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.
— jordan amacher (@jmac344) February 18, 2014
That's a great question, especially in light of Ward's rising stock following the Senior Bowl, where he was voted the Most Outstanding Defensive Back during the week of practice by NFL scouts. If you ask me, Ward has the best coverage skills of any safety in this year's draft class, displaying a natural fluidity and an innate ability to beat receivers to the ball. That being said, there are obvious concerns about his lack of size, measuring at just over 5-10 and weighing 191 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Sure, Earl Thomas gets the job done as an undersized safety in the NFL, but are we ready to put Ward in the same category as Thomas? I'm not.
You have to give the edge to Bucannon, who has near ideal size at almost 6-1 and 216 lbs., but he's also a well-rounded safety. Not only is Bucannon a hard hitter, he also has a nose for the football, making 15 interceptions and forcing seven fumbles over his college career. There are concerns Bucannon can't turn and run with receivers, but as long as he's utilized as a deep safety and allowed to keep the action in front of him, he'll pay dividends.
If Nick Perry stays healthy for the year...will we be happy with our OLB's or still looking for a complement to Clay? #PackersDraft
— Luke Mills (@lmills34) February 18, 2014
Luke hit the nail on the head, questioning whether Perry will be able to stay healthy. It certainly appeared as if he was starting to put it all together last season before foot and ankle injuries derailed his season. I'm willing to bet Perry victim has been a victim of bad luck rather than an injury-prone player. He's had broken bones, not pulled muscles.
With bigger needs on the team such as safety, inside linebacker and tight end, I think the Packers can at least pass on adding an outside linebacker in the first round or two, and instead add depth to the position in the mid-rounds. I admit to sometimes wondering, however, if Auburn's Dee Ford is available at No. 21, can the Packers afford to pass on such a talent? The problem you face with taking a player like Ford in the first round is if he, Perry and Matthews are all healthy, then at least one of them will always be wasted on the sidelines in the Packers' current defensive system.
There's no doubt a player like Telvin Smith was productive as a second-level linebacker while at Florida State and continued that trend while at the Senior Bowl. But when he weighed in at just 218 lbs., it's impossible to ignore. Some think he's more of a safety than a linebacker.
One rule of thumb is you don't overdraft players that don't fit an ideal size range. If you draft Smith in the second round anticipating that he becomes a contributor, and he turns out being too small for the NFL, you've just wasted a second round draft pick. But if Smith lasts until the fifth or sixth round, he might be a risk worth taking as a project type of player, hoping he could either bulk up or make the conversion to safety. More than likely Smith is going to have more value to a team running a 4-3 defense where he can be a weak-side linebacker.
— Dan Sluckin (@Dan_Stitches) February 18, 2014
Interesting question. Do you think Ted Thompson consulted Clay Matthews before investing a first round draft pick into Nick Perry in 2012? Or did they ask Tim Masthay about Randall Cobb, who was occasionally Masthay's placekick holder at Kentucky?
While I'm sure conversations take place between the front office, scouts and current players, I doubt it factors heavily into their decision-making. Most players tend to be biased, especially when it comes to themselves and their friends. I don't think Thompson typically wants to talk to his players, potentially giving the impression that he might draft a former teammate and then perhaps creating an awkward situation if it doesn't come to fruition. If the opportunity arises, I might be able to ask Thompson at the Combine.
— jordan amacher (@jmac344) February 18, 2014
There's only one C.J. Mosley, so unless the Packers are lucky enough to get him in the first round, any inside linebacker they might draft is going to have to come in Round 2 or later. Some of the best players at the position apart from Mosley are Wisconsin's Chris Borland, UConn's Yawin Smallwood, Stanford's Shayne Skov and Florida State's Christian Jones. None are perfect and all have their own set of weaknesses, but each also have strengths that make them intriguing as well.
One under-the-radar name is Michigan State's Max Bullough, the player who was suspended from the Rose Bowl for unspecified reasons. He showed up at the East-West Shrine Game at 265 lbs. but surprisingly moved well despite being overweight. I know in talking to Paul Guillemette of our "Pro Football Draft Preview" guide, he feels as if Bullough was the best player at the Shrine Game and could be of interest to the Packers as early as the third round.
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.