Friday, February 06, 2015

Possible Packer Draft Target: ILB Benardrick McKinney

The draft isn't until late April, but scouting the rookie class should be the Packers's main focus until then. Last year's Julius Peppers signing aside, they aren't likely to do much in free agency (which begins March 7-10), except to try and take care of their own free agents, especially WR Randall Cobb who's ranked No. 8 overall on this particular list of top free agents.
It would be a bit of reach to select McKinney in 1st round (he's got a mid-to-late 2nd round grade at CBS Sports) and I'm a little reluctant for another defensive player in the 1st round for the fourth consecutive year. Though the offense hasn't been starved for talent since they've used three of their last four 2nd round picks (Cobb, Lacy, Adams) on offensive skill positions. The last time they used a 1st round pick on an offensive player, they selected another player from Mississippi State (Derek Sherrod) and that didn't work out so well.

But they really need help at linebacker, especially on the inside so they can keep Clay Matthews outside (where he's needed). I can't think of any reason not to release Brad Jones and/or A.J. Hawk. Jamari Lattimore is an unrestricted free agent (and coming off an injury). Sam Barrington will be in the mix next season, but he's not necessarily a long-term answer (he had a negative grade against the run last season according to Pro Football Focus) and might be better suited as depth.

McKinney has NFL size (6-4, 249 lbs.) and great speed for his size (his 40 time is expected to be in the mid 4.5s) but CBS Sports also says he's weak in coverage responsibilities, which might be death for a linebacker in the modern NFL. However, if GM Ted Thompson actually drafts him, I would assume those concerns are overblown and he thinks otherwise. Though I'm not expecting they'll actually draft him because of these concerns.

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