Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen could be a perfect late-round sleeper for the Packers to draft.
One way an NFL team can improve quickly is by drafting late-round prospects who are capable of making impacts quickly. That's what the Green Bay Packers will be looking to do once the 2014 NFL draft rolls around.
While the Packers haven't been overly impressive the past few seasons by snagging solid late-round prospects, they've still been better than most teams. In fact, just this past year we saw Green Bay get good production from fifth-round cornerback/safety Micah Hyde.
After a somewhat disappointing 2013 campaign, the Packers could really use a few more players like Hyde in this year's draft. Here are seven late-round sleepers who would be perfect for Green Bay.
If the Green Bay Packers are going to draft a quarterback in this year's draft, it's going to be in the later rounds.
One name that could ultimately intrigue the Packers is Jeff Mathews from Cornell. Coming from a smaller school means that Mathews will likely be a project player at the start of his career in the NFL, which is completely fine with Green Bay.
Mathews has good size at 6'3" and 225 pounds to go along with a strong arm. His biggest issue once he gets into the league will simply be the speed of the game and his ability to make decisions quickly.
Green Bay might actually be one of the better situations that Mathews could be drafted into. He'd be able to sit on the bench for a handful of years until he's truly ready to take some regular-season snaps.
As long as Mathews doesn't skyrocket up draft boards with strong workouts heading up to the draft, he could be a fantastic target for the Packers as they look to improve their depth at quarterback.
Wide receiver is one of the last positions that the Green Bay Packers need to be addressing during the NFL draft. However, someone like Jeremy Gallon from Michigan in the later rounds might simply be too good to pass up.
While the fact that Gallon is only 5'8" and 183 pounds is a little worrisome, his overall skill set should deter some of his size concerns. Few receivers in this year's draft run as precise routes as Gallon. He's also got fantastic hands and is an impressive athlete.
The one downside to the Packers drafting Gallon is that he doesn't really project as a return man in the NFL. Gallon simply doesn't have the speed to be a threat returning kicks or punts, and that is one thing Green Bay should be looking for with one of its late-round picks.
As long as the Packers feel relatively good with their special teams unit heading into the final day of the draft, Gallon could be a late-round prospect who'd be ready to make an impact from day one.
With only Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick and Jake Stoneburner under contract as of right now, the Green Bay Packers could definitely be looking for a tight end in the draft. While Jacob Pedersen from Wisconsin would certainly be valuable as a tight end, it's a different role on the roster that he could potentially play that would make him a valuable late-round sleeper.
The Packers could potentially lose fullback John Kuhn to free agency this year. If that happens, Pedersen could be drafted as his replacement. He's a physical tight end who knows how to block, but he's also got soft hands and the ability to find holes in coverage.
Pedersen's lack of athleticism and the fact he isn't a threat down the field are what ultimately make him a late-round prospect. However, the Packers don't necessarily need him to be extremely athletic or a deep target; they just need him to be able to block and pick up short yards in the passing game.
If Green Bay stays relatively quiet with its tight end and fullback free agents, a player like Pedersen would be the ideal fit.
There was a time when Wesley Johnson was considered an early-round prospect at offensive tackle. Unfortunately, a poor showing in his final year at Vanderbilt and a lack of ideal size for the position will likely make him available in the later rounds of this year's draft.
At 6'5" and 290 pounds, Johnson lacks the bulk that most NFL offensive tackles have. However, it's his intelligence and knowledge of the position that make him an intriguing overall prospect.
Johnson simply understands how to use his hands to gain leverage and win at the point of attack. He's also good at getting to the second level and finding defenders to block in the open field.
Now Johnson is going to have to learn to be more aggressive and "nasty," but if he can do that, he could really help boost the offensive line for the Green Bay Packers.
Deandre Coleman isn't going to be a versatile defensive lineman should the Green Bay Packers draft him. No, Coleman's status as a perfect late-round sleeper is due to his ability against the run.
At 6'5" and 315 pounds, Coleman possesses a ton of strength. He's also violent at the point of attack and is capable of shedding blockers in order to make tackles.
Unfortunately, Coleman has little to offer as a pass-rushing defender for the Packers. While a more complete defensive lineman would be ideal, grabbing a solid run defender in the later rounds would really improve the area where Green Bay struggled the most last year.
What is ultimately going to push Ronald Powell down draft boards this year is his medical history. Powell missed the entire 2012 season due to tearing his ACL twice.
The last thing the Green Bay Packers need is another injury-prone outside linebacker. However, if Powell checks out medically, his upside and potential could make him a steal in the later rounds of this year's draft.
Powell has the athleticism and pass-rushing skills that the Packers currently lack across from All-Pro Clay Matthews. He's an aggressive defender with an explosive first step that helps propel him into the opponent's backfield consistently.
While Powell isn't extremely polished against the run or in coverage, his ability to get after the quarterback should outweigh those current deficiencies. As long as Powell is healthy, he'd be the perfect late-round sleeper for the Packers to draft.
There is little doubt that the Green Bay Packers will be drafting a safety in the 2014 NFL draft. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see them draft multiple safeties in an attempt to improve the weakest position on their roster.
One player the Packers could be looking at in the later rounds is Ty Zimmerman from Kansas State. While Zimmerman isn't the most physical or athletic safety, there is still quite a bit to like about his overall game.
For starters, Zimmerman has been a four-year starter for Kansas State, so he has loads of experience playing against top talents. Throw in his 13 career interceptions in college, and it's clear that Zimmerman is capable of making plays in the NFL.
Zimmerman may never become an elite safety in the league, but it wouldn't be a stretch to think he could become a solid starter for the next handful of years for Green Bay.