Green Bay Packers Address Several Needs in Seven-Round Mock Draft
In less than two weeks time, Ted Thompson will oversee his seventh draft as general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
As we've finally come to see, Thompson is undoubtedly one of the NFL's better drafters.
He's a shrewd evaluator of talent, and Thompson also isn't afraid to move up or back in the draft to secure the players he wants.
With that in mind, no mock draft for the Packers would be complete without a few trades mixed in. While this makes the exercise even harder to predict, there's very little chance Thompson stays put with all his picks.
Let's get started with the Packers first pick, which has been traded to...
Trade: Packers send pick No. 32 to Tennessee Titans for picks No. 39 and No. 109
Thompson could very well trade up in the first round like he did in 2009 and take a player such as Gabe Carimi or Derek Sherrod.
But remember, Thompson has only done this three times during his six-year run as GM, so sticking with history is probably the safest way to think.
In this scenario, Thompson can gain an additional fourth round pick and still get a future starter on the offensive line.
The Titans will possibly be looking to trade up to ensure they get a quarterback, and the Packers would be a preferable destination because Tennessee would be selecting before quarterback-needy teams like Cincinnati and Buffalo in the early second round.
This pick could be the best way to go for the Packers. Ijalana will likely need to play at guard during his first season, and he would give T.J. Lang a run for his money at left guard if Daryn Colledge left in free agency.
A dominant left tackle at Villanova, Ijalana could then shift over to either left or right tackle when Chad Clifton's career in Green Bay is over.
The Packers would be filling an immediate and future need in addition to gaining another middle-round pick later on—a position where Thompson has historically done very well.
Trade: Packers send picks No. 64, No. 96 and No. 235 to Denver for picks No. 46 and No. 205
With an additional fourth round pick in their queue, the Packers can afford to move up in the second round to take another immediate impact player.
An outside linebacker such as Brooks Reed or Justin Houston could be the pick if they fall, but that's not likely to happen in my opinion.
Instead, the Packers get Cobb—a versatile slot receiver who gets yards after the catch and can also give Green Bay an explosive return man.
Too early for Cobb, you say? Well, think of him as the Packers version of Percy Harvin. He's not quite as fast, but Cobb has a very similar skill set to the Vikings dynamic receiver/returner.
I still think that if the Packers want to draft an outside linebacker, they should target one with their first two picks. Because in all reality, would a middle round pick really be an upgrade over Erik Walden or Frank Zombo?
That's debatable and very dependent on who the Packers pick. However, it's hard to envision Thompson not taking an outside linebacker with so little needs on the current roster.
In the middle rounds, Friday is an interesting prospect with a story familiar to Packers fans.
He came to a major college program (Va. Tech) raw and undersized, and Friday saw little playing time early because of it.
He continued to get better, however, and Friday emerged as one of the Hokies defensive playmakers last season.
Friday certainly doesn't have the NFL bloodlines of a Clay Matthews III, but the strong and athletic Friday fits that similar mold.
When it comes to the draft, the best GM's typically have a two-year draft board. They can identify potential free agent losses and aging players before they become debilitating needs.
For the Packers, cornerback is a position that could be an example of this.
Charles Woodson will be 35 years old in October, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers preferred using three-cornerback sets last season.
Woodson should have a few good years left in him, but the Packers would be wise to invest in a long-term replacement plan.
A raw but extremely talented cornerback, Allen would be afforded time to develop before he took over any big part of the Packers defensive secondary.
With Cullen Jenkins likely on his way out, the Packers might want to pick a defensive end much earlier on in this draft. It's definitely a need, and the first 40-50 picks should be littered with good defensive ends.
However, the Packers did take Mike Neal in the second round last season, and you'd have to think they planned on him being the starter once Jenkins left.
That could make Thompson hesitant to pick another defensive end high in this draft, and there is plenty of talent in the middle rounds if he does in fact decide to wait.
Thornton might be the best of the middle round defensive ends.
He was invited to the Senior Bowl, and despite playing for Division II Central Arkansas, Thornton more than held his own against the bigger school prospects.
If the Packers took an offensive tackle with their first pick, why would they use another selection on the same position?
A couple of reasons.
Ijalana might be better suited to play guard, and if the Packers think that's the case long-term, they could still be in the market for an offensive tackle.
We also need to look at the Packers recent draft history.
In four of Thompson's six drafts, the Packers have taken two or more offensive lineman. It's definitely within his realm to take more than one to give himself a better chance of finding a good player.
Newton would need some time to adjust to the NFL game, but he has as high a ceiling as you're going to find in a fifth round offensive tackle.
Thompson likes picking multiple defensive lineman almost as much as he does offensive lineman. He's drafted two or more in three of his first six draft classes.
With defensive end being one of the Packers' needs, there's a good chance Thompson will make that four of seven.
The 335-pound Gray has a nose tackle's body, but the Packers haven't been shy about playing them out at defensive end.
Ryan Pickett and Howard Green would be recent examples of this.
Safety is a position that could be a need once free agency gets underway.
Both Atari Bigby and Anthony Smith are unrestricted free agents, leaving Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah and Morgan Burnett as the only safeties from last season under contract.
You could possibly throw Jarrett Bush's name into that mix as well, depending on your view of his position.
While I can't see the Packers taking a safety anywhere but the later rounds, LeGree would be a solid pick.
He reminds me of Nick Collins in a lot of ways (6'0", 210 pounds, 22 career INT's, 4.49 40-yard dash) and can make an impact on special teams.
I've had the Packers taking a quarterback in my first two mock drafts, but I think it's becoming increasingly less likely.
Without an offseason to work with a quarterback, the Packers can hedge their bets for another season with Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell as safe back-ups.
The Packers instead take Cooper, a versatile running back who would have been picked much higher if it wasn't for an ACL injury.
Cooper doesn't have much straight line speed, but he sees holes well, catches the ball out of the backfield and can help out returning kicks.