The Green Bay Packers have several team needs, especially on defense. They must utilize this draft as a way to improve the team’s pass rush and secondary. Green Bay is right where they need to be to compete for another Super Bowl and with the addition of key players the Packers should be successful once again in 2012. The following is a mock draft for all 12 of Green Bay’s picks.
Round 1, Pick 28
Nick Perry, DE, USC
2011 Statistics: 55 total tackles (32 solo), 9.5 sacks, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Perry was a defensive end at the University of Southern California but the Packers will convert him to an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme. Although Perry does not have much experience at this position, with Kevin Greene as his coach and Matthews as his mentor he will learn what it takes to be a dominate pass rusher in the NFL.
The 6’3”, 270-pound Perry is relentless at getting to the quarterback and has a consistent motor similar to Matthews. He also has a phenomenal first step with a quickness that every NFL pass rusher must have. He is capable of dipping his shoulder to get around offensive lineman and can use his upper body strength to plow through blockers. His good hands will be great for moving blockers as well as deflecting passes in coverage.
Perry is an excellent tackler as he led USC in total tackles in 2011. He is intelligent enough to not succumb to fakes and is strong enough to bring down playmakers on his own. Not only will Perry be a great addition to Green Bay’s pass rush but he will also be a factor in stopping the run. Like Matthews, his relentlessness will allow him to run down the play no matter where it is on the field.
Perry’s arm length and overall size are the only so-called weaknesses of his game. Most elite NFL pass rushers have a long wingspan with an overall size to push offensive lineman. However, Matthews has proven that you do not have to be big with long arms to dominate as an outside linebacker. In fact, Matthews is 6’3” with an arm length of 32 1/4-inches. Meanwhile, Perry is of the same height with an arm length of 33-inches. Green Bay is not as concerned with size as they are with the overall ability to play a position above and beyond everyone else.
The Packers struggled mightily last season getting to the quarterback after the departure of defensive end Cullen Jenkins via free agency. Green Bay was third to last in the league with a dismal 29.0 sacks after their incredible 47.0 sack season in 2010. Matthews was double and sometimes even triple teamed on plays because the offense knew no other player posed much of a threat. As much as the Packers need an interior pass rush to stop the opposing quarterback from stepping up into the pocket, having another outside rusher as great as Matthews will be just as good.
Round 2, Pick 27 (59)
Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
Green Bay will add another pass rusher to their defense by throwing Jared Crick into the mix. Crick will remain as a defensive lineman who will set up on Matthews’ side. This will force offensive blockers to account for Crick which will allow Matthews to attack the quarterback and rack up the sacks like he did in 2010.
Crick is not known as an elite passer but he does have a relentless motor like Perry and Matthews. This is something Greene loves to see in his players. The willingness to attack like a barrage of missiles until the play is dead is something Crick thrives on.
He is listed at 6’4”, 279-pounds, which means he has the perfect size to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Crick uses his height to knock down passes and has very strong hands to get away from blockers. He has the strength and athleticism to win one-on-one battles. Crick’s primarily objective will be to pass rush the opposing quarterback, but he is also capable of stopping the run. He understands the movement of the line and is strong enough to bring down any ball carrier.
He suffered a knee sprain last spring as injuries plagued his senior season, which eventually ended with a torn pectoral muscle. Crick does not have an explosive first step like most elite pass rushers do in the NFL and he will not be bull rushing pass blockers. Double-teams seem to be trouble for him; although, he should be strong enough to hold them off on the outside, opposed to the inside when lining up as a defensive tackle.
Crick recorded a 4.94 seconds 40-yard dash, 4.40 seconds 20-yard shuttle, 104.0” broad jump and 31.0” vertical jump. He also benched 26 reps of 225-pounds, which should prove his pectoral muscle is healed.
Round 3, Pick 27 (90)
Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
2011 Statistics: 71 total tackles, 1.0 sack and two interceptions.
The Packers need a safety with the uncertainty surrounding All-Pro Nick Collins’ career after he suffered a neck injury last season. Even if Collins is able to play, Green Bay needs to add more defensive backs to the roster. Safety Brandon Taylor is a perfect fit for the Packers as he has the right set of skills to play at the NFL level.
