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2012 NFL Draft: Packers First-Round Big Board

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2012 NFL Draft: Packers First-Round Big Board

After gathering information on the NFL draft for the better part of four months, I present to you my first-round wishlist for the Green Bay Packers' 2012 draft. We separated the prospects into two categories: Players in the "Could be available" section are likely to be around at No. 28 overall or could be had through a justifiable trade up; Players in the "Almost certain to be gone" section are exactly what you'd imagine.

Could be available

1. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama: A complete defensive player that coordinator Dom Capers could move all around his 3-4 defense. He will be comfortable from day one setting the edge on early downs, and his ability to rush the passer with power would serve as a nice complement to Clay Matthews' athleticism and explosion on the opposite side. He could also play inside linebacker if the defense ever needed him to. Simply too good in too many areas to pass up if available at No. 28, and absolutely worth the move up if Thompson sees him fall into the early 20s. 27 teams would regret passing on him if he gets to Green Bay.

2. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois: Had just one productive year at Illinois but he made the most of it. Led the nation in sacks while establishing himself as a NFL-ready pass-rusher. His tape reminds you a little of Aldon Smith, who the 49ers took the top-10 last April. He's long and explosive and shouldn't have a problem standing up as a 3-4 OLB. Wouldn't play the run as well early on in his NFL career as someone like Upshaw, but you'd like to think he could be a 10-sack guy as a rookie if used right. Will likely go before the Packers get on the clock, but he's good value if around at No. 28. Might be worth a trade up if he gets by Detroit at No. 23.

3. Devon Still, Penn State: Tall, powerful and athletic. Should be able to step in as a five-technique in the 3-4 defense and hold his own on all three downs. Might not be an immediate pass-rushing force, but there's certainly reason to think he could be down the line. Questions about his motor were mostly answered during a productive senior season. The Packers may have the chance to take him, and it wouldn't surprise me if they did at No. 28.

4. Shea McClellin, Boise State: Packers fans have fallen in love with him because they see a similar build, skin color and motor as Matthews. There are valid comparisons between the two, but Matthews is the more explosive athlete. He's an effortless pass rusher who Boise State lined up all over the place. Wasn't always productive stat-wise, but he shows up on tape amongst a bunch of other draft-worthy prospects on the Broncos' defense. The Packers could do a lot worse at No. 28 overall, but I'm not sure he's worth moving up for in the first round.

5. Nick Perry, USC: Has the first step and slippery nature to be an impact player off the edge as a 3-4 OLB. The measurables are all where you'd like them to be. There's more power and suddenness to his game than most given him credit for. He doesn't possess a wide array of pass-rushing moves and will need to get more flexible. There's a lot to like about his game, however, and the Packers would be getting an upgrade opposite Matthews by taking him. Looks like a good bet to be there at No. 28 at this point.

6. Dont'a Hightower, Alabama: A captain for one of the top college defenses of all-time at Alabama. Played inside linebacker for the majority of his snaps, but he's a good enough pass-rusher that NFL teams will consider playing him outside to maximize his value. Won't blow you away with athleticism or explosion, but few players in this class will bring the instincts and run-defending ability as a linebacker. The Packers need help where ever they can get it in the front seven, so there's value here at No. 28. Could go as high as No. 11 to Kansas City or 12 to Seattle.

7. Kendall Reyes, UConn: Strong and athletic with long arms and a good burst off the line. Wasn't always a big-time pass rusher but there's experience playing in 3-4 fronts. Reports from the Senior Bowl had him displaying a better all-around skill set as a pass-rusher. Struggle to find a team that would take him before No. 28, but I'm not convinced he should be a top option either. The board may fall in a way that he becomes the BPA, however. Wouldn't shock me if he's the pick.

8. Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin: Konz has received the majority of the publicity but Zeitler might be the better overall player. He's a complete guard who would be the best in the class in many drafts. Probably a step below Stanford's David DeCastro. He should be able to move inside to center if an NFL team needs him to. No major health flags. If the Packers are looking find an upgrade inside, Zeitler might be the best option.

9. Andre Branch, Clemson: A guy that will come into an NFL camp and wow with an explosive first step and ability to turn the corner as an edge rusher. Moved around the Clemson defensive line and has some scheme-versatility. However, he's more of a one-trick pony in terms of pass-rushing. Will need time to develop a full arsenal of moves and counter-moves. Has plenty in terms of untapped potential, but it will take some time for it to all come together. In the end, it would be a surprise if the Packers didn't have the option of taking Branch at the end of the first round.

