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.
Jadeveon Clowney is a rare talent, something he showed at the NFL Combine on Monday when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, tops among players listed as defensive linemen, and particularly impressive for a man measuring in at 6-5 and 266 lbs. He'll be considered by the Houston Texans as being the first overall draft choice. For the Packers to jump up to the first pick or two, they'd probably have to sacrifice their first round draft picks in the next three drafts and even that might not be enough, with another player or late-round pick possibly being required as well.
While Clowney is talented enough to fit in almost any defensive system, the Packers already have two edge rushers in Clay Matthews and Nick Perry that likely just need to stay healthy to be effective. There's every possibility Clowney would be an upgrade over Perry, but mortgaging the future for one player whose work ethic has been repeatedly questioned would be a stretch. They'd be better off addressing the needs at safety, inside linebacker or tight end/receiver. After Clowney, the next best defensive players are probably Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr.
The division rival Chicago Bears are sitting at No. 14 overall and probably have their pick of any safety they want, although there's arguably other needs the Bears may choose to fill as well. Then there's the Cowboys at No. 16 that are seemingly in need of a safety and defensive linemen. It's possible that one of the top two safeties will be off the board, and it's possible that they'll both be gone. It's just impossible to predict with any certainty.
For what it's worth, I personally like Deone Bucannon better than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, subject to change based on what I see at the Combine tomorrow. The wildcard among teams that need safeties are the Philadelphia Eagles, sitting just one pick behind the Packers at No. 22. Knowing Green Bay also needs a safety, the Eagles might be motivated to trade ahead of the Packers depending on how things shake out.
— Jim Morgenstern (@jimbassman) February 24, 2014
As I just mentioned, I like Bucannon better than Clinton-Dix unless the disparity in Combine workouts really changes my mind. However, I'm not sure either one are worth picking at No. 21 overall. Depending who's still on the board, the Packers may be better served by addressing another position, assuming Calvin Pryor is already gone.
After the top three, I like Kenny Ladler, and Tre Boston is really growing on me. There's a lot of momentum behind Jimmie Ward, and I think his coverage skills are top-notch, but he's going to have to put up some monster numbers to prove he's worth taking as a sub-195 lb. safety. Terrance Brooks is also growing on me, although he's a rung below those previously mentioned.
This question probably has less to do with who the Packers draft than the schemes they run. If the Packers continue to run a true 3-4 defense, Nick Perry necessarily has to play outside linebacker. He just doesn't have the size and bulk to hold up against double teams as a defensive end in a 3-4.
If the Packers run some sort of hybrid scheme as Mike McCarthy seemed to suggest during the NFL Combine, however, then we may start to see Perry play some sort of "Elephant" end type of role that more frequently takes advantage of his ability to rush the passer, minimizes the need for him to drop into coverage and provides some flexibility to explode out of three-point stance. The key to all of this is for Perry and others on the defense to stay healthy most importantly.
The Packers could always use another weapon for Aaron Rodgers, but it doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of a true wide receiver. In selecting a tight end, especially if Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless depart in free agency, the Packers would be adding firepower to the offense as well. Potential first round draft choices like Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins all have the ability to stretch the field.
That doesn't mean the Packers won't add a wide receiver at some point over the course of seven rounds and nine picks. But remember that the Packers have several other wide receivers on the roster looking to make a jump like Chris Harper and Kevin Dorsey too. That said, I also suggested in a recent article that if Mike Evans is still available at No. 21, he might be too good to pass up, so I won't rule anything out.
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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