Unless the Green Bay Packers and newly minted GM Brian Gutekunst decide to move around via trades, the Packers first two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft will come at #14 and #45. A lot of digital ink has been spilled discussing the Packers’ first two picks, especially that first rounder, which will be the Packers’ highest since drafting BJ Raji at #9 overall in 2009.
However, the Packers have a number of positions of need, and not all of them can be addressed in two picks. Below are the Packers’ greatest position needs, in order of urgency:
CB, OLB, WR, TE, OT, OG
The Packers most desperately need to restock their defense with pass rushers and cornerbacks. Clay Matthews is not the EDGE player that he used to be, likely facing more time at inside linebacker as he ages. The Packers best cornerback in 2017 was Damarious Randall, but he was shipped to Cleveland amid locker room concerns. Signing familiar faces Tramon Williams and Davon House help, but Williams 35 years old and House was a veteran stop-gap, at best.
At wide receiver, the Packers will need to develop a receiver who can take the place of Jordy Nelson, especially one who can stretch the field as a vertical threat, something that the Packers don’t currently have. Jimmy Graham gives the Packers a receiving threat at tight end, but the Packers have almost nothing behind him. Moreover, tight ends often take a year or two to develop, so the Packers need to start planning for the future after 31 year old Graham.
Bryan Bulaga has missed a lot of games at right tackle over the last few seasons, the offense has no clear competition for Justin McCray at right guard, and depth is a concern.
Of course, the Packers can help fill these holes with potential impact players in the middle rounds of the draft. Below is one player that would be a good fit for the Packers at a position of need which will likely be available sometime between the 3rd and 5th rounds.
CB – Isaac Yiadom – Boston College (6’1, 190)
Yiadom has the measurables that the Packers (and new DC Mike Pettine) tend to prize at the cornerback spot. He’s tall and lanky with long arms, giving him a knack at swatting down balls in coverage. He’s a physical player and a willing tackler. He was a successful special teams gunner at BC, a role that the Packers will be looking to fill with the loss of Jeff Janis.
Yiadom has been successful in both man and zone, but can sometimes get beat deep in press coverage. However, that’s mostly because he needs to improve his technique when backpedaling and turning. Those are coachable issues. While he’s not a speedy cornerback, he’s not slow (posting a faster 40 than 1st round darling, Josh Jackson).
OLB – Marquis Haynes – Mississippi (6’3, 235)
Haynes is an athletic edge rusher who projects perfectly as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has a very sudden burst that he uses to overwhelm offensive tackles. Haynes performed almost identical to first rounder Harold Landry in both the 40 and the bench press. He projects as an athletic pass-rush specialist early in his career, perhaps not unlike Kyler Fackrell. However, Haynes put up 23 reps to Fackrell’s 16 in 2016, while simultaneously running a faster 3 cone and 20 yard shuttle.
However, Haynes is still on the small side. Even if he’s stronger than someone like Fackrell, he’s going to have to bulk up in order to not get pushed around by stronger offensive linemen. Haynes is often times weak against the run. He certainly couldn’t be plugged into a starting role, but will have to be utilized as a passing-down role player.
WR – Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame (6’5, 214)
St. Brown is exactly the sort of wide receiving weapon that the Packers have lacked for a long time. I think that Martavis Bryant is a good NFL comparison. St. Brown is obviously very tall, but he’s not simply a big-bodied red zone target. He is fast and a legitimate deep threat, running a 4.48 40.
Like Bryant, the knock on St. Brown is that he’s lanky and can be disrupted by more physical corners. However, he’s also more willing to play over the middle, which was a critique of Bryant coming into the league. St. Brown was regularly lined up at slot, where he showed himself capable of a more diverse route tree. St. Brown would give Rodgers a type of weapon that he’s never had and one that would complement what Green Bay already has in Davante Adams and Randall Cobb.
TE – Chris Herndon – Miami (6’4, 253)
The Packers could grab a diamond in the rough in Chris Herndon. He’s a tremendous athlete for a tight end, one with quickness to get open on underneath routes but also the speed to stretch the middle of the field. He played wide receiver in high school, and is certainly the kind of tight end that the Packers could line up out wide. He’s agile and able to elude defenders after the catch. Miami liked to get him the ball in space because of his athletic ability.
That being said, Herndon was often used as a blocking-first tight end. He has all of the traits to be a well-rounded player. The knocks on Herndon are that all aspects of his game are raw. He’s also coming off of MCL surgery. Still, with the Graham acquisition, the Packers can afford to draft Herndon and let him develop behind an All-Pro player.
OT – Alex Cappa – Humboldt St. (6’6, 305)
Cappa is an athletic run blocker with nice lateral movement and NFL size. He has strong hips and is a high motor guy, bringing it on every down. Cappa could likely use to bulk up a little bit. He can struggle against stronger edge rushers. Coming from Humboldt St., he hasn’t play a lot of NFL talent. Still, on paper, Cappa looks like a Day 2 guy who could fall to Day 3 simply because of his lack of Division I pedigree.
OG – Jamil Demby – Maine (6’4, 319)
Demby is a college left tackle that projects to guard in the NFL, a pattern which the Packers have certainly followed when drafting guards in the past. Demby isn’t an amazing athlete, but he has the footwork and movement to move well in the Packers’ blocking scheme. He’s a smart player with long arms and big hands.
Demby needs to be coached up. He tends to stand too upright when blocking and sometimes loses defenders when getting his hands too high. Still, the raw tools for a quality NFL player are there.
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.