Green Bay Packers Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMay 7, 2014

Green Bay Packers Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

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    Ted Thompson's 10th draft as the Green Bay Packers' general manager will be vital for turning a team in the second tier of the NFC back into one of the conference's elite clubs. 

    The Packers still have most of the main ingredients for football superiority: an elite quarterback, a potentially dominant and balanced offense and continuity at both head coach (Mike McCarthy is entering his ninth season in Green Bay) and general manager. It's now on Thompson to fill in the gaps—mostly on defense—that have prevented an otherwise talented team from getting past the divisional round in each of the last three seasons. 

    One solid draft class and a little good luck on the injury front and the Packers will be right there alongside the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers as the team most likely to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX. 

    In the following slides, we'll provide a full 2014 draft primer for the Packers, with a complete order of draft picks, positional big board and round-by-round information and analysis.  

List of 2014 Draft Picks

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    • First round, 21st overall (1.21)
    • Second round, 53rd overall (2.53)
    • Third round, 85th overall (3.85)
    • Third round, 98th overall (3.98)
    • Fourth round, 121st overall (4.121)
    • Fifth round, 161st overall (5.161)
    • Fifth round, 176th overall (5.176)
    • Sixth round, 197th overall (6.197)
    • Seventh round, 236th overall (7.236)

    The Packers have a pick in all seven rounds, plus two compensatory picks—one in the third round (98th overall) and another in the fifth round (176th overall). 

Position-by-Position Big Board

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    Note: Position rankings are not based solely on ability. Skill sets, availability and when the team is expected to target the position also factor in. For example, the Packers won't be selecting a quarterback in the first round, so none of the top players at the position are listed on the big board.

     

    Quarterback (Positional need: Low)

    1. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
    2. Tom Savage, Pitt
    3. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
    4. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
    5. David Fales, San Jose State
    6. Keith Wenning, Ball State
    7. Garrett Gilbert, SMU

     

    Running Back (Very low)

    1. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
    2. Charles Sims, West Virginia
    3. James White, Wisconsin
    4. Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern

     

    Receiver (Moderate)

    1. Odell Beckham, LSU
    2. Marqise Lee, USC
    3. Davante Adams, Fresno State
    4. Allen Robinson, Penn State
    5. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
    6. Jarvis Landry, LSU
    7. Shaq Evans, UCLA

     

    Tight End (High)

    1. Eric Ebron, UNC
    2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
    3. Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
    4. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
    5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
    6. Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State
    7. Colt Lyerla, Oregon

     

    Offensive Line (Moderate)

    1. Weston Richburg, Colorado State
    2. Joel Bitonio, Nevada
    3. Marcus Martin, USC
    4. Dakota Dozier, Furman
    5. Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
    6. Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

     

    Defensive Line (Moderate)

    1. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
    2. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
    3. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
    4. Scott Crichton, Oregon State 
    5. Taylor Hart, Oregon
    6. Brent Urban, Virginia
    7. Deandre Coleman, Cal
    8. Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State

     

    Linebacker (High)

    1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
    2. Anthony Barr, UCLA
    3. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
    4. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
    5. Marcus Smith, Louisville
    6. Jordan Tripp, Montana

     

    Cornerback (Low to moderate)

    1. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
    2. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
    3. Philip Gaines, Rice
    4. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
    5. Walt Aikens, Liberty
    6. Dontae Johnson, NC State

     

    Safety (Very high)

    1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
    2. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
    3. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
    4. Terrence Brooks, Florida State
    5. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
    6. Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky
    7. Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State

First Round, 21st Overall

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    Team needs: S, LB, DL, WR, C

    Unless a receiving option like UNC tight end Eric Ebron or LSU receiver Odell Beckham falls to No. 21 overall, the Packers seem locked into taking a defensive player in the first round. 

    Each level of the defense could probably use a first-round upgrade. 

    Safety is arguably Green Bay's biggest need, with only three players and one solidified starter (Morgan Burnett) currently on the roster. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jimmie Ward and Calvin Pryor are first-round options, depending on your flavor. Clinton-Dix and Ward are both talented in coverage, while Pryor is a big hitter who could bring an intimidating presence to the back end. 

    And don't count out Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, who would be great value at No. 21 and also has the potential to play free safety. 

    Inside linebacker is another likely first-round possibility, with C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier leading a weak pack of players at the position. Both would be immediate upgrades. Anthony Barr, a talented edge-rusher, could be a best-player-available pick if he fell to No. 21. 

    Defensive line is much more set. The Packers will play B.J. Raji, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers the majority of the time up front, with Mike Neal and Josh Boyd both capable rotation players. However, if the Packers are high on a defensive lineman—such as ideal 3-4 ends Ra'Shede Hageman or Stephon Tuitt—it wouldn't be shocking for Thompson to again invest at the position group. 

