Green Bay Packers Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions Post Week 1 of Free Agency
This has been the mode of operation for the Packers since Ted Thompson became general manager. They build through the draft and only use free agency to retain their own players and occasionally bring in a missing piece.
This year is a little different because the Packers have so many holes that they still need to fill. That means that they'll need to draft players who can instantly make an impact.
Let's take a look at a fresh seven-round mock draft for the Packers after the start of free agency.
1st Round: C.J. Mosley, Inside Linebacker, Alabama
While inside linebacker isn't the biggest defensive needs for the Green Bay Packers (see safety), if a player like Alabama's C.J. Mosley falls to them at No. 21, they'd be foolish to pass on him.
It's true that Alabama draftees haven't been overly productive in the NFL, but Mosley is almost as can't-miss as you can get. He's an all-around linebacker who can make an impact against opposing offenses in a number of way.
Mosley's combination of athleticism and playmaking skills are exactly what the Packers need on defense. He can stop the run, put pressure on the quarterback and drop into coverage against the pass.
With Mosley lining up next to inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, the Packers would finally have the duo at linebacker they've been missing for years.
2nd Round: Jimmie Ward, Safety, Northern Illinois
The drop-off between the top safeties and the rest in this year's class is pretty steep, so the Green Bay Packers simply can't afford to wait much later than the second round to draft one.
The ideal player for the Packers to target would be strong safety Jimmie Ward. He may not be quite as good as Alabama's Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix or Louisville's Calvin Pryor, but he certainly brings quite a bit of traits to the field that Green Bay desperately needs.
For example, Ward always seems to find himself around the football. He finished his senior season with a team-leading 95 tackles to go along with 10 pass deflections and seven interceptions.
To show just how badly the Packers need Ward's playmaking skills, the entire team finished with only four more interceptions (11) than Ward had last year. The only potential downfall to drafting Ward is that the Packers would need to keep Morgan Burnett at free safety, a position he really struggled at last year.
However, the overall upside of Ward is simply too good for the Packers to pass on if he's still available this late in the second round.
3rd Round: Marcus Smith, Defensive End, Louisville
The signing of defensive end Julius Peppers, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com, puts the need for defensive linemen a little lower on the draft this for the Green Bay Packers. However, it's not a small enough need for the Packers to not spend an early-round pick on a defensive end.
Marcus Smith absolutely exploded during his senior season with the Louisville Cardinals. He finished the year with 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss in only 13 games. However, his senior-season outburst is also why he isn't going to be picked in the first or second round of this year's draft.
In the three seasons before his senior year, Smith only had a total of 9.5 sacks. To go from making such a little impact to posting 14.5 sacks can be a little concerning to NFL teams. The biggest issue is whether or not Smith is simply a one-year wonder or if he is truly a developed pass-rushing specialist.
If Smith is available in the third round, look for the Packers to snatch him up in order to boost their ability to get after opposing quarterbacks.
4th Round: Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas
With former center Evan Dietrich-Smith signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Green Bay Packers now have a major hole on their offensive line. Unfortunately, the 2014 class of centers isn't an extremely deep one.
One of the top centers is this year's class is Travis Swanson from Arkansas. Swanson is actually a similar player to Dietrich-Smith in that both players excel in the ground game. However, Swanson has a little more athleticism than Dietrich-Smith.
The biggest issue with Swanson, and the reason he'll be available in the fourth round, is due to his lack of strength. He struggles to anchor at the point of attack and stronger defensive linemen can usually push him around.
Unless the Packers want to spend an earlier pick on a center like USC's Marcus Martin, Swanson is going to be their best bet in finding a starting center in the draft.
5th Round: Dri Archer, WR/RB, Kent State
This may seem a little early to draft a specialist, but Dri Archer looks like a special type of talent. He proved that when he ran a 4.26 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The Green Bay Packers were severely lacking talent in the return game last year. With Randall Cobb needing to focus more on the wide receiver position, the Packers desperately need a weapon to return kicks and punts.
A player like Archer would be able to step in right away and provide a huge boost on special teams. He's also versatile enough to be put in as a running back or wide receiver for special occasions on the offensive side of the ball.
Adding Archer would give the Packers another much-needed weapon.
6th Round: Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, South Florida
Starting in the sixth round is where the Green Bay Packers need to start taking some chances in hopes of hitting the lottery. They should start with defensive end Aaron Lynch from South Florida.
If teams only looked at film on Lynch from two years ago when he was at Notre Dame, it's likely that he'd be an early-round pick. However, Lynch struggled mightily last year after transferring from the Fighting Irish.
The big question surrounding Lynch is his maturity. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had this to say about Lynch:
Maturity issues, a questionable support system inside and outside his family—that's what led one prominent agent to tell me he declined signing Lynch after meeting him and doing background on his family.
The Packers should definitely do their homework on Lynch before drafting him, but his upside and potential may simply be too good to overlook. In fact, should Lynch get motivated and begin to look like his 2011 self, he could end up being the steal of the draft.
7th Round: Colt Lyerla, Tight End, Oregon
The final pick of the draft for the Green Bay Packers is another risky one in tight end Colt Lyerla. Much like Aaron Lynch in the sixth round, Lyerla has some off-field issues that will almost certainly scare some teams away.
Lyerla quit the team at the University of Oregon early in the 2013 season. However, he proved before quitting that he has the potential to be an elite playmaker in the NFL. He's versatile enough to line up all over the field and is dangerous once the ball is in his hands.
The Packers did re-sign tight end Andrew Quarless, but they could still use some real talent at that position. Drafting a player like Lyerla who has a huge amount of upside would be the ideal way for the Packers to finish up the 2014 NFL draft.