Green Bay Packers Draft: The Best Fit for Packers at Every Position
With regard to the NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers are among the league's best at using the opportunity to build their team. This year, the Packers will need to use the draft to replace a good amount of players that won't be returning next season.
Throughout general manager Ted Thompson's tenure in Green Bay, he has made his living during the draft. In part, Thompson and his Packers have found so much success in the draft because they are able to locate strong fits with good analysis on value.
These fits are based on team need and perceived value heading into the draft. While there are likely more natural fits, these are the best fits of players that could actually be drafted by the Packers.
Jordan Rodgers (7th Round)
The Packers are highly unlikely to draft a quarterback in this draft. Behind Aaron Rodgers, they have Graham Harrell and recently drafted B.J. Coleman. With a lack of depth in the later rounds of the draft, the Packers will likely bring in an undrafted free agent if they want to challenge Coleman for the practice-squad gig.
If the Packers do decide to draft a quarterback late, Jordan Rodgers is definitely an option. Rodgers has decent arm strength and good athleticism. He's not going to become his older brother, but with good quarterback coaching, he's capable of being an NFL-caliber player.
It's unlikely to happen, but of the quarterbacks available, why not?
Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State (2nd-3rd Round)
The Packers finally got their running game going at the end of last season. DuJuan Harris was a great find and showed he has a future in Green Bay, as he averaged 4.1 yards per carry in six games, including the playoffs. While the powerful back has a role, he's rather small and unlikely to be able to hold up in a feature-back role.
The Packers could definitely be in the market for a feature back that will be able to contribute reliably for years to come. On the second day of the draft, the Packers could strike gold with Le'Veon Bell. The Michigan State product has been a little under the radar, despite playing successfully at a big-name program.
Bell would be a great fit in the Packers offense due to his strong running style and experience in the passing game. At Michigan State, Bell was a huge weapon in the backfield, both on the ground and through the air. Adding a threat in the backfield could make the Packers offense unstoppable.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (2nd Round)
With Greg Jennings joining the Minnesota Vikings and Donald Driver enjoying retirement, the Packers are in position to add another wide receiver in the draft. James Jones is entering the final year of his contract, which should increase the level of need and move the Packers to draft a wideout on the second day.
Markus Wheaton is the perfect fit for the Packers because of his well-rounded nature and his polished game. Wheaton has the potential to come into training camp completely ready to contribute. Although the Packers have a strong receiving corps, it wouldn't be surprising to see Wheaton regularly force his way onto the field next season.
Gavin Escobar, San Diego State (3rd Round)
The Packers could be looking to add another receiving threat at tight end during the draft. The team is so tied to Jermichael Finley that they will be paying him over $8 million this season. With Finley heading into free agency next year, the Packers need some alternate plans. D.J. Williams and Andrew Quarless are the most likely players from the roster to fill the role, but the draft could be a better option.
In the third round, Gavin Escobar would be a solid option for the Packers. Escobar is a receiving-focused tight end with good size and strength for the position. He's not as much of an athletic freak like Finley but rather more traditional as a receiving tight end.
With good hands and solid route running, he's capable of contributing right away.
David Quessenberry, San Jose State (4th Round)
At left tackle, the Packers have struggled behind the play of Marshall Newhouse. Despite his struggles, Newhouse has shown potential and moments of hanging tough. With Derek Sherrod coming back from a broken leg in late 2011, there should be some strong competition at the position.
With the right value in the draft, the Packers could probably use yet another player to come in and have a chance to earn playing time. David Quessenberry could give the Packers that value in the fourth round. The 6'5", 302-pound big man is a strong athlete who plays with great intensity and effort.
The downside of Quessenberry's game is his lack of explosiveness off the snap. It often leads to him being a step behind defenders. He has great potential, but he needs to develop.
Blaize Foltz, TCU
The Packers are relatively sturdy at the offensive guard positions with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Both players were strong at their positions last season, and Lang should provide great value with his versatility to play other positions when injuries strike. With the pair, the Packers don't have a great need at offensive guard.
If they look to grab a guard late in the draft, Blaize Foltz is a great option because of his size. He's one of the bigger guards in the draft at 6'4", 324 pounds. While he has a wide base, he struggles with technique needed to consistently give protection and blocking.
