As the minutes tick by, the clock striking every hour, football fans are ever closer to the Holy Grail of the NFL off-season. Thursday night can’t come soon enough for starving fans enamored and thoroughly possessed by everything football. Here we are, a week out from the 2019 NFL Draft. For the prospects and their families, and football fans all over the world April 25th is sure to be a day to remember.
Without further ado, below is my final seven round mock draft for the Green Bay Packers:
With the twelfth overall selection, a player at a premium position simply must be the selection. Tight end T.J. Hockenson would be an excellent addition in Matt Lafleur’s offense, however as The Athletics’ Ben Fennell explains, superior athletes at the position are not required in the Packers new scheme:
Therefore, look for the Pack to prioritize other positions with their high draft picks. Ultimately, the more I read about this pick, the more I believe that Packer’ brass will choose to trade down. In a draft with so much depth in the second and third rounds, trading down would be the most inventive way for the Packers to add talent at multiple positions. Alas, the Packers have had guard/tackle Jonah Williams in for a top-30 visit this week. Williams would, theoretically, provide competition for Lane Taylor at left guard, and most likely would be favoured to win the starting job out of camp. He would also be insurance should another injury befall Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. Versatility must be key for the Packers in the 2019 draft.
With their second choice in the first round, it is likely that both Iowa tight ends will be off the board. Oh the horror! Fans have long had dreams of T.J. Hockenson in green and gold. No matter, the Packers can still add a dynamic weapon for Aaron Rodgers in Ole Miss wideout A.J. Brown. A “big slot” receiver, in the mould of the Steelers’ Juju Smith-Schuster, Brown is the ideal replacement for Randall Cobb. He displays the ability to constantly separate at the top of his routes, and the run after the catch skills so cherished in Green Bay. A.J. may now be classified as the “other guy” from Ole Miss, yet draft fans should remember how this same situation played out with linebacker Bud Dupree (an athletic freak 1st round pick) and his running mate, Za’Darius Smith from Kentucky. Brown has long been the top wideout on Bleacher Report Draft analyst Matt Miller’s board, and if available at pick 30, should be the choice for Green Bay.
Round 2 is a proverbial toss up as there are a number of directions Gutenkunst could choose to take. However, the back end of the Packers defense has been the teams’ Achilles heel in recent years. Ted Thompson allowed possibly the greatest defensive back the Packers have ever had in Charles Woodson to leave two years too early, and he’s never been replaced. A ball hawking safety who makes quarterbacks think an extra beat would be a welcome addition in green and gold. Nasir Adderley is just that, as he blends excellent instincts with a savage tackling mindset. Just what the doctor ordered in Green Bay.
Using the Draft Network’s mock drafting simulator, tight end Irv Smith Jr. of Alabama falls all the way to number 75 and Green Bay. It is highly unlikely Smith Jr. falls that far next week, but he would make an excellent addition to Green Bay nonetheless. Adding a tight end of his quality to go along with earlier draftee A.J. Brown, Davante Adams, and Jimmy Graham makes the Packers offense an absolute matchup nightmare. Defensive coordinators are sure to lose many a nights sleep in the months to come if the Packers brass are able to add this many weapons for Aaron Rodgers. This allows Matt Lafleurs’ offense to be flexible in any given situation. An absolute death knell for modern defense. The player taken at 75 may end up being a Dawson Knox of Ole Miss, or even Jace Sternberger from Texas A&M. Regardless of which tight end is chosen, adding ammunition for the greatest quarterback of all-time must be a priority.
At pick 114, another valuable player from Iowa, defensive lineman Anthony Nelson falls to Green Bay. Nelson is one of my favourite value picks in the entire draft, as I believe he has all the tools to far outplay his draft status. Nelson provides depth on both the defensive line and as an oversized outside linebacker. He may be most effective as an interior pass-rusher on third downs, and could develop into a real draft gem in Green Bay.
In a prior article, I called for the Packers to draft guard Conor McGovern in the third round, to help shore up their interior offensive line troubles. To be able to draft McGovern in the 4th is an absolute steal. Big number 66 has experience at both tackle and guard, and provides the functional athleticism that should excite Matt Lafleur. McGovern is tailor made for the new head coach’s scheme, and his versatility is a solid plus. The guard from Penn State would immediately push for Lane Taylor’s left guard job, while providing the depth the Packers have sorely lacked upfront in recent seasons. With an aging superstar quarterback, priority number one in this draft, to me, has to be adding the necessary pieces on the offensive line to protect the franchise. The NFL has seen many teams such as the Saints, Patriots and Chargers follow this model in recent years, with great success. The additions of Williams and McGovern turn the offensive line into a major strength overnight.
The fifth round allows the Packers to add an instinctive coverage linebacker in Washington’s Benn Burr-Kirven. BBK will be a special teams demon from the jump, and with NFL training could become a fantastic sub-package linebacker. Depending on which role defensive co-ordinator Mike Pettine places him in, Burr-Kirven has the potential to excel as a money-backer hybrid in the NFL.
Wide receiver Preston Williams of Colorado State provides amazing value in the sixth round. Williams has made some mistakes off the field, which will lead to his fall in this draft, but he possesses the receiving nuances to become a real NFL contributor. It just so happens his position coach from college, Alvis Whitted, now holds the same position in Green Bay. Whitted will be able to answer any questions the staff at 1265 Lombardi have on Williams’ past, while also pointing out all the skills he has on the football field. Receiver is far from a need in Green Bay after the Brown selection, however Williams’ talent in the sixth round is far too good to pass up.
Hamp Cheevers of Boston College is an undersized slot corner with outstanding ball skills. Were he 6’1 and 190 pounds, he would probably end up as a third round selection. Here he comes to Green Bay in the sixth, as slot corner depth with an attitude. His competitive spirit will fit nicely with the young Packers defensive backs. Cheevers reminds me some of Mycah Hyde, and if he is able to add size to his frame, can easily carve out a role for himself in the NFL.
If James Williams of Washington State falls to the seventh round, Green Bay should run this pick to the podium. Williams’ possesses all the tools to become a James White clone in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers has long been loath to use his checkdown receiver, but with Williams in the backfield he can fire off short passes and let the young man go to work. These are the hidden, chain-moving yards that have too often been missing in recent years for the Packers. Williams brings that element back to Green Bay.
All told, with ten selections the Packers have the opportunity to add many valuable play-makers in this years’ draft. Brian Gutekunst also has the flexibility to be able to trade up or down as he likes to secure his targets. Next week the Packers’ brass have the chance to turn the franchise fortunes around, and create a juggernaut with the skill and talent to terrorize the league for the remainder of Aaron Rodgers’ career. The ball is in your court Gutey, time to shine.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.