Football Friday was shifted to Saturday on account of some unforeseeable events. Enjoy.
You’re going to want to strap in for this one. In the final Football Friday before next week’s NFL Draft, I’ve compiled a lot of existing content, as well as providing a few last second segments of fresh content. Please enjoy and feel free to reference this list throughout the draft.
First and foremost, our War Room Podcast. Jacob Westendorf of FanRag, Cody Bauer of Cheesehead TV have a running podcast about the offseason with a heavy focus on the annual player selection meeting.
Here are the Episodes
Keep in mind that these are also chronological, so they may include some dated rankings and team needs.
5 guys I’m probably higher on than you are
- Derek Barnett- Barnett is the #6 player on my Packers board, and would still reside inside my top 10 regardless of need. Barnett is the most skilled edge rusher in this class and that includes Myles Garrett. Garrett will be the first overall selection because of his athleticism and upside. Barnett is the better player now. His hand use and bend make up for his perceived lack of athleticism. Barnett will be a productive pass rusher his first day on the job.
- Fabian Moreau- This is a deep, deep cornerback class and different folks are going to have different favorites. I really like Moreau. He checks all the boxes from a workout standpoint. A 4.35 40 is blazing fast. So is a 4.12 short shuttle. 6’0″ and 206 pounds is ideal size for a number one corner. His ability to mirror receivers is notable.
- Cooper Kupp- Kupp is my #36 overall prospect for Green Bay’s purposes but has fallen on draft boards a bit because of his slow 40 time at the combine (it was predictably improved at his pro day). His 4.08 short shuttle is a better indicator of the type of athlete he is. No, you wouldn’t send him on a series of 9 routes but on basically every other route he’s going to make up a few tenths of a second of 40 time somewhere in the route. He’s a starting caliber wide receiver in the NFL. If he goes in round three, so be it.
- Desmond King- King was a first round defensive back if he would have come out as a junior, instead he stayed and continued to show more playmaking ability as a senior at Iowa. His measurables might lead you to believe he can’t play on the outside as a true cornerback. Even if that’s true (it might not be) he’s still a very good player. If he gets passed pick 45 he’s a tremendous value.
- Mack Hollins- Hollins is a speedy threat who has tremendous size at 6’4″ 220. Press coverage is basically a non-issue for Hollins and he’ll immediately be a special teams contributor. For the Packers, specifically, Hollins would bring a different body type to the receivers room, and might only require a 4th or 5th round pick.
5 guys you’re probably higher on than me
- Tyus Bowser- Bowser’s a great athlete. There’s no question about that. The problem is he doesn’t use his hands well and that’s led to a lack of primary pass rush. Most of Bowser’s actual pass rush productivity came from hustle and athleticism, which is great, but not necessarily sustainable. In the NFL you eventually have to win right away and beat blocks. He’s a mid-round project that’s going to get taken early.
- Tarell Basham- it might just be because I watched so much EDGE, but I’m not really impressed with Basham, either. I don’t see any bend. Not a great tackler, either. Doesn’t ever seem to be playing in control.
- Kevin King- it’s not that I don’t like King, he’s 53rd on my Packers board. With that said, I didn’t see a 1st round pick on tape. When he checked in at 6’3″ and ran a 4.43, he became an obsession of height/weight/speed draft evaluators. Do I like King as a second round selection after an EDGE is taken in round one? Absolutely. Round one target? No thanks.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster- I think he’s a fine player, but he’s very much like Davante Adams in what he does well. He’s not particularly fast and would have to run a lot of the same routes. He also doesn’t really project as a contributor from the slot. He’s something the Packers already have, and likely don’t need to repeat within the position group.
- Samaje Perine– I can understand now how Mixon largely took over for Perine, he’s a much better player. Perine got away with running through a lot of tackles and frankly running over a lot of people. He’s not Marshawn Lynch or even “good” Eddie Lacy and I don’t anticipate he’ll be able to do that against NFL competition.
Speaking of my top 200, it’s right here.