10. Peter Konz, Wisconsin: Hands down the best pure center prospect in the class. Anchored one of the nation's top offensive lines for several seasons, with his run-blocking prowess on full display in a power offense like UW's. Is taller (6-5) than most NFL centers but didn't have much problem holding his own against the likes of Jerel Worthy and Devon Still in the Big Ten. Has a major red flag in terms of health, as he suffered a blood clot in his lungs early in his college career and then battled lower leg injuries late. A late-first round value at a long-term need position, but falls down my board for one simple reason: He doesn't play defense.

11. Harrison Smith, Notre Dame: A popular name connected with Green Bay, especially now that Nick Collins is on his way out. Has a good build that should allow him to develop into a factor as an in-the-box safety. Is just OK with angles and instincts as a center fielder. Not sure he's athletic enough to hang with receivers and tight ends vertically. His big plays dropped off severely in his final season at Notre Dame, which isn't something you'd expect as a college safety matures. There should be reservations about taking him in the first round.

12. Dontari Poe, Memphis: Few human beings on the planet can move a frame like he possesses as well as he does. It was shocking to see how athletic the 350-pounder was at the combine. However, is he more workout warrior than football player? Wasn't overly productive at Memphis despite the size/athleticism combo. I imagine teams have cooled on him since the combine ended two months ago. Good bet to last into the 20s, although I can't see the Packers biting if he gets to No. 28.

13. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State: Has the size and first step you want in a 3-4 DE. What worries so many analysts is his inability to get off blocks and anchor a side of the line like a 3-4 team would ask him to do as a five technique. I don't see a first-round quality defensive lineman unless you're a 4-3 team with a big need inside. Can't imagine the Packers failed to see how many times he disappeared from games, too. They would do well to let him pass.

14. Bruce Irvin, West Virginia: An undersized but super athletic pass-rusher. There have been reports in recent weeks that some NFL teams love him. As a situational pass-rusher, it's easy to see why some front offices would be enamored with what he offers. He'll likely be a liability against the run and needs to put on a lot of weight to be a three-down player. I can't see Green Bay spending on a first round pick on a guy who would only play 15-20 snaps (max) early in his NFL career.

15. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma: Solid in a lot of areas, has a good motor and won't ever fall out of love with playing football. However, he won't be a high ceiling NFL pass rusher. He'll have to really work to produce sacks, as he lacks the go-to quality to beat offensive tackles. Second-round player who shouldn't be considered at 28.

16. Mike Adams, Ohio State: An athletic giant who looks the part of an NFL left tackle. He can move his feet, slide and bend like few human beings his size can. Struggled at times to put it together mentally, and he reportedly tested positive for drugs at the combine. Packers aren't desperate enough at tackle to even think about taking him at No. 28 overall.

17. Doug Martin, Boise State: Isn't going to run past many NFL defenders and there's no Adrian Peterson-Trent Richardson like athletic qualities. But he's an all-around back that can play on all three downs and compares favorably to Mark Ingram. Would fit well in the Packers offense as a lead ball carrier and blocks better than anyone in this draft. Given the Packers defensive deficiencies, however, there's no reason to even contemplate a first-round back.

18. Chris Polk, Washington: Can't help but see Ryan Grant when you watch him on tape. Displays a good burst inside and will push the edge before slashing back inside. Not a breakaway runner, but fast enough. Strong enough to get through arm tackles, too. But again, the Packers would be crazy to go running back in the first round with all the holes defensively. The offense can put up historic scoring numbers with late-round backs on the roster.

 

Almost certain to be gone

Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina: Charles Woodson-type skills that will find a home within the top-20.

Fletcher Cox, Miss. State: The top defensive tackle in this draft should be off the board after 12 picks.

Melvin Ingram, South Carolina: A natural pass-rusher with the ability to play in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

Mark Barron, Alabama: Hot name that looks like a sure-bet top-15 selection.

Luke Kuechly, Boston College: Tackling machine that fits for several teams picking in the first 20 picks.

Michael Brockers, LSU: Raw but filled to the brim with potential.

Chandler Jones, Syracuse: Don't be fooled by the "sky-rocketing up boards" talk. NFL teams have likely been high on him for some time.

David DeCastro, Stanford: Possibly the top guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson.

Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama: A physical corner who could transition to free safety ala Malcolm Jenkins.

Quinton Coples, UNC: Talent and potential will over ride the motor and consistency worries.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ian's picture

Great read, although I'm curious as to why Doug Martin didn't get a mention.

Zach Kruse's picture

You're right, RBs need a quick mention.

Evan's picture

I was just about to post how I was happy to see you ignored RBs.