Taylor was a three-year starter at Louisiana State University where he recorded 160 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 15 pass deflections and four interceptions in his career. In last year’s National Championship Game against the University of Alabama, Taylor posted four solo tackles.
Green Bay’s secondary struggled with the basics of tackling last season which is why teams were able to pile on the offensive yardage. The Packers gave up a league-high 299.8 yards per game, which is something defensive coordinator Dom Capers believes is unacceptable for a team trying to win Super Bowls. Taylor is a proven tackler who would simply make Green Bay better for that reason alone. He plays a lot like Collins as he is capable of making a key interception and rarely allows a ball carrier to get away from him in the open field. Taylor is also great in coverage as he does not allow receivers to escape from him easily. He is a solid player who has the potential to become a great playmaker in the secondary if given the right opportunity and proper coaching.
At LSU’s Pro Day, Taylor ran a 4.58 40-yard dash and was able to knock out 16 reps on the bench press. The 4.58 is just above the average 4.50 seconds, which is not bad considering scouts expected his time to be slower.
Round 4, Picks 28 (123), 37 (132), 38 (133)
Green Bay will have three selections in the fourth round as two of them are compensation picks.
Pick 28 (123)
Philip Blake, C, Baylor
Green Bay recently signed veteran Jeff Saturday to a two-year deal but once that contract is up they will need to find someone to replace him. The Packers should select center Philip Blake out of Baylor for their first pick in the fourth round.
The 6’2”, 311-pound center is talented enough to be the long-term answer at the center position. Green Bay needs to put together a solid, young, athletic offensive line to protect MVP Aaron Rodgers. They already drafted offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and Derrick Sherrod the last two seasons but still need to find a left guard and center.
Blake is a former right tackle who has the lateral quickness and footwork to play the interior line position. He is strong enough to hold off defenders, but will be pushed backwards if his hands are not properly positioned. He is a shotgun center who can hold the line and has the capability to pancake defenders. Blake also has good footwork that allows him to keep defenders in front of him.
Green Bay has struggled to establish a running game in recent seasons due to the offensive line’s inability to open a hole. Blake will be able to move defensive tackles and seal either the left or ride side. However, he sometimes has trouble moving to the second level of defenders and blocking off the linebackers. Blake also will hold the line after sealing a side but will struggle to move defenders back. He has an initial quickness after snapping the ball which is what offensive coordinators want to see.
Blake ran a 5.25 40-yard dash, 29.5” vertical and had 22 reps in the 225-pound bench press. Sitting behind Saturday for two seasons will benefit him greatly as he will be able to absorb knowledge from one of the game’s best centers.
Pick 37 (132)
Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
2011 Statistics: 70 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
The Packers need to add as much to the defensive line as they can and they do that in a big way by drafting Derek Wolfe in the fourth round. In 2011, Wolfe was the first player from Cincinnati to be awarded the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
At 6’5”, 295-pounds, Wolfe uses his strength and quickness to force his way into the backfield. His relentless motor, similar to Matthews, allows him to continue fighting through a play until it is whistled dead. He is listed as a defensive tackle but has shown the ability to line up at any position along the defensive line. Wolfe has proven to be a durable lineman as he has stayed healthy for the majority of his collegiate career. He started the final 38 games he played in for the Bearcats.
The Packers would use him as a defensive end to attract double teams, allowing playmakers such as Matthews to get a beatable one-on-one matchup. Wolfe will also be effective by rushing towards the middle where he will prevent the opposing quarterback from stepping up into the pocket. This will allow the outside rushers to get a clean shot in the backfield.
Wolfe lacks lower body strength as he is average at best. He is able to draw a double team but struggles to get out of it, making him useless for that down.
Some teams may not know where to play the former offensive tackle, but I know the Packers would be able to find a way for him to be effective. Green Bay desperately needs players to put pressure up the middle and Wolfe will be another solid addition for that.
