Packers Draft Prospects: Post New Year Edition

It’s the second week of free agency and the Packers till haven’t brought in a free agent cornerback. That creates a bigger Draft need than ever before, because even if they do sign someone like EJ Gaines or Tramon Williams, none of the guys left are gamebreakers or guaranteed starters. But there are plenty of guys in the Draft who are. So, with pass rusher at the very top of the list of needs, cornerback is now 1A.

So, with those needs and other positions needing depth to fortify them, let’s take a look at another batch of NFL Draft prospects.

Quarterback – Josh Allen, Wyoming
6’5″ 237 lbs. Redshirt Junior
Notable: 2 Years Starter, 119 Inch Broad Jump (Explosive Lower Body)
Projected Round: 1

With a cannon for a right arm and the size that scouts drool over, it’s no surprise that Allen is at or near the top of most team’s draft boards. The Wyoming Cowboy has been mocked at or near the Top 5 since last season and likely would’ve been a Top 10 pick last year had he come out. Allen thrives as a downfield passer with his arm strength that is unmatched in this year’s class, but he does struggle with accuracy when his mechanics break down. An inconsistent arm slot can cause him to miss some easy throws, as can pressure right in his face. But he is a gamer and can lead a team with the right coaching. His floor to me is Jay Cutler, as the tools are extremely similar. However, his ceiling is almost as high as it gets: Ben Roethlisberger.

Running Back – Akrum Wadley, Iowa
5’10” 194 lbs. Senior
Notable: 2784 Career Rush Yds (5th in School History) , 71 Career Catches
Projected Round: 4-5

Wadley is smaller than desired for a running back, but that didn’t stop him from being extremely productive in the Hawkeyes offense. Arguably the most well-rounded running back to come out of Iowa in the past 20 years, Wadley has everything you’d like in a third down back. He is a natural receiver who catches everything outside the body and knows what to do with the ball in his hands. His footwork in the open field against opposing defenses is a highlight video of itself. He puts on a show with his moves. However, he at times struggles to get into the open field with a lack of patience and can run up his blocker’s backs. He also isn’t a good pass protector, but that can be coached up. For those who want a Brandon Jackson or Kevin Faulk type of player, Wadley is your guy.

Wide Receiver – Auden Tate, Florida State
6’5″ 228 lbs. Junior
Notable: 33.75″ Arm Length, 13 TD past two seasons, 1 TD per 4 catches in Career.
Projected Round: 5

A huge wide receiver in the Kelvin Benjamin mold, Tate was inconsistent during his time with the Seminoles, but part of that was his QB play, which was subpar. Showing a knack for the goal line, his 13 TDs the past two seasons are a very strong number in a tough ACC. He’ll make a living for quite a while on his red zone prowess. He knows how to use his frame very well and excels at boxing out smaller defenders. His big knock is his speed. He isn’t anything close to a burner and is slow off the line, which is a big problem for a receiver. He’ll have to work on his hand-fighting at the line to be anything more than a red zone weapon.

Tight End – Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan
6’3″ 254 lbs. Senior
Notable: 14.5 YPC in 2017
Projected Round: 5-6

Conklin is an experience tight end who shows good intelligence with his routes and ability to find space in zones. Shows good hands at catch point and is always aware of where he is on the field, excelling on the sideline with his footwork. Well-rounded, Conklin shows promise as a strong run blocker, using his lower body to drive off the line well and is good with combination blocks. However, he can struggle while the ball is in the air, letting defenders beat him to the ball and letting the ball get to him instead of attacking. Injuries also a risk, he missed five games with a Jones fracture in his foot in 2017.

Offensive Tackle – Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
6’8″ 309 lbs. Senior
Notable: 3-year Starter, 2nd Team All-American (2016)
Projected Round: 1-2

A massive tackle who has the experience to come in and start right at the outset of training camp, McGlinchey is someone who teams could forget about until he makes a Pro Bowl. He has experience playing on both the left and right sides, but is most likely suited for right tackle in the NFL. A very good athlete at 6’8″, he converted from tight end to the line early in his tenure for the Irish. More a technician than a mauler, McGlinchey shows good awareness in the run game, but his long arms can get him off balance as a pass blocker. With some good coaching, the ceiling is there to him to be a Top 10 RT for the next decade.

Interior Offensive Line – Billy Price, Ohio State (Center)
6’4″ 305 lbs. Senior
Notable: 2-time All American (2016 at LG, 2017 at C), Rimington Award Winner (2017), 54 Consecutive Starts
Projected Round: 2

Price is probably the single most accomplished lineman in this Draft. All-American at 2 positions, the leader of a dynamic Buckeye line, and someone who is willing to change positions from year to year, Price is the definition of dependability. Extremely strong at the point of attack, Price can hold his own one-on-one with the best nose tackles in the league and shows great intelligence with his line calls. He is very good in a limited space on the interior, showing good hand placement and a strong punch while finishing his blocks. However, his aggressiveness can get him into trouble with him reaching out for a block instead of letting a defender get into his zone. Partially tore his pectoral muscle at the Combine during the Bench Press, leaving his status for camp in the air.

Defensive Line – Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
6’3″ 329 lbs. Redshirt Sophomore
Notable: 12.5 TFL and 4.5 Sacks (2017), 2nd Team All-ACC
Projected Round: 2-3

A huge cog in the middle of the line, Settle is much more athletic than his frame suggest. Showing good burst off the ball and in short areas, Settle can step in almost immediately as a run stuffer with some pass rush potential. Willing to work, had to redshirt as a freshman to get his weight and conditioning under control, and he did exactly that before stepping into the lineup as a redshirt. He shows a good motor, chasing down ball carriers at the second level and has one of the best rip moves among defensive linemen. Biggest concern is if his conditioning can continue at the next level, as well as his experience (23 career games at Virginia Tech).

