While suffering through depression at not watching the Packers in the NFC final this weekend, I distracted myself by looking forward to the draft. Here are my initial thoughts.
This first look at the 2010 Draft for the Packers will focus strictly on the first round possibilities. While it is generally agreed the two greatest needs are an OT or a DB, I will add a third possibility: the NT position, which is absolutely key to the 3–4 defense.
It is needless to point out that combine results, interviews, and potential health or conduct issues could arise to shift focus for each of these players but I shall focus on the early projections.
I project six offensive tackles will go in the first round, at least two of whom the Packers would have to move up significantly to acquire.
Likely first off the board will be Maryland’s Bruce Campbell or Oklahoma State Russell Okung. Okung is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound power tackle, likely taken inside the top five so there would have to be a major trade up to get a sniff.
Campbell is huge at 6-foot-7, 315 pounds and room to grow. Previous injury issues could keep him outside the top 10, but likely has the most upside of any OT on the board. A trade up to somewhere around 7–12 may bring him in sight, but the raw potential could mean he's gone before the Pack has a shot at him.
Anthony Davis of Rutgers (6-foot-6, 325 pounds) moved from inside to tackle for just one college season so his speed on the outside is the question at present keeping him out of the very upper tier. Combine workouts could move him higher than the 10–15 range, but unless something outstanding or very bad happens for him, it is unlikely a Packers move up for him. The cost would likely be thought of as too much, the next two are not far behind.
I would put Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga as the fourth OT. At 6-foot-6 and 312 pounds, he may be the quickest of the top six. He is my personal favourite due to that quickness, and the fact he is from the university closest to Green Bay.
His current projection is very near the 20 spot, so from 24 it is neither a stretch to see him slide, or if he is the favourite of the Packers, a modest move up to get him.
The projected fifth OT is from my favourite college program, USC. It's Charles Brown, possibly the most athletic of the OT as a converted TE. At 6-foot-5 but just under the 300-pound benchmark, he has room to grow and is likely the fastest of the group, projecting as the only top tackle to go sub five-seconds in the 40.
He is my second favourite OT pick as the speed and athleticism may be the biggest advantage for pass protection with the speed rush becoming such a factor in today’s NFL. He is the most likely to be the “perfect fit” at the Packers 24th spot.
The projected sixth OT is Trent Williams of Oklahoma. At 6-foot-5 and a very solid 315 pounds, he is very strong, but far from quick enough to be a LT, his value dropping as he is projected almost exclusively on the RT side. It is hard to see the Packers using the first round pick on him, unless totally convinced Lang is the answer at LT, there's better value at other positions.
If an OT is the first round choice, I expect Bulaga or Brown would be great “value and need” picks if either are there at 24. Inside hunch is that Packers move up about four or five spots to get Bulaga.
The second glaring need of the Packers is at Defensive Back, preferably at Corner. Joe Hayden, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound corner out of Florida has the sub 4.4 speed and coverage skills to be the top CB off the board this year. He will be a top 10 pick in a VERY weak CB class in 2010.
While it is a big Packer need, I do not see the value of moving as far up as would be required to get this smallish CB.
The next CB off the board is likely to be Michigan’s Donovan Warren. A shade over 6’ and 185 pounds, his size is marginally better than Hayden’s. Only one season as a starter means he is green, but has all the natural ability and instincts to grow into the position at the next level.
A year behind Woodson would be terrific, but I do not see using a first round pick that you hope desperately does not have to see the field.
The bad part...those are the only two cornerbacks who come close to being legitimate first rounders, so both will likely be gone. In my opinion a third round pick of Owusu-Ansa from Div 2 or Murpfy from South Florida make more sense. This is clearly not a good CB year so a trade or free agency may be the best chance for an upgrade.
At the safety position there are three potential first rounders. Eric Berry from Tennessee is the hands down best DB coming out, a 6’, 200-pound burner with 4.3 speed and incredible ability to close on the ball, he will go in the top five. His spot in the draft means the Packers clearly need to get our own FA Collins (likely restricted) signed long term.
The second safety off the board is a toss-up between Earl Thomas out of Texas and Taylor Mays out of USC. Thomas is 5-foot-10 and under 200 pounds while Mays is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds.
They possess virtually equal 4.4 speed, with Thomas having a bit better coverage skills, and Mays hitting like a LB. Mays lost a huge amount of money staying in school last season as he would have been a top 10 pick a year ago, but the weak USC defensive front this year exposed some questionable coverage skills.
While this entire draft class presents few likely candidates to aide our less than stellar secondary, Warren of Michigan, being from close to home could be a value pick at 24. Mays has tremendous upside and brings a fear factor with hitting ability Atari Bigby can only dream of. If on the board, Mays would be tough to look past, unless Bulaga or Brown is still there.
The final position I think the Packers may look at, due to the fact there are a couple of pure fits which could be there, is NT.
Dan Williams of Tennessee, at 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds, brings a package very similar to BJ Raji with excellent hole-plugging ability and some significant ability to bring some pressure. Also like Raji, Williams could split time at DE in the 3–4 and would add depth and versatility.
Should either Pickett or Jolly not be available this would be an excellent value choice and is likely to be slotted only a few spots higher than the 24 the packers sit in. He has all the attributes that could make him a target to have the Packers move up a bit to get him, and would be an impossible target to pass if he happens to slide to 24.
The second NT target whom has a very good chance of slotting in very near the Packers No. 24 slot is the massive 6-foot-5, 365-pound Terrence “Mount” Cody. Absolutely huge and unmovable in the centre against the run, he is not known for penetration and is not a pass rusher of any note.
Should Pickett not be back, Cody could and would be an excellent replacement, and would only slot behind the two outstanding offensive tackles as the pick of choice at 24.
When one looks at a possible game-breaker option with a first round pick, only one other player comes into the equation. I truly do not believe he falls below 15–18 where trading up to get him would be advantageous, but an incredible return man and change of pace back with amazing breakaway speed exists.
CJ Spiller of Clemson is a home run threat in the return game and the amazing change up from Grant, which the Packers are missing. I expect he is gone, and a home run threat strictly for the return game may be available later but if it gets to about No. 20, a player of his unique talents would be worth trading up for. If he should slip beyond that point, the Packers would be very well served to get “the best available talent”.
All in the choice probably comes down to 5 college players in this draft.
#1 Bryan Bulaga – OT Iowa
#2 Charles Brown – OT USC
#3 Terrence “Mount” Cody – NG Alabama
#4 Taylor Mays – SS USC
#5 CJ Spiller – RB / Returner Clemson
Over the next few months, specifically at the combine watch for these names. One of them will likely be the Packers first pick.