Looking ahead to 2018: The Draft

Harold Landry

With only one game remaining in the season and half the starting lineup either on the injury report or injured reserve, it’s time to look to the Spring of 2018 for the Packers. That means the Draft, where the team will make the most noise as they try to bounce back from a nightmarish 2017. To that end, many fans, myself included, have started looking at prospects from around the nation to see who can wear the green and gold next fall.

So using the FanSpeak draft simulator, I took control of the Packers, who had the 16th pick, and went through all seven rounds. Using their most difficult algorithm for accuracy and the board of Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (my most trusted scout), I present to you my take at being Ted Thompson and a potential Draft Class.

ROUND 1 (16th Overall) – Harold Landry, EDGE. Boston College

There were a lot of great options at 16th overall for the Packers. Beyond Landry, defensive linemen Christian Wilkins (Clemson) and Maurice Hurst (Michigan) were available, as were cornerbacks Josh Jackson (Iowa) and Denzel Ward (Ohio State). But the need for a dynamic pass rusher was too great and that makes Landry the obvious pick. At 6’3″ and  250 lbs, he is the perfect size to be an impact edge player in the Packers defense, no matter who is the coordinator. And he’s proven himself in the ACC with 16.5 sacks in 2016. He battled injuries this past year, but played through them for 8 games, recording 5 more sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. He is just the jolt this team can use to start opposite Nick Perry and wreak havoc on the subpar offensive lines in the NFC North.

ROUND 2 (46th) – Clelin Ferrell, DE. Clemson

In Round 2, I had my eye on Ferrell the entire time. This is an upside pick, as Ferrell has elite talent but is still raw. The redshirt sophomore sits at 6’5″ and 260 lbs, which is a tweener in a 3-4 defense, but his athleticism jumps off the tape, and he showed up in the ACC with 8.5 sacks 17 tackles for a loss and 61 total tackles. He is ranked 13 on Miller’s board but whether he will put it all together, or even if he will enter the draft, are big questions. That makes him a nice risk for me in Round 2. If he can develop, the Packers have some serious pass rush ability now.

ROUND 3 (80th) – Mark Andrews, TE. Oklahoma

Tight end was such a disaster after the Packers dipped their toe into free agency that it needs to be addressed fairly early in the Draft. Unfortunately, it’s not a great class for tight ends. I thought about Dallas Goedert in Round 2 before Ferrell fell, and eventually had to take Andrews here. The redshirt junior provides good value here as a pass catching threat. In Oklahoma’s high-powered offense, he pulled down 58 passes for 906 yards and 8 touchdowns, shining against conference rivals Texas and Oklahoma State. At 6’5″ he provides great size for the position and is a willing blocker, even if he needs a lot of work. He reminds me a lot of Austin Hooper with his consistency and athleticism.

ROUND 3 (102nd) – Holton Hill, CB. Texas

With the compensatory pick for TJ Lang, the Packers look to the secondary. Having addressed the pass rush and the tight end positions, a corner is next up. And the board sits well for the Packers to grab a playmaker in Holton Hill. I had a decision between Hill and Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson, but Hill’s 6’3″ height and 4.5 speed make him a potential outside complement to Kevin King. A willing tackler and competitor, Hill does have some red flags that drop his stock. He was suspended earlier this season for a violation of team rules and is not playing in Texas’s bowl game.

ROUND 4 (118th) – Michael Gallup, WR. Colorado State

Round 4 seems like a good spot for a receiver with Davante Adams resigned (IT WILL HAPPEN) and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on restructured deals. Gallup is a playmaker, short and simple, even if his ceiling isn’t as high as guys like Calvin Ridley. The 6’1″ flanker was absolutely dominant for the Rams in 2017 with 100 catches for 1413 yards and 7 TDs.

ROUND 5 (155th) – Jack Cichy, LB. Wisconsin

Taking an injury risk this high will cause some head scratching, but with so many picks, the Packers can afford to swing for the fence for a guy like Cichy. Never the biggest of the fastest, all Cichy does is rely on his instincts and his ferocious energy to make plays. Through 7 games in 2016 he had 60 tackles. And he is forever adored in Wisconsin for his 3-sacks-in-3-plays series against USC a few years ago. By the time the Draft rolls around, he will be almost 10 months removed from his knee injury, which should have him back for camp. If he stays healthy, he is a bulldog in the middle in the vein of Chris Borland or a poor-mans Zach Thomas.

