Ask any Packer fan what the team’s biggest needs are and you will likely get a list that includes safety, inside linebacker, defensive line and tight end, not necessarily in that order, but those are among the Packers’ most obvious and glaring needs.
But come draft day, Ted Thompson is known for doing some out of the box thinking. Sometimes it pays off (Aaron Rodgers, Nick Collins, Jordy Nelson) and sometimes it doesn’t (Brian Brohm, Justin Harrell, Jerron McMillian).
So, as Packer fans impatiently wait for the draft to arrive, we can only hope that Thompson doesn’t over think their first round pick. If CJ Mosley, Ryan Shazier, or Calvin Pryor are available at pick 21, they shouldn’t pass them over for one of the players below.
Weston Richburg , Center, Colorado State – According to draft insider Tony Pauline, Richburg could be a surprise first round pick, and he also lists the Packers as a possible landing spot for the Colorado State Center.
With the loss of Evan Dietrich-Smith, and no other player on the Packers roster having any substantial experience playing center in the NFL, the Packers may look to find a true center in this draft. But in my opinion, the Packers would be better off getting someone in the later rounds to compete with JC Tretter for the starting spot, rather than spending an early round pick on a position that they obviously don’t place much importance on.
Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver, Indiana – In Matt Miller’s Scouting Notebook from last week, he reported that the Packers have Latimer as their 4th ranked wide receiver, behind only Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham. Which could mean the Packers may consider Latimer with pick 21. Latimer could be this year’s Shea McClellin, who at the beginning of the draft evaluation process in 2012 looked to be a 3rd or 4th round pick, but as the draft drew near, McClellin’s stock went up and up, and he was eventually selected in the 1st round.
Thompson has done well when going against the grain when selecting wide receivers; there were higher ranked receivers on the board when both Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings were selected, and those picks turned out pretty well. I like Latimer as a player, and I think he will be successful in the NFL, I just don’t see him being a difference making receiver worthy of a 1st round pick.
Louis Nix, Nose Tackle, Notre Dame –Nix has been a popular pick for the Packers in mock drafts, and it makes sense, BJ Raji re-signed for just a single year, and an effective 3-4 defense needs a big bodied nose tackle to eat up blockers. Nix moves well for a man with prototypical nose tackle size, but like Raji, he offers very little in terms of a pass rush, with just 2.5 sacks in his time at Notre Dame.
At his best I think Nix could be worthy of the 21st pick, but Inconsistent play combined with the fact that he is coming off a knee injury, leads me to believe the Packers should pass on Nix in the first round.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End, Washinton State – Currently, 3 of the 4 draft experts on NFL.com have the Packers selecting Seferian-Jenkins with their first round pick. And although I like Seferian-Jenkins as a player, and I also think tight end is a big need for the Packers, ASJ has both injury and off the field questions surrounding him.
From a talent and need perspective I could see ASJ being the Packers pick, but the off field and injury issues would concern me a little too much to spend such a high pick on him.
Kyle Fuller, Corner Back, Virginia Tech – I understand the logic of the Packers selecting Fuller or another corner in the first round. Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush and Davon House will all hit free agency after 2014, and Ted Thompson likes to be proactive when faced with the possibility of having to replace aging players.
But barring injury, I don’t see a corner that is not already on the roster seeing a lot of playing time with Williams and Sam Shields entrenched on the outside, and Casey Hayward playing in the slot. Thompson will almost undoubtedly add a corner sometime in the draft, but it shouldn’t be a first day selection.