Packers Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Green Bay Can Find in Each Round
This is due to a number of reasons. For starters, the Packers have more holes on the roster this offseason than they've had in years. Furthermore, the rest of the NFC North has improved quite a bit through free agency, and they all have better draft positions than Green Bay.
Simply put, the Packers can't afford to miss on prospects that they draft. Here's a look at an updated mock draft with players who could instantly contribute from each round.
Round 1: Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
This would be the ideal pick for the Packers in the first round. Safety is the biggest need for this team, and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix is easily the best of the bunch. It's certainly possible that Clinton-Dix is gone before the Packers pick, but if he can get past the Dallas Cowboys at No. 16, then Green Bay should be in good shape.
What would make Clinton-Dix an instant contributor for Green Bay would be his ability to create turnovers. The safeties for the Packers recorded zero interceptions last year, an absolutely pitiful statistic.
However, it's not just Clinton-Dix's ability against the pass that makes him such coveted prospect. He also has the ability to be a factor in the run, and he is a fundamentally sound tackler.
Adding Clinton-Dix to the roster would also allow Green Bay to move Morgan Burnett back to strong safety where he's had success in the past. The duo of Burnett and Clinton-Dix would have the potential to make the Packers secondary one of the better units in the league.
With wide receivers like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Cordarrelle Patterson in the NFC North, Green Bay needs as many ball-hawking defenders as it can get. If this pick happens, it'd be one of the best picks in the first round, and he'd be an early favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Round 2: Troy Niklas, Tight End, Notre Dame
Tight end Troy Niklas' name is quickly moving up draft boards. He'd also be an ideal target for Green Bay in the second round.
There are two aspects of Niklas' game that would make him an instant contributor for the Packers. First, Niklas is a huge target (6'7", 270 lbs) with great hands. He has the ability to go up and get the ball against smaller defenders, and he can also beat linebackers deep down the field.
Second, Niklas is a fantastic blocker when he's asked to do so. This is something the Packers have missed in a tight end with Jermichael Finley as their starter for the past few years.
While tight end isn't the biggest of needs for Green Bay, adding a talent like Niklas in the second round would be an ideal move for the team.
Round 3: Yawin Smallwood, Inside Linebacker, UConn
There isn't much depth at inside linebacker in this year's draft. That's why Green Bay will probably have to reach for one if it wants to add some depth through the draft.
The ideal player to target would be Yawin Smallwood in the third round. There's definitely plenty of room for Smallwood to improve, but there are a few aspects of his games that would fit with the Packers.
For starters, Smallwood has great athleticism and speed. He also has a good feel for rushing the quarterback and the ability to slow down the run.
Pairing Smallwood with A.J. Hawk would give the Packers a solid one-two punch at inside linebacker for the 2014 season.
Round 3 (Compensatory Pick): Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver, Indiana
One of the fastest-rising players heading up to the draft is wide receiver Cody Latimer. It's definitely possible that he'll continue to rise up draft boards and be long gone before the third round, but for right now, he's the pick for Green Bay.
Latimer is a huge wide receiver at 6'3" and 215 pounds. He's also extremely quick, running a 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day.
What could ultimately keep teams away from Latimer is a foot injury that kept him from participating at the NFL Scouting Combine. However, Latimer has the tools to be an extremely successful wide receiver.
Adding him with the Packers' compensatory pick in the third round might be one of the best picks in the entire draft if it actually happens.
Round 4: Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas
With the departure of Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency, the Packers now have a serious need at center along their offensive line.
While there aren't many NFL-ready centers available in his year's draft, Arkansas' Travis Swanson is one of them. He won't be the most athletic center in the league when he's drafted, but he's experienced and solid enough in both the run and pass game to be a quality offensive lineman for the Packers.
Adding Swanson would give Green Bay a center who could build a relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers for years.
Round 5: Kenny Ladler, Safety, Vanderbilt
The Packers already added one safety in the first round of the draft, but they still aren't extremely deep at that position. That's why adding a mid-round prospect like Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler would make quite a bit of sense.
Ladler's greatest attribute is his ability to hit opponents in the open field. His physicality is something that the Packers currently lack at safety, and it makes up for his limited athleticism.
He's also got quality instincts and the ability to diagnose plays and react quickly. Overall, he'd be a great addition to the roster in Green Bay, even if he's just there to add overall depth.
Round 5 (Compensatory Pick): Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, South Florida
For the Packers' second compensatory pick, they should go out and draft a player with a ton of upside. That player in the fifth round is defensive end Aaron Lynch.
Lynch has all the tools to be an early-round pick. He's strong, athletic and quick, and he has displayed all these abilities at the same time while on the football field.
However, Lynch transferred from Notre Dame to South Florida to be closer to home. He also appeared to never give 100 percent while on the field during his final year in college.
If Lynch can get motivated, he has the potential to be one of the steals of the draft. The flip side, however, would be Lynch being an absolute bust in the NFL.
Round 6: Deandre Coleman, Defensive Tackle, California
With the re-signing of defensive tackle B.J. Raji, the Packers can now wait on this position in the draft and get a very specific type of player. And that type of player is a run-stopping defensive tackle like Deandre Coleman.
Coleman would be able to step in from day one and plug up the middle of the field for Green Bay. He'd use his 314-pound frame to eat up blockers while the rest of the defensive line makes plays.
Coleman certainly wouldn't be a sexy pick for the Packers, but he'd be able to contribute right away, which isn't something that is true for every sixth-round pick.
Round 7: Tom Savage, Quarterback, Pittsburgh
There are a whole bunch of different ways the Packers could go with their final pick of the NFL draft. They could look for another player with a huge amount of upside like tight end Colt Lyerla.
However, when it's all said and done, don't be surprised if the Packers select a quarterback like Pittsburgh's Tom Savage with this pick. With only Aaron Rodgers and Scott Tolzien on the depth chart, Green Bay certainly has a need to add another quarterback.
Savage's arm strength and experience in a pro-style offense would make him an ideal candidate to be the No. 3 quarterback in Green Bay. He might never turn into an elite backup, but that's not what the Packers need.
All they need is a quarterback who could save them if another catastrophic event happened to Mr. Rodgers and Tolzien, and Savage could certainly do that.