2011 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting The Green Bay Packers First Two Rounds
From golden and glowing to a nice shade of rusty brown, the Green Bay Packers 2010 season hasn't been the Super Bowl style year that was originally predicted over four months ago.
Injuries, poor mistakes, a lack of depth at some positions and of course some blatantly poor coaching decisions have cost Green Bay all season long, a season that now sees the Packers desperately clawing for a playoff spot come January.
But what if that scenario doesn't play out, and the Packers ultimately fall short of their seemingly destined goal?
It's a rough thought for the green and gold faithful, but in reality it is a lingering prospect with three crucial weeks remaining in the regular season.
Therefore, here's a peak at who the Packers top prospects are looking toward April next year, and even though there are many huge names stepping forward on the potential market, perhaps the Packers already know who they are looking to select in four months time.
Round 1 Possibility: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
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If you can somehow look past the Packers' mild need for a cornerback come April, Green Bay's running game could seriously benefit from a "pillar to post" rusher such as Alabama's Mark Ingram.
For those that aren't a big follower of college football, Ingram is a former Heisman Trophy winner and of course one of the top prospects entering into this year's class. Taking a wild turn however, given the serious competition on the market this year, Ingram has the potential to fall to a late selection in the first round.
Hello Green Bay Packers.
With the injury to Ryan Grant in 2010, the Packers' poor depth at the running back spot has been exposed for what it is. Firm believers in Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn were silenced in the opening weeks, and now the Packers offense is finally starting to slow down without any solid ground game.
Some folks may say that the last thing the Packers need is another bruising running back, but considering how explosive Green Bay's offense is at full strength, throwing in a rookie with such power and force could finally tip the balance between an 11-5 style season or a possible close to undefeated year.
It's a thought to ponder as time progresses, yet at the same time Green Bay isn't known for making blockbuster picks all that recently.
Round 1 Possibility: Akeem Ayers, DE UCLA
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Do the Packers really need another threat on the defensive side of the ball? Sure, it may seem like a weird statement to make, but if you can look past Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and Tramon Williams, you may notice that Green Bay isn't overly stacked in other areas.
That's where Akeem Ayers comes in. Entering this year's draft class from UCLA, Ayers has the potential to help out Clay Matthews and the aging Charles Woodson on defense, especially when it comes to defending some of the NFC's elite receivers that Green Bay has struggled with this year.
The beauty of gaining someone as talented as Ayers though, is the fact that he is a multi-talented athlete. Switching and swapping between defensive end and outside linebacker as a Bruin, Ayers has experienced many facets of the defensive scheme, much of which would benefit the Dom Capers fast paced 3-4 style.
We all know Ted Thompson loves them tall, and if his eye manages to catch on to a 6'4" Akeem Ayers, the Packers may snag a rather underrated draft prospect if they play their cards right.
Round 1 Possibility: Ras-I Dowling, CB University Of Virginia
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Meet the frontrunner for the Packers 2011 draft, Ras-I Dowling, one of the most talented cornerbacks to enter this year's market, fresh from the University of Virginia.
If Packer Nation has ever been more divided on an issue, it would have to be the cornerback discussion. Some fans feel that with Charles Woodson growing long in the tooth the Packers could do with a young stud, but at the same time the highly promising 2010 antics of Tramon Williams almost cancels out this need.
So far this season both Williams and Woodson have accounted for seven of the Packers total interceptions on the year, a statistic that still illuminates how strong Mike McCarthy's defense is.
Does Green Bay want to spend their first round pick on a cornerback that isn't desperately needed?
Maybe, after all the Packers are well known for selecting guys with weird and wacky names. This factor aside however, Green Bay would be smart to ignore the cornerback needs for the time being, considering that Tramon Williams has risen above the bar all season long.
Round 1 Possibility: Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M
Lets face it, teams are becoming more and more wise of the threat that Clay Matthews possesses on defense.
What is the end result?
A constant double team all game long on Green Bay's sack leader, which can at times lead to a mediocre performance from Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme against some of the league's top dogs throughout the regular season.
To be fair, there is nothing to say that the addition of Texas A&M star Von Miller will change all of that. With that being said though, opposing offenses can't be everywhere at once, so sooner or later one of these two guys could break through for a hard hit on the quarterback.
It's a need that could easily be addressed in the later rounds for the Packers, but one that may be best met when the talent is on show.
