Welcome to the mind of Scott McKenna. The NFL Draft is within sight and I'm ready to put the finishing touches on nearly three months of speculation. Sit back. Put your reading glasses on. Pour yourself some Zyr...on the rocks preferably...maybe a little dirty...and treat yourself to three blue cheese stuffed olives, if their available. If you're unable to literally create such a scenario, then please, do your best to mentally live in that state of mind. After all, with regard to constructing a roster, the draft is the most elegant weekend of the year.
I feel happy. I feel healthy. I feel terrific. This is a celebration. This is the NFL Draft.
Todays events added a little seasoning to our Draft dish. The Cowboys traded for Pacman Jones, which should translate to one less team drafting a CB in the 1st round. The Vikings traded for Jared Allen, an absolute menace of a defensive end. While Allen only had 3 tackles and .5 sacks against the Packers last year, he was a dominant, intimidating figure. He was fierce. However, I hope the Packers do not approach this draft in a reactionary mode. Rather, we are the team that the Vikings have to catch. We are the defending NFC North Champions. In fact, my strategy for this years draft is CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!
The '07 Packers were a team that scored points in abundance. Additionally, on defense, often times, we were joyful. We were opportunistic. We enjoyed ourselves. The '08 draft must bring more speed on offense. It must also bring defenders that are flashy, ferocious and barbaric in nature.
As a reminder, my Packers mock draft has one caveat: I do not draft OL. I no longer attend pre-season practices. I am no longer at each home game sitting in my seat 30-40 minutes before game time. I do not get to see how are kids are developing along the OL. Often times, my biases via the depth of our OL are developed through reading. Hence, at this stage, I feel uncomfortable piping up desires for a largely unknown OL. Plus, there is almost no youtube video available for me to conduct research. In fact, from the outside looking in, I see an OL that returns 5 starters. Moreover, we have developmental players that our coaching staff holds in high regards. Personally, I don't place a premium on selecting OL early in this year's draft. With that being said, it would not surprise me if Thompson drafted an OL in the 2nd round this year.
I approach Round 1 with an open mind. Frankly, I'll be happy as long as they don't draft QB, OL, DT, or Brandon Flowers in the first round. We could use a stud at DE, but I don't think that Calais Campbell will fall to us. We could use another target at WR. However, I doubt that Thomas, Jackson nor Sweed will be available. We might consider a game breaking RB, but Mendenhall and McFadden will be off the board when we pick. I don't consider Stewart a game breaker. He, too, will most likely will be gone. To me, Chris Johnson is not a 1st round pick. This brings me to Felix Jones. If he's available at #27, I'd consider trading up with SD to draft him. Jones can return kicks. He can also turn a busted play into an 80 yard TD run. If not, I believe that Dallas will choose him at #28.
The Packers could also trade down in Round 1. Ted Thompson loves to move down in drafts. Combine that thought with the fact that the Packers are sitting in a spot where teams might think about moving up in the draft so they can nab a QB. I look at the Falcons, Chiefs, Jets, Ravens and Panthers are potential suitors. If history matters, Thompson has pulled off draft day trades with the Falcons and Jets in the past.
In this mock draft, the Packers are sitting still at #30. Aqib Talib and his herbal issues do not drop him this far. Kenny Phillips is grabbed before the Packers are on the clock. Therefore, the Packers choose Antoine Cason. Cason will be an electrifying addition to our secondary. He looks the part. He walks the part. He talks the part. Cason is a better tackler than Talib. He's more willing to play the run and in our scheme, you cannot not be afraid to tackle. Cason can also return kicks. He fits what we do.
The Packers success and team development has been predicated on speed, youth, internal competition, and a confident attitude. Currently, our offense is missing this link at TE. In Round 2, the Packers find these elements in Martellus Bennett. Bennett will be a productive TE at the pro level. He's got the speed. His hands are terrific. He has the awareness & intelligence to find the open spot in the oppositions defense. He'll go up and get the ball in traffic. He falls forward upon contact. He'd be a target target for A-Rod. Alana and I went to the game when the Aggies played against the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl. His never say die attitude was displayed as he caught a Hail Mary at the end of the game when his team trailed by more than 3 TD's. Bennett is a positive character guy as well. After the game, he did not shy away from interviews with the Miami media. Instead, he paid his respects and talked about how he wore #85 for the game in memory of Kevin Everett after he was paralyzed. Everett had played TE for the 'Canes and wore #85. Bennett understands his roots. Furthermore, Thompson loves to draft players from Texas A & M. This years Aggie addition will be Bennett.
