Draft Prospects Who Would Fit Perfectly with the Green Bay Packers
It's been an offseason of discontent for some Green Bay Packers fans as they have watched players like Greg Jennings and Tom Crabtree leave while the team added no players of significance.
Have no fear, Packer Nation. The NFL draft is upon us and that's when GM Ted Thompson roars to life. Green Bay is normally dormant during the free agency period as they normally acquire new talent via the draft and then develop it.
It's a rather boring philosophy from a fan's perspective, but Thompson's work has made the Packers a Super Bowl contender the past several seasons, and 2013 figures to be no different. Green Bay does have some holes to fill, and it will be interesting to see who Thompson selects.
This writer is no Ted Thompson, but here are five prospects that would be a perfect fit for the Packers.
WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
The Packers still have a deep receiving corps even with the loss of Jennings, but the Packers still should draft a receiver later on to bolster the unit.
Coach Mike McCarthy likes to run multiple receiver formations, which means Green Bay can never have too many talented pass catchers. The team went half the season without him last year and hardly missed a beat, but adding another receiver via the draft could help the Packers get even more explosive on offense.
Enter Bailey. He's 5'10" and weighs 188 pounds, but he plays much bigger than his size. Bailey isn't afraid to go up and make the tough catch in coverage, and he's also willing to go up the middle. The Packers really haven't had a big threat in the middle of the field since Donald Driver's prime, and adding Bailey would bring that element back to the offense.
Bailey blossomed while playing in the shadow of Tavon Austin and could benefit from the same situation with Green Bay. With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones already on board, Bailey could be a perfect fourth receiver to the Packers' receiving corps.
SS Matt Elam, Florida
Ever since Nick Collins went down with a neck injury in 2011, the Green Bay defense hasn't been the same.
The Packers gave up a record amount of yardage that season and while they improved last year, the defense was still far from consistent. Not all the unit's woes can be blamed on the loss of Collins, but the Packers have not been able to find a replacement for the play-making, hard-hitting Collins.
Their search could be over if they're able to get Elam. He's good at the blitz and also plays well in coverage, crucial in the world of hybrid NFL safeties. Elam is also incredibly physical and could bring that "knock 'em out" attitude the Packers are sorely lacking on defense.
He may be physical, but Elam's also smart and doesn't go all-out for the KO on every single down. This has been the big knock on Packers safety Morgan Burnett. The emotion Elam also brings to the table would serve a team well that has been criticized lately as "soft."
RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Despite the strong finish to 2012 by DuJuan Harris, Green Bay is in the market for a running back, and they need someone who will be a long-term solution.
Lacy would be a perfect fit for the Packers. He's a big powerful back who also is surprisingly agile and would be a perfect complement to the potent Green Bay passing attack. Lacy is able to keep his legs moving even when wrapped up, which will result in some broken tackles.
He also runs with a chip on his shoulder which allows him to finish each run and get those tough extra yards. That kind of attitude would serve the Packers' offense well, which has become known more for finesse than than winning the battle in the trenches and running over an opponent.
DE Datone Jones, UCLA
The Packers need help along the defensive line. That's not exactly breaking news.
While B.J. Raji has been solid at nose tackle, the defensive ends have left a lot to be desired. Mike Neal came on late, but still has a long history of injuries to overcome and last year's second round pick Jerel Worthy had some moments, but finished the season on injured reserve. The team needs better penetration from their line to allow Clay Matthews and the linebackers to get into the backfield.
This is where Jones could come in handy. At 6'4" and 283 pounds, Jones is a well-built athlete that could add not just size but also power alongside Raji. Jones has shown an explosive first step to get into the backfield, which help in defending against the likes of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. He's also powerful enough to run over an offensive lineman.
Another bonus is that Jones could also move to defensive tackle, thanks to his size. This would ease pressure on Raji, who has played an obscene amount of snaps since coming into the league, as well as help replace the aging Ryan Pickett who has had his own battle with injuries.
Regardless, the defensive line needs to be addressed and Jones would be a perfect fit.
TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
One would think tight end would not be a true immediate need for the Packers now that Jermichael Finley is back for the last year on his contract.
However, with Green Bay not willing to extend Finley, it would be wise for the Packers to turn an eye to the future should they either trade him mid-season or let him walk via free agency. Eifert would be a great selection and represents a "reset" at the position should Finley never realize his potential.
Eifert is able to make the tough catch in crowded spaces and excels at making mid-air adjustments. At 6'6" and 250 pounds, he's just about the identical size to Finley. Finley's dropped passes have been well documented, and Eifert's strong hands would be an improvement.
Eifert also has good awareness and knows when to turn to see the quarterback. With an accurate quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Eifert could excel.
Throw in his willingness to block and not shy away from contact, and the Packers very well could have their tight end of the future, even with Finley on the roster.