Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft: The Packers Spot At No. 26 Looks Wide Open

While there's a lot of talent in the 2013 NFL draft, there are not a lot of stars. The consensus seems to be that the Chiefs will take OT Luke Joeckel, then the Jaguars will select DE Dion Jordan, and the Raiders will take DT Sharrif Floyd. OT Eric Fisher will probably be selected in the Top 5, and CB Dee Milliner will be taken shortly thereafter. But this isn't the strongest top of the draft in recent years so there could be some surprises.

What that might mean for the Green Bay Packers is more uncertainty as to who will be available when they select at No. 26 in the first round. While the Packers haven't been known for trading up or down, though either option is possible, there aren't a lot of obvious choices for them if they keep the selection.

Looking at seven different mock drafts, three at and four at, there are four positions mentioned; safety, defensive tackle, tight end, and offensive tackle.

Of the three safeties mentioned (Florida's Matt Elam, Florida International's John Cyprien, and LSU's Eric Reid), Reid seems like the best fit as a player who could challenge S M.D. Jennings as a deep coverage safety on passing downs. Both Elam and Cyprien seem better suited as strong safeties, which should be the role played by S Jerron McMillian next season. On the other hand, Reid started over 25+ games the last three seasons at LSU and he seems to be the best of those three safeties against the pass, though he's never recorded more than two INTs in a single season. However, he's expected in most mock drafts to be selected by the Rams at No. 22 overall.

North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams has been linked to the Packers in multiple mock drafts. He'll probably be the highest rated tackle left at No. 26, if he isn't drafted sooner. While he had 6 sacks last season, 4.5 sacks came against their early season schedule, and only 1.5 against the ACC. He might also be a good run defender based on his size (6-3, 313 lbs) and strength (27 reps at the combine). Unfortunately he might not be any better than the rotation they used of DE C.J. Wilson (against the run) and DE Mike Neal (obvious passing downs) late last season.

And I don't understand why anyone would expect the Packers to select Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert or Stanford TE Zach Ertz. They're both good players, but they're also pass-first tight ends who aren't 1st round prospects for their blocking. The Packers already have three tight ends (Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor) who can catch but can't really block. Eifert and Ertz would be an upgrade over Williams or Taylor but how important is that going to be in 2013? Maybe they could replace Finley in 2014, but the Packers seem very committed to him at the moment. If the Packers want to use their 1st round pick on another receiver, I'd rather it be USC's WR Robert Woods than another tight end.

The lone offensive tackle mentioned is Syracuse OL Justin Pugh, who doesn't have the best draft profile and might be a better fit as a guard. The Packers have used two recent 1st round picks on offensive tackles (Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod) so it doesn't seem likely the Packers will use another 1st round draft pick at that position.

None of the mock drafts linked them to Alabama RB Eddie Lacy, which makes sense because the Packers haven't paid a lot of attention to the position in recent years.

Of all these players mentioned, I'd like to see them draft S Eric Reid. I'd like to see them draft a defensive tackle but the end of the 1st round might not be the place to select one. Also, there should be some good ones still available at the end of the second. An inside linebacker would be great choice, but I'm not a Manti Te'o fan. It might not seem obvious to select a wide receiver, but the Packers could use another one for depth and there's no guarantee they'll re-sign Jordy Nelson or James Jones when their contracts expire.

There are a lot of ways the Packers could go in the draft and it doesn't seem obvious who might fall to them or who might be an obvious selection.

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