I wanted to get Landry's take on the following scenario: The Green Bay Packers have the 21st pick of the first round and have seen players like safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, safety Calvin Pryor from Louisville, linebacker C.J. Mosley from Alabama and linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State go off the board before the team's pick.
A couple of months ago, Landry had told me that there is a lot of value on defensive linemen early in the draft, as opposed to other positions like safety.
"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 pickup, 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 overvalued. You have to take them a little bit higher. So you have to keep that in mind."
That being said, with the two top safeties off the board in the scenario I presented to Landry, as well as two of the top linebackers, I wanted to get the opinion of Chris about two defensive linemen who most mock drafts have going in the first round.
They would be Ra'Shede Hageman of Minnesota and Louis Nix III of Notre Dame.
Hageman has great size and strength, as he goes 6'6", 310 pounds. He showed his strength at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he had 32 reps in the bench press.
In his senior year at Minnesota, Hageman was a third-team AP All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten selection. In his career as a Gopher, Hageman had 91 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, one interception, 10 passes deflected and two forced fumbles.
"Hageman is long, raw, finesse-type, one-gap and three-technique. His film is good and bad. When he plays well, he is to me a top-15 player in this draft. The problem is that his motor runs hot and cold. He had a very tough upbringing as a kid. He really needs to learn how to play, how to prepare and how to do things consistently. That would be my concern with him. I've got him ahead of Louis Nix."
Speaking of Nix, the former Notre Dame star was listed as 6'2", 331 pounds at the combine, where he did not compete in the bench press drill and was somewhat mediocre in the other drills.
In his three-year career at Notre Dame, Nix had 122 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, eight passes deflected and one forced fumble.
"Nix is a guy who doesn't have much pass-rush ability. He's got some stamina issues. Coming off the knee tendinitis and the knee injury concerns me a little bit. But I think both (Hageman and Nix) of those guys are going to be high second-round values."
Landry also offered his take on Stephon Tuitt, the other defensive lineman from Notre Dame who is rated as one of the better defensive linemen in the draft.
"Tuitt, the other Notre Dame guy, is a defensive end that will go in the second round."
Tuitt goes 6'5", 304 pounds. He did show some good strength at the combine, where he had 31 reps in the bench press. In his career at Notre Dame, he put up some really good numbers. He had 126 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, 21.5 sacks, one interception for a touchdown, four passes deflected, one fumble recovery and four forced fumbles.
What does all this mean?
It means that it is probably not prudent for the Packers to take Hageman, Nix or Tuitt with the 21st pick of the first round, as Landry has second-round grades on all of them.
A couple of weeks ago, Landry told me about how he has graded this draft so far.
"In terms of overall grades, you are right, I'm not completely done yet, but I can tell you that I'm on pace to have a higher number of first-round grades that I've had in years. Maybe as high as 28 or 29, which is extraordinarily high."
Landry also went on to talk about how deep this draft is.
"It's really deep in the second and third rounds. Maybe even a little bit above that. So, there is really good value. And what that means is that when you are picking in the fifth or sixth round, you will be getting, in a lot of cases, third-round value players. Because how you grade a player is how you see them and how they fit in a certain category. And that grade is corresponding to a round.
With the 21st pick of the first round in the 2014 NFL draft, who do you want the Packers to select?
But if you have more than 32 players with second-round grades, which you are definitely going to have this year, just do the numbers. If you have 42, you have 10 players who [are] going to bleed into the third round with second-round grades. If you do the numbers going forward, I think there is going to be tremendous value here (in this draft)."
So unless the Packers trade back in the first round, it appears that the three defensive linemen mentioned in this article would not be the route to go when the Packers make their selection.
That is why the Packers are sincerely hoping that Clinton-Dix, Pryor, Mosley or Shazier will be available when it comes to time to make their selection at No. 21.
Or maybe it will be another player who falls in the draft. Maybe someone like cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, defensive lineman Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh or tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina.
Time will tell, as we are now less than a month away from the draft.