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A Position-by-Position Approach to the Draft

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A Position-by-Position Approach to the Draft

The second in three-part series of posts in the lead up to the 2018 NFL Draft. The first part, featuring a first-round prediction, was published Monday.
 
Consider this an analysis of the current roster makeup of the Green Bay Packers and how that will impact their decision making as it relates to the draft.
 
QUARTERBACK—Despite discussion about Aaron Rodgers' perceived dissatisfaction in Green Bay, he's not going anywhere anytime soon, and his recently-announced ownership stake in the Milwaukee Bucks should only reinforce that. I’m as skeptical of DeShone Kizer as anyone. But the Packers made this move for a reason, to ideally back up Rodgers. And I’m certainly willing to give Kizer a chance. Given the disaster that was the quarterback position last year, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Packers drafted another quarterback as an insurance policy, but if they do, it will be late. They have nine picks on Day 3 alone after all. I think Kurt Benkert of Virginia is the most likely Day 3 prospect that could ultimately wear green and gold.
 
RUNNING BACK—After watching Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones become arguably the best two players from the 2017 draft class, I’m not a proponent of drafting a running back this year, except maybe late. Let's not forget Ty Montgomery and Devante Mays as well. What if a running back is the Best Player Available at any point in the draft, you might ask? If the Packers think that, there’s probably another team that thinks that too. Trade down, let them draft the running back, and pick up an extra pick or two in the process. They should focus their resources on signing the best one they can as an undrafted free agent.
 
WIDE RECEIVER—The Packers need speed at the position, 4.4 type of speed. Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and rest of the current group aren’t without their strengths, but they’re not stretching a defense. A fast receiver may not be the biggest need on the entire roster, but at some point they have to address it, probably no later than the first pick of Round 5 and likely earlier. If somehow D.J. Moore would happen to be available in Round 2, it would probably be difficult to pass him up. Even then, I don’t think he’ll be available. I like D.J. Chark, Michael Gallup and Dante Pettis, but the Packers will have to weigh heavily whether they’d pull the trigger on any of them in Round 2, and I’m not sure they last until the third round. There's a reason the Packers brought in Justin Watson for an Official 30 visit to Green Bay. I think he will surprise with his readiness to contribute in the NFL despite coming from the FCS.
 
TIGHT END—By signing Jimmy Graham, the Packers made tight end a far lesser need than it was at the outset of free agency. They still need a traditional in-line tight end, however, because neither Graham nor Lance Kendricks is really filling that role. And good news for the Packers, there’s no shortage of that type in this year’s draft. The Packers can probably wait until Day 3 to add a tight end with decent size and blocking ability, and they can’t be any worse than Richard Rodgers as a receiving threat. Players like Ian Thomas, Dalton Schultz, Durham Smythe, Troy Fumagalli, Will Dissly, Ryan Izzo and Jordan Thomas are all options available to the Packers, and the list maybe doesn’t end there. I fully admit that I’m skeptical Thomas or Schultz would last until Day 3, however.
 
OFFENSIVE LINE—I’m of the opinion the Packers need to add someone that can potentially be a starter at guard, and they might have to do so by the end of Day 2. That player might be more of a traditional tackle or center, who could also play guard. Just for example, that player could be someone like Connor Williams (more of a tackle) or James Daniels (more of a center), but either could probably play guard and play it well. If, for whatever reason, either Billy Price (perhaps due to injury) or Frank Ragnow would fall to Round 3, they’ll be extremely difficult to pass up.
 
It’s not an absolute necessity to find an offensive lineman early. They can always re-sign Jahri Evans as a stopgap. But by the end of Day 2, I’m convinced there will very few of those potential starters available that have the requisite size and athleticism. Fewer than most years to my amateur eye. If the Packers don’t take an offensive lineman in the first two days, a couple Day 3 options I like that could play any position on the line are Michigan’s Mason Cole and Appalachian State’s Colby Gossett. There are any number of developmental tackles they could draft late, but those players probably aren’t contributing Year 1.
 
DEFENSIVE LINE—With the addition of Muhammad Wilkerson, the Packers are probably deeper on the defensive line than any other position on the team. Now consider they also have Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and last year’s Day 2 draft pick, Montravius Adams. There’s definitely not a need to add a defensive lineman early, even one as talented as Vita Vea. If there’s a value pick to be had later on, I like short, squatty defensive linemen other teams might under-value. Deadrin Senat and Poona Ford come to mind.
 
EDGE RUSHERS—I made it pretty clear I think Harold Landry and Marcus Davenport are the most-likely additions to the Packers in the first round, but what if they’re not? What if one of the defensive backs like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Denzel Ward falls to them? Or both Landry and Davenport are gone by 14? Then they’ll probably have to add pass rush help on Day 2. Lorenzo Carter, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Kemoko Turay and Uchenna Nwosu are all options in Rounds 2 and 3.
 
