Under GM Ted Thompson, the Packers have historically built their roster solely through the draft—making it a crucial tool if Green Bay wants to continue their recent success.
While I ventured into predicting the Packers’ draft about a month ago, boards have changed and compensatory picks have officially been handed out.
Here is an updated seven-round mock for the Packers.
First Round (No. 32): Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
(Previous pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin)
According to most mock drafts you’ll see, there is very little chance that Carimi falls all the way to the Packers at pick No. 32. If they truly want the All-American offensive tackle, it looks like the Packers would need to trade up a handful of spots.
While trading up is an option, let’s assume the Packers stay put. Chances are there is going to be an equally good football player at their original spot, and in this case, that prospect is Cameron Heyward.
Again adding a player with NFL bloodlines, the Packers get a talented defensive end prospect in Heyward—the son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.
If the Packers are intent on letting Cullen Jenkins test the free agent market, Heyward is a safe pick and can form a solid tandem with Mike Neal on the edges of the defensive line.
Second Round (No. 64): Sam Acho, OLB, Texas
(Previous pick: Sam Acho, OLB Texas)
On one hand, I think they should actively look to trade up in the round. With so many impact players that could still be had during picks 33-48, it makes a lot of sense for the Packers to move up and pick another player that could contribute immediately.
While that makes the most sense to me, I’m going to stray away from hypothetical trades. In the second round, the Packers get Sam Acho—a solid but unspectacular rush linebacker.
Some still aren’t convinced outside linebacker is a major need, but Acho can come in right away and compete for the starting job with Erik Walden, Frank Zombo and Brad Jones.
Third Round (No. 96): William Rackley, G, Lehigh
(Previous pick: Davon House, CB, New Mexico State)
Once again, it appears as if my first mock undervalued Davon House. His name is seen in the middle-to-late second-round range on most mocks now.
The Packers could stick with finding a different corner at pick 96, but Rackley is the better selection here. At his Pro Day, Rackley worked out at guard, center and tackle, giving him great versatility.
If he falls to the 96th pick however, the Packers would get great value and a potential starter down the road at left guard or right tackle.
Fourth Round (No. 129): Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel
(Previous pick: Martin Parker, DE/DT, Richmond)
Haven’t heard of Cortez Allen? That probably increases the chances of Thompson taking him in this draft.
Always known for finding good players from smaller schools, Thompson does it once again with Allen. At 6’2″, 200 pounds, Allen will remind you a lot of Domnique Rodgers-Cromartie of the Arizona Cardinals, but more willing to make plays in the run game.
Given time (and he does need time), Allen could transition right into the Packers three-man corner unit with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields once (or if) Charles Woodson retires or becomes ineffective.
Fourth Round (No. 131): Cecil Shorts III, WR, Mount Union
Once more of an unknown, Shorts has gathered some attention for himself as a potential playmaker at wide receiver and in the return game.
I’ve loved Shorts going to the Packers since the draft process started, and I would have no qualms with Thompson reaching a tad to get him with their compensatory pick at the end of the fourth.
Fifth Round (No. 163): Derek Newton, OT, Arkansas State
(Previous pick: Cecil Shorts III, WR, Mount Union)
The Packers might take an offensive tackle earlier on in the draft, but I have a feeling they might hold off to pick one high next year. They are high on T.J. Lang, and Marshall Newhouse was drafted last season with an eye towards a tackle spot.
Either way, Newton is an interesting developmental tackle that would be afforded the time to grow into the position at the NFL level.
Sixth Round (No. 197): Graig Cooper, RB, Miami
(Previous pick: Graig Cooper, RB, Miami)
As long as Cooper’s knee continues to check out fine, I’m comfortable keeping him at this spot. While not a blazer (4.6 40-yard dash), Cooper put up top five numbers in all the short area quickness drills at the combine.
He also catches the ball well (60 career catches), shows the willingness to pass block and returned nearly 60 punts and kicks at Miami. If Brandon Jackson leaves, Cooper is the perfect back to replace him.
Seventh Round (No. 204): Scott Tolzein, QB, Wisconsin
(Previous pick: Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple)
With both Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell currently on the roster, the Packers might not need to waste a pick on a quarterback.
Tolzein is too tempting to pass this late, however, and he’d give them a better option than Harrell if Flynn leaves next offseason.
Seventh Round (No. 235): Jeremy Kellem, S, Middle Tennessee State
(Previous pick: Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama)
The Packers might lose some depth at safety this offseason, and likely starters Morgan Burnett and Nick Collins have had injury issues.
Kellem, a four-year starter at MTSU, is a solid athlete and could contribute on special teams if he made the team.