Round 1) Jahvid Best, RB
Round 2) Chris Cook, CB
Round 3) Jason Fox, OT
Round 4) ??
Round 5) ??
Round 5) ??
Round 6) ??
Round 7) ??
2) CB – Chris Cook
Cornerback is a position much like quarterback. Like quarterbacks, it is very difficult for a cornerback to start and be productive in his first year. Corners are generally making a huge leap playing in the pros, because in college, most defensive backs are been lining up 7 or 10 yards off of receivers. That means there’s a lot of catching up to do when it comes to learning technique, and one summer training camp isn’t enough time to understand it all. Thus, grading corners after only their rookie year makes them all look like busts. Leon Hall, Mike Jenkins, Jonathan Joesph, and even Darelle Revis hardly played like #1 corners as rookies, but as second and third year players this year, they all enjoyed pro bowl caliber seasons. Corners are also like quarterbacks in the sense that it’s best to draft one while you still have a good one, and the Packers have a couple of good ones.
Starters Al Harris and Charles Woodson have been extraordinary for Packers, both making the pro bowl a year ago and Woodson winning defensive player of the year this past season. Nickelback Tramon Williams has played well for Green Bay in the stretches he’s filled in as starter, and even dimeback Will Blackmon can hold his own on defense. Unfortunately, there could be tremendous turnover in the next two years. Harris was badly injured last season and recently turned 35 years old; Woodson is also getting up there in age having just celebrated his 33rd birthday. The good news regarding Harris and Woodson is that their contracts have two and three years remaining, so ending their careers as Packers without the worry of negotiating another contract is a good possibility. Long term security does, however, turn out to be a problem for Williams and Blackmon, who will play the upcoming seasons on 1-year Restricted Free Agent contracts. If Harris and Blackmon can make it back from the season ending injuries they suffered last year, corner will not necessarily be a problem area this year, but preparing for the long term future needs to start now.
There aren’t many sure fire first round cornerbacks this year, so expect to see a lot of teams with a need at corner to wait until the second round to address the position. Chris Cook is the pick here because of his superb athleticism. Packer general manager Ted Thomas has a history of picking corners who are very physically gifted, and Cook has length (32½” arms) speed (4.46 40-time; 4.23 short shuttle) leaping ability (38” vertical; 11’ broad jump) and stands tall at 6’2” and 212 lbs. Cook can play man on an island, which is a must given that Green Bay likes to bring pressure. He can also make plays on the ball when he’s facing the quarterback, so playing in a defense that uses zone would play to his strengths. Cook is even difficult to run against since he can run around blocking receivers. Cook may also be just out of reach for the Packers at 56th overall in the draft. Expect a run on cornerbacks in the second round, so even if Cook isn’t available, other players like Patrick Robinson, Amari Spievey, Dominique Franks, or Brandon Ghee could be the pick for Green Bay.
3) OT – Jason Fox
At 23rd overall, the Packers will likely find themselves in a limbo between very good offensive tackles prospects (Okung, Williams, Davis) and very mediocre ones (Brown, Campbell, Bulaga). While offensive tackle might be the teams’ most pressing need, the resigning of Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher gives Green Bay the flexibility to avoid chasing needs. Also keep in mind that first round tackles almost always start from day one, and it’s not a day one starter that the Packers need, it’s a long term solution. Expect Green Bay to look to the mid rounds to develop a pair of tackles. Green Bay is secure for at least the start of the year, so there’s still time to see if some low risk, middle round draft choices can pan out and be starters at one or both tackle positions. History has shown it takes a lot of luck to find a starting left tackle in the middle rounds of the draft, but finding a starting right tackle in that area is much easier. Some of the leagues best right tackles came in the third and fourth rounds (such as Ryan Harris of the Broncos and David Stewart of the Titans), and Jason Fox looks like he could follow in those footsteps.
Jason Fox started at left tackle for the Miami Hurricanes, but he is a prime candidate to be moved to the right side in the pros. The offense in Miami was based around a lot of option runs and moving pockets, so Fox’s ability to trap and pull were constantly on display. However, his ability to pass protect in a conventional pro-style offense was not put to the test very often in Miami, so NFL teams may doubt his ability to handle it. Fox is a pretty good run blocker, and is able to reach the second level and sustain his blocks until the runner gets past him. Another important factor is that Fox’s measurables are excellent. His arms measure 34½”, his playing weight is about 314 lbs, and he is just a bit over 6’6”. Fox has the tools and mentality to put it all together at the next level, so his success depends on getting paired up with a good offensive line coach who can help him reach his potential.
Check back tomorrow for day 3 of the Packers final mock draft, and stop by FinalMockDraft.com