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Packers 2018 First-Round Prediction

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Packers 2018 First-Round Prediction

The first in three-part series of posts in the lead up to the 2018 NFL Draft.
 
Consider this post in the vein of what I think the Green Bay Packers should do in the NFL Draft, or what I would do if I were the general manager, not necessarily what they will do.
 
If I’m the G.M. of the Packers, here’s my hierarchy of preferred choices when the team is on the clock with the 14th overall pick in the NFL Draft…
 
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
2. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State
3. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
4. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
5. Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame
 
Now that that’s out of the way, I don’t expect any of these players to actually be available. Certainly it’s possible. Of these five players, some are more likely than others to fall to 14. But I just don’t see it happening.
 
That brings us to the five skill-position players that are likely to go in the Top 13 picks ahead of the Packers: quarterbacks Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and running back Saquon Barkley. Should any of these five players drop to 14, the Packers should entertain a potential trade down for the right package. And we probably shouldn’t ignore Lamar Jackson either given the value of quarterbacks in today’s NFL.
 
Yes, the Packers should pass up Barkley even if he somehow happened to fall, however unlikely that may be. The way Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones played last season combined with the general devaluation and risk of running backs across the league, and I just think it’s in the Packers’ best interests to pass on Barkley. Or better yet, get a nice return on a trade.
 
Now onto who the Packers can’t, shouldn’t or won’t pick at 14.
 
Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech—Perhaps I’ll regret this down the road, but I’m just not on board with Edmunds at 14. And yes, I’m fully aware there are no shortage of analysts—amateur and otherwise—advocating for Edmunds in the Top 10. Without question, I think he has a ton of potential and the ceiling is high. But as one of the youngest players in the entire draft, I think there’s a little more risk than I’d be willing to inherit at 14. He’s made mistakes, such as he did against Clemson this past season, when he failed to pick up the running back streaking down the field for a long touchdown pass. Part of me also thinks his best position might be as an outside linebacker, because he picks up quite a head of steam as a rusher. But for someone who has never played along the line of scrimmage, that is quite a project to undertake—a hope and a prayer. If the Packers would happen to trade down, and not all that far, I’d consider Edmunds later on. Just not at 14.
 
Derwin James, DB, Florida State—James has range, can fill running lanes and can blitz as good as any defensive back. But this Packers team needs help defending the slot, and while James—indeed—has played the slot, watch his film. This is not a player who was asked to turn and cover receivers downfield 30 times a game. Nor do I think he’d be particularly good in that role given his change-of-direction times from his pro day (three-cone drill, short shuttle) that were not just subpar, but downright poor. James very well might be an upgrade over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in a deep safety role or Josh Jones as a hybrid linebacker, but is that worth spending on the 14th overall pick when you’ve already got guys (a first- and second-round pick) pegged for those roles? Not in my estimation.
 
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa—If this was still the defense of Dom Capers, Jackson could very well be in play for the Packers. But this is Mike Pettine’s defense now, and they’ll be prioritizing in-your-face, aggressive, press cornerbacks. Jackson is more of a zone cornerback. I’ve asked myself, does it really matter what scheme Jackson fits if he gets his hands on as many balls as he did in college? After all, this is a former wide receiver still learning the position. Maybe he could be molded into a press cornerback. But again, I just don’t think the Packers are going make that kind of investment at Pick No. 14. If Jackson was still around later in the draft, he’d probably be worth it. But not at 14.
 
It’s no secret the Packers defense needs some reinforcement. If you were to rank the needs of the Packers right now, cornerback and pass rush probably come in at 1 and 1A. These were the Achilles’ heel of the 2017 edition of the team.
 
Say what you will about the availability of Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, but at least they’re proven commodities when healthy. We can’t say the same of the slot cornerback position in Green Bay. The Packers have no one. Sure, they signed Tramon Williams, but he’s not the long-term answer and at his age, his play could drop off at a moment’s notice. And maybe Lenzy Pipkins is a pleasant surprise and can help the team, but that just isn’t something this team can bank on.
 
So ideally, either Fitzpatrick or Ward drops to the Packers. It would just make everything a little easier for everyone involved from the front office to the coaching staff to the players. These players can cover from the slot.
 
So what do the Packers do when they’re not available? The most-likely scenario I can envision is a choice between the two best pass rushers not named Bradley Chubb—Harold Landry and Marcus Davenport.
 
