Version 2.0 is in front of me. It's "Draft Month." In a month, we'll know who the Packers have added as building blocks for the future. I'm slowly compiling a handful of names that I'd be excited about the Packers drafting. Draft preparation is a fun pastime. I'm nearing my desired selections. As I've been processing 2.0 Draft thoughts, I have tried to target 10-20 names that I'd consider with each selection.
As I've wrote in past years, I'm enamored with the thought of having 4 of the top 90-100 picks. I often point to 1995 as the barometer of excellence with regards to Packers drafts. That year, the Packers had 5 of the top 90 selections.
This year, the Packers have picks 23, 56, 86, 122, 154, 169, 193, and 230. As I assess the talent in this years draft, I am confident in saying that the Packers will be looking to trade down in order to acquire additional draft choices.
A few things that have interested me during my evaluations:
* It's clear that the Packers do not want a CB smaller than 5-11. So, in essence, that means that the Packers will not draft Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama as he measured in at 5-10 at the Combine and his pro day.
* This draft is loaded with TE's. The Packers don't need a TE, although I could see the Packers bringing in a guy like Clay Harbor, TE, Missouri State as either a 7th rounder or an undrafted FA. Nonetheless, the TE's in this draft are spectacular. Expect a heavy TE run during the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
* I fully anticipate the Packers drafting a small school OLB in the late rounds. It's likely that they'll bring in a couple of them as undrafted FA's as well. Ted Thompson has a history of drafting small school players (Kurt Campbell, Julius Coston, Dave Tollefson, Ingle Martin, Allen Barbre). While Thompson has swung and missed with each of these picks, I would be surprised if he did not attempt to do take a chance again.
* Thompson really enjoys looking at schools from Texas & Michigan. Think Terrance Murphy, Mike Montgomery, Johnny Jolly, Cory Rodgers, J-Mike Finley, Will Whitticker, Greg Jennings, and TJ Lang. It's also noteworthy that Andrew Hartline from Central Michigan was one of the more coveted undrafted FA's by the Packers as well last year.
* Each year, I like to point out the Packers trading partners that Ted Thompson has dealt with in which draft picks were exchanged: The Jets and Patriots have been involved 3 times, Philly, STL, and Carolina have been involved twice, and Cleveland, Pitt, ATL, Denver, MN, New Orleans and the Giants have all been dealt with on one occasion. One would have to believe that with John Schneider going to Seattle and with Holmgren going to Cleveland - both Seattle and Cleveland are logical trading partners for the Packers heading into the 2010 NFL Draft. It should be noted that the Browns have 3 third round picks. It's also important to mention that the Seahawks do not have have 2nd round pick. Meanwhile, the Patriots have 3 2nd round picks.
Here goes version 2.0 (once again OL will not be drafted):
Round 1) If any of the following guys are on the board when the Packers select, it is my hope that the Packers draft him: CJ Spiller, Dez Bryant, Rolando McClain, JPP, Joe Haden or Earl Thomas. However, since it's doubtful that any of them fall to the Packers, my #1 player on the draft board remains Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State. He can get the tough yards. He can drop a 60 yarder on you. He'll run through you. He'll run around you. He'll outrun you. I want Mathews, but it might be unlikely. If the Packers passed on Mathews, the selection is Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan. Often compared to Lamar Woodley, Graham has a pension for getting after the QB. It may take him a little while to fully transition to a 3-4 OLB as he was mainly a rush DE at the college level. The Packers can select someone who needs minor grooming at the position as Brad Jones showed enough at the end of the '09 season to enter the '10 season as the starter. Any way, it's my Mock and I'm drafting Mathews.
After Mathews & Graham, my desired selection like this: Sean Weatherspoon, Taylor Mays, Jahvid Best, Sergio Kindle, Kyle Wilson, Devin McCourty, and Everson Griffen.
Round 2) After reading Kareem Jackson's measurables, the Packers won't draft him. He did not meet the 5-11 barometer. So, I'm forced to change this pick.
If Jahvid Best falls, I want him. It's doubtful that he'll be around. No one seems to be falling faster than Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State. I've been outward about him. I enjoy his game. I think he'd fit into our system. He has the size. He's been a playmaker at the college level. He's produced against big time competition. But, it's apparent that his social life is concerning teams. With that being said, as I've mentioned previously, comparatively speaking, you have to try pretty hard to get in serious trouble in Green Bay. Regardless, as much as I'd be happy about this selection, at don't see it happening.
I firmly believe that the Packers are going to draft a "waterbug." A guy who returns kicks, but he's also a RB/WR on offense. An elusive Percy Harvin type player. Or a Darren Sproles type. In the 2010 NFL Draft, no one plays this role better than Dexter McCluster, RB/WR/KR, Ole Miss. I have a strong gut feeling that the Packers draft him in the 2nd round.
