Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Take -> Sublimely Crafted Packers Mock Draft

Greetings, G-Force.

It's always a joy to wear Packers gear with purpose. It's unique to do so in early May. But, when I sit down to write about the NFL Draft, I 'm stoked. Joining me is a Batch 60, which was hand crafted by the good folk at Crooked Stave. This American Wild Ale is brewed masterfully. A true gem. After the Batch 60, I have a Rufus Corvus Barrel-Aged Sour Ale from Avery waiting for me. My music choice is Black Uhuru's Bubbin' It Live with Sly & Robbie Album.

It's a long ride to the top of the NFL mountain. We've been there twice in my life. Blissful moments. If we're going to make it to that elevation again, the Packers have to find talent in the Draft this year. When your philosophy is founded on a Draft & develop approach, you can't afford multiple misses. Depth has to be replenished. Further, as the Matthews and Rodgers contracts steepen, the Packers have to find inexpensive gems via the Draft. Here's a quick projection of drafted players that will be on their first contract next year:

2010 - Bryan Bulaga.
2011 - Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Ryan Taylor, Davon House.
2012 - Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels.
2013 - Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter, Johnathan Franklin, Micah Hyde, Josh Boyd, Sam Barrington.

For the record, I didn't include Nate Palmer or Kevin Dorsey from the 2013 class. I believe that Chris Harper will beat out Dorsey and that the Packers will draft a WR this year. I also feel that Chase Thomas will take Palmer's spot on the roster. Further, I view Derek Sherrod, Ryan Taylor, Davon House, and Jerel Worthy as "on the bubble" with respect to making the 2014 roster. It's also very possible that Cobb signs an extension before the season. In my mind, the 2014 NFL Draft is absolutely vital to the future of the Green Bay Packers.

Thompson looks like he had a really solid 2013 Draft. He must duplicate those efforts this year. There's power in numbers. Heading into the Draft, he has 4 of the first 100 picks. Currently, he has 9 selections. I fully expect him to draft 11 players this year. I hope he can add a 5th selection in the first 100 picks. As I've mentioned earlier, the 49ers are a likely trading partner. With Denver's offseason strategy, it wouldn't shock me if they were a trading partner either. There's a draft-day trade history between those two teams.

I'd like to remind you of a few important guidelines to follow in my Packers Mock Draft: First, I'm not a "draftnik." I'm a fan. Secondly, unless an OL absolutely jumps off the charts at me, I normally don't comment. And, most importantly, I'm exclusively sharing my thoughts. Therefore, if I didn't watch the player play, I'm not commenting. Sadly, this year, I've watched much less college football than I have in past years. With that said, let's go!

On Fanspeak, I ran computer simulations with 4 different Draft Boards that allowed me to play the role of GM for the Green Bay Packers. Here were my results:

With the DraftTV Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) Marcus Martin, C, USC
Round 3b.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Round 4.) Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Round 5.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Round 5b.) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
Round 6.) Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State
Round 7.) Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt

With the Fanspeak Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) Marcus Martin, C, USC
Round 3b.) DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
Round 4.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Round 5.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5b.) Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State
Round 6.) Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State

With the Walter Football Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Round 3b.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Round 4.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5.) Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 5b.) Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
Round 6.) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State

With the Ourlads Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
Round 3.) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Round 3b) Chris Borland, ILB, WI
Round 4.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5.) Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
Round 5b.) DeAndre Coleman, DT, CAL
Round 6.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Round 7.) Jay Bromley, S, Syracuse

I also jumped on the website to run a simulation. They allow for trades. I traded down in the third round and the fourth round and I picked up two extra 6th round picks and an extra 7th. Here's what I came away with:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
Round 3b.) CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Round 4.) Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 5.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5b.) Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida
Round 6.) Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Round 6b.) Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
Round 6c.) Shamar Stephen, DT, UCONN
Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State
Round 7b.) Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt

There you have it. It's unanimous. In every mock draft simulator that I ran, my first round pick was CJ Mosley.