Pick 38 (133)
Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
At 6’0”, 197-pounds, Josh Norman is the perfect size for the cornerback position as he has the strength and speed to match up with big, athletic receivers. The Packers need to add depth to the cornerback position as Charles Woodson may have to play safety with the uncertainty of Collins’ future.
Norman could potentially be a big addition as he sees himself as a young Woodson. If that be the case, I am sure Green Bay would have no problem adding him to the team. Norman could contribute right away on special teams but will need to put in the work if he wants to have an impact as a cornerback. He is capable of playing man-to-man and zone coverage and has the athleticism to jump routes and come away with the interception. The Packers want playmakers, but more importantly, they want defensive backs who can tackle in the open field.
One big knock on Norman is where he played his collegiate career, as the competition in the Big South is not as fierce as other conferences. This alone will affect him early on in practice and scrimmages at the professional level. Also, big-time NFL wide receivers may be able to get away from him with their explosive speed.
Norman ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, 4.23 20-yard shuttle and bench pressed 14 reps at 225-pounds. In his career at Coastal Carolina, he had 13 interceptions (second all-time Big South), 48 passes defended (fifth all-time NCAA, first Big South) and 196 tackles.
Round 5, Pick 28 (163)
Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota
Green Bay needs some competition at the left tackle position and that is exactly why they will draft Tom Crompton with their fifth round pick. He will be the first South Dakota Coyote to be drafted in the seven-round format the NFL uses today.
Crompton will fit right in with the Packers and their loyal fans. He is a big, strong, physical offensive lineman who is not afraid to get dirty. He will do whatever it takes to protect his quarterback and move his counterpart off the line. He will use his exceptional power and good leverage to open up lanes when run blocking.
However, going up against fast defensive ends in the NFL who are quick off the line will give him problems. He is average at best when moving laterally and will overstep his bounds which allows the defensive end to rush the inside, giving a clear shot at the quarterback.
The Packers definitely want an offensive tackle that can pass block to protect Rodgers while they also need someone who can significantly improve the run offense, which has been dismal for years. Compton has enough talent and strength to get him started, but will need to sit behind veterans and learn.
Round 6, Pick 27 (197)
Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College
2011 Statistics: 35 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions.
Green Bay will add more depth at the cornerback position by selecting Donnie Fletcher out of Boston College in the sixth round. The 6’1”, 195-pound defensive back could be a key addition to the Packers secondary and at the very least will provide quality competition.
Fletcher played in the Senior Bowl but was not invited to participate at the NFL combine. He has tremendous ball skills as he recorded 11 interceptions in his four-year career. Fletcher is more of a zone cornerback as he did not play press coverage in college, although, he does have the length and strength to play man-to-man. He is a solid open-field tackler that wraps up and does not let the ball carrier get away. This is something the Packers are looking for in a cornerback as the defense got burned on yards after the catch last season.
Fletcher was originally said to lack straight-line speed, which is a critical skill to have when playing corner in the NFL. However, he was clocked by scouts with times of 4.38 and 4.44 in two attempts at the 40-yard dash. Sometimes he will break off his man and try to jump an underneath route without success. Overall, Fletcher should be a safe pick in the draft for a team that needs talented defensive backs.
Round 7, Picks 17 (224), 28 (235), 34 (241), 36 (243)
Green Bay will have four selections in the seventh round as two of them are compensation picks and one is from the New York Jets.
Pick 17 (224)
Miles Burris, OLB, San Diego State
2011 Statistics: 76 tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
The Packers will be looking to add as many pass rushers as possible in this draft as that is their number one need going into the 2012 season. Green Bay needs someone opposite of Matthews and at this point it does not matter who it as long as they can provide the necessary pressure on the opposing offense. Outside linebacker Miles Burris could prove to be useful when it comes to attacking the quarterback.
The 6’2”, 236-pound Burris recorded 18.5 sacks in three seasons at San Diego State and is as durable as they come. He played in his last 37 straight contests while starting the last 25. One thing the Packers desperately need at the outside linebacker position is not only a player who can get home consistently but someone who can remain healthy through the wear and tear of an NFL season.
