Packers 2014 Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions for Green Bay
The Green Bay Packers made a rare dip into free agency this spring, but the majority of the roster upgrades for general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy will still come via the 2014 NFL draft.
Acquiring veteran defender Julius Peppers provided the Packers with a movable piece to throw at opposing quarterbacks. But holes remain at safety, inside linebacker, along the defensive line, center and tight end, all of which will require the draft to fill.
The Packers currently hold nine picks, including the 21st overall pick and two each in the third and fifth rounds. Thompson subscribes to the "more swings at the plate the better" draft strategy, and he'll have plenty of quality hacks come May.
In the following slides, I'll provide my first mock draft for the Packers.
1.21: ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Packers general manager Ted Thompson has used a first-round pick on the defensive front seven during five of his nine drafts in Green Bay. It's a good bet he'll make it six of 10 come May.
Despite adding Julius Peppers, the defense still has needs along the defensive line and at inside linebacker. In this mock, Thompson uses his first-round pick on finding a new starter at inside linebacker.
Green Bay may have two good options at No. 21 in Alabama's C.J. Mosley and Ohio State's Ryan Shazier. Which one the Packers prefer will depend on how they weigh the positives and negatives of each player.
Mosley is a classic 3-4 inside linebacker, capable of stacking and shedding blocks, chasing down ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline and playing all three downs. He's instinctive and tough, with experience playing in a three-man front. But he also has an extensive injury history, and recent Alabama inside linebackers haven't necessarily panned out in the NFL (think Rolando McClain).
Shazier is much more of a projection. He played both outside and middle linebacker behind Ohio State's four-man front, and he wasn't asked to do nearly as much block-shedding as Mosley. But his athleticism and range are off the charts, and he has real blitzing talent from both the edge and the interior.
The Packers should get better inside with either player. Mosley may be safer, while Shazier could have a higher ceiling. Mosley gets the nod here simply because he's an easier player to plug-and-play in Green Bay's defense.
2.53: S Terrence Brooks, Florida State
The Packers have only three safeties on the roster, and likely only one with true starter's potential. Micah Hyde may play snaps at safety, but this is still a position that needs an influx of players now.
Everyone seems to have their own favorite flavor in this safety class. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor and Jimmie Ward have first-round potential, but Ted Thompson has never drafted a safety within the first 32 picks. That doesn't mean he won't in May, but I'm not certain any of the first-round safeties scream "can't miss" at No. 21 overall.
The next tier includes Brooks, Deone Buccannon, Ed Reynolds, Ahmad Dixon and Tre Boston.
If the Packers do wait, Brooks becomes a very attractive option toward the end of the second round.
He's a more traditional deep safety, capable of playing center field while Morgan Burnett is used closer to the line of scrimmage. He'll also bring speed and range to the back end, as he blazed through the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the combine. Thompson has traditionally valued speed highly at the position, and no safety ran faster than Brooks in Indianapolis.
Opinions vary greatly on this safety class, but Brooks in the late second round might merge the best fit and value for the Packers.
3. 85: OL Dakota Dozier, Furman
The third round may be a little rich for the Packers to invest in the offensive line, but it's worth noting that Ted Thompson has selected either a tackle or guard in the first four rounds in seven of his nine drafts.
He's also shown an obvious affinity for college tackles, which the Packers feel provides versatility to play any spot along the offensive line. For example, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang were both college tackles who transitioned inside. J.C. Tretter, who will compete at center, is another converted tackle.
Given the lack of a cemented starter at center, and the thin depth inside at guard, the Packers could very well use another early pick on the line. Dozier, a former college left tackle, fits the bill and is good value at the end of the third round.
With a massive frame, surprisingly good movement skills and a nasty demeanor, Dozier should be a natural candidate to play guard. And he might even be versatile enough to man the center spot, which would give Green Bay another strong option to take over for the departed Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers can never go wrong investing up front, especially given the emerging talent at running back and the money invested at quarterback. Dozier, a tough, versatile lineman who dominated the FCS and has starter potential in the NFL, would provide another good player to help round out an otherwise talented bunch up front.
3.98: WR Jarvis Landry, LSU
Terrible workout numbers give Landry a real chance to drop deeper into this draft than he should. After running a 4.77-second 40-yard dash at the combine, Landry failed to significantly improve on his numbers during the LSU pro day.
The Packers, who just lost James Jones in free agency, represent a perfect candidate to stop his potential fall.
Landry looks like a natural for the Green Bay offense. He gains separation through skilled route running. He rarely fights the football and consistently makes the contested catch. His timed speed may not be good, but he's plenty quick between the white lines and he can be a handful to get down after the catch. LSU also lined him up all over the formation, much like the Packers routinely do with their receivers.