Player analysis:
 
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College—Landry has elite speed and bend off the edge to go with elite change-of-direction skills. Those are rare traits. I think he can be a Von Miller, Vic Beasley, Dwight Freeney type of player. Sure, he won’t win with a bull-rush move, and I’m okay with that. I can also forgive his somewhat pedestrian 2017 production as a result of an ankle injury that doesn’t bother me long-term. Simply put, the Packers need players that can provide pressure on the quarterback, and Landry can provide it on a more consistent basis than probably anyone else available.
 
Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA—You can’t deny the size and raw skills of Davenport. Coming from a mid-major program like UTSA, it’s going to take time for him to develop. When he learns how to use his hands and his natural leverage, he could be a monster. At the very least, he should initially provide an upgrade as a rotational edge defender that was almost nonexistent in Green Bay last year. And in due time, he could be a Pro Bowl type of player. It’s not a top consideration, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well he dropped into coverage. Those long limbs cover a lot of ground.
 
I personally prioritize Landry over Davenport. Landry is the player most similar to Clay Matthews as relatively smaller pass rushers, whose games are predicated on speed and quickness off the edge. Not that they’re clones, but Davenport is more similar to Nick Perry as bigger, thicker edge defenders. Matthews is only under contract for one more season while Perry is set to be around for the next three. Thus, I think Landry is the better complement to Perry moving forward. And this isn’t to say I don’t like Davenport. I’m at the point where I’d be happy with either player. I’d just take Landry if both players were available.
 
My official prediction, the player that I think is the best combination of fitting what the Packers want and need along with potentially still being available: Harold Landry.
 
And what to do if, by chance, neither Landry nor Davenport is available? I’m honestly not sure. Trade down, get some extra picks. And if they can’t negotiate a trade to their liking? I lean towards Mike McGlinchey, but I could be persuaded otherwise. Perhaps Leighton Vander Esch.
 
Up next: A position-by-position breakdown of how the Packers should approach the draft and a seven-round Packers mock draft.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (50) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

EdsLaces's picture

Landry is gonna be a monster ...

dobber's picture

I think he's being undervalued by draftniks.

Rossonero's picture

Agreed. Recency bias in play. When healthy, he had 16.5 sacks. He's been compared to Vic Beasley even.

EdsLaces's picture

Yep. Someone is gonna get a bargain.

John Kirk's picture

I feel the opposite. I think he'll be more Jamal Reynolds than Von Miller.

Denver's picture

Ouch....

GBPDAN1's picture

Brian,.you put Fitzpatrick over Chubb on your draft board list of who you would pick in the first rd if you were GM! You'd make a bad GM and here's why:

Chubb is a pro bowl pass rusher! Edge pass rusher is the second most important position next to QB. Putting pressure on the opposing QB is paramount . Having a comfortable QB throwing against our D is extremely undesirable. Giving a QB time is deadly.

And with Clay getting older and declining, a replacement like Chubb is needed. ( and Perry always hurt). We won't find a pass rusher like that anywhere except in the top 6 of the draft , which we will.never draft at with Rodgers. Good CBs and DBs can be found in the 2nd round and FA. Chubb would go #1 or 2 if it wasn't for desperate QB needy teams. If he fell to 14 (which will NEVER happen- which proves my point even more), it's a no brainer. You run to the podium laughing. Want to know why there's a chance Fitzpatrick could fall to us at 14 and Chubb won't make it out of the top 6?.....It's because I'm right about who you should rather have.

I'm not saying we don't need a CB, but Fitzpatrick is not a D. Revis in his prime years. Fitzpatrick is more of a jack of all trades and that's why I see him in some mocks available at 14, We never see Chubb out of the top 6-7 , most mocks much higher.

Also, you mentioned not taking Barkley if for some miracle he would fall to 14? That's another horrible decision. QBs aside, he's the number 1 or 2 (Chubb being the other) pick in this draft. Even though we need D players,You take best player available if Barkley is there. Our offense would be unstoppable with Rodgers and Barkley. 1500-1800 yards a year back, plus the play action opportunities Rodgers would have! You better get a lot more then the standard trade value chart says if Barkley is there at 14.

The TKstinator's picture

I think the "rush vs. cover" debate is in the same category as the chicken and the egg.

EdsLaces's picture

Cart and horse.

Since '61's picture

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. Thanks Since '61

gr7070's picture

While there is certainly something to be said for the chicken and egg. It has becoming increasingly clear that CB are more important than Edge. I've seen it now in so, so many math-based articles I've lost count now.

April 19 on PFF is the latest one:

"While rushing the passer is certainly part of what makes a good defense, we’ve found that coverage has a bigger impact overall on winning games, both from the perspective of expected points at the play level and points allowed at the game level.”

