NFL Mock Draft 2011: 10 Players The Green Bay Packers Will Target on Draft Day

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IJune 9, 2016

NFL Mock Draft 2011: 10 Players The Green Bay Packers Will Target on Draft Day

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    Aside from attempting to finalize their fourth Super Bowl victory in franchise history, the Green Bay Packers may have but one secondary contemplation looming throughout their minds.  That event, my friends, is the 2011 NFL Draft.

    For an injured Packers unit now hopefully returning over 15 players placed on injured reserve, Green Bay will certainly be thinking twice before selecting an unneeded prospect.

    Nevertheless, with as many potential stars on the horizon for Green Bay in 2011, April could become just the first step in yet another successful season for Mike McCarthy and the Packers.

    So without further ado, here are 10 players the Packers will target on draft day.

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

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    Strengths: size, weight, technique, experience

    Weaknesses: athleticism

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    Standing at 6'8'', 320 pounds, Wisconsin's foremost offensive lineman Gabe Carimi is second to none in relationship to his fellow offensive tackles entering this year's draft.  However his pure blocking strengths come from his run-blocking abilities -- leading the way for teammates John Clay, James White, and Montee Ball last season.

    For Green Bay, protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been (and will be) their number one priority heading into 2011; and with offensive tackle Chad Clifton likely entering his last season as a Packer, now is the perfect time to draft a young, skillful lineman like that of Carimi.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State

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    Strengths: decisiveness, agility, vision, experience

    Weaknesses: bulk, weight, rout-running

    Why Green Bay should target him

    It's hard to imagine for some Packers fans, running back Ryan Grant's season-ending ankle injury in a week one matchup in Philadelphia might be the end of the road for the fan-favorite in Green Bay.  And with James Starks on the rise, Grant could become potential trade bate on draft day.

    Nevertheless, it's been a long time coming in Green Bay since a dominant dual-threat rushing attack -- and with Kansas State's Daniel Thomas available early on, the Packers may not have a choice.  With a career rushing total of 2,850 yards and 30 touchdowns at Kansas State (including 19 touchdowns in(2010 alone), Thomas would be a solid second round pickup for Green Bay.

    Besides -- just think of Aaron Rodgers' abilities complemented by a Starks/Thomas rushing combo.  Sounds pretty lethal, wouldn't you say?

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

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    Strengths: length, hands, size, release

    Weaknesses: blocking, intangibles

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    Now, before everyone goes off in explaining why the Packers have more than enough talent at the wide receiver position, let's take into account the smaller stature of Green Bay's big five receiving corps.  And even with Jermichael Finley returning from an injury-ridden season, it's been far too long since the Packers maintained a receiver with Hankerson's height and stature.

    Yielding over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdown in just his senior season alone, Hankerson was undoubtedly Miami's go-to receiver in big play situations.  And with a chance at corralling deliveries from Aaron Rodgers down the field, it's hard to imagine Green Bay being any more dangerous.

Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

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    Strengths: explosiveness, height, strength, effort

    Weaknesses: athleticism, footwork

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    Heading into his eigth NFL season, Packers center Scott Wells has been as solid as anyone could've imagined for both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.  However at age 30, Wells' dominance and consistency are sure to taper off over the next few seasons.  And even though Green Bay does have Jason Spitz backing up Wells, one has to question what his real role within Mike McCarthy's offense has in store.

    So, to sure-up Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offensive line, drafting Missouri center Tim Barnes would be a solid pickup for Green Bay.  Standing in at 6'4'', 300 pounds, Barnes is one of the most dominant center entering the draft.

    Give him a year or two, and Barnes should be ready to protect Rodgers for many years to come.

Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

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    Strengths: run defense, pass defense, explosiveness, work ethic

    Weaknesses: situational strength, sound tackling

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    With Ryan Pickett heading into his 12th season in 2011 with a lagging right ankle injury severely limiting his playing time, it's tough to put a point on his future with the organization.  Addition of the fact that Dom Capers' defense calls for explosive, young talent that can get after the quarterback, Pickett's days are obviously numbered.

    So for Capers and the Packers' 3-4 defense, what must they do to improve?  Well, for starters, they should take a look at Iowa's defensive stud Christian Ballard.

    Yielding 149 tackles as a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes, Ballard was a force against the power running backs the Big Ten is known for.  With an arsenal of pass-rushing techniques and a great knack for sniffing out misderection, some argue Ballard is more of an NFL-ready prospect than fellow teammate Adrian Clayborn.

    Ballard would be and excellent upgrade for Capers and the Green Bay defense on the rise.

Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut

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    Strengths: pass defense, tackling, hustle, instincts

    Weaknesses: height

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    Wilson, Connecticut's most sound linebacker in 2010, led the Huskies in tackles in both 2009 (129) and 2010 (123).  And with great individual instincts, Wilson made his presence felt in UConn's first ever BCS matchup against Oklahoma.

    Weighing in at 6'1'' 226 pounds, Wilson will need to bulk up in the offseason.  However with great speed off the edge complemented by the uncanny ability to track down scrambling quarterbacks.

    Wilson would be a great addition to Dom Capers' legendary blitz-packages, and could potentially become another feature linebackers like that of Nick Barnett.

Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

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    Strengths: read & react, zone coverage, tackling, man coverage

    Weaknesses: none known

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    It's not too often when you find a prospect with such little known weaknesses as that of Virginia's stud cornerback Ras-I Dowling.  From physique, work-ethic, tackling, and exceptional instincts, Dowling may be the most underrated defensive player in this year's draft class.

    However the main issue at hand is Charles Woodson's aging effects.  At 34 years old, and entering his 14th NFL season, the former Heisman trophy winner's stamina can be expected to drop off after this season.

    With an impeccable ability to use his long arms and strong upper body, Green Bay would be mistaken to overlook the potential of Dowling.

    Should Woodson leave for retirement after 2011, Dowling would fill his place with sheer effectiveness and the ability to produce week in and week out.

Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

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    Strengths: pass blocking, downfield blocking, intangibles

    Weaknesses: initial quickness, bulkiness

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    As stated before, we cannot be completely sure how much longer Chad Clifton's knees can hold up.  So, for Aaron Rodgers' sake, Green Bay would be wise to key on the young talent available early in the draft.

    Take a look at Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod: a solid, four-year starter, Sherrod is one of the most qualified lineman in this year's draft.  So, naturally, Mike McCarthy would be more than happy to take in any certified help for his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

    Great pass-blocking and work-ethic, Sherrod would be a fit great in Green Bay's five-wideout sets with Rodgers in the shotgun.

Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

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    Strengths: tackling, speed, quickness

    Weaknesses: agility, size

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    Although he will probably never elevate to the standard of this brother, Casey Matthews still maintains a few of those unteachable aspects so many coaches salivate over: hustle, and desire.

    Standing at 6'2'' 235 pounds, Casey would certainly be an immediate upgrade to any defense willing to take a chance on him.  And even with sound, fundamental skills as an inside linebacker, Matthews could also be put as a freelance strong safety if a defense needed such an improvement.

    The absolute necessity is not quite there for the Packers, however Matthews could potentially be a dual-threat linebacker/saftey if Dom Capers would need such a role player.

Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

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    Strengths: hands, route running, blocking,

    Weaknesses: after the catch, intangibles

    Why Green Bay should draft him

    Pittsburgh's leading receiver Jon Baldwin is a physical freak capable of producing breathtaking catches.

    While standing at 6'4'' 230 pounds, Baldwin also maintains great speed and footwork.  However his greatest attribute remains his height.  And compared to Green Bay's current receivers, Baldwin would become without question the biggest target down field for Aaron Rodgers.