We have a long way to go until the Green Bay Packers are on the click with the 14th pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The way the draft looks in early March could change and be different that how it unfolds in late April. The Packers will be picking higher in the draft than they have in almost a decade. Since their playoff streak started in 2009, their picks have been in bottom of the first round, with average draft position of 27.5. So, drafting in the top 15 should result in bringing an impact player to the team.
The Packers are not even close to being the only team that is in desperate need of pass ushers. New General Manager Brian Gutekunst is selecting 14th, which means a quality pass rusher or defensive player will be on the board by the time he drafts. If the Packers playoff streak had to end at some point, I believe this year was the perfect year for that to happen, as they have an ideal spot in the draft, as a top 15 pick is especially valuable this year. The pick is so valuable this year because the quarterback class is rich with talent that there could be at least 5 selected before the Packers pick at number 14. Since the Packers do not need to be drafting a quarterback that high in draft since they already have future hall of famer, Aaron Rodgers, they essentially have a top 10 pick this year.
It is no secret that the Packers greatest need is a pass rusher. There will be pass rushing prospects available when the Packers select at 14. Most of them are equal parts appealing and flawed. After top prospect Bradley Chubb is off the board, the pass rushing class is not as strong as it was last year, where 20 pass rushers were drafted. Chubb is a atop most scouts’ wish lists and will be sure be gone by the time the Packers pick, as he should be selected in the top 5.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be options available for a pass rusher are 14. Marcus Davenport is a name that has been intriguing to many scouts around the NFL. He is an edge rusher from the University of Texas-San Antonio, who has raw athleticism, and doesn’t lack confidence as he feels he is the best edge rusher in the draft. Davenport is interesting because he could help the Packers immediately with his athleticism, and nasty, something that this defense needs.
Another edge rusher who would be available by the time the Packers are on the clock to make their first pick is, Harold Landry. The former Boston College player recorded 21.5 sacks in his last 20 games. His senior season did end early due to an ankle injury. He is another prospect that does not lack confidence. When he was healthy, he was performing at an elite level that could provide an immediate impact to this Packers defense.
Gutekunst could also go in a different direction and draft an inside linebacker, a cornerback or a saftey. It is extremely tough to predict which way the Packers would go or even which pass rusher they prefer. They have options available to them this year. They are transforming their defense, as this will be the first time they have a new voice on that side of the football with Mike Pettine being hired this offseason as the teams new defensive coordinator.
Not only will the scheme but different, but there will definitely be new personnel. Pettine’s defense is more flexible than Dom Capers scheme was, which bodes well for Clay Matthews as he could be used in different roles and the offense won’t know where he is rushing from next. This type of defense allows Gutekunst to draft the most talented pass rusher on their board, no matter the system and how said player fits in the system because the system will fit the player.
A lot can still change by the time the draft arrives, but right now with the excess talent of quarterbacks at the top and the teams that need them could benefit the Packers. It would provide Gutekunst with plenty of options at 14th spot, he just has to select the right player.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag