Packers Should Hold Off and Use a Mid-Round Pick on This Edge Rusher

The Packers will have to address their pass rush in this year’s draft. The only discrepancy is how soon they should do it.

Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry is rapidly becoming a fan favorite for Green Bay’s 14th pick. However, there’s some hesitation reaching for a player that high coming off an ankle injury. Landry was productive in 2017, but he sat out four games. For that reason, and the fact the Packers have a more pressing need at corner, Brian Gutekunst and the Packers should wait to find an outside linebacker in a later round. Another ACC product in Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor could be just as good a fit at a lower price.

Ejiofor is not the workout warrior that Landry is, but his tape is comparably impressive. He’s strong and takes on blocks like a defensive end.

Surgery for a torn labrum forced him to miss the combine. As a result, his draft projection is now in the fourth or fifth round.

Coaches believe the injury happened vs Clemson in early October. It held Ejiofor’s production back for the remainder of the season as he postponed surgery.

He played in three straight games before resting for back to back games hoping his shoulder would improve. Over that stretch while playing hurt, he recorded 13 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

As a three-year starter, Ejiofor finished his college career with 43.5 tackles for loss and 24 sacks.

Ejiofor can’t match the explosion of the top-ranked edge rushers, but his strength and instincts are unparalleled. Instead of being a one-dimensional pass rusher, Ejiofor can control his gap against the run and also hold his own in coverage.

He also has experience lining up as a three-technique defensive end.

The Packers look for versatility in their linebackers and Ejiofor possesses just that. He’s a safe pick and won’t be considered a reach if he’s selected in the fourth round.

Green Bay needs an edge rusher, but they need a corner even more. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry will still be their bookends with Vince Biegel and Kyler Fackrell filling in the rotation.

Biegel missed the first seven games in 2017, which stunted his development. When he finally got his chance, he proved he might be more than just a depth guy.

With perspective reasoning, the Packers do not need to take a guy like Landry with their first pick. This draft is full of linebackers and defensive linemen who can assist in pressuring the quarterback. Where as the talent at corner is somewhat top-heavy in this year’s class.

New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is a renowned artist of the blitz and has plenty of talent to work with. Therefore, it’s possible he’s lobbying for a corner.

There’s no denying the Packers need another player that can get after the quarterback. However, it’s hard making sense of it coming at the cost of their 14th pick. Ejiofor is a mid-round sleeper that already has NFL strength and looks the part of a future starter.

 

___________________

Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. Brandon graduated from Longwood University in 2016 with a degree in mass media. He has covered the Packers for over two years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.

___________________

Share