Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Who Might Be Available For The Packers?

With the NFL Draft only two days away, there's no consensus on who the Green Bay Packers will pick with their 1st round selection. Here's the recap:

Defensive line. As Kevin Seifert pointed out, the Packers would probably love to draft Missouri's DT Sheldon Richardson or North Carolina's Sylvester Williams. But right now, it looks like neither player will fall past the Cowboys at No. 18. If they're determined to draft a defensive lineman, two alternatives are Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins and UCLA's Datone Jones.

If you watched Hankins play in the Big 10 last fall, you'll remember he's a really, really big guy. He's not going to get after the QB, but he's surprisingly mobile for a guy his size and he should be an anchor against the run. He might be the next Ryan Pickett, unfortunately he doesn't fill an immediate need because the Packers already have Ryan Pickett.

Jones isn't an obvious fit but he's versatile, played in three and four man fronts, and he can get after the quarterback. He might be a better fit as a 4-3 DE, but he's 6-4, 283 lbs. and might still be filling out. He was "extremely productive" as a senior and had a strong workout at the combine. If you can still remember the 1990s, he might be similar to former Packer DE Sean Jones. He could be what the Packers hoped DE Mike Neal would become.

Inside linebacker. I don't expect the Packers to draft an inside linebacker in the 1st round, they just re-signed LB Brad Jones for starter's money and LB A.J. Hawk, who recently took a pay cut, is still being paid like a starter. Also, LB Desmond Bishop should still be in the discussion, along with LB D.J. Smith. While adding another inside linebacker seems like a stretch, there are three prospects who could carry a late 1st round grade. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o might have too many off-field issues, and Georgia's Alec Ogletree might be undersized for the Packers' scheme, but LSU's Kevin Minter could be a good fit. Mel Kiper Jr. wrote about Minter as a fringe Round 1 prospect. The only problems with Minter might be that he didn't emerge until his senior season and he's a bit short (generously listed at 6-0 by NFL.com). That might be a red flag for some teams, but the Packers really like D.J. Smith, who's a bit short too. Still, it would be puzzling to see to the Packers draft another linebacker in the 1st round.

Secondary. I still like LSU's Eric Reid the best, though the consensus on Reid seems to be all over the place, with two mock drafts expecting the Rams to select him at No. 22 overall, and everyone else seeming to consider him a 2nd round prospect. Even if the Packers do pass on Reid, and maybe go with someone like Florida's Matt Elam or Florida International's John Cyprien, I'd trust the Packers were making the right choice. The Packers have a good eye for young defensive backs and the last two safeties they drafted (Morgan Burnett and Jerron McMillian) have turned into good players.

I'm still expecting a defensive player in the 1st round, but it wouldn't be a shock to see them look for an offensive lineman. Cal's Brian Schwenke might sneak into the 1st round and Alabama's Eddie Lacy is still considered a fringe 1st round running back. Also, the Packers have seen two long-time receivers (Greg Jennings and Donald Driver) leave this offseason and GM Ted Thompson has selected a wide receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round in five of his eight previous drafts. If the Packers do surprise people, it could be with a wide receiver in the late 1st round.

Assuming no one surprising falls to them, such as Richardson or Williams, I'd like to see them draft Reid or Jones, but I don't have a favorite. Whoever they do select, I'll be assuming he's a really good player.

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