In the run-up to the NFL Draft, we are publishing a weekly “Mailbag” feature here at Cheesehead TV.
If there’s any question you’d like answered, tag your queries with the hashtag #PackersDraft on Twitter.
— Luke Mills (@lmills34) March 3, 2014
If Shields ends up leaving the Packers in free agency, cornerback easily becomes a position they could end up addressing in the first round or early in the draft. Justin Gilbert solidified his status as this year's top corner at the NFL Combine when he ran a sub 4.4 40-yard dash at 6-0 and 202 lbs. Being an elite return specialist only adds to Gilbert's value, making it doubtful he falls to the 21st pick and perhaps a no-brainer if he's still somehow available.
Should Gilbert be off the board, Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State and Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech would be among the top cornerbacks available. None of them are in the tall, 6-3 mold we saw with the Seattle Seahawks and Richard Sherman, but that doesn't mean they're not good players. Dennard and Fuller both have a nice blend of sufficient size, toughness and cover ability to be top NFL cornerbacks.
Mosley has had a variety of hip, shoulder and elbow injuries over his college career, but they've been more nagging than debilitating. In four seasons at Alabama, he only missed two games in 2011 because of dislocated elbow. Remember that another Alabama player had injury concerns coming out of college last season in Eddie Lacy, and in hindsight, we all saw how much they limited him at the pro level. That being said, 32 NFL teams put through Mosley through a thorough physical at the NFL Combine, so they should have a pretty good idea if there's any red flags.
The thing that impresses me most about Mosley is his pass coverage. He's among the most instinctive cover linebackers I've ever seen coming out of college, and in a game where there's more and more passing taking place, that's not exactly a bad thing. He's not the most hard-nosed or best blitzing linebacker I've ever seen, but it's not as if he's soft by any means. Mosley is also viewed as a leader and a great character player.
— Robert Albanese (@robbievegas17) March 3, 2014
There's some question whether Ohio State's Ryan Shazier would fit inside after being a 4-3 outside linebacker in college, but there's no denying his talent. I don't think the Packers––or any other team––should overlook a playmaker like Shazier who made 45.5 tackles for a loss in three seasons. He'd undergo a learning curve in transitioning to a 3-4, but it shouldn't be substantial.
After Shazier, the next tier of inside linebackers include Wisconsin's Chris Borland, Florida State's Christian Jones, Stanford's Shayne Skov and LSU's Lamin Barrow in no particular order. Each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, but I wouldn't necessarily rule any of the them out as being a fit with the Packers.
The easy answer would be Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, but seeing as I've already gone in-depth on him on an article here at Cheesehead TV, I'll give a few more guys who had great Combine performances. Staying in the secondary, I think Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert justified being the top cornerback taken after running the top 40 time among players in the secondary.
In the trenches, I thought Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald had a terrific Combine, highlighted by running a 4.68 40 at 285 lbs. I'm not sure how much interest the Packers would have in Donald in the first round, however, because they already have a similar player in Mike Daniels. For an under-the-radar guy, Nevada offensive lineman Joel Bitonio also had a terrific Combine as a top performer in the 40 (4.97 seconds), vertical (32 inches), broad (114 inches) three-cone (7.37 seconds) and short shuttle (4.44 seconds). He's the type of player that could play either tackle or guard in the NFL and probably be good at both.
— Nate (@nate_mck) March 3, 2014
That's a good question and a case could be made for either player. Louis Nix has a fantastic personality and would have Packers fans laughing on Twitter for years to come, and he could fill a void if big-bodied defensive linemen like B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly leave in free agency. But Nix only had 2.5 sacks in three college seasons. I know nose tackles don't have to be big-time pass rushers, but I'd like a first round draft pick to have a few more big plays. If we're talking about the second round, I'd be more inclined.
It's not as if I don't like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but I still think both Calvin Pryor and Deone Bucannon are better options at safety. The thing I like about Clinton-Dix, however, is even though he doesn't lay the wood like the two afore-mentioned safeties, he's not a guy that misses tackles. He uses his range to his advantage and gets the job done. Because the need at safety is so much bigger than the defensive line, I'd say Clinton-Dix would be a better long-term fit than Nix, but the difference might be negligible.
Lyerla is going to fall far, really far. There will be some teams that will refuse to draft or sign him at all because of being dismissed from Oregon and later being arrested for cocaine possession. On top of that, Lyerla had a troubled childhood and even went so far as to call the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings in Connecticut a government conspiracy on Twitter. These are serious red flags.
From a football standpoint, Lyerla may have had impressive performances in the 40 and the two jumps at the Combine, but it's also worth noting that he had the fewest bench press reps of any player listed as a tight end at the Combine. If Lyerla keeps his nose clean between now and the draft, there will be a team that will be willing to give him a chance, most likely as an undrafted free agent, but he won't have a long leash.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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