Scouts clocked Burris at 4.67 seconds on the 40-yard dash, which is decent for a linebacker at his position. He then was timed running the three-cone drill in an incredible 6.80-6.85 seconds range. Packers general manager Ted Thompson is known for making outstanding selections late in the draft and I fully believe Burris could be one of them. He has the size, speed, intelligence and strength to be a starter in the NFL if given the right coaching. His one major weakness is his inability to be a quality pass defender, which hurts a defense in the 3-4 system.
Pick 28 (235)
Brandon Bolden, RB, Mississippi
2011 Statistics: 472 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, 147 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.
Green Bay is content with letting Ryan Grant depart via free agency which means they must pick up a running back at some point in the draft to add to the competition in training camp. Brandon Bolden out of Ole Miss is a solid late-round pick for the Packers.
A 5’11”, 222-pounds, Bolden has the right size and strength to be an NFL running back. He can lower his shoulder and is strong enough to plow his way through the first defender. He knows when to hit the hole, allowing his blockers to do their job. He has good field vision, as most talented running backs have, and can drive his strong legs to get extra yardage. He also has the necessary speed to burst around a corner but his 4.56 40-yard dash time indicates he will most likely not out-run defenders.
In the Packers offensive scheme a running back must be able to pass-block and catch balls out of the back field. Bolden is an average pass blocker at best who has the experience of chipping defenders as he was required to do this in college. However, instead of standing up to an oncoming defender he will block low at their legs, which is something NFL pass rushers can usually maneuver around. This is something he will have to work on extensively before he sees any playing time. Also, Bolden is more than capable of receiving a screen pass out of the back-field and turning it up-field without slowing down.
Pick 34 (241)
Quinton Richardson, S, Washington
The Packers are looking to add one more at safety in this draft to challenge the starters. As I said before, Collins’ status is still unknown, which means Green Bay must be ready for anything. Quinton Richardson out of Washington is a versatile player who can line up at cornerback or safety.
The 6’1”, 203-pound free safety had a stellar junior season but followed it up with an inconsistent senior year. In 2010, he recorded 37 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two interceptions with one of them being returned for a touchdown against UCLA. Richardson followed that up with a 40-tackle season but did not accomplish much more than that.
His greatest strength is his speed as he was clocked running the 40-yard dash in the mid 4.30’s. This reason alone should be why the Packers use a late-round draft selection on him. He has proven to be a solid tackler, posting 77 tackles in two seasons, which means he has the potential to be a great addition to the secondary. Remember, Sam Shields was an undrafted free agent.
Pick 36 (243)
Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois
2011 Statistics: 237 completions for 3,216 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions with a passer rating of 153.0 and completed 61.7 percent of passes. Also, rushed for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns on 194 attempts.
With Matt Flynn signing with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency, the Packers should use their last draft pick on a quarterback who can compete for the backup job behind Rodgers. Chandler Harnish would be a perfect fit for Green Bay and would bring a welcomed competitiveness in training camp.
The 6’2”, 219-pound standout quarterback broke numerous records at Northern Illinois and received several awards. He is an athletic quarterback with plenty of speed and scrambling ability. Harnish can throw better when on the run, opposed to standing in the pocket, and has the skill set to scramble away from defenders while picking up yardage. He is intelligent and understands the breakdowns in front of him, while he also has the arm strength to make the necessary NFL throws.
Harnish’s biggest weakness is his accuracy. If he could somehow improve this skill he would be a no-brainer as a backup in the NFL and possibly even a starter down the road. In college, he was never required to make the NFL-caliber throws but he should have the arm strength to convert them. The speed of the NFL will take some adjusting while the quickness of defenses could create problems at first. Once he understands the fast pace the NFL is played at he should excel.
Harnish recorded the 20-yard shuttle in 4.15 seconds and the three-cone drill in 6.78 seconds, both of which are considered in the area of top performances for a quarterback.
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