For the purpose of my official Packers Mock Draft, I turn to the CBS NFL DRAFT SCOUT rankings to guide me. But, before I dive into the Mock Draft, I had to re-emphasize three Draft thoughts that I've previously written:

a.) The NFL Draft has to be viewed differently that it previously had been. For the most part, it's difficult to draft the Best Player Available. Free Agency ruined that philosophy. Instead, teams have to patch holes during the early portions of the Draft. They have to find talent that can make an impact their rookie year. It's more important to fill needs that it was in prior needs.

b.) I said it earlier. I'm saying it again. It's that important. Ted Thompson is armored with four of the top 100 picks. Last year, the Packers and 49ers traded twice together. The 49ers have two picks in the 2nd round and 2 picks in the third round. Could the Packers trade down in the first round and pick up the 49ers third and fourth round picks? The Draft Trade Value Chart says it's fair. If so, Thompson would have a first, a second, three thirds, two fourths, two fifths, a sixth and a seventh. He'd be in position to litter his roster with youthful exuberance.

c.) It really feels as though the Packers need to draft an ILB & a S in the first two rounds. The depth at ILB is light. If they don't attack the position early, the options are limited. Additionally, in 2005, Ted Thompson drafted two safeties in the first 4 rounds, I wouldn't be disappointed if he did so again in 2014.

Let's get to the action.

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama. Mosley will hit you in the mouth. He's played big boy football. He takes on blockers. He stacks those blockers, sheds those blockers and finds the ball carrier. He doesn't have elite football speed. But, he's instinctive. He's able to cover the TE. Last year, the Packers hit it big with Eddie Lacy - a player with injury concerns. Might lightning strike twice? Sure feels like a possibility. Others to consider:

a.) Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State. Doesn't take on blockers well. Explosive, so he'd need to be covered up. Didn't play exceptionally well against Clemson, WI, Michigan State last year. He loaded box scores against lesser competition. Compare these stats with Mosley: Shazier had 8 Forced Fumbles in 3 years, while Mosley had 2 in 4 years. Shazier had 44.5 tackles for loss, while Mosley had 23. Shazier had 24 sacks, while Mosley had 6.5. Shazier racked up stats. I'm not positive that he's physical enough to play 3-4 ILB.

c.) Contradicting my earlier point about drafting the best player available; if Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA falls to the Packers (there's rumors that he's dropping), he should be the pick. He's an ideal 3-4 OLB and a future stud across from CM3.

d.) If Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State is on the board, he's the selection. I believe he'll be gone.

e.) If Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU is on the board, he's an ideal fit. He can return kicks. He's lethal after the catch. He reminds me of a young Greg Jennings.

f.) HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. He recently posted a picture of himself wearing a Packers t-shirt on Instagram. Beneath it, he wrote, "Only God can judge me". Clinton-Dix is a Free Safety. If Morgan Burnett is going to play exclusively in the box, Clinton-Dix fits. He has good range. He plays the ball. But, he isn't overly intimidating and he isn't the surest of tacklers.

g.) Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. He hits you with a vengeance. He has the range. He can cover in the slot. He's a little short for the position, but he plays with great athleticism on the field. He plays with great confidence and his physical is infectious.

h.) Two WR's that fit in Green Bay: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt and Marqise Lee, WR, USC. Matthews is a do-it-all WR. He's tough-minded. He's a gamer. A Ted Thompson "Football Player' who'd fit into the Green Bay locker room. He'd make an instant impact. Lee is a hit-or-miss player. He has elite skills. Could be among the best players to come out of the Draft, but he comes across as aloof. He seems playful and well engaged with his teammates. When the ball is in his hands, look out.

i.) I want to love Eric Ebron, TE, UNC. He's an elite athlete. He makes great plays in traffic. He has a number of J-Mike similarities. He has questionable hands. He's a soft blocker.

j.) Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. If he's on the board, it'll be tough to say no. He plays possessed. Leave him alone and let him do his thing. He can man-up with most. He's confident. He's not afraid to tackle. He's a can't miss prospect.

Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. Some people play well, they look good in pads and then they go to the Combine and they're top of the table at their position. That's Deone Bucannon. Bucannon is my unquestioned favorite player in the Draft. I consider Bucannon a top 15 player in the Draft. He'd instantly change the attitude of the defense. The vibe in the huddle would be different. He brings physicality. He slaps wrists when he tackles. He also lowers the shoulder with a boom. He intimidates. He plays fast. He's solid in zone coverage. He can play deep down the middle of the field. He can cover a TE. He makes plays on the ball. He's intelligent. His one negative that I see: he can't cover a WR out of the slot. But, really, who cares? The Packers have Hyde and Hayward to handle those duties. The Packers need to have Bucannon. For the record, even though nearly every Draft Simulator shows Bucannon lasting to this pick in the Draft...and even though CBS DRAFT SCOUT has Bucannon as the 65th ranked player in the Draft...Deone Bucannon will NOT last until the 53rd pick. It won't happen. I would be stoked if Bucannon was pick #21 for the Packers. There's no one like him in the Draft. He's a Brian Dawkins clone. Others to consider:

a.) Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State. He has the swagga. He has the speed to get sideline-to-sideline. He has great range. He can cover in the slot. He is a sure tackler. He has attitude. He's not a massive presence, but you'll know he's around.

b.) Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois. A terrific slot cover S. Great in coverage. While he doesn't look physical, he's a sure tackler. Plays with cat-like quickness.

c.) The 2nd round will have an abundance of TE talent. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Troy Niklas, ND can all play. They'll all make an impact as a rookie. Niklas has grown on me mightily. He seems to have Mark Chmura tendencies. I'd be excited if he were in Green Bay. Amaro might have the best hands of all of the TE's in the Draft. Seferian-Jenkins, if healthy, is probably the best all-around TE in the Draft. He's massive. He has soft hands.

d.) If the Elephant position is here to stay, Kareem Martin, DE/OLB, UNC has to be considered as a developmental prospect behind Julius Peppers.

e.) Stephon Tuitt, DL, ND. Tuitt has the ideal size to be a 3-4 DE. He was a productive player at ND. He isn't overly quick off the ball, but he plays with solid effort. When he hits you, he punishes.

f.) Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice. Dude has the length to play CB. He runs well. He turns and sees the ball. He can play both zone and man. He fits the Packers style of defense as he can be left on an island. I like his smarts. But, I feel like the 2nd round is early for him.

g.) Keith McGill, CB, Utah. He has the Richard Sherman length. He can run. He moves well. He doesn't have first-class hands, but he plays the ball well and has the ability to make an immediate impact in the league.

h.) DaQuan Jones, DL, Penn State. He's more attractive in the third round, but I like his game. He plugs holes. He gets off the ball well. He fights and finds the ball carrier. He plays with good energy.

i.) Chris Borland, ILB, WI. While many think he'll be an early 3rd round pick, if the Packers don't draft an ILB in the 1st round, he has to be considered in the 2nd round. When he hits you, you better hold on tight. He's coming with purpose. I'd love him in Green Bay.

j.) Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State; Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson; Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU are three different styles of WR's and all would bring a fun dimension to the offense. Robinson is the best all-around WR of the bunch. He catches the ball at it's highest point. He's stellar in traffic. He sells out to find the ball. Bryant is a tall, athletic WR who is dangerous after the catch. Benjamin is the best jump ball WR in the Draft.

k.) Don't be shocked if the 2nd Round pick is either Marcus Martin, C, USC or Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State. Both would come in and immediately compete for the starting C role.

l.) Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State. I really like his game. Love the way he chases ball carriers from behind. Can shed blockers and extend to make the tackle. A big time player late in the game. Often either disrupted the play or grabbed a sack with the game on the line. Will take plays off, but when he's on, he's on.

Round 3.) Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU. If Jarvis Landry is available in the 3rd round, this should be a no-brainer. Landry was a terrific 3rd down WR at LSU. He was elusive after the catch. He wasn't afraid to run across the middle. He can play in the slot or on the outside.