Edge – Dorance Armstrong, Jr., Kansas
6’4″ 257 lbs. Junior
Notable: 2nd Team All-Big 12 (2017), 10 Sacks in 2016
Projected Round: 3-4

Built like a 3-4 outside pass rusher, Armstrong is oozing with potential and has the tape to back it, especially in 2016. Playing for a nightmarishly bad team in Lawrence, Armstrong became the focal point in 2017 and offensive lines geared his way almost every snap, limiting him to only 1.5 sacks. Armstrong usually wins with speed, showing good acceleration off the snap to turn the corner, and uses his hands well. However, if an offensive tackle can square him up, he hasn’t shown consistently that he can disengage. He needs experience in training camp to play the 3-4 after being a 4-3 end in college.

Linebacker – Oren Burks, Vanderbilt
6’3″ 233 lbs. Redshirt Senior
Notable: 4.59 40 Time, 39.5″ Vertical, 131″ Broad Jump, 3-year Starter
Projected Round: 5-6

Experienced and athletic, Burks comes into the Draft having survived three SEC seasons at three different positions at the second level, including free safety. Productive as well, with 82 tackles in 2017. Burks specialty is in coverage, where he has a good sense for zone coverage while also able to stick with tight ends man to man if needed. He also was the leader of the Vanderbilt team, showing maturity and and off the field. Burks shows a lot of potential in space, but he can be swallowed up in the trenches and may be limited to third down and special teams duty.

Cornerback – MJ Stewart, North Carolina
5’11” 200 lbs. Senior
Notable: UNC Record for Pass Breakups (41), 3-year Starter
Projected Round: 3-4

Stewart is one of the more versatile corners in this year’s class, having played both on the boundary and in the slot during his time at North Carolina. Excelling press coverage over the past three years, Stewart is tough and takes no prisoners at the line. Opens his hips well after his press as well and shows good instincts to jump routes and drive on the ball. That can also lead him to trouble as he can be beaten with double moves and is left flat-footed, which isn’t helped by average speed. A good tackler who shows good form and takes an “if it moves, it gets hit” attitude in the run game.

Safety – Quin Blanding, Virginia
6’2″ 207 lbs. Senior
Notable: 1st Team All-ACC(2016, 2017), leading tackler in Virginia history, 4-year Starter, 121 Tackles in 2017
Projected Round: 5-6

Extremely productive and durable (played 98% of snaps) during his career, the former 5-star recruit stepped in to the free safety role at UVA and ran with it, racking up tackles at an incredible rate to break Jamie Sharper’s school record. He has at least 115 tackles each of his four seasons, setting the ACC record for a defensive back. Listed at free safety, he is at his best in the box where his tackling plays up and he is able to read plays and meet the runner. Solid coverage, he recognizes routes pretty well and high points the ball, but his thin frame and narrow hips lend some concern to his future. He isn’t quite quick enough to be a ball-hawking center fielder in the NFL, yet is likely too small to be an every down, in the box safety. But he’ll likely find his way onto the field in some way or another very early on.

Mock Draft #8 (March, 16, 2018)
Matt Miller’s Big Board, User-Voted Team Needs, Difficult Algorithm
ROUND 1 (14) –  Tremaine Edmunds, LB. Virginia Tech
-Still only 19, Edmunds is an athletic marvel who is remarkably polished. A true sideline-to-sideline linebacker with some pass rush capability.
ROUND 2 (45) – Isaiah Oliver, CB. Colorado
-Colorado corners don’t get much love. Last year Chidobe Awuzie fell, and Oliver could to the same. Round 1 talent who can step in and start immediately.
ROUND 3 (75) – Mike Gesicki, TE. Penn State
-More than a workout warrior to me. Gesicki has the ceiling of an elite pass catching tight end in the Tyler Eifert-mold.
ROUND 4 (101) – Michael Gallup, WR. Colorado State
-Continues to impress me when watching the tape. A consistent route runner with great hands, Gallup reminds me a lot of James Jones.
ROUND 4 (133) – William Clapp, C. LSU
-An instant upgrade for the line, Clapp can start at RG as a rookie and can eventually slide over if Linsley struggles.
ROUND 5 (138) – Quenton Meeks, CB. Stanford
-Long, lanky, and a leader. Meeks doesn’t have great speed and is likely a hybrid CB-S player.
ROUND 5 (172) – Justin Jones, DL. NC State
-Stock is shooting up during the Combine and Pro Day workouts. Overshadowed by Chubb, but Jones has the tools to start for a long time.
ROUND 5 (174) – Jack Cichy, LB. Wisconsin
-Great Pro Day with his agility helps, but injuries will always be a question.
ROUND 6 (186) – Brandon Facyson, CB. Virginia Tech
-Another long, lanky corner with average speed, Facyson is as tough as it gets and will challenge receivers.
ROUND 6 (207) – Riley Ferguson, QB. Memphis
-Developmental guy is toolsy and will end the Packers tenures of Joe Callahan and Brett Hundley.
ROUND 7 (232) – Joe Ostman, EDGE. Central Michigan
-Great work ethic and motor, but smallish “penguin legs” might limit him to special teams.
ROUND 7 (239) – Jake Wieneke, WR. South Dakota State
-Tall receiver who is dangerous in the red zone, but speed a major issue, as is competition.

 

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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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