The Green Bay Packers do not have many, if any, glaring needs. However, with players aging and recent legal trouble, the Packers will need to draft with intelligence and determination in order to repeat next year and continue to build for years to come.
Here is my first seven-round mock draft—without any trades, but including the compensatory fourth-round Aaron Kampman pick and the second seventh-round selection.
With the inevitable departure of DT Cullen Jenkins and the recent arrest of Johnny Jolly, the Packers are growing noticeably thin on the defensive front.
Liuget is a stud defensive tackle from the University of Illinois. At 6'2" and 300 lbs, he has the build and strength to fill the void that could be left by Jenkins and Jolly.
Liuget is NFL-ready and can compete for the starting roll with promising second-year ex-Purdue star, Mike Neal. A defensive line then comprised of B.J. Raji, Ryan Picket, Neal, Liuget, C.J. Wilson, Howard Green and Jarius Wynn would be solid for years to come.
Liuget’s stock is rising after a solid combine and pro-day workout, and the chance of him falling to pick No. 32 diminishes each day. However, this year’s draft remains a mystery, with the top 15 picks unknown and the placement of the top four quarterbacks in limbo, so for now, Liuget is the selection.
Acho is a player with similar ability to—but much less hype than—his fellow Texas stars, Sergio Kindle and Brian Orakpo. This pick would satisfy an apparent need opposite Clay Matthews to provide a dual pass-rushing threat.
Acho has an excellent combination of size and speed, standing at 6'2" and weighing 260 lbs. A solid 40 time of 4.63 and 23 reps on the bench, along with stellar, high-competition production at Texas makes Acho a good value pick in the second round.
After Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, the Packers are quite limited at cornerback. Brandon Underwood’s days are numbered and Pat Lee will never live up to his second-round selection.
Brandon Burton is a player with excellent closing speed and great ball recognition. Utah is a school that is becoming the next TCU or Boise State, consistently producing promising NFL prospects, and Burton does not disappoint—much like Sean Smith two years ago.
He needs coaching on his sloppy footwork and needs to put on weight, but as a third-round selection, Burton has the skills to mirror Williams' growth and production and will be an anchor alongside Williams after Woodson’s eventual departure.
Love is a lineman who is rapidly falling down draft boards. He played well at Arkansas, but after an abysmal Senior Bowl, he will not be selected in the top 75.
Love is surprisingly athletic but has very poor balance. He plays with a bit of a mean streak, excels in run-blocking and is a greatly improved pass-blocker.
He will fill a hole at left guard or right tackle for the Packers, as Daryn Colledge is as good as gone and Bryan Bulaga will eventually make the switch back to his natural position at LT.
This is very good value in Round 4.
A supplementary pick taken in exchange for Aaron Kampman will result in a productive and physical wide receiver. Salas is not flashy and will not wow with his speed or agility, but he has the tools to be the next James Jones and can catch the ball naturally over the middle and take the hit.
He was very productive at Hawaii, and with Jones likely leaving for a more lucrative contract, Salas is the pick. He has a chance to be a real contributor.
Scott Wells is 30 years old and is a solid contributor and anchor on the offensive line, but his best days are likely behind him. Nick McDonald has been groomed behind Wells, but he may be a better fit at left guard as soon as next season.
Kirkpatrick excels in a zone-blocking scheme and will likely not even suit up for most games next season, but with proper coaching, he can be the next Scott Wells—never a Pro Bowl center, but a solid lineman with a lot to offer a win-now team.
It is no secret that the Packers are terrible on special teams. They need a return man, as well as another receiver to groom behind an aging Donald Driver.
Harris was highly productive against lower-level competition, but he is physically outstanding and can provide a real deep receiving threat and a noticeable burst in the return game.
He did not have an excellent showing at the Senior Bowl, but Harris has very quick feet and great agility. He has very raw talent and will need much coaching at the next level, but Harris can contribute instantly in the return game.
A productive Richmond star, Martin Parker is a bit of a prayer in the seventh round after a good pro day. He is similar in build to Liuget but he is very raw and needs to get stronger to be able to push better interior offensive lineman.
The defensive front was depleted with injuries last year and that is the main reason for this selection. He could lead Jarius Wynn to the door and contribute on special teams.
Green Bay did not run the ball well in 2010. The Packers lost Ryan Grant, and only at the end of a season filled with nagging injuries did James Starks come onto the scene.
Brandon Jackson is not capable of being a featured back, but is one of the best in the business at reading and directing blocks and is a legitimate threat as a 3rd-down player. Jackson, however, will need a new contract, as he is a free agent, and news is that he wants a more significant role in the offense and possibly a contract larger than the Packers will offer.
He has a Super Bowl under his belt and will be overpaid by another RB-needy team, leading to the selection of Miami RB Graig Cooper.
Cooper can block and shows flashes of electric quickness, but he lacks real straight-line speed (4.6-40). He was very productive at Miami and will fill Jackson’s shoes well enough to make the roster next season.
I will be writing more soon, including a full mock draft of all the teams with trades.