I always argue that in the draft, if you really want someone, draft him! Why wait? I want Steve Slaton. Sure, I could probably wait until the third and possibly the fourth round to draft him. But, why would I? I want Slaton with our other 2nd round pick. This human highlight film would be our answer to 2nd and long. The draw to Slaton. Get Slaton in open space and you will not catch him. Some players are track fast. Some players are football fast. Slaton is both. Plus, Slaton can catch the ball. He'd be great on HB circle routes and screens out of the backfield. His injuries give me some concern, but his upside is through the roof. There were times over the last 2.5 years that I believed Steve Slaton was the best player in college football. Also, my wife wants the Packers to draft him. Jamaal Charles is also an option, but give me Slaton!
In the third round pick, I'm looking back to the defensive side of the ball. I am enamored with Chevis Jackson's game. He has things that you cannot teach. He turns and sees the ball. He has exceptional make-up speed when the ball is in the air. I have talked about him for 6 months. I'd be disappointed to see him in any colors other than Green & Gold. I cherish his game. I believe that he will be a solid NFL corner. I am convinced that he will have a long NFL career. I also feel that adding a 3rd CB is the most pressing need on our roster. I want to be so certain that I don't miss on this need that I'm going to draft two corners. Goodbye Frank Walker. Goodbye J-Bush.
The defensive line would also be a solid 3rd round choice. One 3rd round option is Red Bryant, DT, Texas A & M. Bryant is a beast. A run stopping animal. Another guy that is gaining good pub in my eyes is Jeremy Thompson. Admittedly, I've just started buzzing into this guy over the last two days. I really like what I see & read. I never like to be convinced solely through literature, but I'd be very open to his selection here.
In Round 4, the Packers look for A-Rod's back-up. They find Kevin O'Connell. To my eye, O'Connell projects as a big-time NFL prospect. We've got a coach that loves to develop young QB's. O'Connell is McCarthy's next project. He throws on the run. He's escapes pressure. He's got a great attitude. He's a leader. I'd consider drafting him in Round 3. This guy better be a Packer. I cannot emphasize this enough - I WANT KEVIN O'CONNELL.
With our second pick of the 4th round, the Packers bring a mean streak to our offense through the addition of Owen Schmitt. He's physical. He's tough. He's confident. He can catch the ball. He can run with the ball. On the football field, he's literally a savage man. He's also from WI. It'd be a homecoming for him. He's a blue collar worker that Packers fans would love.
In round 5, the Packers select Kenny Iwebema. We could use DE depth. An influx of youth would do wonders for the current state of mind at DE. We wore down and got beat up as the season wore down. Iwebema is a hard working, run stopping Midwesterner. He'd fit into our culture and a place like Green Bay might bring out the best in him. Another possibility is Adarius Bowman. You cannot argue with his production. In the 5th round, it'd also be wise to draft a guy that dominated the college game as much as he did. If Thompson is looking for his KR/PR, we look at either Kenneth Moore or Anthony Alridge. Alridge's video makes me reminisce of Dave Meggett. In the end, the Packers need depth at DE and Iwebema is the choice. Moore was a utility man in college. He played RB/WR/KR/PR. He didn't care where you put him on the field, he just wanted the football.
In round 7, the Packers draft Mario Urrutia. I have seen Urrutia look like Herman Moore. If he can stay out of trouble and he can keep his head on straight, I think Urrutia has Pro Bowl potential. Unfortunately, the "ifs" are BIG "ifs." He could not keep himself on the field at Louisville, but when he was on the field, for the most part, he was a dominant force. He's an unstoppable figure inside the red zone. He's deceptively fast. He's worth any & all risk at this stage in the draft.
Other 7th round considerations are Marcus Henry and Bobbie Williams. Henry is a perfect fit for our offense. I'd sign him as an Undrafted FA. I really like his game. Every time he touches the ball, he's thinking 6 points. He runs a great slant route and is not afraid to go across the middle. I really appreciated his game last year. Bobbie Williams is a physical safety. Like Nick Collins, he's from Bethune Cookman. At one time, I read that scouts thought Bobbie Williams was the best safety in FL...that includes Kenny Phillips. But, in the end, the Packers feel comfortable with Collins, Ras-A-tari Bigby, and Aaron Rouse. Williams, too, is signed as an undrafted FA.
To conclude, Ted Thompson could make himself look like a genius by providing Aaron Rodgers with more weapons. Thompson must position A-Rod for success. We need additional speed at the skill positions and a physical TE that can hold the point of attack while blocking and as a receiver, he must be able find the seam in the defense to keep the chains moving.
I can't wait for Saturday.
In Ted We Follow,