Rocky70's picture

No reason to include RBs. The Pack will draft one with one of their 7th round picks.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I watched Mayocks' mock tonight... He had Shea at #14 overall on his big board. Seems the majority of mocks lately have us talking him, including Mayocks. Which of course means... We won't. This makes it three straight years I've pined for Clays running mate, from Hughes to Reed, and now Shea... Why do I allow myself to continue falling in the "makes sense" trap? I have nobody to blame but myself.

GBP 4 LIFE

Make us proud Ted

Evan's picture

Even if it's not Shea, I'd say there is a 50% chance Ted picks a running Matt for Clay tomorrow.

Evan's picture

*mate

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

No worries, I meant *taking!

QOTSA1's picture

I would add Marshall's Vinny Curry to the list as well. He is high on my wish list for the Packers.

Zach Kruse's picture

I think Curry is someone to consider in the second round. I haven't seen many analysts who put him near the first.

QOTSA1's picture

I would rate Curry way ahead of Lewis and Irvin, although I hear there are some that are very high on Irvin. Personally, I think it would be crazy to draft Irvin in the 1st considering he wasn't an every down player in college.

If you look at Thompson's draft history he usually does one of two things early in the draft. Selects someone who falls into their laps (Rogers, Bulaga,Sherrod), or he selects someone that most though would not go until much later(Nelson,Harrell,Collins,Neal)

markinmadison's picture

If this is an order of prefernce I generally like it. Peronally, I would put Perry and Hightower ahead of mcclellin. I don't see the cm3 comparisons at all. Very differnent build and abilities. I think perry and hightower both are more athletic. Hightower brings a toughness and leadership quality to the table. The Packers could use, more of that on D. Sounds like Quentin Couples might drop to within range. I don't think TT will bite.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

FWIW, Mayock basically said he hated Perry (I think he had him in the late 40's), loved Shea. I personally think Mike is the best in the biz, so I gotsta roll with him. I just don't know if I see Perry being worth a shit when asked to play coverage.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Where would we play Coples? Not that I think he will see #20, but I also don't see him at OLB or DE in a 34.

Zach Kruse's picture

Coples fits as a 3-4 DE. Calais Campbell type, IMO.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I suppose he could add 10-20 lbs on that frame, then I guess it would be feasible. He won't get past duh bares though, mute point imo.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Moot?

MarkinMadison's picture

Moot. I wouldn't touch Couples myself in the first round. His physical abilities will tempt someone.

Mayock has Perry going to New England at No. 27 based on his pass rushing abilities. If there is one team that we all keep comparing the Packers to, its the Pats.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yeah, but he's late 40's on his big board.

packsmack25's picture

Shea McClellin should not be a first round pick. Not athletic enough, and a concussion history. I'll be flabbergasted if we take him at 28.

Evan's picture

Didn't he deny the concussion story?

packsmack25's picture

He claimed it was only 1 1/2, which makes no sense? And of course he's going to say it's not true!

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lol, half a concussion. Maybe he was concussed when he said that?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Mike. Mayock. #14 on his big board, that carries weight with me Smack. I could live with Mike Vrabel part deux.

packsmack25's picture

I'm still holding out hope for Gilmore. I think it's much more important to have a corner waiting in the wings that can do the things Woodson does.

packsmack25's picture

Also, tell me you don't hear Mayock's lisp when you are reading his mock draft.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lol, it was on NFLN. I heard it with my own two ears. Really though, that guy eats and breathes this shit, he is the Neo of mock dudes.

Evan's picture

I'm getting way too antsy. I can't imagine actually being a GM.

Zach Kruse's picture

Less than 24 hours left to wait...

PackersRS's picture

5 hours to the thing. Through with the mock talk personally.

5 hours to the thing. 6 hours till TT trades out of the 1st round.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

+1. But I'm a cautioned stoked... Been hurt too many times! So help me god, if we go O-line at 28...

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I wouldn't be pissed if Upshaw was the guy though. Just a big, bad, SEC stud that Dom could have a field day with.

ebongreen's picture

I know Upshaw has a lot of fans - but I'm not one of them. I don't think he can play pro 3-4 to save his life.

Mercilus, Reyes, McClellin - I can be on board with any of those guys, probably in that order. I figure the Packers probably want a DE and an OLB in the first two rounds; which they take first and which second doesn't matter to me much. The 2nd round OLBs would be Curry or Irvin; the 2nd round DE would be Wolfe. If they got Reyes and either Curry or Irvin I would be a very happy man; Mercilus and Wolfe would be comparable.

