March 12th, 2019 is a day that could forever be remembered in Green Bay Packers history. On Tuesday, the second day of the legal tampering period of free agency, the Green Bay Packers decided to sign four free agents! By this time you’ve probably read about Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner ad nauseam. Let’s focus instead on how their additions change the Packers philosophy heading into this years’ draft.
After signing the Law Firm of Smith, Smith & Amos, logic would dictate that edge rusher is no longer a priority for the Pack in the first round of the upcoming draft. So who will be the best players available at picks 12 and 30? And where will the Packers turn?
Down to Houston and big number 10 Ed Oliver. Once billed as a surefire top-10 pick in this class, and perhaps even its first overall pick, Oliver now faces what many predict to be an uncertain draft slide in late April. If he somehow falls to the Packers at number 12, Brian Gutekunst and the rest of the Packers war room will be jumping for joy. Surely, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will join him in jubilation.
There remains a very real scenario that sees passrushers Brian Burns and Montez Sweat, as well as top tackles Jawaan Taylor and Jonah Williams all off the board by pick twelve. Along with Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Rashan Gary and Devin White. More likely than not, at this stage Brian Gutekunst would look to trade back into the early 20s, much like last year. The biggest value picks in this years’ draft class can be found from picks 20-50, and adding an extra second round pick could easily lead to another impact player. However, if Green Bay does stay put at pick 12, passing on Ed Oliver would be a mistake.
Athletes of Ed Oliver’s caliber only come along once in a generation. Oliver displays Jadeveon Clowney-like athleticism while playing as a defensive tackle. At the Scouting Combine some teams even asked Oliver to work out as a linebacker! His movement skills in space are absolutely freakish, as Oliver was able to chase down plays 40-50 yards downfield. Oliver’s quickness and change of direction skills are an aberration, a man his size simply shouldn’t be able to move like this, as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com explains:
As teams find more and more ways to combat the proliferation of sub package defenses, interior pressure has become more integral than ever. Defensive coordinators around the league have become increasingly likely to kick pass-rushers inside in order to get as many players with the ability to attack the quarterback on the field at once. Want to stop QB’s from stepping forward in the pocket? Pair Ed Oliver with Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels, and let Pettine unleash a defensive front seven not seen in Green Bay since the days of Reggie White.
With the Packers remaining pick in the first round at number 30, either Iowa tight end could very well be in play. If on April 26th, Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson are available, the Packers brain trust will be running their draft card to the podium. The most interesting development of the Packers moves this past week is that it now allows Brian Gutekunst to add multiple high level weapons to Aaron Rodgers arsenal via the draft. If the Packers are able to surround Rodgers with extra ammunition at tight end and receiver, the offense could again resemble the successful units of years past.
In the coming weeks, free agency signings will continue to change the way teams look at the draft. With impact players still on the market, the Packers may very well look to add more help before drafting at pick 12. Plugging holes in free agency, while drafting the true best player available with each draft pick is a tried and true formula for success in team building in the NFL. Green Bay is now well equipped to add impact players all over the field in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Who are your top targets for the Packers in the first round? Let me now below and on Twitter!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.