's got some good potential.
Round 5a: Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State
The Packers have some big question marks on the offensive line.
Marshall Newhouse needs to take the next step in his development to be considered a quality starter, Derek Sherrod is trying to come back from a nasty leg injury that cost him all of last season and Evan Dietrich-Smith is unproven at the center position.
Grabbing Reid Fragel gives the packers some quality depth on the offensive line, with a chance to groom him into a decent offensive lineman.
Fragel has great size at 6'8", 308 pounds, but lacks the balance and technique needed to consistently win one-on-one matchups. He won't be ready right away, but with coaching and patience, Fragel has a chance to have an impact.
Round 5b: Josh Johnson, CB, Purdue
The Packers have a stable of young cornerbacks, but in a pass-focused NFL, a team can never have too many talented players at the position.
Sam Shields, Davon House and Casey Hayward all have proven themselves at times during their young careers. Tramon Williams' play has decreased over the last two seasons, but he still has a role on this team.
Adding Josh Johnson late in the draft would give the Packers yet another corner that is capable of strengthening the team. Johnson has plenty of potential as a cover corner with a strong, athletic skill set.
Johnson's fearless and physical play against the run brings something different to the table and would help improve the Packers defense.
Round 6: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
The Packers run game came on strong down the stretch of last season behind DuJuan Harris.
Should the Packers miss out on more talented backs early in the draft, it's likely they select a running back late and look to try to bring back Cedric Benson. Having Benson, Harris, a rookie and likely Alex Green would give the Packers a quality unit.
Knile Davis would give the Packers a speed back that they can get creative in using. His quickness in the open field should allow the coaching staff to figure out ways to specifically get him the ball in space to exploit defenses.
Harris fits the bill for that role, but remains largely unproven. Davis gives them another option and provides some depth at the position.
Round 7: Nathan Williams, OLB, Ohio State
Beyond Clay Matthews, the Packers have some talent at the outside linebacker position with Nick Perry and Dezman Moses. The departure of Erik Walden and the poor play of Frank Zombo could move the Packers into selecting an outside backer to add some depth.
Williams is fairly strong, with good push to get past offensive linemen.
He's an experienced pass-rusher, blitzing from all angles of the defense. There are some injury concerns with Williams' knee, but in the last round, he's worth grabbing.