Saturday, April 28, 2012

2012 NFL Draft Rounds 2 and 3: Packers Add Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward

After three picks for the Green Bay Packers, the remaining positions they should address in the draft are center and safety. Neither player would have to be ready to start in 2011, though it would help if a rookie could unseat Charlie Peprah, but they should look for a long-term solution at both positions. They also need a running back to replace Ryan Grant, and a backup quarterback to replace Matt Flynn. Those positions could be addressed after the draft in free agency or they could trade for Colt McCoy.

While the Packers haven't selected the exact three players I suggested in my mock draft, they have added depth to the top three positions I felt they had to improve. Though they added a cornerback instead of a safety, his arrival could mean the shift of another player to safety.

Round 2, pick 51, Michigan State DL Jerel Worthy. Questions about his work ethic pushed him back into the second round, but he's got first round talent. After Mike Neal flopped in 2011, the Packers needed someone to replace Cullen Jenkins. He won't be a Jenkins clone, he'll be more of a bull rusher than a pass rusher, but his size and strength will be a welcome upgrade on the defensive line. Outside of B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, I'm not sure any defensive lineman from last season should expect to return. It's too bad it cost them a 4th round pick to move up 8 spots for Worthy, but getting the right player is more important than having extra depth. I favored Penn State DL Devon Still in a mock draft, however they're similar players and the Packers went with their choice of them. I was more concerned that they added a top ranked defensive lineman than a specific player.

Round 2, pick 62. Vanderbilt DB Casey Hayward. NFL Network's Mike Mayock raved about Hayward's ball skills, which is something the Packers looked for two years ago when they traded up for S Morgan Burnett. The Packers didn't want to wait until the 3rd round, so they traded that pick, along with their 5th rounder, to the Patriots. I'd been hoping they would draft a defensive back who could compete at safety, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers says Hayward "will mostly work at cornerback." Maybe it's sign that Charles Woodson will move to safety (or second year player Davon House), but it could mean that they have less faith in Sam Shields than they did a year ago. If they feel Shields needs the competition, then it's a position they need to improve sooner rather than later.

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