In a survey of 118 internet mock drafts, Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones appeared more than any other NFL draft prospect as being selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 26th selection in the first round, having been listed 16 times.
Jones is a two-time first-team Associated Press All-American in each of the past two seasons, in 2011 as a tackle and in 2012 as a center. He was the nation’s Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s best interior lineman in 2011 and the Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center in 2012.
Known for his ability to play all over the offensive line, Jones has been a starter since his freshman season for a highly-successful Alabama squad coached by Nick Saban. Jones played at right guard his freshman and sophomore seasons, left tackle during his junior year and center as a senior.
In three out of his four seasons with the Crimson Tide, Jones was part of a national championship team. He was named Cheesehead TV’s Career Achievement Award winner in December.
Jones’ versatility makes him a popular pick to the Packers whose 51 sacks allowed were second-most in the entire league in 2012.
Jeff Saturday’s plans for retirement have brought attention to the center position in Green Bay, although the Packers will have to decide whether Evan Dietrich-Smith is their center of the future. Dietrich-Smith will be a restricted free agent when the new league year begins in March.
With two games remaining in the 2012 regular season, the Packers decided to bench Saturday in favor of Dietrich-Smith where he remained for the duration of the playoffs. There was a noticeable difference in the power and ability to anchor displayed by “EDS” compared to his predecessor. The push in the run game was particularly noticeable.
Those 51 sacks allowed by Packers, however, are evidence that there is still room for improvement. At 6-4 and 305 lbs., Jones has the ability to provide depth at any position along the offensive line.
Coming in behind Jones was a three-way tie for second with Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and Alabama running back Eddie Lacy each showing up in nine mock drafts.
This is the third consecutive season that Cheesehead TV has conducted a pre-NFL Combine mock draft survey, and fourth overall (with 2010′s survey appearing at JSOnline’s Railbird Central).
Results of a February survey should be taken with a grain of salt, however. None of the leading vote-getters in each of the past three seasons ended up being selected by the Packers.
Among the Packers’ actual first-round picks in each of the last three years, Bryan Bulaga showed up the third-most in 2010, Derek Sherrod was tied for 20th in 2011 (with only vote) and Nick Perry appeared the fourth-most in 2012.
All 118 mock drafts were listed among the database at WalterFootball.com since the Super Bowl, which included a range of mocks from well-regarded analysts such as Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and Rob Rang, as well as ill-informed fan bloggers whose commentary showed a lack of an intimate knowledge of the Packers.
While taking a survey of mock drafts can do a good job of generally showing which players could be available to the Packers in the first round, make sure to tread lightly.
Two mock drafts had the Packers selecting at No. 27 overall, one included commentary that the Packers could trade Charles Woodson while yet another called Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley “washed-up free agents.”
Results of the survey
- Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones (16)
- Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy (nine)
- Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (seven)
- Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, North Carolina offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard (six)
- Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams, LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter, Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Jenkins, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes (five)
- BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (four)
- Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro (three)
- Ohio State defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins (two)
- Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas, Florida safety Matt Elam, Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter, Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, Oklahoma offensive lineman Lane Johnson, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, SMU defensive lineman Margus Hunt, Florida defensive lineman Shariff Floyd, Wisconsin offensive lineman Travis Frederick, FIU safety Jonathan Cyprien, Texas defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat, Auburn outside linebacker/defensive end Corey Lemonier, Oregon outside linebacker/defensive lineman Dion Jordan (one)