Last week I finished up my 10-part Green Bay Packers off-season positional review series just in time to publish my one and only mock draft of the off-season.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll be drafting with the picks the Packers currently own. I fully expect the Packers to use some of their 11 picks to maneuver their way around the board to secure the players that they like.
Without further ado:
1st Round 22nd Overall: Chris Olave, WR Ohio St.
I don’t want to hear “he won’t be there”. No one knows where the board will fall. I’ll admit, Olave’s stock has been rising, but all the Packers need are a couple of surprise picks in front of them and Olave will be theirs for the taking.
The words “NFL ready” might not be quite as valuable as they once were when it comes to receivers, as evidenced by the rookie performances of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase in the past two years.
Olave has a fluidity about him that not many in this draft do, couple that with his ability to win at all levels of the field with crisp routing running and you’ve got a high floor.
His measured athleticism and ability win deep are his ceiling. With a 4.39 40 yd time and an 8.61 RAS score, Olave is an elite athlete at the position and a legitimate problem downfield.
About the only knock on Olave is his lack of NFL playing weight. This could be an issue against more physical cornerbacks who want to jam him at the line of scrimmage.
Olave does have solid measured height at 6’1, one season in an NFL weight room could do him wonders.
Treylon Burks has been mock’d to the Packers at this spot fairly frequently, but I just don’t see it. He tested poorly which is something we know the Packers value.
If you watch any tape of Burks, a lot of his success comes from manufactured touches which were necessitated by his marginal ability to separate. One thing that really jumps out is that when he does have separation there is a questionable amount of hand usage on the part of Burks, what you might call Offensive Pass Interference in the NFL.
Olave would be a dream pick here because it would open up the board to select a more developmental receiver a little bit later.
Other options: George Karlaftis EDGE Purdue, Trevor Penning OT Northern Iowa, Boye Mafe EDGE Minnesota
1st Round 28th Overall: Travis Jones, IDL Connecticut
The interior defensive line may not appear to be a hugely pressing need, but the nice thing about the Packers roster is that there aren’t a huge number of holes.
Travis Jones is just too impressive of a player to pass up.
At 6-4, 325 lbs with a 4.92 40 yd dash and 94th percentile athleticism, Jones is more than a space eater, he’s an absolute menace.
Although he dominated at UConn, there were questions about the level of competition Jones faced.
He put that all to rest with a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl where he had blue chip offensive line prospects on their backs and was voted the weeks top defensive lineman.
Jones measurables compare favorably to other notable interior disrupters like Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea and Haloti Ngata.
Other options: Lewis Cine S Georgia, Christian Watson WR North Dakota St., Daxton Hill CB/S Michigan
2nd Round 53rd Overall: Nik Bonitto, EDGE Oklahoma
With the departure of Za’Darius Smith, and the retirement of Whitney Mercilus the OLB/EDGE group in Green Bay is thin.
Rashan Gary is ascending to stardom, and Preston Smith offers a great base level with flashes of brilliance but beyond that reinforcements are needed.
In fact, I would not be surprised at all if Green Bay used one of their first round picks on an edge rusher like George Karlaftis or Boye Mafe.
But, Nik Bonitto is not a bad consolation prize at all.
If Bonitto were an inch and a half taller and 20 pounds heavier we’d be talking about him as top 15 pick, but at 6’3, 248 lbs he’s seen as “less-than”.
Bonitto could be the perfect chess piece for Joe Barry. Much like the receiver room, different player types can carve out different roles.
His best attribute is his relentlessness. High energy every play. Maximizing his talents and refusing to be denied.
Bonitto had quite a lot of success against strong competition at Oklahoma, tallying 33 tackles for a loss and 19.5 sacks over his collegiate career.
He may never end up being a full time starter, but man, Nik Bonitto just feels like a guy who is going to leave you kicking yourself that you went with someone who fit the prototype and not the guy who salivates about getting to the quarterback.
Other options: Logan Hall DL Houston, George Pickens WR Georgia, Jalen Pitre S/CB Baylor
2nd Round 59th Overall – Alec Pierce, WR Cincinnati
Until recently I was all aboard the Christian Watson train, but after watching more of Alec Pierce I’m in love.
