We’re almost there.
After all the workouts, team visits and analysis from the talking heads, the NFL draft is now only one week away.
With the draft being so close, the experts likely have as much information currently as their going to have to make their mock draft decisions.
And while guessing the draft is as tough a chore as there is (to my knowledge, no one has ever correctly picked the entire first round), you’d like to think these guys are going to get a good chunk of their picks right.
Could one analyst get the Packers pick right?
Here is who some of the experts have the Packers taking with the 32nd pick in the NFL Draft:
It’s looking more and more like Heyward could be the Packers pick in the first round.
He fills an immediate need at defensive end and I’m sure the Packers like his capacity to play both inside and outside.
While he doesn’t possess game-changing abilities, that kind of versatility will be important as the Packers try and replace Cullen Jenkins.
At the end of the first round, Heyward is the kind of safe pick that Packers GM Ted Thompson will likely be looking for.
Todd McShay (ESPN): OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Is there a more disagreed upon defender in this draft than Ayers? Some love his athleticism and ability to get to the quarterback, but others say his attitude and lack of a motor should drop him into the second round.
It’s hard to disagree with either assessment.
Here’s the thing: You can motivate a player with the right coaches to eliminate the later concerns, but you can’t teach his athletic prowess.
That makes Ayers a good value at No. 32 and given some time with coach Kevin Greene, he could be one of the best defenders in this class.
Rob Rang (CBS): OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
It’s funny how certain players drop down mock drafts this time of year for no apparent reason and lately Sherrod has been one of those players.
But why? He’s clearly one of the top five offensive tackles in the draft and there’s plenty of teams with needs at that position before No. 32.
If Sherrod dropped, however, the Packers would be getting tremendous value (for the second year in a row) and they’d have their two offensive tackles of the future in place.
I don’t think there is any denying that the Packers have serious interest in Reed. Thompson doesn’t usually show his cards, but it’s clear they have had their eye on the former Arizona defensive end.
Where do the Packers take him, however? No. 32 might be a little high, but Reed is a solid selection if the Packers traded back into the second round or moved up from No. 64.
Thompson is likely to do one of those scenarios next week anyway, giving Reed an excellent chance to have his name called by Green Bay.
Chad Reuter (CBS): RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
Don’t get me wrong, Leshoure might possibly be the best back in this draft class. He has no injury problems, a good mix of power and vision, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.
However, it’s very difficult for me to rationalize taking a running back in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft.
It’s not an immediate need for the Packers and the middle to late rounds are littered with backs who can make it in the NFL.
Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t think there is even a fraction of a chance that Thompson takes a running back with the 32nd pick.
Wes Bunting (National Football Post): OT Ben Ijalana, Villanova
In my most recent mock draft, I had the Packers trading back from 32 and taking Ijalana in the early second round.
Regardless of where the Packers did take him, Ijalana could be a solid pick for a couple of reasons. He likely needs to play guard to start his NFL career and left guard looks to be a spot of need for 2011.
But he also has the skill set to play offensive tackle and he could slide to either spot once Chad Clifton’s career in Green Bay is over.
Brian Baldinger (NFL.com): LB Bruce Carter, UNC
Leave it to Baldinger to give us our first head-scratcher.
While Carter is a gifted athlete and was projected in the top-15 before the season, he simply doesn’t fit in the Packers defense. At just 235 pounds, Carter doesn’t have the size to play outside linebacker in the 3-4.
Carter also has medical red flags, as he tore his ACL towards the end of his senior season.
There’s not many picks I’ve seen in mock drafts that would absolutely shock me, but Carter is definitely one of them.