The 2013 NFL draft is still 77 days away, but draft analysts from across the media platform are weighing in on the process via their own mock drafts. To help survey the current landscape, we rounded up the many picks and opinions of the top draft analysts.
Here are the trendy players being mocked to the Green Bay Packers at No. 26 overall:
RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Mel Kiper, ESPN: "...for a franchise that has lacked dynamic play at the position for way too long, Lacy could fill a need, allowing them to do more than simply "show" the run, but to gain some legitimate value out of it."
Comment: The Packers haven't had a physical, move-the-pile running back like the 220-pound Lacy in some time. Combined with DuJuan Harris, Lacy could give Green Bay's ability to run the football a real punch in 2013. But would general manager Ted Thompson really pull the trigger on a running back in the first round? He hasn't found big hits with second-rounder Brandon Jackson or third-rounder Alex Green, so there may be a hesitancy to draft the position so early.
DL Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia
Todd McShay, ESPN: "...it's tough to find massive pluggers with some mobility like Jenkins. He and B.J. Raji would give Green Bay versatility along its defensive front, and Jenkins could bolster a run defense that ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 4.5."
Comment: Ryan Pickett isn't going to be around forever, so Jenkins makes some sense here. The 358-pounder is big, strong and quicker than his size would suggest. However, Jenkins would provide very little in terms of interior pass rush, and his size would likely limit his snap count from game-to-game. Jenkins was also suspended for the 2012 Capital One Bowl for academic reasons.
C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
Gil Brandt, NFL.com: "With Jeff Saturday likely on his way out, Frederick, who can play center and guard, could step in and help the Packers right away."
Comment: Few consider Frederick a first-round talent, and even less have him as the top overall center in the 2013 class. Maybe the Packers brass feels differently. That said, you get the feeling that Green Bay feels comfortable going into next season with Evan Dietrich-Smith as the team's starting center.
S Johnathan Cyprien, FIU
Josh Norris, Rotoworld: "Cyprien is an interchangeable, physical safety with range and aggression. I have a feeling the NFL has been high on him for quite some time, with those on the outside now starting to catch up."
Comment: Cyprien's stock is on the rise. He wowed scouts and media alike at the Senior Bowl, and the consensus is his tape at FIU matches the performance he put together in Mobile. The Packers may not want to give up on Jerron McMillian or M.D. Jennings, but Cyprien has the kind of rangy skill set that better mirrors what Green Bay lost in Nick Collins (neck).
LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: "For most of the season, it seemed evident that the Packers needed to add more speed on defense and that was never more true than Green Bay's loss in the playoffs to San Francisco. Ogletree isn't the most natural fit in a 3-4 defense, but his rangy athleticism allows him to be used in a variety of ways."
Comment: Dom Capers would have to get creative to use Ogletree in the 3-4 defense. While possessing tremendous athleticism, Ogletree is just 234 pounds and lacking the frame needed to play every down in the Packers' front seven. He was also suspended four games for violating the school's substance abuse policy.
T D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Rob Rang, CBS Sports: "There is no simpler way to put it: the Packers offensive line lacks toughness and physicality - two of Fluker's most impressive traits."
Comment: If the Packers are willing to move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle, Fluker becomes an interesting selection. A starting five (left to right) of Bulaga, T.J. Lang, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Josh Sitton and Fluker in 2013 could be a very good group. How the Packers view Marshall Newhouse's hold at left tackle and Derek Sherrod's recovery will decide how important offensive tackle is in this draft.
WR Keenan Allen, Cal
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: "In the Packers' wide-open passing game, Allen would be a dangerous asset and would fill a big need at wide receiver."
Comment: A "big" need at receiver is probably a stretch, but I'd say it's more likely that the Packers take a receiver in the first round than a running back. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones are a strong trio, but injuries devastated this group in 2012. Losing Greg Jennings and Donald Driver will sap the Packers of their depth at a very important position.
RB Montee Ball, Wiscosnsin
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated: "...The Packers know what Ball has done down in Madison the past three years, and let's face it, all the guy does is score touchdowns. Believe it or not, there's still a place for that in the NFL."
Comment: Is Ball a first-round talent? That's hard to say, but giving Ball to the Packers in the first round seems lazy. I'd be shocked if Thompson writes Ball's name on a first-round card in April.
Other common names:
DL Jesse Williams, Alabama: Few players in this class will be stronger than Williams. His ability to anchor at the point and collapse the pocket from the interior should make Williams a very attractive addition at the five-technique.
OL Barrett Jones, Alabama: Jones' experience and talent at tackle, guard and center could make him a versatile addition up front. But is Jones a first-round talent at any one position? Or his value inflated because of that versatility? That's an important question to ask when mocking him in the first 32 picks.
LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Te'o's bizarre catfishing story might hurt his draft stock. He's a tough sell for me in Green Bay, especially after watching Alabama's offense maul him up and down the field in the National Championship game.
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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