Grade A+ Semi-Realistic Mock Draft
1. TJ Watt, EDGE Wisconsin- Watt is already a Wisconsin legend, and fits what the Packers need as a versatile pass rusher. He’s also a true 3-4 outside linebacker and wouldn’t have to learn the nuances of the position in the way that Nick Perry did. Watt and Fackrell could be an excellent second pass rushing unit behind Perry and the versatile Clay Matthews.
2. Fabian Moreau, CB UCLA- Moreau is a lot higher on my board than he is by the general draft “complex”. Moreau can contribute immediately if his pectoral injury allows it. If not, he can wait behind House, Randall and Gunter as the primary options outside at cornerback.
3. Cooper Kupp, WR Eastern Washington- he should have been a second round pick, and probably an early one. Kupp provides a versatile threat for the offense, and is a starting caliber player who can fill in whether Nelson or Cobb or both leave the Packers in the near future.
4. Marcus Williams, S Utah- Williams is a very underrated player. His passer rating against was absolutely outstanding. His presence as a special teamer and competition for Kentrell Brice is an immediate upgrade on the back end. Between Brice and Williams, Burnett is now able to move more full time to an inside linebacker role.
5a. Dorian Johnson, G Pitt- Johnson is a good athlete and strong at the point of attack. He’ll slide right into the competition at right guard and if he isn’t ready to take over in 2017 it’s possible he could be ready next season.
5b. Ejuan Price, EDGE Pitt- potentially my favorite prospect in the draft. Price is very undersized, but he’s exceptional. His low center of gravity allows him to get under a lot of tackles. He doesn’t provide much interior rush, but that’s probably expected. Always look in the middle or late rounds for what you could be getting long term. If that’s an elite situational pass rusher and a special teams monster? Sign me the hell up.
6. Elijah Hood, RB UNC- Hood is a strong, one cut downhill runner that can more than handle the load around the goal line that they cant get out of Montgomery or Ripkowski. To say that I would be fine with Hood, Monty, Michael and Rip would be an understatement.
7. Jaylen Reeves-Maybin, ILB Tennessee- sometime these inside linebackers just fall of of a cliff. I like JRM’s upside a lot. Before his injuries he was a day two prospect. The Packers found late round gold in Desmond Bishop. Reeves-Maybin could provide a similar impact.
Remember, Ted is Ted. For that matter, Mike is Mike, too. As Coach McCarthy would likely tell you, we’re not in the building. It’s entirely possible that the Packers view their needs differently than we all do, both in the draft industrial complex (of which I am at most peripherally involved) and in Cheesehead Nation (of which I consider myself a regional captain).
For example, national writers have insisted that Green Bay is significantly worse now than when they lost in Atlanta. The losses in free agency outweigh the gains. It’s fine if you agree with that. Lang was a Pro Bowl caliber guard, there’s no questioning that. Eddie Lacy, when he was right, was an effective running back. Micah Hyde was a useful player, as was Datone Jones. It’s possible that these are debilitating losses.
It’s also possible that Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins recover from their injuries and sophomore slumps the way Davante Adams did. National writers often forget that Green Bay’s program is built on player progression. If Green Bay gets 1st to second year jumps from Kenny Clark, Kyler Fackrell, Kentrell Brice and Blake Martinez and second to third year jumps from the two corners and Jake Ryan, the defense takes a leap. People often forget how good the 2015 defense was with largely the same personnel. Ricky Jean-Francois and Davon House are as “high floor” as two signings can get.
On offense, people forget that guard and running back are not important positions, and despite Lacy and Lang being good players, replacing them with Kyle Murphy and Ty Montgomery is not going to appreciably affect the output of the offense. You know what is going to have an effect? The signing of the one true impact player that left or joined the Packers, Martellus Bennett. The offense is going to be scary, folks.
The overarching point is this: we think that corner and edge rusher are Green Bay’s top priorities. It’s entirely possible that the Packers believe that Matthews and Perry are a top notch starting tandem, that they didn’t waste a top 90 pick on Kyler Fackrell and that Jayrone Elliot has only been waiting for more snaps. It’s also possible that Whitt, McCarthy and Thompson are comfortable with Hawkins, Waters, Randall, Rollins, Gunter and House.
Keep this in mind if Thompson reverts to actually drafting the best player available.