5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters for Green Bay Packers
2014 NFL Draft: 5 Prospects Who Could Start for Green Bay Packers
Injuries played a key role in a disappointing 2013 season for the Green Bay Packers. Before the season even started, the team lost starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga for the season with a knee injury. On top of that, the Packers lost arguably the three most important players on the roster when Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb went down for lengthy periods of time throughout the season.
Even though they dealt with a ton of adversity, the Packers were able to back their way into the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record. However, the Packers winning the division had more to do with collapses by the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears than it did with them actually earning their spot in the postseason. The Packers lost at home in the Wild Card Round 23-20 to the San Francisco 49ers, ending their season.
Rookie RB Eddie Lacy was a huge bright spot for the 2013 Packers, as the second-round pick became the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Lacy showed great power and speed as he rushed for 1,178 yards on 284 carries and 11 touchdowns. Add Lacy to a healthy Rodgers and an impressive receiving corps, and the Green Bay offense is suddenly better than ever before.
Injuries certainly played a role, but the Packers were one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL last season. They ranked near the bottom in every single team defense category, and could certainly use some help on that side of the ball. In 2013, the Packers always seemed to be playing stop-gap players in the secondary. This is an obvious area for improvement this offseason.
The Packers have the 21st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. This organization is well-known for not being big players in free agency. They have a handful of needs on this roster, and it is likely that they all will be filled from the draft. If the Packers can land some impact talent, they instantly become Super Bowl contenders. Here are five NFL Draft prospects who could step right in and start for the 2014 Packers.
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE
With Jermichael Finley very unlikely to be back next season, the Packers must find a replacement at TE in the draft. C.J. Fiedorowicz not only has ideal size (6-foot-6, 262 pounds) for a TE, but he has all the skills for the position as well. Fiedorowicz has great athleticism, strength and is an incredible blocker. He is the total package, and the Packers must target him the middle rounds of the draft.
4. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB
Listed a 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Stanley Jean-Baptiste has the size that teams are looking for in a corner. A converted wide receiver, Jean-Baptiste also has the athleticism and ball skills that you need at the position. He is a big physical player who would fill an obvious need right away for the Packers.
3. Jimmie Ward, S
Jimmie Ward was one of the best players at the Senior Bowl and has been flying up draft boards. He is a hard-hitting safety who does very well against the run. He was great in coverage in college, but there is a concern whether he has the athleticism to handle NFL receivers. He proved himself at the Senior Bowl, and while the concerns are fair, I think he shows good coverage skills that will translate to the NFL. Ward would be a great pick for the Packers if they decided to trade back in the first round, or maybe he falls to their second-round pick.
2. Calvin Pryor, S
Calvin Pryor is an extremely athletic and hard-hitting safety who could easily step in and start for Green Bay right away. He has the ability to play either safety position, but I think his aggressiveness makes him a better fit as a strong safety. The Packers could do much worse than taking Pryor with their first-round pick.
1. Eric Ebron, TE
In my first mock draft of the season, I had the Packers taking Eric Ebron with their first-round pick. I will admit, it seems unlikely that he falls all the way to Green Bay at 21, but it is certainly possible. Ebron has all of the size, strength, speed and athleticism that you could ever want out of a tight end. Think of a stronger Vernon Davis with more length. Ebron would make the Packers' offense even more deadly and he would obviously be a key contributor right away.