Round 3b.) Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech. Admittedly, I've struggled with this pick, but from what I've seen on Ellis, he's potentially the player to replace Ryan Pickett. He plugs holes. He's quick enough to slide off blocks and grab RB's. He's aggressive. I like his hustle. He seems to be a high-effort player. Others:

a.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton. He was big time in the Senior Bowl. But, I haven't seen enough of him to commit to making him a 3rd round pick. I heard him in an interview and I was impressed with the way he communicates.

b.) CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa. He has the size you desire in a TE. He's a big target who plays with confidence. He enjoys blocking. He finds gaps in the zone. He'd fit in Green Bay.

c.) Christian Jones, LB, FSU. Jones is versatile. While he can play both ILB or OLB, I think he projects well as a 3-4 ILB. High impact player who was a leader in the middle of the 'Noles defense. Knows the game. Great instincts.

d.) Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU. He'll likely be gone before our 3rd round pick, but if he's there, he has to be considered. Top flight athlete who can get to the QB or drop in coverage. Would be a great long-term 3-4 OLB across from the Claymaker. I see him as a 2nd round pick, but if he's around in round 3, he's a target. If he'd have come out of college last year, he'd have been a sure-fire 1st round pick.

e.) Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado. I wish he was thicker because this dude can play. He has shake to him with the ball in his hands. He's smooth. Gets behind coverage. Solid double-move sideline route runner.

Round 4.) Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State. I respect my brother, Chad's, opinion more than anyone I know when it comes to judging TE's. We watched him together. We both fell in love. Gillmore was sure handed. He caught the ball in traffic. He had a nose for the end zone. He was a willing blocker. He looks like he's still developing as well. He showed no fear going up for the ball in a crowd down the middle of the field. Others:

a.) Walt Aiken, CB, Liberty. He showed he belonged with the big boys when he performed at the All-Star games. He's not sitting next to Zyr Vodka on the top-shelf when it comes to playing the ball in the air, but he uses his hands well and is physical enough to play on Sunday.

b.) Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia. Another big target TE. Not overly fast, but he's committed to the game. Runs solid routes. High effort player. Never takes a down off. Not going to out run anyone, but finds a way to get open.

c.) Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State. If the Packers are going to invest a mid-round pick on a Tackle for the future, Mewhort is an option. Reminds me of Bakhtiari. He's going to fight on every play. He can be beat with speed, but he's not going down without a battle. Plays with passion.

d.) James Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech. Looks the part in his uniform. Pursues with desire. Somewhat slow off the ball, but he can stand up or put his hand in the dirt. Has the tools to be a 3-4 OLB.

e.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers. Huge WR. Can beat you deep. Not afraid to run across the middle. Fights for yards. Runs a solid out route. Inconsistent hands might prevent him from being drafted higher. Huge upside.

f.) Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama. The captain at Alabama. True leader. Plays with will. Good hands. Understands route running. Squeezes himself to be his best.

Round 5.) Aaron Lynch, OLB/DE, South Florida. If the Packers are moving to less of a commitment to the 3-4, Lynch is perfect. While he is an ideal size for the 3-4 OLB role, he doesn't have significant exposure to dropping into coverage. But, Lynch is as naturally gifted as you'll find from an athletic perspective. If he puts it all together, he could be a steal in the Draft.

Round 5b.) Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech. Exum needs to stay healthy. He has everything else in his game. He'll get in your face at the line of scrimmage with confidence. He'll jam you off your route. He'll step up and make a play in the run game. If he had been healthy throughout, he'd be ranked significantly higher. Others:

a.) At one point, I was interested in two ILB's that seem to be suited for the 5th round: Max Bullough,Michigan State and Yawin Smallwood, UCONN. Bullough seemed destined for the Packers. And, then, he bailed on his team prior to the Rose Bowl for unspecified reasons. I always viewed him as a leader, a stand-up guy. His suspension and lack of desire to discuss his actions are disturbing. When Smallwood flashes, it's brilliance. But, he disappears too much. He has the talent. He needs the consistency.

b.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy. Prior to see him compete at the Senior Bowl, I was certain that I wanted him on the Packers. He was in ink on my Mock Draft. Thankfully, 'white-out' exists. He'll be a nice mid-to-late round pick, but he looked slow at the Senior Bowl and it showed up again at the Combine.

c.) David Yankey, G, Stanford. Love his grit. Gets in your head. Has good size. Gets underneath you. Intelligent baller. I'll say it again, "Football Player" in the words of Ted Thompson.

d.) Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal. Long, big bodied player. Lacks consistency, which knocks him down. A guy I want to love as he fits the 3-4 from a length perspective. But, he doesn't get up and down the line. Fills his gap with goodness. Often required a double-team on run plays.

