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Fletcher Cox Is Early Pick For Packers First-Round Draft Choice

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Fletcher Cox Is Early Pick For Packers First-Round Draft Choice

With the 28th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select... Fletcher Cox, defensive lineman, Mississippi State.

At least, that's what a survey of 84 Internet mock drafts tells us.

Every year around this time I tabulate a sampling of mock drafts to see who they have the Packers selecting using the database on WalterFootball.com.

The name appearing most often was Cox who was listed as going to the Packers in 10 of the 84 mocks.

Cox is a 6-4, 295 pound defensive tackle coming out of college after his junior year. He was a disruptive force at Mississippi State who had 56 tackles, 14.5 for a loss and 5.0 stats this past season, but the question is whether he's 3-4 material.

There's no doubt the Packers need help along the defensive line, especially from a pass rush standpoint. But compared to starters B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett who run 340-plus pounds, Cox isn't anywhere near their size.

By the same token, the Packers don't need all of their defensive linemen to be size of Raji and Pickett. Cullen Jenkins is listed as being 305 pounds, albeit that's currently 10 pounds more than Cox.

What the Packers do need, however, is a first-round defensive lineman to be equally effective against both the run and the pass. Can Cox be an effective two-gap player that can engage offensive linemen in the run game? I'm not convinced, at least not yet.

Some might argue that Cox's pass rush is good enough to overcome any shortcomings against the run. But the Packers aren't usually a team to select a player with such flaws––or one that doesn't ideally fit their system––in the first round.

They'll take players with flaws on the second and third day of the Draft. Indeed, every player has flaws on the second and third days of the Draft. But they minimize risk in the first round.

If the Packers were to select Cox, it would be notable for being the second year in a row they took a player from Mississippi State in the first round, following offensive lineman Derek Sherrod a year ago.

The player appearing in the second-most mock drafts was Whitney Mercilus, a defensive end from Illinois that might play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense in the pros. He's also a junior entry into the NFL. He appeared in eight mocks.

To be sure, most of the people creating these mock drafts are not so-called experts, although a few high-profile mock drafts were included in the database, such as one from Wes Bunting of the National Football Post.

One purpose I think this survey does accomplish, however, is to get a rough idea of who might be around when the Packers select late in the first round.

Take all this information with a grain of salt. Here's last year's survey in which the majority selection was defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. Only a single mock draft had the Packers taking Sherrod in the February time frame.

In all, 30 different players were listed as being drafted by the Packers with the 28th selection in the second round. It's notable that 23 out of the 30 were defensive players.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Fletcher Cox, defensive lineman, Mississippi State (appearing in 10 mock drafts)
  • Whitney Mercilus, outside linebacker, Illinois (eight)
  • Ronnell Lewis, outside linebacker, Oklahoma (seven)
  • Andre Branch, outside linebacker, Clemson (six)
  • Nick Perry, outside linebacker, USC (six)
  • Zach Brown, inside linebacker, North Carolina (five)
  • Melvin Ingram, outside linebacker, South Carolina (four)
  • Jerel Worthy, defensive lineman, Michigan State (three)
  • Michael Brockers, defensive lineman, LSU (three)
  • Mark Barron, safety, Alabama (three)
  • Lamar Miller, running back, Miami (three)
  • Cordy Glenn, offensive lineman, Georgia (three)
  • Those appearing in two mock drafts are: Jared Crick, Janoris Jenkins and Chase Minnifield
  • Those appearing in only one mock draft are: Dre Kirkpatrick, LaVonte David, Vontaze Burfict, Dontari Poe, Peter Konz, Ryan Tannehill, David Wilson, Vinny Curry, Courtney Upshaw, Devon Still, Dont'a Hightower, Brandon Washington, Mike Adams and Quinton Coples

Photo courtesy of the Mississippi State Athletic Department.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CSS's picture

Brian, I know TT and his group will stack their board vertically by talent like any other group, but it's how they're stacking that board horizontally as it relates to the defensive talent I kind of struggle with. I'm struggling because after 3 years under Dom Capers I still don't quite understand what his 'ideal' vision of this defense is?

Scheme dictates personnel needs, so what is his vision of an ideal defense? We've seen two years of substantial nickle/dime play with little base, but I've always thought that was after assessing what they have in training camp thus playing to their personnel strengths.

So, does anybody get the impression they want to get back to a 'core' 3-4 philosophy? If so, you would think a 5-technique would be priority (good ones that can rush and play the run are rare birds).

Or, do he and Thompson see the writing on the wall with the league spreading you out therefore a great nickle rusher and DB talent is critical?

Sorry for the long comment, it's just hard to envision what defensive talent they place a premium on when I can't really understand what Capers/McCarthy/TT want that defense to be in an ideal world.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think they have a vision of what they want out of their players, but as you said, I think they see their personnel in the offseason and training camp and adjust their scheme to meet their personnel.

If they had a good five-technique that can play the run and the pass equally well, they'd play more base 3-4 defense. But Ted Thompson isn't going to reach for one in the draft just because he needs one. He's going to take the best player available.

That being said, I think you're going to see a lot of nickel regardless, just because of the way NFL offenses are today.

