Saturday, February 21, 2015

NFL Combine: Packers Inside Linebackers

I'm sure the Green Bay Packers are evaluating every position at the NFL combine, but the main talk coming out of Indianapolis is about their need for a new inside linebacker (or two).

They started fixing their 53-man roster by releasing LB Brad Jones, a move that's been obvious all season. He was terrible as a starter in Week 1 at Seattle and lost his starting job the next week. He was a liability every time he played defense throughout the season. And he was exposed as a liability on special teams during the NFC championship game. There's no way to justify his production, especially along side his $3.75 million cap number.
Mississippi State LB Benardrick McKinney has also drawn their attention. UCLA's ILB Eric Kendricks is arguably the top ranked inside linebacker. After those three players, there might not be another inside linebacker drafted until the 4th round. It's not an apples to apples comparison either; McKinney and Perryman are two different types of players. Maybe converting a college outside linebacker to play inside is an option.

What are their combine results? Can they drop back in coverage? What do they look like on film? Not one of them has stood out so far.

Another problem is that none of them have a true 1st round grade. All of them look like 2nd round prospects. Maybe another player slips and another team wants to trade up into the 1st round, like QB Teddy Bridgewater did last year. But there's no guarantee it will happen again and GM Ted Thompson hasn't been known for reaching on players in the 1st round. It's usually the opposite; players like Bryan Bulaga and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were projected to be gone by the time the Packers were on the clock.

I really want them to draft an inside linebacker, and Eric Kendricks is my preference at the moment. But they also might need to draft for value and it might not make sense for them to draft a linebacker in the 1st round.

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