With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite.
Here’s a quick rundown of our draft so far: no. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State), no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo), no. 10 Detroit Lions (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M), no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA), no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama), no. 13 St. Louis Rams (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama), no. 14 Chicago Bears (Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri). no. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers (Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State), no. 16 Dallas Cowboys (Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt), no. 17 Baltimore Ravens (Eric Ebron, TE, UNC), no. 18 New York Jets (Marqise Lee, WR, USC), no. 19 Miami Dolphins (Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame) and no. 20 Arizona Cardinals (Ra’Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota). With the 21st pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Green Bay Packers select?
Lous Nix, NT, Notre Dame.
I know that a roving free safety who can make plays in centerfield is what we really need, but the one guy who could really do that in this draft class (Clinton-Dix) is long off the board, and the guy most consider the second best safety prospect (Calvin Pryor, Louisville), is more of an in-the-box safety, a role Morgan Burnett already fills for us. With that said, I’ll look for Terrence Brooks (FS, FSU) in round two.
Anyone who understands how an odd front operates understands how important the nose is to running it effectively. Nix will finally give me the nose that we’ve been looking for since we switched over to a 3-4 front under Dom Capers. We thought we filled that role when we took B.J. Raji in the first round in 2009, and he did have a very good 2010 season for us.
Even still, he’s mostly been playing outside at the 5-tech, not a head up 0, and hasn’t had a sack since the Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions in 2011 (seriously). We re-signed him to a one-year deal, and who knows, maybe he turns back into the 6.5 sack guy we saw in 2010, and if so, great. But I’m not going to bet on a guy who’s on a 36 game sack-less streak to all of a sudden see the light.
With Nix, I’m getting the best 3-4 nose prospect to come along since Vince Wilfork. He’s big enough (6-foot 2, 345-pounds) and has enough strength to play two gaps, but also has decent pass rush ability to split the double team and collapse the pocket. He’s got impressive lateral agility and quickness for a man of his size and plays with a good motor. Essentially he’s a better version of what we thought we were getting in Raji.
Who else was considered here? Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State) and Odell Beckham (WR, LSU) were highly considered here not only because they’d be a good value pick at no. 21, but they could also provide insurance in case we can’t re-sign either Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, both of whom are entering the last year of their contracts. Plus, it never hurts to give QB Aaron Rodgers another explosive weapon.
Morgan Moses (OT, Virginia) was also a good possibility here. Bryan Bulaga, who should be switching to the right side with the emergence of David Bakhtiari, will be in the last year of his rookie deal and has been a total bust so far. Moses would give us the road grader on the right side we’ve been looking for.