Second Round, 53rd Overall

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    Team needs: S, LB, WR, C, TE

    Depending on how the board falls and which position the 21st pick is used on, the Packers may still be in a position to take either a safety or linebacker to start the second day.

    If Mosley or Shazier is the pick in the first round, Terrence Brooks or Deone Bucannon both make sense as the safety fix at No. 53 overall. Brooks is a tremendous athlete with free safety abilities, while Bucannon is a big-bodied turnover machine. Each could start as a rookie. 

    Linebacker is much harder to project. Chris Borland might be an option, as the gap between the top three inside linebackers and the rest of the group is massive. But the Packers may be better off moving a player such as Kyle Van Noy inside if he makes it all the way to No. 53. Marcus Smith is a potential fit as an edge-rusher. 

    On the offensive side, the Packers could look to address receiver, center or tight end.

    A number of attractive receiver options figure to be available—including Davante Adams (a James Jones clone), Allen Robinson or Jordan Matthews—in a deep receiver draft. At center, Green Bay might hope either Weston Richburg or Marcus Martin falls to the middle of the second round. Appealing tight end options include Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Troy Niklas, a pair of players that could help replace Jermichael Finley.  

Third Round, 85th and 98th Overall

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    Team needs: WR, DEF, TE, OL

    Green Bay's third-round compensatory pick gives Ted Thompson two more swings inside the top 100 selections, at No. 85 and 98 overall. The Packers could go a variety of ways with the two picks given the team's various needs and the relative depth of the draft class. 

    Receiver again makes sense in a draft that could provide good players at the position well into the third round. Options for the Packers include LSU's Jarvis Landry, South Carolina's Bruce Ellington, Clemson's Martavis Bryant and Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis—all potential second-round receivers in a more typical draft. 

    At tight end, a starting-caliber player such as Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz could still be available. Along the offensive line, Travis Swanson is a mid-round center, while Dakota Dozier has versatility and big upside (including possibly at center).  

    Defense should remain a priority into the third round, especially if the Packers pick a center or receiver with their first two picks. Interesting third-round options include Trent Murphy, Jordan Tripp, Jordan Zumwalt, Christian Jones, Phillip Gaines or Kenny Ladler. 

Fourth Round, 121st Overall

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    Team needs: OL, DL, QB

    The Packers have drafted at least one offensive lineman and defensive lineman in every draft Ted Thompson has been control of, and there's little reason to think he won't make it 10 for 10. 

    Green Bay has options at center on the roster, including 2013 fourth-round pick J.C. Tretter. However, Thompson could continue building his talent base and depth along the offensive line by taking another versatile former tackle, such as Wesley Johnson of Vanderbilt, Brandon Linder of Miami or Ryan Groy of Wisconsin. All three could slide inside, providing more options at guard or center. 

    The defensive line could also use depth behind the main rotation players. With neither Ryan Pickett nor Johnny Jolly back on the roster (yet), the Packers could restock the weight up front with Ego Ferguson (308 pounds), Daniel McCullers (352) or Shamar Stephen (320). Brent Urban (6'6"), Kelcy Quarles (6'4") and Taylor Hart (6'6") could provide length at end. 

    In terms of potential value in the fourth round, James Gayle (edge-rusher), Shayne Skov (inside linebacker), Marqueston Huff (safety/corner hybrid), Deandre Coleman (tall 3-4 end) and Craig Loston (athletic safety) all make sense. 

    Also, don't rule out a quarterback. If AJ McCarron or Logan Thomas is still available, the Packers could strike on their long-term answer as Aaron Rodgers' backup. Thomas, with all his physical tools, would be an especially attractive pairing with Mike McCarthy. 

Fifth Round, 161st and 176th Overall

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    Team needs: Depth pass rusher, S, KR

    A 3-4 defense should never stop building its pressure base, especially from the edges. The Packers will enter the 2014 season with Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Mike Neal as the roster front-runners, but quality depth—given the snakebite of injuries—is always an important factor for a Green Bay defense.

    Potential value picks in the fifth round could include Colorado State's Shaquil Barrett, USC's Devon Kennard and Notre Dame's Prince Shembo, who might also be able to play inside.  

    With only three safeties on the roster, the Packers could very well decide to select two players at the position—one early and one late. Western Kentucky's Jonathan Dowling, Stanford's Ed Reynolds or Baylor's Ahmad Dixon might be available at this point in the fifth round. 

    An interesting tight end prospect is Crockett Gillmore, a dual blocking-receiving tight end with a wide catching radius and soft hands. He's not Jermichael Finley athletically, but his upside is intriguing.  

