I came to the Bleacher Report community to write about the NFL Draft. I sort of fell into this Packers gig by accident (although it’s a blast and I love it). Unfortunately, in the last couple months I have failed to come up with any substantive draft coverage. I figured with the college regular season winding down I would mix my two passions and give you an idea of what guys in the college game, the Packers might be interested in.
Obviously, I can’t say “Oh the Packers would benefit from having Eric Berry, Tennessee’s outstanding safety,” because even if Green Bay lost all of their games from here on out, they’d have no chance of landing Berry, assuming he declares.
Seven teams currently sport a 5-4 record, which means the Packers are picking somewhere in the late teens, or early 20’s in the first round if the season ended today. Ted Thompson likes to pick the best player available so of course we have no idea what to expect on draft day. That’s where I come in.
1) Bryan Bulaga OT Iowa 6-5 313
For starters, the offensive line is a mess. That is no secret. Luckily, rookie tackles can have outstanding seasons as we’ve seen from recent top tackles like Michael Oher, Jake Long, and Joe Thomas. Offensive tackle must be considered priority No. 1.
Talk about a physical offensive tackle, Bulaga is a mauler on the edge. He is certainly a better run-blocker than he is pass-blocker, but he’s got a wide frame and good feet. Just a junior, Bulaga is the second or third ranked offensive tackle in college football depending on who you talk to.
Whether he comes out this season or not is somewhat of a question, but if he does he could certainly be not the Packer’s radar. Bulaga is a more prototypical tackle than Packer T.J. Lang, and could play on the right side or left side, depending on what happens with Clifton, Tauscher, Barbre et al.
USC OT Charles Brown and Bulaga have similar ratings on my board, and both would likely come off the board around the time the Packers would pick.
2) Sergio Kindle OLB Texas 6-4 236
Right off the bat I want to add TCU’s Jerry Hughes, North Carolina’s Bruce Carter and Missouri’s Sean Witherspoon to this list, but I figured it’d be messy. The Packers need another edge rusher opposite Clay Matthews and his name is not Aaron Kampman (that’s a whole other issue).
All four of these guys are strong, athletic, and crafty working on the edges. Jerry Hughes has been one of the most underrated players in college football for two seasons now, and continues to get the quarterback despite opposing offenses game planning for him. I would love to see him in green and gold.
Kindle and Witherspoon are two of the elite defensive players in the Big 12. Witherspoon may not have the pass-rush capabilities to play outside in the 3-4, while Kindle’s specialty is getting to the quarterback. And Carter has come on strong this season, and is shooting up draft boards.
This draft is full of guys who can get to the quarterback, and the Packers could afford to wait until the second or third round to address it. However, if they really like one of these guys, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them snap one of them up.
3) Jahvid Best RB California-Berkley 5-10 197
Ryan Grant needs some help. He’s a one cut runner with limited big play ability because he does not possess the agility in space to make people miss. Brandon Jackson is a nice player and Ahman Green is a nice story, but “nice” doesn’t cut it in the running game.
Best is a burner, and despite this recent head injury at Cal, Best is a top 25 talent with room to spare. He was having a Heisman season early on and is capable of taking over games with his big play ability. He would give Aaron Rodgers another weapon on offense to run screens, draws, and swing passes too, and may even help in the return game.
Based on pure talent, Best shouldn’t be available when the Packers pick, even if it’s in the middle of the first round. But I get the feeling Best’s stock is falling, particularly after his scary injury (after he blazes a 40 time at the combine, we’ll likely see that change).
Although he has a late first/early second round grade, Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech is another player who could really give the Packers backfield a boost.
4) Patrick Robinson CB Florida State 5-11 192
Tramon Williams may be one of the best nickel backs in the league, but after that there isn’t much to speak of in the Packer’s secondary. Additionally, the safety position is a huge concern with only Derrick Martin as any kind of serviceable back-up. Getting some young talent into this secondary must be a concern for TT.
Patrick Robinson is the top senior corner in the draft and possesses unmatched physical tools at the position. Florida State coaches say he’s as gifted a player as Deion Sanders and Terrell Buckley. If Green Bay drafts him, Packer fans will hope Robinson can remind us of Deion and forget Buckley.
Robinson is not a great tackler, and his numbers won’t jump out at you, at least not the last two seasons, but before everyone knew who Robinson was back in 2006, he tallied six picks.
Teams simply don’t throw his way anymore and it could be a great tool to learn how to be a more physical corner from two of the best in Al Harris and Charles Woodson.
South Florida S Nate Allen could draw some consideration here as well as the defensive back class is one of the thin group after top tier guys like Berry, Florida’s Joe Haden and USC’s Taylor Mays.
5) Arthur Jones DT Syracuse 6-3 302
Right now, the Packers have one of the best defensive lines in football. Cullen Jenkins has elevated his game to elite status. Ryan Picket has been solid inside and Johnny Jolly has been a difference maker on the other end.
However, Jolly could be wearing a different jersey pretty soon (and not the NFL kind, a bright orange one), and B.J. Raji is probably a better fit as nose tackle, although he has been getting reps at end.
Jones and Jolly are very similar players. Both have long arms and can use their hands to gain position. The Syracuse star makes a living in opponents backfields despite seeing double teams. He even had 15 tackles, 4 for a loss in the 2008 game against Notre Dame.
A knee injury ended Jones' season early, and he had surgery on his chest after a freak accident in the weight room last spring. Jones' strength is one of his biggest assets and he will have to check out physically to earn this kind of draft position.
USC’s Everson Griffen and North Carolina’s Marvin Austin could also be options here as defensive lineman.
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