P.S. not being able to pay links in comments is insanely and insanely annoying.

kevgk's picture

Barkley is overrated and a poor interior rusher. I rather have chubb too, but interior pass rush>exterior nowadays. Dline is the future

Finwiz's picture

Wrongo, Batman....

QB can't see the blind side rush from the edge, but everything up the middle is visible, not to mention congested with Guards, centers and TE's.

No interior lineman lead the league in sacks anymore.

dobber's picture

"No interior lineman lead the league in sacks anymore."

True. It's all about balance, IMO. You can have outstanding edge rushers, but those guys can be ridden out of plays or QBs can step up in the pocket if the interior rush is weak. Likewise, you can have great interior DL, but if your contain/edge players aren't good, the QB can roll away and buy time. It all adds up. Can you make a QB nervous? Can you move him off his spot? Those things force plenty of mistakes even if they don't always result in sacks. Not every QB can make plays on the move like #12 does.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I doubt Barkley would get enough carries to reach 1500 yards with Rodgers under center.

Snake Plissken's picture

Fitzpatrick will be a pro bowl player..... he has the talent to play both corner and safety..... big, fast, smart and mean..... a man amongst boys.
Chubb was never going to fall to us.
The Dolphins almost choked the pick and Fitz almost did.

tundrawalker00's picture

Chubb won't get past pick 4. The Packers can't afford to get that high. I second the motion of Fitzpatrick in a trade or standing pat for Landry.

dobber's picture

In my not-a-scout opinion, I would be satisfied with Landry at #14. I suspect the talent pool is going to be fairly flat at that point. I suspect that if they trade back more than 2-3 picks thinking they can still get a pass-rusher, they'd better have a pretty solid plan B.

Ryan Graham's picture

A lot is going to depend on how many QBs go before GB goes on the clock. if 5 QBs are taken, it's very likely an Edmunds, Ward or Fitzpatrick or other fall. if only 3 go before the 14th pick, that 14th pick looks really valuable to a QB needy team in NO or possibly Pittsburgh or NE. Could be able to trade out and get back in, or utilize those picks to move picks from day 3 to day 2. A lot of possibilities still, a lot of time to wait until Thursday...

gr7070's picture

Will Matt Lynch be writing his draft articles again for Cheesehead TV? He did amazing work for y'all in past years.

https://m.cheeseheadtv.com/blog/seeing-the-2017-draft-through-ted-thomps...

Jersey Al's picture

waiting for them...

BradHTX's picture

"Thompson knows his primary duty is the same as when he first arrived: make darned sure the roster always includes a conceivable heir apparent to the aging franchise QB. For the time being, that man is Brett Hundley."

Oh my, how things change in a year...

packrulz's picture

I agree with your entire article. Trade down, more picks, still get Landry. Rounds 2 to 4 are the meat of the draft. Landry reminds me of Clay Matthews the way he plays.

DD's picture

Pack will trade down. Why? Russ Ball, difference between a 1st and a 2nd pick is about 7 million. Done deal.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, but it's not Russ's decision.

DD's picture

I hope your picks are correct. One thing though, no replacement for Jordy. Problematic.

Community Guy's picture

Jordy cannot be replaced.. Jimmy Graham is already on the team though.

Royalty Free GM's picture

The thing is that we can get much better WR than Jordy.

Denver's picture

Agree

Handsback's picture

I'll go another step into the Packer's thought process....the ILB position players Edmunds, Smith, and Evans are all more athletic than existing Packer players.
The problem is would any of the three be that much better than Martinez and Jones? If so how much?
Compare the end results from Smith, Edmunds, and Evans to an edge rusher or slot CB, FS? The more I see Green Bay's weakness, the more I see in the first 2 rounds a pass rusher and press corner/FS.

LambeauPlain's picture

Here's my take...Edmunds or Smith would both make The Machinez better.

For the first time since in over a decade the Pack would finally possess one of the best ILB tandems in the NFL vs one of the worst.

And yes both of the backers is better than JJ...because they were both nationally acclaimed playing LB. But that does not mean JJ would not play some hybrid. Edmunds can and has played OLB at a very high level. Pettine would move him and even Smith all around the LB spots.

I have seen most draft analysis having Smith as the #1 ILB, Edmunds as the #2 ILB...Edmunds as the #1 OLB, Smith #2.

Also, Pettine plays 3 safeties in the nickel as much or more that 3 CBs...so Josh Jones will likely be playing a lot more S than ILB this year.

However...there is a deep CB class in the first 3 rounds...and at ILB too.