I had an opportunity to watch Leon Jacobs of Wisconsin quite a bit and think he’s a decent mid-round option. At 6-1 and under 250 lbs., he’s definitely a situational pass rusher and probably not a three-down player in the NFL, but he could be a very good pass rusher. Also, don’t buy into the talk that he’s an inside linebacker, or at least, nothing more than an emergency option there. The Badgers tried that experiment, and it didn’t work out. I think Ade Aruna of Tulane is a good developmental option late if the Packers add a more ready-made prospect early on. And I like Marcell Frazier of Missouri late as well. He might already be 24 years old, but by the last two rounds of the draft, that’s less of a concern.
 
INSIDE LINEBACKER—Finally, there’s hope that a new general manager might prioritize inside linebacker more than Ted Thompson did. The Packers need more athleticism at the inside linebacker position, although that’s not unique to the position. They need more athleticism everywhere on defense. A player like Roquan Smith, should he fall to the Packers at 14, would be too good to pass up, even if inside linebacker is not as big of a need as cornerback or edge defender.
 
There’s several good mid-round options that have that requisite athleticism the Packers need: Malik Jefferson, Darius Leonard, Genard Avery and Oren Burks for example. I also love the athleticism of players like Fred Warner and Dorian O’Daniel. I’m not sure if they’re traditional inside linebackers, but this is no longer the traditional NFL it was for decades. Mike McCray isn’t ultra-athletic, but for his college production, I’d be happy to have him late as a two-down linebacker.
 
CORNERBACK—First of all, don’t be surprised if the Packers draft three or more defensive backs this draft. It’s likely at least one of them won’t pan out. Hopefully the other two—or at least one—will. 
 
So let’s assume the Packers don’t draft a corner in Round 1. It then becomes mandatory they add one on Day 2, maybe more than one. I’m also of the opinion the Packers may have to draft a true slot cornerback by the end of Day 2 or risk that a good one won’t be there on Day 3. The Packers may very well draft an aggressive, press, perimeter cornerback early on like Isaiah Oliver, Carlton Davis, Holton Hill, Isaac Yiadom or Kevin Toliver. But if they do, they’d still have to address the slot position and there will be slim pickings after Day 2.
 
So if the Packers don’t get Fitzpatrick or Ward in Round 1, there’s only a handful of cornerbacks that can ably play the slot that are going to be available on Day 2, and you can pretty much bet one of these will be a Packer: Mike Hughes, M.J. Stewart, Quenton Meeks, Donte Jackson, Duke Dawson, Anthony Averett, Tony Brown, maybe Nick Nelson. I’m fully aware this is probably not exactly going out on a limb by throwing out that many names. Will one of these players still be available with the first pick in Round 4? Maybe, but that’s a risk I can’t imagine the Packers will want to take unless they’ve already addressed the position by then.
 
There are any number of developmental prospects the Packers might draft from Round 5 and onward, but I can guarantee they will have already added one or two prior to that and can afford to take a chance on a developmental player at that point. I like Christian Campbell of Penn State and his explosiveness as a Day 3 developmental prospect.
 
SAFETY—The type of safety I see the Packers drafting this year is one that could potentially fill the role Morgan Burnett did last year. In other words, one that can defend the slot. A few that best fit the bill are players like Rashaan Gaulden, Dane Cruikshank, Tarvarius Moore, Josh Kalu, Kyzir White, Siran Neal and Natrell Jamerson. Again, there any number of other types of safeties the Packers could add late.
 
SPECIAL TEAMS—The Packers don’t necessarily need a kicker or a punter, but I will say that Michael Dickson of Texas is one of the best punting prospects I’ve seen in years. Where the Packers might add a special teams player is at long snapper and wouldn’t be surprised if they draft one late.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Handsback's picture

For third day prospects I like Alex Cappa for the oline, Foyasade Oluokun for ILB(Yale) a 6-2, 230#s and 4.5 forty and 4.12 for 20 yard shuttle, P.J. Hall from Sam Houston St. DT/NT maybe 6-0 and 300#s. (blocked 5-6 kicks during his rein of terror to olinemen), Darrious Phillips CB Western Michigan, tied national record for interceptions returned for TDs. Also like Dickson from Texas for punter.
All of the above mentioned players are either from small schools or lack minimum physical measurements that Green Bay has used in the past.

RCPackerFan's picture

Great write up Brian.

Just me .02 on a few of the positions that you mentioned.

There are some positions that I hope Gutekunst feels necessary to draft each and every year like his predecessor did. OL, DL, DB. Every year he drafted at least 1 from each. We have no clue what Gutekunst will do but I do hope he does that.

