A Scout's Take on the Early Draft Strategy of the Packers

Bob FoxContributor IJanuary 18, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 23: Ra'Shede Hageman #99 and Cedric Thompson #2 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers tackle James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers during the first quarter of the game on November 23, 2013 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 20-7. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I had another opportunity on Friday to talk with scout Chris Landry on The Steve Duemig Show. Chris is certainly one of the very best in the business in regards to both NFL and college football.

I wanted to get his take on a few items. First, Landry talked about two safeties who will be coming out in this year's NFL draft—Calvin Pryor of Louisville and Ed Reynolds of Stanford.

Both are very similar size-wise. Pryor is a better player, runs a little bit better. You know, you certainly get good value with Reynolds. You can get him a little bit later. Remember about safeties, you'll see a few guys, you saw it with [Mark] Barron, I think there's some guys who can go early, but for the most part you can get those guys a little later. They're a little under-valued, so you can get them a little later.

In my most recent mock draft, I had the Packers selecting Pryor in the first round. Just prior to that mock draft, I also did a piece regarding the top safeties in this year's draft, which didn't include Reynolds, only because he hadn't declared for the draft at that time.

Reynolds does have a good size at 6'2", 205 pounds. He was also All-Pac-12 the past two years, plus he picked off six passes last year, which included three for touchdowns.

Landry continued his discussion about getting value in the draft, and he talked about what he knows about general manager Ted Thompson.

I think that [the safety position] is a priority [for the Packers]. I think defensive tackle is a priority. One thing I know about Ted [Thompson] is that he's going to get good value. The way you have to do your draft is that you have to set your draft board on players that fit your system. The biggest thing that people do a disservice is with guys talking about these are the best safeties [in the draft]. That's not the way it works. It's like who is a fit for you. It's like a car lot. What are you looking for? Are you looking for a pick-up, a SUV or a sports car? You have to know what type of safety a certain team is looking for. Or what type of guard a certain team looks for. Zone-blocking, man-blocking, all those things are important. Once you set your board, it's where you need to go to get those guys. Where is value? Where is depth? And I think there's probably some depth at safety. If a Ha Ha Clinton-Dix slips, he's got good range, although not as good as an in-the-box type of guy like Barron, but a better rangy guy, that would be a value. But outside of that, I think you would lean towards getting a guy [safety] later. I think defensive tackle is an area where you may have better value [in the first round]. Those guys are over-valued. You have to take them a little bit higher. So you have to keep that in mind.

That was the mindset I had when I did my very first mock draft over a month ago. In that mock draft, I had the Packers selecting defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman of Minnesota in the first round, and safety Deone Bucannon of Washington State in the second round.

Bottom line: Think about that perspective as we get closer to the 2014 NFL draft in early May. Keep a close eye on a player like Hageman. Or perhaps defensive linemen like Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt of Notre Dame. All of those players fall in the value range that Landry was talking about in the first round.