Final 7-Round 2014 NFL Mock Draft for the Green Bay Packers
It's finally almost here. Yes, the 2014 NFL draft is just two days away. This time last year we already were talking about how the Green Bay Packers did in the draft, as the draft took place two weeks earlier than it will this year.
When it came to my final mock draft last year, I was able to correctly predict that the Packers would select defensive end Datone Jones of UCLA in the first round.
Last year, the Packers had the 26th selection of the first round. On Thursday night, the Packers will get the 21st pick of Round 1 and will have nine picks overall in the draft.
This is a great draft to have nine picks, as it will be one of the deepest in several years.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock gave his take on the upcoming draft when he talked with reporters on a conference call just prior to the NFL Scouting Combine.
“From my perspective, this is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably ten years,” Mayock said. “That’s been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I’ve talked to throughout the league. I had one GM tell me the other day that having a Top-20 pick this year is very similar to having a Top-10 pick last year.”
That type of comment has to make a general manager like Ted Thompson of the Packers, who uses the draft as the primary source for assembling the roster of the team, quite happy.
So, without further ado, here is my final mock draft.
Round 1: Linebacker C.J. Mosley (Alabama)
Weight: 234 pounds
I'm staying with linebacker C.J. Mosley to be the first-round selection of the Packers at pick No. 21. A player like Mosley can help the Packers in a number of areas.
For one thing, he's a complete linebacker who can stay on the field for all three downs. Mosley plays the run very well, but also excels in covering the pass.
In his career at Alabama, Mosley put up some nice numbers. He had 319 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, five interceptions (three for touchdowns), 24 passes defended, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles in four years with the Crimson Tide.
Scout Chris Landry told me that he really likes the skill set of Mosley:
"C.J. Mosley is even more versatile. To me, he's kind of the new age of linebackers, in that he can stay on the field for three downs. He's outstanding in coverage. He's got great pursuit speed. He's got really good instincts. He's a good tackler.
"I mean, he can play the run and he can play the pass with equal effectiveness. Not any issues there. Doesn't play over a tight end as well. More of a weak-side guy. But he is someone who when you go up against spread offenses and some uptempo stuff, he's a guy who you don't have to worry about substituting for because he can run like a deer."
Mike Mayock has Mosley ranked as the top inside linebacker in his position rankings.
Round 2: Tight End Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)
Weight: 270 pounds
In 2013, the Packers did something offensively that they hadn't done in a decade. That would be becoming a top-10 rushing offense, as the Packers finished seventh in the NFL. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy was a big reason why the team was so successful toting the rock.
But with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers will always attack teams via the pass. That's why it's important to have talented weapons in the passing game who can help in keeping the run game a viable resource.
That takes me to tight end Troy Niklas of Notre Dame. Niklas is a huge physical specimen who can help the Packers in a number of areas.
Yes, the Packers did re-sign Andrew Quarless, but it also looks like the career of Jermichael Finley is over in Green Bay, as I explained in this story, which coincidentally talks about Niklas.
Niklas had a nice season for the Fighting Irish in 2013, as he had 32 receptions for 412 yards and five touchdowns. Because of his size, Niklas is an excellent option in the red zone.
Chris Landry told me that he likes what he sees out of Niklas, who was originally recruited to South Bend as a linebacker:
"Niklas from Notre Dame is another big, athletic Notre Dame tight end. He's 270 pounds and he's a good receiver. He's a good blocker and he's an in-line tight end with enough athletic ability to be a factor as a receiver."
Mike Mayock has Niklas ranked as the fourth-best tight end on his board.
Round 3: Safety Terrence Brooks (Florida State)
Weight: 198 pounds
The Packers definitely need an upgrade at the safety position. The overall play at safety last season for the Packers was abysmal.
That's why the 2014 NFL draft can help a team like the Packers. In a perfect world, the Packers would love to be able to select a safety like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama, Calvin Pryor of Louisville, Deone Bucannon of Washington State or Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois, but Ted Thompson may not get that opportunity.
But if the Packers could select a safety like Terrence Brooks of Florida State, that would not be a bad consolation prize.
Brooks had a nice career as a Seminole, as he had 107 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, one sack, four interceptions, 11 passes defended and three forced fumbles the past two seasons in Tallahassee.
He also had a nice showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he excelled in the jumping skills, plus ran a 4.42 40.
With Brooks, you have a true free safety who has excellent range, but who also is not afraid to mix it up while defending the run game. Brooks would also be an asset to special teams.
Round 3 (compensatory): Wide Receiver Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin)
Weight: 195 pounds
This could finally be the year for fans of both the Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers. This could be the year that Ted Thompson actually selects a former Badger in the draft. Thompson has drafted nine players from the Big Ten in the nine years he has run the draft for the Packers, but never a player from Wisconsin.
Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis could change that situation. For one thing, the Packers could use a little more depth at the position. James Jones left the Packers via free agency this offseason, plus both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are due to become unrestricted free agents in 2015.