The Alec Pierce-Desmond Ridder connection was a large reason why Cincinnati was the first Group of 5 program to make the College Football Playoff.
Pierce is big, strong and fast. He tested extremely well, clocking in with a 4.41 40 yd dash at 6’3, 211 lbs.
What stood out to me most was Pierce’s ability to make NFL-caliber catches. High pointing the football on deep throws. Back shoulder catches in the end zone. Great body control along the boundary.
I’m actively trying to find weak points in Alec Pierce’s game and the only things I can come up with are while he’s a willing run blocker, he’s not a mauler and I feel like non-Power 5 prospects are automatically downgraded.
Many draft pundits have round 3 grades on Pierce, but I think if he’s there with either one of the Packers second round picks he could be a slam-dunk.
Other options: Trey McBride, TE Colorado St., Jalen Tolbert, WR South Alabama., DeMarvin Leal, IDL/EDGE Texas A&M
3rd Round 92nd Overall – Jelani Woods TE Virginia
I can’t recall exactly when I first heard about Jelani Woods, but as soon as I watched the highlight reel I was hooked.
Woods is a physical anomaly.
He’s 6’7, 253 lbs and ran a 4.61 40 yard dash time. He scored a perfect 10/10 on Kent Lee Platte’s RAS ranking system.
He played his first three collegiate seasons at Oklahoma State where he was mostly deployed as an inline blocker, totaling just 31 catches and 4 touchdowns.
Woods transferred to Virginia for his senior season, knowing that he was destined for more.
Virginia deployed woods as a seam-ripping mismatch where he tallied 44 receptions for 598 yards and 8 TDs.
The tape shows Woods as a fairly raw athlete with a potentially special skillset. I especially like that he’s got a lot of experience blocking, because he’ll need to prove he can do that before he can see the field with regularity.
I can see Woods as an easy replacement for Marcedes Lewis when (if?) he eventually retires, but with testing scores similar to Kyle Pitts (while being an inch and a half taller and 20 pounds heavier!), the payoff could be enormous.
Other options: Khalil Shakir, WR Boise St., Phidarian Mathis, IDL Alabama, Abe Lucas, OT Washington St.
4th Round 132nd Overall – Cordell Volson, OT North Dakota State
Cordell Volson anchored the right side of the FCS’s #2 ranked rushing attack for the North Dakota St. Bison.
Volson has prototypical length at the position at 6’6, 319 lbs
He’s got a nasty streak that you love to see in your O-lineman. He wants to paste the guy across from him, sometimes leading to over-aggression.
Playing in a run heavy offense, Volson will probably need some NFL coaching to refine his technique in pass protection, but he is NFL ready as a run blocker.
Volson is not overwhelmingly athletic but he shows sound technique and a willingness to get dirty. I’ve seen the Packers O-line staff do more with much less.
Other options: D’Marco Jackson, ILB Appalachian St., Thayer Munford, IOL Ohio St.
4th Round 140th Overall – Leon O’Neal, S Texas A&M
Do-it-all safety for the Aggies, nice size and coverage skills. Packers have had him in for a look already. Could make an immediate impact on the special teams unit.
5th Round 171st Overall – ZaQuandre White, HB South Carolina
White offers good size at 6′, 206. He’s a little bit of a limited athlete but makes things happen with the ball in his hands. Was part of a rotation at South Carolina so he’s got a lot of tread left on the tires. Offers solid abilities as a receiver out of the backfield.
7th Round 229th Overall – EJ Parry, QB Brown
7th Round 229th Overall – Ben Brown, IOL Ole Miss
7th Round 229th Overall – Jeremiah Gemmel, ILB North Carolina
If there is one thing I know about next week’s NFL Draft, it’s that none of us have a clue what will happen.
I think we can pretty safely say that the Packers will use one of their top 60 picks on a wide receiver, but with the addition of Sammy Watkins I don’t think it’s a guarantee that they take one in the first round if the board doesn’t fall their way.
I see more value at the top 1/3rd of the second round than at the end of the first round. If the Packers could get plus-value for either one of their first rounders, I think that more bites at the apple in the second round is the way to go.
You can follow Adam on twitter at @adamjcarlson28.