ROUND 5 (173rd) – Scott Quessenberry, C. UCLA

The Packers found Corey Linsley in the fifth round, so why can’t another center be found here? Quessenberry is an experienced anchor in the middle of the Bruins line, playing in 49 games during his time in the baby blue and gold. A first-team All Pac-12 selection, Quessenberry could be a nice piece on the line. It’d be nice to have a true backup center on the team.

ROUND 5 (175th) – Jonathan Ledbetter, EDGE. Georgia

A talented edge rusher who is working to overcome some off-field baggage, Ledbetter is an athletic specimen at 6’4″ and 277 lbs who played a lot of his games with his hand off the ground. He only had 1 sack on the season, but he drew a lot of attention from opposing linemen. A flyer on another pass rusher should be the biggest priority for the Packers on Day 3 in 2018.

ROUND 5 (177th) – DeAndre Goolsby, TE. Florida

A lean, athletic tight end who battled injury issues and ineffective quarterback play at Florida, Goolsby has a lot to prove during the Combine and Pro Days. At 6’4″ and 239 lbs., he has the look of a flex tight end who is better suited off the line. If he can develop and put his injuries behind him, he could be what the Packers wanted from guys like Kennard Backman in years past.

ROUND 6 (194th) – Levi Wallace, CB. Alabama

A former walk-on who got put on scholarship before the 2016 season, Wallace became a key member of the Alabama secondary, recording 3 interceptions and 2 sacks in 2017. Wallace didn’t even go out for the team his first semester. An intramural star, he eventually tried out in January of 2014 and made the squad. That kind of work ethic and growth makes for an interesting prospect late in the Draft. Even is he just becomes a special teams guy, that is a good find in Round 6.

ROUND 7 (235th) – Demetrius Cooper, EDGE. Michigan State

A tall, lanky edge rusher, Cooper was miscast in Michigan State’s bulky defense. At 6’6″ and 249 lbs, he is built to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. He didn’t post big numbers in the Big 10, which could hurt him come draft day, but his length is intriguing and the fact that he played 49 games with 20 starts in the Big Ten makes him a nice 7th round pick.

ROUND 7 (237th) – Donovan Olumba, CB. Portland State

Another tall, long armed corner, Olumba played for a small school, which will hurt his draft stock, but at 6’2″ he is another one in the tend of taller NFL Corners. He only played one season at Portland State after playing at Alderson-Broaddus University. Broke up 7 passes in his lone season at Portland State. Upside pick to close out the Draft, the cornerback version of Devante Mays.

While this is extremely early to look at Mock Drafts, with the season essentially over, I wanted to take a look at who could be around for the Packers next May. I’ll be active in keeping track of players over the coming months and will probably do countless FanSpeak simulations that I don’t post on here. But this is a decent first attempt. Let me know what you guys think. Who should the Packers look at? Should they trade back into the first round? Do they take more polished college players or higher ceiling athletic freaks? Post in the comments, and forever, Go Pack.

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Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.

Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.

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  • Richard

    In my First Round I’m looking at: Edge Rusher – Arden Key – LSU ; WR – Courtland Sutton – SMU ; CB – Josh Jackson – Iowa or Denzel Ward – OSU, DT – Hurst – U Michigan. Would not take 2 edge rushers with first two picks. Would take multiple o-lineman in rounds 5-7. I like Fumagalli & Geisicki at TE in rounds 3-4.

    • Mike Wendlandt

      I thought a lot about Key and I’m worried that he will never get it together off the field. He reminds me too much of Barkevious Mingo.

  • michael

    I was able to see Mark Andrews play a couple of times this year. He is very impressive a TE.

  • Nick Perry

    I can’t argue a bit with the first 3 picks, especially if Ferrell was still available in when the Packers select in the 2nd round. God knows they need a TE so all in all a hell of a start. I wouldn’t use the TJ Lang pick on a kid with issues, not with the need at WR, O-Line and CB. If Hill is actually the BPA then by all means draft him. Waiting until 118th pick to take a WR and then only taking one the entire draft is a little risky too.