There is also the talent of Abbrederis, who might be the best route-runner in this year's draft. In his career at Wisconsin, No. 4 had 202 receptions for 3,140 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Last season, Abbrederis had an opportunity to pad those stats even more, as he was wide open on a number of occasions, only to see quarterback Joel Stave miss him on those plays.
Against Ohio State and cornerback Bradley Roby, Abbrederis had a huge game, as he had 10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Landry told me that he likes what he has seen of the former Badger:
"Jared Abbrederis. I like him. I think he's a really good X-receiver. Can be a three or a four in the league. He's smart, and he runs good routes. He's got good quickness.
"He's sneaky vertical. Listen, he's one of the many guys, maybe as many as 16, 17 or 18 wide receivers that I think can be starters eventually in this league out of this draft class."
Round 4: Defensive End Brent Urban (Virginia)
Weight: 295 pounds
When one is looking for a prototypical defensive end to have in the 3-4 defense, one could imagine a player like Brent Urban. He definitely has the size to play defensive end in the defensive scheme that Dom Capers and the Packers run.
In fact, when he was first recruited to Virginia, it was to become a defensive end in Al Groh's 3-4 scheme. But after Groh left, the Cavaliers switched to a 4-3 defense.
Urban was solid against the run in his career at Virginia, where he had 75 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, 11 passes batted down, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
The Packers need to get better in stopping the run, and Urban can certainly help.
He can also be disruptive rushing the passer with his ability to swat down passes.
He also had a nice showing at the Senior Bowl, and he has a lot of untapped ability and upside due to his size and athletic ability.
Round 5: Offensive Lineman Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt)
Weight: 297 pounds
One of the things that the Packers like to see out of their offensive linemen is versatility. Someone who can play multiple positions on the line.
That's why the Packers would like a player like Wesley Johnson of Vanderbilt. The former Commodores star played left tackle, left guard and center in college.
Johnson had the most starts ever in Vanderbilt history, was a two-time team captain and was also a first-team All-SEC selection in 2013.
In addition, he is very familiar with the zone-blocking scheme. He also performed well at the combine.
The Packers lost starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith to free agency, and could use some depth on the inside of the offensive line at both center and guard.
That is why the selection of someone like Johnson makes a lot of sense, plus he can play tackle as well if need be.
Round 5 (compensatory): Linebacker Prince Shembo (Notre Dame)
Weight: 253 pounds
Notre Dame has had one of the better defenses in college football recently and outside linebacker Prince Shembo was a big reason why.
In his career with the Fighting Irish, Shembo had 145 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss, 19.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
The last two years have been very productive for Shembo, as he had 99 tackles and 13 sacks.
No. 55 also had a good performance at the combine.
Shembo is strong in defending the run as he's an excellent tackler, plus he shows good pass-rush ability.
He is also very good at jamming tight ends and would be a definite asset on special teams.
Round 6: Safety Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt)
Weight: 207 pounds
There is something about Vanderbilt defensive backs that Ted Thompson likes. He drafted cornerback Casey Hayward in the second round in 2012 and signed safety Sean Richardson that same year as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Hayward had a stellar rookie season for the Packers, as he picked off six passes and was very effective in the slot-corner role. Hamstring woes caused Hayward's second season to be pretty much of a washout in 2013.
Richardson had a good enough training camp in 2012 to make the team. He suffered a neck injury later that year and had to have a neck fusion procedure between the C5 and C6 vertebrae. Coincidentally, I once had the very same procedure.
Because that procedure was lower in the neck region, Richardson was medically cleared to come back and rejoined the team last season and received some playing time at safety.
Speaking of the safety position, I don't think there is any doubt that the Packers will add a safety in the upcoming draft, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Packers draft two safety prospects.
If that's the case, Thompson might be looking at safety Kenny Ladler later in the draft. Ladler also went to Vanderbilt, and he once played with both Hayward and Richardson.
Ladler had an excellent four-year career at Vandy, where he played both strong and free safety. He had 291 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, one sack, nine interceptions, 14 passes defended, one fumble recovery and seven forced fumbles.
Ladler showed his strength at the combine, as he had 24 reps in the bench press drill.
No. 26 would be a very solid special-teams performer for the Packers.
Round 7: Wide Receiver Trey Burton (Florida)
Weight: 224 pounds
The Packers have to be thrilled so far with the career of wide receiver Randall Cobb. When Cobb played at Kentucky, he could do it all, as he played quarterback, running back and wide receiver, plus returned kicks. Cobb has been very productive with the Packers because of his versatility.
The Packers could select a similar type of player this year if they were to select Trey Burton of Florida. Burton is not as fast as Cobb, but is bigger.
Like Cobb, Burton played a number of positions with the Gators. He played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and also returned kicks for Florida.
In his career as a Gator, Burton rushed for 720 yards and 16 touchdowns, plus caught 107 passes for 976 yards and four more touchdowns.
At the combine, Burton worked with the tight end group and had a solid performance.
The Packers could utilize Burton in a number of areas, plus he would be a valuable component on special teams.