Round 6.) Jay Bromley, DL, Syracuse. Gets up and down the line of scrimmage. At times, he's uber disruptive. He can rush the passer. He can play the run. Potentially, a great bargain this late in the Draft. If he's motivated, he's a must at this spot. Great insurance in case Raji doesn't have a long-term future in Green Bay. Others:

a.) Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky. Williamson is a tackling machine. I'd be really excited if the Packers invested a mid-to-late round pick on him. Simply put, he finds the football. In a lot of ways, Williamson reminds me of Desmond Bishop. He's a grinder. When he hits you, you'll know it.

b.) Three CB's to keep an eye on in the 5th-7th rounds: Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State; Andre Hal, CB, Vandy; Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona. All play the ball in the air. All get their heads turned. All fight with conviction. Johnson has great versatility and might end up playing Safety. Hal isn't the tallest CB, but he plays the ball extremely well. Richardson isn't afraid to gamble and jump a route.

c.) Prince Shembo, LB, ND. While he played on the outside at ND, I believe he has the football know-how to play ILB. He might be too short to play OLB in a 3-4. He's ripped. His muscles blaze. Great football IQ. Finds the ball.

d.) Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina. Hazel has the size-speed combo that you seek in a late round WR. Has good hands. Solid route runner. Catches the ball at it's highest point. Will go up and get it. Dominated small school competition.

e.) Shamar Stephen, DL, UCONN. Has the length and height that Capers is looking to build. Looks like a beast, but doesn't always play like one. Inconsistent jump off the ball. Can dominate. Also disappears.

Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State. There's a good chance that he's going to be undrafted. Regardless, I want him. He brings attitude. He brings pizazz. He's looking to make a big play on each down. Others:

a.) James Morris, ILB, Iowa. Don't be surprised if Morris is in Green Bay. Ted Thompson loves his Iowa players. And, Morris fits the "Football Player" analogy that Thompson often drops. The Packers need to improve at ILB. If they don't draft an ILB early, Morris is among the best you'll find late in the Draft.

b.) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU. Hoffman dominates. He doesn't have great speed. He doesn't get in and out of his breaks like you'd like him to, but the guy makes plays. Against almost everyone he plays against. Oh, and he finds the end zone. He scored 33 TD's in his career. Against Wisconsin, he caught 7 balls for 113 yards and 2 TD's.

c.) Two TE's interest me here for different reasons: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon; Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor. Lyerla has the potential to be the best TE to come out of this Draft. But, his attitude, commitment and personal life are a major distraction. I believe in 2nd chances. Thus, I'd like Lyerla late. Najvar interests me because he was underused. He could have a better pro career than he did in college. He is a solid blocker. He has good hands. He's an intriguing developmental prospect.

d.) Bruce Gaston, DL, Purdue. Gives it everything he has on all downs. An overachiever. The type of player you want in your locker room. Puts his hand in the dirt and pushes with a vengeance. Seeks contact.

Random Draft Thoughts:

a.) I like the Packers depth at QB. I'd prefer that the Packers don't draft a QB. If the Packers are to draft a QB, I hope it's David Fales, QB, San Jose State. I'm a fan of Fales. He's a developmental prospect who throws a nice ball and who keeps his vision downfield while he rolls out. He has the tools to play at the next level. I really like Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia, but I hope they don't draft a QB before Round 5, if at all.

b.) I didn't list RB's as the Packers are littered with depth. But, I believe Charles Sims, WR, WVU, would be a great fit in the Packers offense. He has great hands. He's versatile. He'd be a great compliment to Lacy. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State is a mudder. When the ground is tough, he excels. Also, Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State is an interesting prospect. He had personal issues that ended his run at Georgia. He transferred to Alabama State. He's a big time talent. Worth a risk for someone.

c.) I love the depth at TE in this Draft class. I wouldn't have a problem with the Packers drafting two TE's this year. Really good value at TE this year.

d.) Players I'd like to see in camp as undrafted Free Agents: Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo; Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State; Devekeyan Lattimore, ILB, South Florida; James Wilder, Jr., RB, FSU; Jerry Gates, S, Bowling Green; Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford; Chandler Jones, WR, San Jose State; Kenny Bell, WR, Alabama; L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri.

In Ted I Trust.

Go Pack Go,

Talkin' S-Mac.

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