Other 2nd round selections that'll be worth following: Tyson Alualu, DE, Cal. One of the premier 3-4 DE's in the draft. I think he has starter potential from Day 1. Great motor. Great energy. 3-4 DE size. With the Jolly trial starting in May, it would not shock me to see the Packers draft a DE. I could see the Packers having an interest in CB's Chris Cook of Virginia and Dominique Franks of Oklahoma. Both have the size and speed that the Packers seek under Ted Thompson's direction. WR DeMaryius Thomas has eye-popping size. Watch for safeties to come off the board in the 2nd round. I'm interested to see where Nate Allen, Morgan Burnett and Chad Jones get drafted. All fit into what the Packers are looking for next to Nintendo Nick at Safety. Naturally, I've paid significant attention to LB's heading into the Draft. In my previous mock, I had Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina being selected in the 3rd round by the Packers. It seems like he'll be drafted anywhere from the late 2nd to the early 4th. Daryl Washington, LB, TCU, totally intrigues me. Great football instincts. Finds the football. Koa Misi is a natural 3-4 OLB who played great in the East-West shrine game. Finally, Jermaine Cunningham plays with the energy that the Packers would be seeking opposite CM3 at OLB. He, too, is a player that played DE in a 4-3 system in college. He'd probably translate to a 3-4 OLB at the pro level.
Round 3: I'd love to continue with the selection of Eric Norwood, but I'm not positive that he'll be around, so I'm going to look elsewhere. While I'd prefer to draft Reshad Jones, S, Georgia, I feel the Packers will draft Larry Asante, S, Nebraska. Asante is a hard hitting safety that would instantly give Ras-A-tari competition.
Others to watch in Round 3 that might peak the Packers interest: RB Joe McKnight, USC. He's the type of scat back that I can see the Packers targeting this year. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford. On the contrary, Gerhart is the pound-it-at-you style of runner seems to be a "mudder" type who could be an effective late November, early December Lambeau Field RB. Three WR's who have electrifying tendencies are Andre Robert, Carlton Mitchell, and Mardy Gilyard. All would fit into the Packers offensive scheme. If the Packers decide on a CB, Jerome Murphy is built the way the Packers select. He's athletically gifted and comes from an aggressive defensive system. Finally, should the Packers address the DL, I'm interested in Cam Thomas, DT, UNC and Torrell Troup, DT, Central Florida. Troup totally dominated the East-West Shrine game. He has the size and agility to play both DT and DE in the 3-4, much like BJ Raji.
The third round might be the time to select a LB. Navarro Bowman, OLB, Penn State is slipping rapidly. All he did was perform at the college level. Every time you watched Penn State, you saw Bowman making plays. Also, Jason Worilds, OLB, Virginia Tech fits the EXACT mold that the Packers would be seeking across CM3. I strongly considered Worilds with this pick.
Round 4: It gets extremely difficult to predict where players will be drafted from Rounds 4-7. Most have somewhat similar projections of the top 75 or so players. While I still WANT O'Brien Schofield, OLB, WI in the 4th round, I have a hard time imagining Ted Thompson drafting a player with a torn ACL this early. Therefore, I have the Packers choosing Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt. He impressed at his combine and at the pro day. He's physical. He'll get in your face. I can see the Packers being interested.
Others: At some point, the Packers will either draft QB or bring in a veteran QB to back-up Rodgers. Since Thompson has been reluctant to bring in a veteran, I don't foresee the Packers signing a veteran. Plus, I can see McCarthy wanting a new project at QB. Who better than Jevan Snead? He has all of the talent. It's just that his decision making skills have suffered. I can picture McCarthy enjoying Snead in the middle rounds. Other QB's that might attract the Packers interest: Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan and Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati. At WR, Jacoby Ford is my "waterbug" choice of the 4th round. He's quick. He can return kicks. He's lethal with the ball in his hands. He's more of a pure WR than a WR/RB/KR though. At Safety, Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech fits the mold of a Safety that could play across Nintendo Nick. However, for me, he reminds me too much of Aaron Rouse to select him. A little too stiff for my liking. Other CB's that could interest in Round 4: Patrick Stoudamire, Western Illinois, Amari Spievey, Iowa, and Donovan Warren, Michigan. In Round 4, Warren would be considered a "Tyrone Williams" type steal. While Williams was a 3rd rounder and not a 4th, he was the Packers 4th pick. Both Warren & Williams were once considered 1st round picks. However during the combine and pro days, they dropped as others dug into their characters. Note that Walter McFadden, CB, Auburn is no longer in consideration after his measurables were released.
Round 5: After receiving a 5th round pick in exchange for losing Colin Cole via FA, the Packers have two 5th round picks. Previously, I had the Packers selecting Trindon Holiday, KR/RB, from LSU. Now, I envision the Packers drafting McCluster in the 2nd round, so that would eliminate Holiday from consideration.
