Less than 50 days remain until the 2019 NFL Draft Packers fans! Thus, with end of season collegiate all-star games and the Scouting Combine in the rearview, this week seems like a good time for my first mock draft of the year! The following is what I would do, not necessarily what I believe Brian Gutekunst will do, to bring the Packers back to greatness using the 2019 NFL Draft.
Without further ado, here is my mock draft, made using the phenomenal tools of TheDraftNetwork.com:
The Packers are blessed with ten picks in what is a talented draft class full of depth. If we learned anything from Brian Gutekunst first year in charge, it is that he prioritizes athletes at every position. Here we’ve done just that.
If not for certified mutant wide receiver D.K. Metcalf’s freak show combine performance, the whole football world would still be talking about Brian Burns’ footwork last weekend. On many drills he showcased the athletic ability of a safety, and even made a case for having the best catch of the weekend. Burns ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, while weighing in at 249 pounds! His weight was arguably his most important test of the weekend, and Burns passed everything else with flying colours. The Packers haven’t forgotten, and may now be hard pressed to see the Florida State product fall out of the top ten. This is an easy pick at number 12.
With the exception of the two previously mentioned athletes in this piece, Noah Fant would have taken home the title for the most impressive combine. The 6’4, 249 pound tight end ran a 4.5 second 40-yard dash (!), while adding a 10’5 broad jump, and a 39.5 inch vertical. Explosive numbers to say the least. Fant is a montrosity of an athlete and would be the most explosive tight end the Packers have possessed since Jermichael Finley. Remember how dominant the Green Bay offense was in those days? Aaron Rodgers needs the horses around him to trample over the competition like in years’ past. This year’s draft is the place to find them. Which leads us to..
Deebo Samuel, the 44th pick of the draft in this scenario. Samuel did well for himself at the combine, running a 4.48 40 and impressing in on-field drills. His route running is some of the best in the class, and he’ll only benefit from next level coaching. Pairing him with a route running savant like Davante Adams will immediately upgrade the Packers receiving room. Imagine Fant running the seam with a Deebo in-cutting route underneath, all while Jimmy Graham and Davante Adams torment defenders on the other side of the formation. Euphoria.
Connor McGovern is another player I have previously mentioned in this piece as a target for the Packers. Need just so happened to meet value at pick number 75, and the perfect interior lineman falls straight into Green Bay’s lap. McGovern can even cover outside at tackle in a pinch, should injury befall Brian Bulaga yet again. The guard from Penn State is an immediate upgrade for the Pack on the right side of the line. He has all the athleticism needed to become an eventual Pro-Bowl player.
Green Bay puts a lot of trust in scouts in their neighbouring States’, and here is yet another Iowa player at pick number 114. Players from the University have turned out extremely well for the Packers previously; including Aaron Kampman, Bryan Bulaga, Mike Daniels, Micah Hyde and Josh Jackson. Let’s add Anthony Nelson to that list. Standing 6’7 and weighing 271 pounds, Nelson ran a 4.82 40! He also impressed with a 6.95 3-cone drill, which is arguably the drill most associated with success for defensive lineman. Those are elite numbers at that size, and Nelson projects well to the hybrid defensive lineman/outside linebacker role Mike Pettine has loved to use in the past. Suddenly the edge position in Green Bay has an embarrassment of riches!
Remember when I said Brian Gutekunst prioritizes athletes at every position? Bobby Evans is the epitome of this statement, as his natural quickness and overall athleticism pop off the screen. The Packers have an infatuation with drafting lineman in the 4th round and turning them into stars. Evans could easily be next in line. This was simply a best player available pick that Gutey would love to make. Evans is exactly the type of smooth, mobile offensive lineman the Packers appreciate.
If you read my column weekly, you know how much I love Washington linebacker Benn Burr-Kirven’s football instincts. If you missed the combine last week, you may be surprised to hear that BBK jumped right out of the screen in Indy. He ran a 4.56 40 yard dash, to go with a 6.85 3 cone. BBK posted elite athletic metrics, that few would have predicted. The linebacker, originally from California, is now going as high as round 3 in mock drafts published by USA today. He remains one of my absolute favourite players in this class, and would be a welcome addition to the middle of the Packers defense.
The green and gold are armed with two picks in the 6th round. One of which may have been best served trading for Marcus Gilbert, the right tackle now of the Arizona Cardinals, just this week. Alas, that is a story for another day. So until the pro personnel team does see fit to make a move, let’s swing for the fences with our last few picks. James Williams from Washington State has an absolutely inspirational backstory. The challenges he faced growing up, and his perseverance alone will make you want to root for him to end up in Green Bay without even watching the tape. Thankfully, his game film does nothing to disappoint and Williams is an electric playmaker with the ball in his hands. He is far and away the best receiving back in this class, and had an 83 catch, 16-touchdown 2018 season in Mike Leach’s system. His effort and balance are elite, and most importantly for a running back, he always seems to find a way to make the first defender miss. Williams is exactly the type of playmaker Matt Lafleur enjoys having in his offense. He compares extremely favourably to Dion Lewis (their combine stats are nearly identical), and would provide the perfect complement to Aaron Jones. The junior could easily end up as one of the biggest steals of this years draft class.
Whether or not the Packers make the decision to re-sign Muhammed Wilkerson this off-season, more depth is needed along the defensive line. The defense was cut up like a sieve late in the year, after injuries to the trio of Wilkerson, Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels. Clark was forced to play hurt at times, and the play of the entire front seven fell off. Highly recruited as a four-star prospect out of Florida, Demarcus Christmas would provide much needed reinforcement in the trenches. He is a solid all-around player with the strength and stout body type to play in a two-gap system. Number 90 shows the signs of a prospect who could end up a much better pro than college player. Christmas could soon be bringing spirit and joy while keeping linebackers like Blake Martinez clear in Green Bay.
In case you missed last weekends’ Scouting Combine, the player who may have made himself the most money in Indy is Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin. Boykin jumped out of the gym with the second highest vertical ever recorded by a receiver at 43.5″. He aced the broad jump while jumping 11’6″ and added a 4.42 40-yard dash, at 6’4 220 pounds. Mel Kiper of ESPN declared Boykin may have run himself into the second round conversation. His athletic testing scores compare favourably to one Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. He may not be Jones, and very well could be the next Jeff Janis, but he will not be available in the seventh round.
At this opportunity I would remind all fans of the draft that much can change in the coming months, weeks and days leading up to April 26th. The league year begins anew next week, and teams have already been up to all sorts of mischief these past few days. Free agency and upcoming trades will profoundly alter the way teams draft. Let’s just hope the Packers can use every way possible to make the 2019 season a success!Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.