QB- I would be really surprised if they drafted one, assuming they kept the roster the way it is. But I would not be surprised if they traded Brett Hundley and in which case I could see them drafting a QB late.

RB - I honestly would like to see them draft a RB from round 5-7. As we saw last year and previous years its tough for RB's to stay healthy. I love Jones, and Williams really came on strong. Montgomery is a great weapon. But Mays showed nothing. I would love to see them go after a guy like Rashaad Penny. But I think he will go higher. Later round guys I like are Ito Smith, Akrum Wadley and Justin Jackson. They could be used more in the passing game.

WR - They really need more speed. But some guys that are intriguing in the mid rounds due to their size are Marcell Ateman, Auden Tate, Allen Lizard, Jaleel Scott, Equanimeous St. Brown. They are all 6'4-6'5.
With Michael Clark hopefully taking a step, our redzone offense could be Adams, Graham, Cobb, Clark and one of these Rookies. Thats a lot of Height to defend.
Another mid-late round guy I would love to see them go after is Daurice Fountain.

TE - There are some guys that could really come in and help. I'm a Badgers guy and would love Fumagalli. Ian Thomas is a guy to maybe keep an eye on.

ILB - I would love to get Roquan Smith. He is one of the players that I would consider trading up for. Assuming they don't do that, and wait till later in the draft to go after one, Josey Jewell and Jack Cichy are 2 guys to watch. Cichy is really intriguing to me. He could go anywhere from round 4 to undrafted.

OLB/Edge - I would not be surprised if they drafted a couple of pass rushing type of OLB's. One in the first couple of rounds and then one later.
I agree with Jacobs. I think his best football is ahead of him. I could see him going in the 4th round area. He is a guy that could be a situational/role player on defense and special teams ace.

CB - I would not be surprised if they drafted 2 CB's in this draft. One in the first couple of rounds and one in the mid to late rounds.

kevgk's picture

they could trade hundley, a 1st, and a 4th for a 1st from the Raiders (who was interested in Hundley this offseason)

Community Guy's picture

i like your spirit RCPackerFan. i also like some of your prospect ideas.

kevgk's picture

I think history has demonstrated that next years right guard is already on the roster. They might add some tackle competition throughout day 3, but they might stick with Murphy, Spriggs, and whoever else. McCray seems more tham adequate at the guard spot and may compete for tackle even.
I think the biggest thing that will keep the offense rolling and not become stale is a true deep threat. But really, would anyone be upset if they grabbed a top TE prospect on day 2 instead?

Chund@blackdiamondtek.com's picture

How about this idea...

Trade Rodgers to Cleveland for #1, #4, #33, and 2019 1st round. Rodgers value is projected as 3 first and a second. Draft QB of future with #1 (save $$ on Salary Cap), can trade #4 to NE for #23, #31, and #43. Options to reload everywhere with speed and youth. Having 30+Million $$ QB is great, but limits rest of roster.

OR just get Ward or Edmunds or else trade out.

kevgk's picture

While that in theory could be a net gain, a lot of people (me included) are very sentimentally attatched to Rodgers and value him retiring a Packer over almost anything else

croatpackfan's picture

Another fan who can not stand Aaron because of Brett Favre... He is terrified with the oportunity that Aaron will get more SB rings than Favre did...

When you have your Man you are lucky franchize... If it is so easy to find future QB for the franchize there would not be 5 QB in the first round drafted every single draft!

Royalty Free GM's picture

Winning approach:

GREEN BAY PACKERS will definitely draft WR RIDLEY with their first pick.

Edge is not our biggest need, because we kept overpaid Matthews. When you fire Matthews, then you draft edge.

Cornerback is a need, but CB draft is so deep this year that we can get very good corner(s) at round 2-3.

WR need is a BIG. Gute fired Jordy. WR Ridley goes 12th-16th in most mock drafts, so he will be perfect BPA for Packers. He will be a truly offensive weapon we haven’t had since great #84 Sharpe! Multiple probowls coming. Let’s once make our offense so strong that our opponents have to start drafting against it.

We will see soon, if Brian “TT” Gutekunst follows predecessor’s cowardly steps and keep selecting defense. Maybe he has guts to make this team Superbowl winner by drafting WR with the first pick...

Brian “TT” or “Guts” Gutekunst?

Packers will look so silly in coming years, if they let this rare opportunity to slip away. Otherwise Ridley will demolish Packers in future playoffs (Cardinals or Cowboys).

Make the wisest decision and draft Ridley!
It’s time stop being defensive all the time. It’s time to attack!!

GREEN & GOLD !

anne dua's picture

I’m certainly willing to give Kizer a chance!
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camikem's picture

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