Either one of us could get our wish and still be happy campers on Saturday AM!

Community Guy's picture

looking forward to the rest of the series.

LambeauPlain's picture

If any of these players is available, in my armchair GM role, pick him as 14:

1. Chub
2. Nelson
3. Ward
4. Edmunds
4. Fitzpatrick
5. Smith
6. James

I do not agree Edmunds is a "risk" because he's 19 yrs old and missed a RB on a pass route once. He has been labeled with "Brian Urlacher" potential...strangely, their physical profiles and Combine Testing are almost identical. And Edmunds comes from a football family. They are all high end performers, including his pro bowl Dad...why would a young Edmunds regress when everyone raves about his size, speed, versatility to play EVERY LB spot in the 3-4, including EDGE, can cover TEs and RBs. He is a Swiss Army Knife 3 down backer that Pettine covets.

Same thing for Fitzgerald...can play EVERY DB spot, even boundary CB.

But if none of these guys is not available and I think it is greater than 50/50 they will not be, then entertain trade down offers then go to work with all the extra picks to move up in the 2nd, 3rd rounds...or try to secure an additional late 1st, another 2nd or 3rd.

And could still get Landry or Davenport in the 15-20 range. Lorenzo Carter (GA) would be there at 20-30.

Lots of CB depth late 1st - 3rd rounds, excellent WR quality/value in 2nd - 3rd rounds...some good OL value 3rd - 5th rounds.

Rossonero's picture

The author doesn't like Tremaine Edmunds at #14? Wow. He's a top 10 talent in my eyes. Only 19, can play inside, outside, rush and cover. If it weren't for all these QBs, he'd be a top 10 lock.

LambeauPlain's picture

Almost everything I have read lists Edmunds as a top 5-10 talent in this years draft.

If BG could draft Brian Urlacher at 14, would he do it?

I am not saying Edmunds will match what Urlacher did...but it is possible he could be Urlacher 2.0. Pettine would love him.

stockholder's picture

So would I. The biggest problem is to many people are Locked into Landry. If Landry is there man, trade next years #1 pick for him! Bet they won't!!

HankScorpio's picture

Edmunds is a freak athlete and only 19. I don't think there is any way he's available at 14. But if he is, I'll be disappointed if they pass.

Royalty Free GM's picture

Do you guys know what WR is? ;)

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

no, please elaborate

Royalty Free GM's picture

double

LambeauPlain's picture

There may be a sleeper EDGE in the draft that could be taken in late 4th or 5th...Leon Jacobs, WI.

He finally found his niche at OLB, pass rusher. At times last season he was unstoppable.

The Badgers moved him all round until last year....ILB, then FB, finally OLB.

He had a heck of a combine too.

Dzehren's picture

sounds like a great late round option.

Bert's picture

I think a couple of the QBs (Allen and Darnold) have been overrated and may fall a bit. Allen especially. I live near Boise and follow the Mountain West and quite frankly Allen just isn't that good. Looks great in his uniform, very strong arm but I'm skeptical about his accuracy and ability to read NFL defenses. Darnold is a turnover waiting to happen. I'm guessing we are hearing a lot of BS and these guys may fall. Maybe open some good trade scenarios at #14?

Jonathan Spader's picture

There are a lot of 1st round QB busts because teams are so desperate to find a franchise QB. It leads to them being overhyped and overrated all the time. Whether they are worth a 1st round grade or not there will be QBs overdrafted happens every year. Hopefully it happens again this year and benefits the Packers.

John Kirk's picture

Yes, JS. Our org has acted this same way on defense for years. I pray it doesn't go another year.

WKUPackFan's picture

Well, if the Packers do take a defensive player in the 1st round you can always blame it on the fantasized "agenda" that you claim CHTV authors are perpetrating. By the way, what is the supposed goal of that agenda?

kevgk's picture

1st round pick on any OL than late round for a tackle is a waste IMO, especially higher than 14th overall

AgrippaLII's picture

Not if you want your franchise QB to play all 16 games.

Oppy's picture

In my expert opinion, If there was a player named Lintee Feeuhlz in the draft, he'd be my #1 pick.

AgrippaLII's picture

The Packers are going to have to outscore Detroit and Minnesota in order to win the Division. That means keeping AR off the turf...and getting a WR who can burn defenses deep. Given the way this draft is shaping up...OL and WR will be wide open and the talent more predictable. No way will the Packers get an Edge Rusher or CB that will impact the defense the way OL and WR will impact the offense. That said...like everyone else I expect the Pack will go Edge and CB in the first two rounds.

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