Round 1 Possibility: LaMichael James, RB Oregon
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As mentioned earlier, the Packers aren't exactly well known for selecting high name draft picks year in and year out. All of that could change mind you if Green Bay somehow snags LaMichael James straight off the shelves.
In terms of competition, nabbing one of the draft's top prospects would be extremely hard to do. Not only would the Packers have to hope for James to fall to the later picks in the first round, but also being sure that they made the right selection in terms of priority could also play a factor.
At the end of the day if Green Bay is seriously considering Mark Ingram, then LaMichael James is surely up for debate. If it wasn't for Cam Newton the Oregon star quite possibly would be holding the Heisman Trophy right now, but unfortunately not.
The running back position is no huge need, but boy, LaMichael James would be a massive asset to an explosive Packers offense.
Round 1 Possibility: Steve Schilling, OG Michigan
The Packers' old draft friend the offensive line pops up again entering into 2011, as Green Bay is still one step behind a totally solid offensive line corp.
Throughout all of the big name offensive guard prospects, Steve Schilling from Michigan is perhaps the best fit for Green Bay. Ranked 11th in the official rankings, Schilling's 297 pound frame would fill the gap in Green Bay's offensive line that last year's pick Bryan Bulaga hasn't been able to fill.
On the unfortunate side though, Schilling is nowhere near a first round pick. Experts expect Schilling to fall as low as the 4th round, so unless something drastic happens in player stocks, Green Bay may have to wait a while to meet this need.
In the meantime, other notable names include Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Castanzo (Boston College) and DeMarcus Love (Arkansas). Any of these players could be available to Green Bay in the first round, so keep a close watch over the next few months.
Round 2 Possibility: Janoris Jenkins, CB Florida
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If the Packers defer to answer their cornerback needs in the first round, then perhaps the second round offerings will interest Ted Thompson highly come the time.
In last season's NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns managed to select another of Florida's highly talented cornerback's, Joe Haden, to occupy Eric Mangini's team for such a bright and promising future. Although the Packers aren't exactly short at the corner position, Gators recruit Janoris Jenkins would be a very healthy asset.
Quick, strong and downright powerful, Jenkins displays an almost Al Harris like ability minus the age factor. Yes, it will take a few years for No. 1 to develop, but when it's all said and done the Packers may wind up with yet another top flight defender -- even though they don't need it.
Round 2 Possibility: Mark Herzlich, OLB Boston College
Two years ago the Green Bay Packers successfully selected nose tackle B.J Raji straight out of Boston College, and once again Mike McCarthy may be taking a solid look at outside linebacker Mark Herzlich.
The thinking behind selecting Herzlich is simple. If Green Bay doesn't want to spend their first round pick on a linebacker, then they can always bump back to the second round and take a player of suitable talent for Dom Capers' defense.
Look no further than Herzlich.
Not only has Herzlich been one of many big factors on the Boston College defense, he also possesses that rare Packers quality that only Green Bay fans can understand. Hard hitting and seriously strong, Herzlich is almost like a mini Clay Matthews.
Round 2 Possibility: Jarvis Jenkins, DT Clemson
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Another possible defensive pick pops up in the second round, with tackle Jarvis Jenkins acting as a potential pick from the Clemson Tigers.
While it is easy to say that the Packers defensive line is one of the many strong points of Mike McCarthy's system, it could also benefit with a little depth and structure if a serious injury bug was to wreak havoc next season.
Not only that, the mild uncertainty of Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson has Packers fans concerned. The two have only combined for two sacks all year long, and throwing in the fact that second year nose tackle B.J Raji often has his moments, the stability of Jarvis Jenkins does look favorable.
Nothing is set in stone with this pick as of yet, and it is more than likely one of many picks that Ted Thompson will pass up on. Still, Jenkins is on offer so the Packers should at least consider him.
Round 2 Possibility: Matt Reynolds, OT BYU
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Last but not least, offensive tackle Matt Reynolds stands up amongst the offensive line prospects for this year's class.
According to many experts and analysts alike, Reynolds possesses the quality to compliment Mark Tauscher on the offensive line if selected, as he has the ability to be strong and stable whilst blocking and become an immovable object.
In 2010, Green Bay's offensive line has looked a lot better since the team's 2009 collapse that saw quarterback Aaron Rodgers go down for a league high 50 sacks, but of course it could always be that much stronger.
It is a known fact that BYU produces strong players, and Matt Reynolds is the epitome of that. If Green Bay chooses to stray away from an offensive tackle pick in the first round, don't be surprised to see Ted Thompson answer these needs in the second or third.