    The Packers may also continue to look at receivers, especially if one has return ability. If Micah Hyde's responsibilities on defense increase, Green Bay will lack a rock-solid option on the roster to return kicks. Shaq Evans from UCLA is one possibility. 

Sixth Round, 197th Overall

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    Team needs: LB, S, TE

    Thompson has taken five linebackers in the sixth round since 2005, by far the most at any position in the round. If the Packers don't find an answer at inside linebacker early, a late-round pick could be use to provide more depth. 

    Max Bullough, Avery Williamson, Lamin Barrow and Yawin Smallwood are potential picks in the sixth round. None may project as starters, but it is worth noting that Thompson found Desmond Bishop in the sixth round of the 2007 draft.

    Of course, history can only tell us so much. Ted Thompson doesn't need to be handcuffed by need this late into the draft, opening up myriad possibilities for which position or player he may take in the sixth round.

    Some potential value picks include tight end Jake Murphy, guard Russell Bodine, safety Nickoe Whitley, receiver Austin Franklin, offensive lineman Charles Leno, defensive lineman Zack Kerr and linebacker Howard Jones. 

Seventh Round, 236th Overall

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    Team needs: QB, BPA

    With Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien back for 2014, the seventh round presents the most likely time for the Packers to get another developmental quarterback. 

    Flynn, a former seventh-rounder, worked out just fine. And Ted Thompson has actually selected two of his five career quarterbacks in the seventh round, taking Flynn in 2008 and B.J. Coleman in 2012. With Coleman no longer on the roster, Thompson can go looking for his next project signal-caller. 

    The most appealing seventh-round options include David Fales of San Jose State, Keith Wenning of Ball State, Jeff Mathews of Cornell, Garrett Gilbert of SMU and Casey Pachall of TCU. All are 6'2" or taller and have projectable upside in the right situation. If height isn't a concern, Connor Shaw of South Carolina or Brett Smith of Wyoming become possibilities.

    Of course, the Packers aren't locked into a quarterback. Six of Thompson's seventh-round picks have gone on to play in 20 or more career games. That's decent return on investment. Best player available is always an advisable strategy late in a draft.  

Latest Draft Buzz

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    A look around the NFL at the hottest rumors involving the Packers and the 2014 draft:

    • The Packers have been tied to both C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier as possible options for fixing the inside linebacker position. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the fit for Mosley is especially attractive, while Shazier also remains a realistic possibility. An NFL general manager told Rapoport that Mosley "looks like a Packer," and he counted Shazier as a "likely option." The Packers would do well by getting either at No. 21 overall. 
    • More on the inside linebacker possibilities: Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel spoke with former NFL safety turned draftnik Corey Chavous, who believes BYU's Kyle Van Noy could be a candidate to slide inside. In fact, Chavous likes him as the best fit for Green Bay's scheme. "Neither one of those guys would be as good of a fit as a Kyle Van Noy for their scheme and how they play,” Chavous said. “Van Noy is a guy who has top-level instincts. ... I think he’s the best linebacker in the draft." It's an interesting projection, especially if the Packers could get him in the second round. 
    • Adding a fourth quarterback feels like a foregone conclusion given Mike McCarthy's desire for another player at the position and the various visits the Packers have used on signal-callers this spring. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Green Bay has hosted four quarterbacks—Tom Savage, Keith Wenning, David Fales and Brock Jensen—for official visits. Expect Thompson to use a mid-to-late pick on adding a fourth player at the position. 
    • Missouri's Michael Sam might have the ability to play outside or inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC might be a target of the Packers. But will Green Bay need to use a draft pick? Maybe not. Per Bob McGinn, Sam doesn't have many fans among NFL scouts. Five of the 21 personnel people McGinn polled would sign Sam as an undrafted free agent, but seven said they wouldn't even give him that chance. Short, slow pass-rushers usually don't last long in the NFL. 

Official Player Visits

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    The following players have made official pre-draft visits with the Packers, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

    • QB Tom Savage, Pitt
    • QB David Fales, San Jose State
    • QB Keith Wenning, Ball State
    • QB Brock Jensen, North Dakota State
    • OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill (Canada)
    • OLB Prince Shembo, Notre Dame
    • ILB Joe Thomas, South Carolina State
    • NT Beau Allen, Wisconsin
    • CB Walk Aikens, Liberty
    • C Luke Bowanko, Virginia 
    • CB Brian Dixon, NW Missouri State
    • G John Fullington, Washington State
    • DT Andru Pulu, Eastern Washington
    • RB Darrin Reeves, UAB
    • RB James Baker, Idaho
    • WR Torrence Allen, West Texas State
    • OT Curtis Feigt, West Virginia
    • G Justin McCray, Central Florida
    • G Josh Andrews, Oregon State
    • WR Jeremy Butler, Tennessee-Martin