The two players the Packers draft in the 5th round are Brandon Sharpe, OLB, Texas Tech and Anthony Levine, S, Tennessee State. Sharpe would be the first OLB that we'd have taken in the draft. It might seem unlikely that the Packers wait to draft an OLB until this spot, but in this years draft, I assess that it might be wise to draft a couple of OLB's late as there are not many that jump off the charts at me earlier in the draft. Sharpe seems logical. He has the size & speed to play the position. Also, he produced against elite competition at the college level. Meanwhile, Levine made BIG plays against lower level competition. The Packers have had success drafting Safeties from small schools (Nintendo Nick/Darren Sharper).
Others: George Selvie, OLB, South Florida. Once considered a 1st round pick, he's now fallen off the charts. I remain interested in both Jordan Shipley and Danario Alexander. When healthy, Alexander was one of the best WR's in the country at the college level. He'd be worth a late round risk. RB Joique Bell, Wayne State, amazes me, but with Ryan Mathews as our 1st round pick, the Packers don't draft another tough runner. Deji Karim, RB, Southern Illinois fits the "waterbug" bill. Tough for his size, I doubt he's durable enough to be an every down runner.
Round 6: I'm sticking with Joe Pawelek, ILB, Baylor for the reasons that I mentioned in my last post.
Others: The OLB that the Packers might target in Round 6 is Tim Knicky from Steven F. Austin. He's a two-time All American with the natural instincts required to play OLB in the 3-4. If the Packers still have not selected the "waterbug", look for Brandon Banks, Michael Smith or Brandon James to be considered. James is more of a pure KR, but nonetheless, he fits that category. Andre Anderson, RB, Tulane continues to impress for the same reasons I've previously mentioned. Andre Dixon, RB, UCONN, has performed well during his off season workouts. He's battled injuries in the past, but he'll be a good late round pick for someone. McCarthy might look for his developmental QB in Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State. When given time and options, Robinson played quite admirably at the college level. CB, Jamar Wall, Texas Tech also remains on the radar. Three WR's have caught my attention as solid 6th round WR's: Seyi Ajirotutu, Fresno State. Ajirotutu was - at times - unguardable during the 2009 college season. Marcus Easley, UCONN, has the size and speed to be worth heavy consideration late in the draft. Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green, is an interesting prospect. Not blessed with great size nor speed. But, he runs great routes. He has strong hands. For whatever reason, he's always open. He was very reliable in the East-West Shrine Game. I don't know that I'd be happy if we drafted Barnes, but I could see him being a late round pick by Ted Thompson.
Round 7: Admittedly, I thought the Packers had two 7th round picks in the 2010 Draft. As it turns out, the trade between the Packers and Panthers for JJ Jansen generated a 7th round pick for the Packers in the 2011 Draft, not the 2010 Draft. My bad.
I've done a lot of research on potential 7th round/UFA's this year. After all, Ted Thompson has done well in this regard when you consider names like T-Mon & Brad Jones. While it would not shock me if the Packers drafted a QB in the 7th round (names like Andy Schmitt, Eastern Michigan; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; and Eric Ward, Richmond, jump out at me), I expect the Packers to choose another OLB in the 7th round. Hence, I have the Packers picking Junior Galette, OLB, Stillman. Galette was a gem at Stillman. He transferred from Temple and possesses a quick 1st step. He's a tireless pass rusher that'd excite during the pre-season. When Galette tackles, he's thinking about the football.
I'm so certain the Packers use their 7th round pick on an OLB that I've scoured the 'net while searching for potential prospects. In addition to Galette, I remain interested in Lantz Mathers from Northwestern Oklahoma State. Chris McCoy, MTSU, is probably the third name in line for this 7th round pick (behind Galette & Mathers). McCoy is an ideal fit. He can drop in coverage and he pursues the QB. Danny Batten from South Dakota State is an athletic 3-4 OLB who has spent time in college both dropping back into coverage & attacking the QB. While statistically his numbers don't jump at you, athletically he's a standout talent. Dexter Davis from ASU has performed at the college level and appears to be similar to Brad Jones. Cameron Sheffield, Troy, was exciting to watch in the Bowl game, but he's undersized and has dropped down draft boards. San Jose State had a pair of bookends at OLB in Carl Ihenacho and Justin Cole. While Ihenacho was the better player, he's been plagued by injuries. Both are worth consideration. Lastly, Drew Berube, Hillsdale, looks to be a good special teams player with a small upside at OLB.
Others: At ILB, Alex Joseph from Temple might be a sleeper to follow late in the draft. Good size, speed and football awareness. At Safety, I'm watching three guys: Stevie Brown, Michigan; Lucien Antoine, Oklahoma State; and Josh Gordy, Central Michigan. At RB, Lonyae Miller, Fresno State, is a potential steal for someone as a late round prospect. Of course, I had to write about a "waterbug" in the 7th round as well. Curtis Steele, Memphis, is that guy. His shake makes him dangerous every time he has the ball in his hands.
Less than a month. I can't wait.