I'm just not in love with McClellin - I don't see the athleticism that I see in Curry or Mercilus or Irvin, and intangibles only go so far. The concussions also worry me. If the Packers take him, I'm on board, because I assume they know better than I do - but he worries me as the pin-your-hope pass rusher of 2012-13.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

A scout quoted at the GBPG:

" “I thought McClellin was a much better overall player (coming out),” another scout said. “Brooks Reed was a guy that you put his hand on the ground and let him rush. That kind of guy, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush. Gets up field and then occasionally makes a sack. The Boise kid, I think he’s a much better player.”

You can have your athleticism, give me a football player. I know you didn't mention Reed, but i LOVED the kid last year, and a lot of people (who get paid to do this) see Shea as better 'for us', I'm on board. I can see the Shea/Clay posters now, the new Bash Brothers!

Aaaand, back to reality... "With the 28th pick in the 2012 draft, the Green Bay Packers select... Bubba Harrell... Justin Harrell's long lost twin brother!"

ebongreen's picture

I still see the ultimate "safe" pick that late in the first round as Reyes - and we know Ted likes his safe guys. Also from the GBPG: “It’s the flavors,” another scout said in comparing Reyes to Still and Worthy. “If you want safe, you take Reyes..." Though the GBPG article dismisses his pass rush, I heard nothing but good things about his abilities in that respect at the Senior Bowl.

McClellin is also a "safe" guy, just with a larger medical file - which makes him slightly less safe. I don't see the pass-rush ceiling as high with him as with, say, Irvin in round two (assuming he lasts that long) or maybe even Curry. Does McClellin have the physical ability to the NFL's left tackles in the game? I'm less confident of that than I am of Reyes' ability to beat guards one-on-one.

Ted seems like a conservative drafter to me: wants to "win" with his first pick. (e.g. AJ Hawk vs. Vernon Davis) In the second and later rounds, he knows he's getting guys with flaws, so his risk/reward tolerance is higher. That's why Reyes makes so much sense to me: if he's available he fits Ted's MO perfectly. The OLB in round two can have his higher-ceiling/lower-floor risk - but (after Justin Harrell) he wants his first rounder to be a sure-sure thing.

packsmack25's picture

What are the odds Ted trades down and ruins the draft party? He hasn't done it since they moved it to Thursday like this, and to me that would be hilarious.

jmac34's picture

I could see him doing it. There are going to be a lot of good players available at 28 and if the price is right, I could see a trade

Belisarius's picture

Instead of Clay and Shea. M&M with pretzels. Because that's what they will do to opposing QB's

Woodson4president's picture

As a mountie i love Bruuuuuuce. But yeah i want an olb that wears blue n orange! McClellin is our perfect fit!!!!!!

Jamie's picture

I'm thinking McClellin or Reyes at #28, but can't discount Branch or Harrison as my dark horse picks.

If we trade out, my hope is for Irvin.

PackMatt's picture

Trading up to get Melvin Ingram ya'll.

packsmack25's picture

I'd do a backflip

John R.'s picture

Great read. Fun too. I also liked reading you responses to commenters on people left out.

gbslapshot's picture

One thing I have seen in watching film of McClellin is how much number 90 Billy Winn is around the ball also. I could see him being the pick in the second round if we go OLB in the first.

Anthony's picture

As a proud West Virginian, I would love to see Vinny Curry (Marshall is in southern West Va) or Bruce Irvin in a Packer uniform.

Cole's picture

I'd be smitten with curry or McClellin in the 1st. Reyes, half the time looks great, the other half terrible. Gets completely moved out the way against the run from what I've seen. In the second I'd like him but not in the first.

Cole's picture

If we do trade down into the second I like janoris Jenkins using one of the second round picks. Best corner in the draft by far. Next revis if he wasn't such a risk off the field.

Evan's picture

I don't know about that. Great talent, sure. But after Johnny Jolly and Brandon Underwood, I'd like to stay away from the character issue guys. Especially that high in the draft.

To say nothing of the fact that he's shorter than TT likes his corners to be.

Nononsense's picture

We need a pass rusher pure and simple.

OLBs
Whitney Mercilus
Courtney Upshaw
Shea McClellin
Vinny Curry
Nick Perry

DLs 5 Techs/inside rusher sub packages
Devon Still
Jerel Worthy
Chandler Jones
Brandon Thompson
Quinton Coples

I also agree with Zeitler as a possiblity buts its a small one.

My dream scenario is the Rams want back into the first round and will give up their 2 2nd rounders (33 and 39)to get there. TT makes the deal 28 and a 4th round pick which gives him 3 2nd rounders. He still lands one and possibly two of the 10 guys on my list and also selects OLB Bruce Irvin at 59.

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