T.J. Johnson, South Carolina (7th Round/UDFA)
The Packers seem set on Evan Dietrich-Smith as team's starting center moving forward. After providing an upgrade from Jeff Saturday, Dietrich-Smith has definitely earned his starting gig. In terms of the draft, the best fit for the Packers would be somebody with great size without having to give up too much in the draft.
T.J. Johnson has some of the best size in the draft. At 6'4", 310 pounds, he's a little bit taller than Dietrich-Smith (6'2") and weighs two more pounds. Johnson's biggest problem is his technique, which can be changed with solid coaching.
It's a low-risk pick that could pay off in the long run should something happen to Dietrich-Smith during camp. Johnson also played guard in college, so there is a bit of versatility there, despite Johnson being a little tall for the position.
Jesse Williams, Alabama (1st Round)
The Packers have a need at defensive tackle with Ryan Pickett's age (33) and B.J. Raji's versatility. The team could use another big body to give them depth in the immediate future as well as provide flexibility in how they line up. Getting a strong, big-framed player would allow defensive coordinator Dom Capers multiple options based on the situation.
Out of Alabama, Jesse Williams has proven, against stiff competition, that he is an absolute force on the defensive line. Williams doesn't have the quickness to collapse the pocket, but the Packers can get that elsewhere on the line when Williams is in the game.
Williams is a great fit because the Packers need to improve their overall physicality, starting in the trenches. Getting a powerful, wide-framed force will definitely help the Packers take the next step.
William Gholston, Michigan State (4th-5th Round)
While the Packers do have a need at defensive end, it's looking unlikely that they find a good match of value early in the draft. The Packers defense hasn't been the same since Cullen Jenkins left the team following 2010. None of the defensive ends they've tried have been able to sustain a high level of play and are not deserving of a starting job.
At the end of the middle rounds, William Gholston presents an intriguing prospect for the Packers defense. At 6'6", 281 pounds, Gholston has ideal size for a 3-4 end. His big frame and long arms (34") give him a great foundation to engage blockers, but his athleticism gives him the ability to burst through the offensive line.
Will Compton, Nebraska (7th Round/UDFA)
With Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and Robert Francois, the Packers don't seem to have a big need at inside linebacker. Bishop, if healthy, will definitely take one of the starting jobs after missing all of last season. Smith, Hawk and Jones will be the most likely competitors for the other starting spot.
In the draft, Will Compton could be the best fit because of what he offers against his draft stock. At the end of the draft, Compton could be valuable because of his strong football instincts. He's not a great athlete, but with coaching, he could turn into a decent depth player.
Corey Lemonier, Auburn (2nd-3rd Round)
The Packers will be counting on Nick Perry to stay healthy and take a big step in his second season at the outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews. If not Perry, the Packers have Dezman Moses, who provided some strong play last season as an undrafted free agent.
If the Packers aren't sold, they could look to draft a talented outside linebacker early in the draft. Depending on how teams view him, Corey Lemonier could be available for the Packers. He's a great pass-rushing talent with speed and power.
He's probably the most unlikely from this list to be drafted, but the fit is strong enough that it's worth mentioning. He's the type of player the Packers could fall in love with and trade up for or grab regardless of need.
Brandon McGee, Miami (4th-5th Round)
The Packers don't have a great need at cornerback with a plethora of young, up-and-coming players. Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Davon House, Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush are all fairly safe on the roster, while Loyce Means and James Nixon will get a chance to compete during the offseason.
If the Packers are looking to add another cornerback, Brandon McGee would be a great fit. The Packers like their cornerbacks to be under 6'0" tall and less than 200 pounds. At 5'11", 193 pounds, McGee fits with regard to size.
In addition to having ideal size, McGee has good speed. At the combine, McGee ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. McGee's game is raw and he could use a solid coaching staff to become a talented corner within a few seasons.
Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International (1st Round)
The Packers lack a consistent impact player at the safety position next to Morgan Burnett. Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings have flashed potential at moments, but neither has been able to avoid making many costly mistakes.
Cyprien is incredibly physical at the safety position, but he also plays with strong instincts. While he remains fairly disciplined, Cyprien has also shown an ability to successfully judge when to take risks in order to make plays. Throughout his college career, he came up with big, impact plays.
The Packers have really emphasized turnovers in their secondary. Cyprien will fit right in and contribute by coming up with turnovers. What really makes Cyprien a fit for the Packers defense is that he's different from the rest of the roster. His physical play is unmatched and would hopefully start to change the culture.