Truth, I'm a football nerd. Thus, for me, it's never to early to talk items such as a a Mock Draft and rising stars at the college level. As the collegiate season progresses, I'll continue with the "Who Are You Watching Now?" portion of the blog, however at this point we're 3 weeks away and I'm wishing college football was on the television today. Therefore, with excitement, even though it's 8 month away, the scouting process begins.
This mock draft will work off of the assumption that the Packers will receive 4 compensatory picks due to the losses of Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Brandon Jackson and Korey Hall. With that, I'll project that the Packers will receive a 4th, a 5th a 6th and a 7th. Really, I have no clue how the picks will be awarded, but it's a good starting point. As always, I don't select OL as I don't follow them closely enough. And, of course, I have the Packers selecting at #32 in each round.
Round 1 - Bruce Irvin, OLB, WVU. Irvin is a dynamite pass rusher. He'd be a sublime addition across from Clay as a 3rd down pass rusher. A secondary option is Don'ta Hightower, ILB, Alabama. Hightower will be among the elite ILB in college football this year and would provide suitable depth to the defensive line.
Round 2 - Devon Still, DL, Penn State. Still is a closer. He has great physical power at the line of scrimmage and knack for making plays late - to seal games. Listed at 6-5, 305 - Still is massive. He'd translate to a quality 3-4 DE. Another to watch has been the highly inconsistent and underachieving Marcus Forston, DL, _. When he shows up, at times, he's unblockable. Consistency is his problem. It'll be fun to watch how he performs in his crucial Senior Year. It'll also be good to watch Trevor Guyton, DE, Cal. Over the last 2 years, a DL from Cal has jumped in the draft - partially due to the fact that Cal plays in a 3-4 defense. This year, it's Guyton's turn. He's a little lighter than you'd like as he is listed at less than 290 lbs, but he has the frame to add a little weight. He had 4.5 sacks last year and he has the quickness and hands to continue to progress. Depending on the growth of Mike Neal & CJ Wilson at DE in the 3-4, this could be the most pressing position for Ted Thompson to address in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Round 3 - Donnie Fletcher, CB, BC. One thing is for sure - Ted Thompson likes CB's who can play the ball. Fletcher is exactly that.
Round 4 - Michael Egnew, Missouri, TE. Depending on what happens with the contract of J-Mike, the Packers might be in the market for a playmaking TE. Egnew is a first class receiver. After 90 receptions last year, my buddy Mike, a Tiger alum, was positive Egnew would head to the pros. Instead, he returned to college. And, even though Blaine Gabbert left for the NFL, Egnew is prime for another big year. It'll also be fun to see what happens to the stock of Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State. Kid can play football. Hard runner. Gifted with the ball in his hands. Surprisingly power. Good ability to escape. But, how much will the legal troubles affect his stock?
Round 4 - Kellen Moore, QB, Boise St. Kellen Moore is a gamer. He wins. With accuracy. With poise. McCarty would like his chops to get his hands on Moore. Jacquies Smith, OLB, Missouri is another player to watch. What I'll be curious to uncover is whether he has the skills that translate to OLB in the 3-4. Clearly, he can rush the QB. He has a knack for the football, but his size is a question mark. Can his skills translate to OLB in the NFL? The 2011 College Season will be a determining factor.
Round 5 - Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina. I am a huge Morgan Burnett fan. I want him to be a Superstar. But, I'm not convinced that he can play in the box. Our defense improved when Charlie Peprah replaced him. Due in part to Peprah's ability to play the run. Antonio Allen can play in the box. He seeks contact. Hasn't shown me that he's overly gifted in coverage, but he burst onto the scene last year and it'll be good to see how he developed throughout a Spring Season as a starter.
Round 5 - Brandon Bolden, RB, Mississippi. Recently, while on a plane ride to Nashville, I sat next to Jim Steele, who covers the SEC for ESPN Radio near Memphis. Naturally, we talked football for the entire 2 hour and 30 minute flight. At length, he talked about Mississippi and how he thought they were going to be tough to beat this year. One name that he brought up multiple times was Brandon Bolden. With that, take note. He had 14 TD's last year and he's likely to explode in the 2011 college season.
Round 6 - TY Hilton, WR, FIU. If this guy had better size, he'd be a complete superstar at the next level. Ever dangerous with the ball in his hands. To my eye, he's every bit the player that Jerel Jernigan was at the college level. Size will be a limitation, but he was great to watch at the college level while I was living in Dade County.
Round 6 - Jerry Franklin, ILB, Arkansas. Franklin can run. He's a tackling machine. He can get sideline to sideline and plays with a speed in the fastest conference in football, the SEC.
Round 7 - Darius Fleming, OLB, ND. Always tough for me to select a Golden Domer, but Fleming has the athleticism to play at the next level and you can't argue with his performance on an underachieving Fighting Irish squad. As an OLB, he had 6 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss while starting every game.
Round 7 - Travis Benjamin, WR, _. Benjamin has swagga. He wears #3. He can return kicks. He's always dangerous with the ball in his hand. Kid can dance in the open field. Another guy I'll be watching is Benjamin's teammate: Aldarius Johnson, WR, _. Johnson has the body of an NFL superstar. In fact, in many ways, in uniform, he looks like Andre Johnson, the former Cane. He hasn't lived up to expectations. It'll be interesting to see how his senior season evolves.
While the 2012 NFL Draft is far away, the collegiate season is fast approaching. Now is the time to pay attention as you'll be better educated when next April rolls around.
Go Pack Go!