As it stands heading into the draft, Ted Thompson has eight draft picks. Last year, armed with 12 picks, he moved up a few times and targeted the defensive players he thought could make an instant impact. This year, it feels like there’s a much better chance Trader Ted moves down once or twice and it could start with the first pick.
There’s so much speculation about where this year’s crop of quarterbacks go and it feels like a few QB needy teams will choose to draft elsewhere with their first pick and then try to sneak back into the bottom third of the first round to snatch their guy, whether it’s Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley or someone else. The Pack, seeing a number of guys they like at 26, may be a potential dance partner.
But if Ted stays true to his board, here’s how the picks could unfold:
Round 1 (26): Matt Elam, S, Florida Conventional wisdom has the Pack leaning toward the line here, either offensive or defensive. But I think the Pack pounces on the second safety off the board and the braintrust hopes they finally have a suitable replacement for Nick Collins. Elam’s a big hitter, a big time blitzer and can cover a slot receiver. He will provide some much-needed toughness to a defense that has had its toughness questioned, after getting dominated physically by the 49ers twice last season.
Round 2 (55): Jonathan Hankins, DT Ohio State Continuing that theme, the Packers select the enigmatic former Buckeye with their second pick. They had their eye on Purdue’s Kawann Short here, but he got selected a few picks earlier. Hankins can play any position on the line and has the physical tools to be a starter for a long time. He was better as a sophomore in ’11 than he was last year, particularly late in the season. But he possesses uncommon quickness for a man his size and would have an instant impact on the Pack’s run defense.
Round 3 (88): Jordan Reed, TE, Florida The Pack grabs another Gator here (almost went with former Badger center Jason Frederick here–I know that would make a lot of you happy, but I love the idea of adding a second tight end to this offense for a number of reasons). Reed is an Aaron Hernandez clone (hopefully minus the injury history). Without the benefit of a decent QB in college, Reed still led the Gators in receiving in just his second year as a tight end. He’s tall, fast and a matchup nightmare. Think of what Mike McCarthy could do with a second tight end. Reed also presents Finley insurance. If #88 disappoints or the team chooses not to commit long term, Reed can step in as the #1 guy in 2014.
Round 4 (122): Terrance Williams, WR Baylor This is one of those ‘best guys on the board’ picks. Williams was the nation’s leading receiver last year, but disappointed in pre-draft workouts and his size is not ideal as he’s just over six feet. Still needs to work on run blocking, but he’s a polished receiver who flourished with or without RGIII at Baylor. With Jennings gone, the Pack needs some depth here and will likely scour the undrafted guys as well. But Williams steps into the fourth receiver spot and will be ready to contribute on opening day.
Round 5 (159): Jordan Mills, T, Louisiana Tech He played right tackle in college but is seen as a guy who could play either tackle spot or guard. He’s big (6’5″ 315) and strong and has a ton of upside. With the uncertainty at tackle (Bulaga’s hip, Sherrod’s leg, Newhouse’s mediocrity and Barclay’s inexperience), Mills will likely get a lot of reps in the preseason and could prove to be a valuable addition, particularly if Bulaga and Sherrod aren’t ready to play. The fact that he’s also Tramon Williams’ cousin doesn’t hurt either.
Round 5 (167): Joseph Randle, RB Oklahoma St. Very productive back in college, who seems to have the kind of body the Packers like. He’s a bit on the tall side and runs upright but has some wiggle and could develop into a workhorse back at this level. He’s a good receiver, solid blocker and is not a fumbler. I’m a sucker for Oklahoma State backs and with Barry Sanders set to grace the cover of Madden ’13, maybe a fellow Cowboy will make some noise with the Pack this season.
Round 6 (193) John Simon DE Ohio State The Packers add Hankins’ linemate here for much needed depth and insurance for a position that won’t have Jerel Worthy most likely for the entire season. With Pickett nearing the end and Raji in the final year of his deal (though likely to be re-signed), the Pack can’t pass up Simon, who is seen as a perfect fit as an end in a 3-4 defense. He’s a high motor guy who never quits on a play and was called the heart of the Buckeyes’ defense.
Round 7 (232): Sheldon Price CB UCLA At 6’2″, Price has the size the Packers like and was productive with the Bruins, not so much as a tackler, but he had four picks and deflected five others. Seems to have a nose for the ball–the same thing scouts were saying about Casey Hayward last spring.
Before you get too excited, I’ve nailed exactly one player in the last two Packer mocks combined (Randall Cobb). The players may not match, but I think the team will try to address all of the positions above in this year’s draft, or in the few days following the draft.
OK, weigh in. Who you got?