Many teams are going to pass on Landry because of his workout numbers. And while they are a concern—slow receivers can be marginalized by the impressive speed of the NFL—they aren't everything. Some lucky club like the Packers is going to get an effective receiver at great value in Landry.
4.121: DL Deandre Coleman, Cal
The Packers added the 6'7" Julius Peppers, but this is still a defense that lacks length up front. Datone Jones and Letroy Guion represent the tallest of the Green Bay defensive linemen at just 6'4".
The Packers also don't have many true run-stoppers left on the roster. Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly remain free agents, and C.J. Wilson left for Oakland. All three were counted on during obvious run downs last season.
Drafting Cal's Deandre Coleman could solve both problems.
Coleman stands 6'5" and has nearly 35" arms. While not a great pass-rusher, he provides power, toughness and resistance against the run—either as a nose tackle or 5-technique. He played at all three spots in a three-man front at Cal. The Packers would likely play him most as a base defensive end, likely in a similar role as Wilson has played in recent seasons.
Coleman wouldn't be a sexy pick by any means. But he would fill many of the needs Green Bay currently has up front, with the potential to be a fixture along the base defensive line for years to come. And keep in mind, the 49ers have plenty of playmakers on their 3-4 defense, but they also have grinders like Ray McDonald in the trenches. Maybe Coleman can take on that role for Green Bay.
5.161: CB/S Marqueston Huff, Wyoming
The Packers' glaring lack of depth at safety presents a real opportunity for Ted Thompson to select two players at the position in this draft.
Such a scenario would be even more tempting if the safety selected also had extensive cornerback experience.
That'd be the case if the Packers took Huff, a former starting cornerback who spent his senior season at Wyoming playing free safety. He has similar size and athletic traits as Terrence Brooks, but Green Bay could use Huff in a similar role as Micah Hyde—as a depth corner and on special teams—during his rookie season.
Defenses in today's NFL can never have enough quality corners. Huff's versatility to grow as a deep safety and his instant impact on special teams only adds to the appeal, especially late in the fifth round.
5.176: OLB Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State
Any defense running the 3-4 must never stop looking for perimeter pass-rushers. Even if the Packers signed Julius Peppers and expect Clay Matthews and Nick Perry back healthy in 2014, edge players are valuable enough to keep drafting every single season.
The defensive player of the year in the Mountain West Conference last season, Barrett could be the kind of high-upside rusher the Packers target later on in the draft.
He may not be an explosive athlete, but Barrett consistently finds a way to get to the quarterback. And he hasn't just put up big numbers (12 sacks, 20.5 tackles for losses as a senior) against scrubs. Watch him against Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, a potential first-rounder who Barrett beat clean for a sack last season.
The Packers have invested time in both Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba as backup edge-rushers, but there's nothing wrong with adding more pass-rushing talent to the competition. Barrett is a good football player who could develop into a real asset.
6.197: TE Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State
The Packers may not have Jermichael Finley (neck, free agent) back, but truly replacing him in this draft will likely cost a high pick.
Instead of overlooking obvious defensive needs for a tight end early on, Green Bay may instead attempt to build depth at the position. Gillmore, a 6'6", 260-pounder with blocking chops and developing receiving skills, is one option to do so.
In terms of comparisons, Gillmore is probably more Tom Crabtree than Finley. But the Packers can handle that if Andrew Quarless remains steady and Brandon Bostick develops into the seam-busting option like many believe.
In a best-case scenario, Gillmore becomes a go-to in-line blocker and an effective red-zone option. He's certainly long enough, and his hands are strong enough, to play such a role.
7.236: QB Casey Pachall, TCU
At some point—either during or after the draft—the Packers are going to add a fourth quarterback. The late rounds remain the best bet, as Ted Thompson has selected two of his four career quarterbacks in the seventh round.
Finding the right quarterback is the trickier task.
Matt Flynn and B.J. Coleman, the two seventh-round signal-callers picked by Thompson, are two different players. Flynn is more of a system quarterback, while Coleman had all the physical tools. There's no protoypical Thompson quarterback, especially when you consider Graham Harrell and Vince Young have each spent time in green and gold.
Pachall, a physically talented quarterback who left TCU briefly for alcohol and drug rehab, is probably more Coleman than Flynn. His size (6'4"), hands (10 3/8") and big right arm make him an ideal player to groom in the Packers' system.
Green Bay's decision-makers will want to grill him on the his off-the-field transgressions. But if he passes those tests, Pachall could very easily become Mike McCarthy's next project quarterback. He has NFL-level talent yet to be unearthed.