I recently had the opportunity to act as the Packers general manager for the seven round mock draft taking place at MockOne.net.
If you're unfamilear with MockOne.net, the website is just the clearinghouse. The actual "draft" takes place on Twitter with all 32 NFL teams represented by different users by following the hashtag #MockFour (Four representing the fourth such mock draft to take place this year).
My involvement was to lead a "War Room" of four individuals who would collectively come to a consensus who to select. My cohorts were Cheesehead TV's own Zach Kruse, AllGreenBayPackers.com's Marques Eversoll and DraftBreakdown.com's Justis Mosqueda.
What follows is our fictional Packers draft class of 2013, along with analysis and some thoughts about who I would have taken. As you'll see, there wasn't always agreement in our "War Room."
That doesn't mean I'm wrong or right. Everyone's opinion is valid, and differences in opinion are just par for the course. Just like the real draft, we won't be able to judge how well we would have done until years down the road.
But without further ado, here's what our haul looks like...
First round, 1.26: Jesse Williams, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
With our first pick, the Packers get help along the defensive line by selecting one of the best run stuffers in this year's draft class. With Ryan Pickett getting up in age, Williams can also be Pickett's long-term successor. The problem with Williams is that he's not going offer much in the way of pass rush, or at least he didn't at Alabama where he would frequently be taken out of the game on passing downs. If "toughness" and "physicality" are truly a problem on the Packers defense, however, Williams can help fix that immediately. He has a bit of nastiness in him and relies on his brute strength.
Brian would have taken: Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama
I personally did not agree with taking Williams in the first round. It's not as if I dislike Williams, but I'm not of the opinion that he's a first-round difference maker. With Lacy, the Packers would have gotten the No. 1 running back on the board and a good complement to DuJuan Harris. Truth be told, I didn't like the way the board fell to us, however. The two best safeties (Jonathan Cyprien and Kenny Vaccaro) were gone, as were the most well-rounded offensive and defensive linemen and tight end Tyler Eifert. I could easily see this happening in the actual draft and would be all in favor of the Packers trading down if they can find a partner.
Second round, 2.25: Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver, Oregon State
Now that Greg Jennings has left in free agency, the Packers get a player who is as much a Jennings clone as any receiver in the Draft. Standing 5-11, 186 lbs. with 4.46 speed, Wheaton should be able to provide what Jennings did in his prime, namely an ability to stretch the field. By catching 91 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns, Wheaton was a big part of the Beavers' improvement from 3-9 in 2011 to 9-3 in 2012.
Brian would have taken: Gavin Escobar, Tight End, San Diego State
Jermichael Finley has only one year left on his contract and it's not exactly looking optimistic that he'll remain in Green Bay beyond 2013. By selecting Escobar, the Packers could have some fearsome two tight sets this season, and the San Diego State product could take over as the No. 1 option by 2014. He's tall at 6-6 and fits the new prototype tight end sweeping the NFL. That being said, I was far from disappointed with Wheaton. He was my second-choice behind Escobar. Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton was also still available and he would have been a great addition too. Whether tight end or receiver, it's looking like the Packers can find some decent help in round two come April.
Third round, 3.26: Travis Frederick, Center, Wisconsin
For the Packers to get a potential starter and the arguably the best center in the draft all the way in the third round was a nice development. By no means would Frederick just be handed the starter's job in Green Bay, but he would provide immediate competition. And with Dietrich-Smith potentially becoming an unrestricted free agent next season, adding Frederick could be the long-term solution at center.
Brian would have taken: Travis Frederick
There was near consensus in taking Frederick. If he was off the board, my next option would have been California's Brian Schwenke who was also still available. Needless to say, I'm not sold on Dietrich-Smith. By all means, prove me wrong, Evan.
Fourth round, 4.25: Christine Michael, Running Back, Texas A&M
There's potential for Christine Michael to be the best running back in the entire 2013 draft class, and that's no joke. The raw talent is there, but unfortunately so is immaturity. Michael also suffered a broken leg in 2010, a torn ACL in 2011 and found himself in and out of coach Kevin Sumlin's doghouse in 2012. His pass protection remains a work in progress too. If Michael adopts a professional attitude and stays healthy, however, the sky is the limit.
Brian would have taken: Michael Buchanan, Outside Linebacker, Illinois
While I agree Christine Michael is talented, I think he's too much of a risk to take in the fourth round. He wasn't even on my radar at that point. My top choice at the time was Michael Buchanan who has ideal measurables to play 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL at 6-5 and 255 lbs. Although, concerns are raised by his involved in an altercation before his senior season that caused him to have his jaw wired shut and lost 20 lbs.
Fifth round, 5.26: J.J. Wilcox, Safety, Georgia Southern
Wilcox is another one of those boom-or-bust type of players. He played running back prior to his senior season, but performed well enough to be invited to the Senior Bowl. There's also concerns about his level of competition at the FCS level, but there's no doubt he has the size (6-0, 213 lbs.) and athleticism to make it big.
Brian would have taken: J.J. Wilcox
Michael Buchanan was actually still on the board in the fifth round, but I didn't want to see the Packers go another round without addressing the safety position. In my analysis of safeties in this year's draft class, I have Earl Wolff of North Carolina State rated almost equally with Wilcox and wouldn't be a bad alternative.
Sixth round, 6.25: David Bass, Outside Linebacker, Missouri Western State
Erik Walden has left Green Bay via free agency, and Frank Zombo hasn't re-signed, so at the very least, the Packers need to add depth at the outside linebacker position. While Bass only competed at the Division II level in college, he racked up 39.5 career sacks and has good size at 6-4 and 262 lbs.
Brian would have taken: David Bass
In case Nick Perry doesn't pan out, the Packers need some options at outside linebacker. Bass should be able to provide some special teams help in 2013, even if he's not yet ready for primetime. Among other players still on the board at the time, I was also interested in San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.
Seventh round, 7.26: Zach Sudfeld, Tight End, Nevada
Sudfeld has the desired height you want in a tight end at 6-7 and is a good athlete, especially out of a seventh-round player. He's also a tight end that can contribute both in the receiving and the blocking aspects of the game, not just one or the other. His stock is on the rise after scoring two touchdowns in the New Mexico Bowl game and then having another good week at the East-West Shrine Game.
Brian would have taken: Dustin Hopkins, Kicker, Florida State
I think Sudfeld is a fine tight end, but there were plenty of good ones still on the board even in the seventh round, including Joseph Fauria of UCLA and Lucas Reed of New Mexico. If that's the case, it's a good possibility the Packers could just wait and sign one of them after the draft. Dustin Hopkins is too good to pass up in the seventh round. He has a strong leg and can push Mason Crosby immediately. Fullback Tommy Bohanon might be the best blocking fullback/H-back in this year's draft class too.