CSS's picture

That's what I thought. Finding a legitimate 5-technique (J.J. Watt appears to be the mold) is so, so difficult. Especially with roughly half the league now running some variation of the 3-4.

I'm guessing any defensive lineman that can get vertical will be high-priority.

RockinRodgers's picture

Obviously you want a guy who can do both, but if I had to pick one for the Packers right now. I would rather have a DL that can rush the passer. It the modern NFL you have to be able to get the QB. The Packers need more disruptive players on the DL.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think one point I'm trying to make is, the Packers will look for a guy that can do both in the first round. They can find a guy that can do one or the other later in the draft. They're not likely to spend a first rounder on a third-down pass rusher.

I like Fletcher Cox, but I'm not sure he's first-round material. Of course, I'm liable to change my opinion after the Combine, pro day, etc.

RockinRodgers's picture

What guys that are going to be first round types can do both?

MarkinMadison's picture

The hard thing about mocks at this time of year - even as simply a predictor of who will be available, is that some guys will shoot up (or down) at the combine. 40 speed can be a "special booster" for a lot of positions, but especially for 3-4 OLB prospects, and to a lesser extent for pass-rushing DL prospects. I think they are fun to look at, but I've never bothered trying to predict who TT will get. Who would have predicted AR? Or CM3? Or Harrell for that matter.

CSS's picture

Mock drafts are somewhat of a joke across these websites. How is it possible that so many independent entities are 'assessing the draft talent' and coming up with almost identical mock drafts? They 'borrow' from one-another with little original assessment.

I like the 'big boards' from Mayock, Bunting and Kiper. That looks at talent alone and they tend to assess in isolation more-so than 90% of the sites out there.

Brian Carriveau's picture

No doubt about it.

Idiot Fan's picture

He'll be long gone before our pick, but I'm going to continue to hope against all common sense that we somehow end up with Devon Still from PSU.

Jrunde10's picture

Seems to be a lot of reaches at olb in that mix of picks. Not saying they can't get an olb of value there. Just think some of those mocks are plugging generically

ibleedgrnngold's picture

With the new rookie scale in place I'm hoping for a trade up to grab a better prospect... I know teddy doesnt do that often but we're too the point where we are the cliche one guy away

Ebongreen's picture

The major priority I see for the first round pick is someone who will be a three-down player in the defensive front seven, able to contribute significantly to both run and pass defense. The presumed-weakest position there (barring miracles from someone like Vic So'oto) is OLB, with DT/DE being a close second.

Like you, I can't see them picking someone who offers "just" pass-rush at that position if they can help it. The 28th pick can't be a new Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila - the Packers need a complete player.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

It has begun...

GBP 4 LIFE

Oppy's picture

Favorite part of the process is nearly everything before the season opener

BubbaOne's picture

Talent is only have the equation; the other is "Packer People". TT drafts players w/ character, drive, football IQ, consistency, etc.

I don't care if he drafts a DL, OLB, CB, or S in the first round. What I do want is a playmaker. Even an OL is okay as long as they're special. Difference makers win you championships.

I feel our defense was bad b/c we were missing 2 playmakers in Jenkins and Collins and 2 others (Raji and Tramon) had subpar years. Conversely, I was convinced we were going to win SB XLV. Every team we went up against we had more playmakers collectively than them.

redlights's picture

What the Packers missed this year was the offseason. Too many players spent too much time shining their rings and grew soft and un-motivated, even during the season. 15-1 will do that; they thought that they would be okay, but the younger ones haven't had to work for it as much as the veterans.

The other bummer is Neal's injury. He showed me enough as a rookie that I thought he would fill Jenkins role, just fine. Nope, you can't predict injuries. A healthy Neal takes pressure off of Raji; keep CMIII clean; allows Walden to be adequate; and takes pressure off of the secondary. Even with Collins out, it would have been enough to keep Rodgers from making goofy statements in the Pro Bowl.

CSS's picture

The level of focus and preparation to go 15-1 when every opposing team brings their 'A' game really is testimony to the exact opposite of what you're saying in that entire 1st paragraph. I really don't know how you could possibly come to that conclusion.

Rocky70's picture

Every team brought their "A Game". I doubt it. Most teams, especially in the 1st half of the season, were in disarray because of the lock-out. GB had a clear advantage because they changed 'very little' during the off-season. GB's "D" was playing a 'pitiful' brand of football but yet GB was still winning big. AR was carrying the team.

The point made by redlights was a point of conversation all season long by coaches, players & fans alike ---- complacency.

CSS's picture

No. Complacent teams don't go 15-1 following a superbowl. You're angry, we get it. Packers were outplayed while managing to play their worst game of the year.

You obviously find the hyperbolic whining without merit to be theraputic.

Rocky70's picture

I expressed my opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. (Same as the original post above). Since nearly all posts (if not all) here are opinions, the question of motive is very difficult to conclude by anyone ---- including yourself. So, please, quit pretending you have some kind of 6th sense. ----- You don't.

BubbaOne's picture

Rocky70,
I agree, CSS couldn't possibly tell if your hyperbolic whining is theraputic or not.

Owner's picture

Thanks Brian, as you say, for what its worth, but this is great info for some of us who are too lazy to do the research.
Cheers

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