Green Bay Packers: Draft Prospects
The Packers have the week off with a much needed bye week. They are coming off two big wins and are playing at a high level despite countless injuries. Backups have stepped up and played key roles in the Packer's recent success. The play the past few weeks speaks to the resilience, quality depth and strong coaching of the team. However, like any team, they can improve. Though the season is still young and the Packers should be solely focused on winning this year, it is fun to think about the future.
Here are some of the prospects worth keeping an eye on the rest of the college football season in anticipation for the upcoming draft.
The Outside Linebackers
At this point, a pass rusher across from Clay Matthews is likely Green Bay's biggest need. Luckily, there are plenty to chose from.
In a 3-4 defense, the standout outside linebacker is probably the most valuable player. Clay Matthews has shown this season just how valuable his position is. The defense is a different beast when Clay is his best.
However, on the other side the impact is less evident. Frank Zombo is the current starter—an undrafted rookie free agent. He has played pretty well, but he just doesn't have that game changing playmaking ability. Brad Jones had been the starter before being placed on IR, and he was the same kind of player. Nothing terrible but not a true playmaker. Green Bay's terrific defensive play would be that much better with playmakers on both sides.
So Green Bay should strongly consider these players...
A bit undersized but quick off the edge and tenacious .
Von Miller really jumps out to me and is my favorite player in this class. He was a stud his junior season when he lead the FBS with 17 sacks. This season he only has five, but he has been double teamed the entire year and missed a couple games with injury. Sacks do not tell the entire story though. In his game against Oklahoma he only had 1.5 sacks, but he pressured the quarterback the entire day and looked unstoppable at times.
He is only 6'3" 245, but he plays pretty physical and makes up with his size with incredible quickness.
He is currently considered a late first round pick, but I expect him to rise to at least the middle of the first.
Other Top OLBs
Robert Quinn UNC : Could either be a defensive end or outside linebacker in the Pros. Was suspended for the entire college football season. He is only a junior, so he may return for his senior year. If he does come out, he will be an interesting prospect. He has terrific athleticism, and if he falls to Green Bay, he would be worth a strong consideration, though I don't thnk he would be the best fit.
Jeremy Beal Oklahoma: He is a solid playmaker from Oklahoma who is solid in all aspects of the game. He is not as explosive as Von Miller, a fellow Big 12 player, but is worth a look for Green Bay.
Akeem Ayers UCLA: Ayers is only a junior, but if he comes out he would be a good selection for Green Bay. He is a much more complete linebacker than Quinn and Beal.
Moch is a very interesting prospect. He is currently a second to third-round pick and is enjoying a very successful season. But expect his stock to rise. He is rumored to have 4.3 speed at 6'1", 240. He is extremely quick off the edge and has the speed to also excel in coverage. Being from Nevada has kept him under the radar, so he could be a steal in the draft.
A lot of people consider corner a top need in Green Bay. I disagree. Tramon Williams is a top young corner in the league. Charles Woodson is aging but is still playing well and has two or three more years left in him. Sam Shields has been playing well; in fact, he has been a Top Five rookie corner this year. This really proves that you don't need a first-round pick to have success.
The two top rookie corners this year have been Alterun Verner and Parish Cox. Verner was a third-round pick and Cox a fourth. McCourty has also played well (he was a first-round pick). You could argue Shields is the next best rookie corner thus far. I also think he has the highest ceiling of all of them. He has the most pure athleticism of all of them. He also has a lot less experience, so we can expect more improvement. Point is: I think Shields can be a starting corner when Woodson retires.
This is a a VERY deep corner class though, so a pick may be worth it.
Great, but Out of Reach
Patrick Peterson LSU: Scouts love this player, but he is likely a Top Five pick. It would take a free fall by both Peterson and the Packers for there to even be a shot of this pick.
Prince Amukamara Nebraska: Same story as Peterson.
Brandon Harris Miami: Athletic corner with good potential. He has been rising up mocks. Much better prospect than Sam Shields was coming out of Miami. Probably best option for Green Bay at corner.
Janoris Jenkins Florida: Aggressive corner who makes big plays.
Aaron Williams Texas: Decent option.
Jimmy Smith Colorado: Good size and could be a nice steal in the second.
Curtis Brown Texas: Probably a second-round pick. His stock has fallen a bit due to the failure of Texas, so he could be a another steal.
Davon House New Mexico State: A little under the radar because he is from a smaller school. He has good talent and would be a strong choice in the third but a reach in the second.
Ras-I Dawling Virginia: His stock has dropped from the beginning of the year when he was a first-round pick. He has good size and speed and would be a nice late second-round pickup, though he likely will not fall past the early second.
Donald Driver has had a somewhat rough season. It will be interesting to see how he returns from the injury. If he comes back strong or not, the fact remains that he is old. The Packers are a very strong passing team, so the more receivers the better.
A.J Green Georgia: Every time I watch Georgia play, I am amazed by how much A.J Green IMpacts the game. Unless something goes terribly wrong, Green Bay has no shot at picking him—but they said that about Dez Bryant.
Julio Jones Alabama: Julio is a very skilled somewhat inconsistant reciever. He has huge upside though, but won't fall to Green Bay.
Jonathan Baldwin Pittsburgh: Very large receiver (6'5" 230) and a great big play threat. His stock depends strongly on his speed in the combine.
Michal Floyd Notre Dame: Of these receivers, Floyd fits the best in Green Bay's scheme. He is very good at running the routes that Green Bay thrives on and very well could fall to Green Bay. Would Ted Thompson go with the most talented player available here?
Cecil Shorts III
- He comes from a small school, so he gets less national hype. This means he could be a big steal.
- Small school players are used to being the star and have a ton of experience making plays. There seems to be a disproportionate amount of star wide receivers from small schools—Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Miles Austin, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones. Receivers from larger schools often seemed to be over-hyped and are far more bust-prone.
Cecil is an extremely interesting prospect. He has dominated D-III football for Mount Union his whole career. There are a couple reasons I really like this player:
Cecil is extremely quick and versatile. He fits the Packers's scheme perfectly. Not only is he a small school player like Jennings and Driver, but he also has similar size and playing style. Could be a great steal in the third.
Bryan Bulaga has struggled at right tackle. He is the future left tackle for the Packers, so if Green Bay does not like a right tackle currently on the roster, they will have to draft one in the next few years.
There are a few players they could consider.
Right Tackle Prospects
Gabe Carimi Wisconsin: Carimi is a huge lineman who excels in run blocking and is solid against the pass. This pick is popular in mocks because he is a Wisconsin Native. Second-round pick.
Nate Solder Colorado: Similar to Carimi as a player, also probably a second-round pick.
Many consider running back a big need, but I think the Packers are fine with who they have. They could consider Noelle Devine (WVU) or Ryan Williams (VT), but I wouldn't expect it.
Brandon Jackson has had a good season, and Ryan Grant will be back next season. Also James Starks just came back from the PUP.
Lance Kendricks Wisconsin: Not really a need, but he is a terrific playmaker and blocker, and if he is the best player available, he would be worth the pick.
Casey Matthews Oregon: Casey is a middle backer, so he doesn't fill a need for Green Bay. I just had to include Clay's brother.
The draft is still a far way off, and a lot will change. Those are just a few of the players on Green Bay's radar. After the bye week, Green Bay will head to Minnesota in a big game that could further seperate themselves in the NFC north.
Ted Thompson is a smart GM, and hopefully, he continues to make good decisions. There is a lot of talent in the draft, and hopefully, Green Bay can find it.