With the draft only a week away a little more speculation couldn’t hurt. The Packers ranked 15th in the NFL with 35 team sacks in 2017. That does not exactly mesh well with an atrocious pass defense. The best way to paint over a poor secondary is by getting after the quarterback. The Packers helped themselves with the resigning of Nick Perry, however the loss of Julius Peppers means they are down a rotational player at outside linebacker and defensive end. Running a 3-4 allows the Packers to evaluate both outside linebackers and defensive ends when looking for someone who can beat an offensive tackle. An outside backer with enough strength and agility can transition well to a 3-4. A defensive end who is explosive while also possessing lateral movement to defend the run can also be a weapon in Capers’ 3-4 defense. At some point the Packers will look for an edge rusher during the draft to sure up the pass rush.
Here is a round by round mock of guys who would be a perfect fit.
Round 1 29th Overall:
Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
6’3″ 253 pounds
Despite playing for a sub par team, Harris stood out and made the most of his sophomore and junior seasons. In 2015 he led the SEC with 18.5 tackles for loss as well as seven sacks. Despite gathering more attention from opposing offensive lines in 2016 Harris bettered his sack total to nine. It is unclear whether he is a defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4. His explosiveness forces tackles wide and his ability to fight off blockers suits him for either position. He possesses finesse moves that allow him to fend off would be blockers. While his athleticism and body type would look superb in Capers 3-4, a little coaching to get his pad level consistent would do him wonders. Harris could make an immediate impact.
Round 2 61st Overall:
Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
6’3″ 247 pounds
Like Harris, Bowser is an athletic freak with explosiveness off the ball that is second to none. He collected 8.5 sacks through the eight games he played as junior. He played all four years at Houston giving him a polished arsenal. His performance at this year’s combine was one of the best for any position. He ran 4.65 40-yard dash proving he is a true pass rusher. Bowser can move around and play some inside, however his size does not cater to that. Also, he holds his own in pass coverage with the ability to blanket pass catching tight ends. However, the questions surrounding his size and strength make a early round gamble.
Round 3 93rd Overall:
Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic
6’4″ 266 pounds
Small school, small conference, but a hell of a football player. Hendrickson is the definition of a mid round sleeper. In each of the past two seasons he racked up 15 tackles for a loss. He fits best as a 4-3 defensive end, but his 4.65 40 time tells me he could switch over rather seamlessly to the 3-4. He has lacked the proper coaching for quite some time hindering his development. Hendrickson tries to rely on his strength too often and finds himself standing straight up when taking on blocks. He does not get the best penetration when stopping the run, however he did force seven fumbles at FAU.
Round 4 134th Overall:
Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown St.
6’4″ 248 pounds
Rivers may be an FCS product, but there is no denying he is an NFL talent. He holds the school record with 40 career sacks. 14 of which occurred last season. He is another tweener who could potentially move to the outside of a 3-4. His speed and consistency make him a real pro’s pro. If he can learn to control his gap he could have a long-lasting NFL career. Weaknesses such as locating the ball off the snap and pursuing running backs are fixable.
Round 5 174th or 184th Overall:
Daeshon Hall, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
6’5″ 266 pounds
Hall would be a high value pick if he slips to the fifth round. He had experience at both defensive end and outside linebacker while playing for the Aggies. Hall was highly productive the past two seasons making 104 tackles along with 10.5 sacks. He may be better suited to play defensive end even in a 3-4 because his size appeases that role. But, if he loses weight then outside linebacker is a possibility. A big upside is that he is still very raw.
Round 6 214th Overall:
Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
6’3″ 242 pounds
Carraway was one bright spot on an otherwise underachieving Horned Frogs team last year. He is a two time All Big-12 first team honoree. He recorded eight sacks in each of the last two seasons. Carraway is a natural athlete with terrific feet. His lateral movement allows him to be an effective chase down tackler and a likely candidate to play outsider linebacker in a 3-4. Some scouts think he is a little soft, as if he does not have a chip on his shoulder. Hopefully sliding in the draft will be that chip.
Round 7 247th Overall:
Samson Ebukam, DE, Eastern Washington
6’2″ 240 pounds
Ebukam actually had a pre draft visit to Green Bay in early April. His pro day numbers really stuck out, especially when he recorded a 4.50 40 time. Wideout Cooper Kupp will get all the hype out of Eastern Washington, but Ebukam was a silent killer on the other side of the ball. He had an impressive 2016 campaign recording 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He has a high motor, but he is not ready to play in the NFL quite yet. He his too undersized to be a defensive end at the next level and his experience at linebacker is limited. Ebukam has the intangibles he just needs to be coached up.
___________________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.