With it getting closer to the NFL draft, it is time to take a look at the possible players who might be on the radar of the Green Bay Packers for this years draft. We sat down with LWOS contributor and high school coach Ben Clubb to discuss some of the prospects and do some projections for this draft. Besides coaching linebackers at the high school level, Clubb breaks down prospects and the Packers forPacktothefuture.com and can be followed on Twitter @PTTF_ChalkTalk. Talking NFL draft prospects and projections for the Green Bay Packers.
Talking NFL Draft Prospects and Projections for the Green Bay Packers
Welcome back to LWOS once again Coach. We are around two weeks away from what some NFL fans call “Christmas in April”, or better known as draft time. This is when NFL fans watch their favorite teams select college football players they hope can help their teams get to next year’s Super Bowl.
It has been an abnormal off-season for the Packers. Not only do they have a new, some would say suspect, power structure, but they also have a new top personnel executive, and because of their disappointing 7-9 finish to last season, they will be selecting fourteenth, higher than they have done in many seasons.
From all the game film you have studied for Packtothefuture.com in regards to the Packers, what positions do you feel, in the order of priority, are the top needs for the Packers going into the draft?
Before we start, I’d like to say how excited I am to talk with LWOS once again. This is my first year covering draft prospects for Packtothefuture.com and I’m still learning quite a bit on the player evaluation process and finding the best fit for the Packers. It’s been something new to me but I have had a blast doing it.
When I look at the tape from last season I see a big need for a defensive back, specifically a safety. With the loss of Morgan Burnett there will be a big void to fill. Packers new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine plays a lot of single high safety looks, which means a safety must be rolled down on the slot receiver or play on the strong side flats in a cover 3 look. A talented safety would lock down the slot receiver and keep him from pushing vertically up the field and be the difference between stopping a big play or giving up a touchdown.
With as much nickel and dime defense as we see, the addition of a talented defensive back would really help. I was torn between a safety or an outside linebacker (edge pass rusher). There is depth at both positions in this yearâs draft, so I would be thrilled with either.
EDGE pass rusher seems to be an obvious need for the Packers, with their top outside pass rushers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews being injury prone and having at best suspect depth playing behind them. So, putting on your general manager hat, with you believing that the Packers will select an EDGE pass rusher high in the draft, which player do you feel the Packers should select?
I have watched a lot of tape on this position going into the draft. We saw what a difference a talented edge pass rusher will do for a defense when Matthews was drafted back in 2009 and the 3-4 defense was implemented in Green Bay.
I have been really impressed with Marcus Davenport out of the University of Texas-San Antonio. He is 6’5″ and weighs 259 lbs, which is pretty impressive for an edge pass rusher. Davenport is an excellent run defender and knows how to close gaps. He takes on trap blocks very well and squeezes open gaps down as well. Davenport gets a strong inside punch on the tackle and uses his leverage, all while keeping the eyes focused on the ball carrier.
He was one of the best I saw at using the hands to shed blocks and get good hand placement on the tackle. The battle is won at the line of scrimmage by the player who can make first initial contact. When it came to rushing the passer I thought he held his own, though I would like to see him use more moves.
It has been written quite a bit this off-season that the Packers need to upgrade the secondary. Unfortunately, the only free agent moves Brian Gutekunst and the Packers have done are sign aging Tramon Williams and re-signed fellow cornerback Davon House, who is coming off a disappointing season.
It appears that the Packers are done looking at the free agent cornerbacks, which means once again the Packers will need to bring in help at the cornerback position through the draft. Most believe that the Packers will spend either their first or second round pick on a defensive back, is there any specific defensive back that the Packers should look at in that range?
To me, the cornerback position is one that seems like one that hasn’t been established in Green Bay for years. We’ve seen a number of guys there over the last few years, and I would like to see them draft a player who they can develop and keep for the long haul.
One player I found impressive was Mike Hughes out of Central Florida. If still available in the second round, he would be a tremendous addition to the team. Hughes is a quick corner with great feet. In a cover 2 look he is especially good at jamming up the number one wide receiver and getting eyes on his read, which would be the number two receiver, be it a tight end or another receiver in a trips set. He has a natural feel for the route combinations that are run to the flats.
Hughes was exceptional in man coverage where he could jam up the number one receiver and trail him across the field or up the seam. He has really good vision when the ball is in the air and can go up and make plays. Another thing that stood out to me was that he was a dangerous kick returner, so he could be a guy that could double in his roles.
Although the Packers signed free agent tight end Jimmy Graham this off-season, there still seems to be a hole at the tight end position. The only backup to Graham with experience behind Graham is Lance Kendricks who is coming off a disappointing last season. Do you feel that the Packers will look for a tight end in the third round who is more of a true inline tight end, who can block better than he can receive?Â Or, do they try to find a tight end in the mold of Graham, who they believe is a multi-dimensional player? Which player do you think would fall to them in the third round?
Tight end is another position that I feel has yet to be established in Green Bay. With the loss of Nelson this off-season though, my focus shifted grabbing a wide receiver in the third round as opposed to a tight end.
If they did happen to go the tight end route, I would really like to see a push to get Mark Andrews out of Oklahoma. When I watched Andrews on film, I see some similarities to Graham. With the Packers running a lot of 3X1 formations, the tight end is usually asked to split out wide as the number three receiver in that formation. He had really good footwork and could run the seam better than any tight end I watched tape on. Because of his physical size, defenses would be wise to ask a linebacker to cover him. He looked really good when running comeback routes, snags, drags and vertical routes. Often times he would reel in catches with ease and turn up field to fight for yards.
Andrews is a guy I watched several times when I would attend games at the University of Oklahoma and the tape almost doesn’t do him justice. You could tell that he made a big impact in those trips sets. He needs to improve his blocking, but I feel like he would be a good addition.
The Packers have 12 picks in this draft, which might be a very good thing since they didn’t do much once again in free agency this off-season. But do you think Packers fans should expect some wheeling and dealing from Gutekunst, maybe trading up or trading down? If so, do you think they will do more trading up or more trading down?
Personally I don’t think we will see much of that from Gutekunst. I expect him to be pretty conservative throughout the draft. Unless the opportunity presents itself, I don’t see anything happening. That’s something I don’t think many of us are sure on at this point.
As most NFL fans know, mock drafts or as some would call them, draft projections, have become very popular to read. So, we are going to take our shot at it, projecting all of the Packers 12 draft picks for this draft. Although there is a chance that Gutekunst and company will trade some of these picks away, we are still going to give it a shot.Instead of asking you to breakdown each pick, I am going to ask you to pick the ones you like and why. So here we go:
First round (14th), Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Second round (45th), Isaiah Oliver, cornerback, Colorado
Third round (76th), Michael Gallup, wide receiver, Colorado State
Fourth round (101st),Frank Ragnow, guard/center, Arkansas
Fourth round (133rd), Shaun Dion Hamilton, inside linebacker, Alabama
Fifth round (138th), Holton Hill, cornerback, Texas
Fifth round (172nd), Brett Toth, offensive tackle, Army
Fifth round (174th), Ja’Von Rolland Jones, defensive end/outside linebacker, Arkansas State
Sixth round (186th), Ian Thomas, tight end, Indiana
Sixth round (207th), Michael Joseph, cornerback, Dubuque
Seventh round (232nd), Daurice Fountain, wide receiver, Northern Iowa
Seventh round (239th), Tre Flowers, safety, Oklahoma State
I really like this list LWOS has put together and hope the Packers can grab some of these guys. Here’s who I think really stands out from the list:
Landry – Landry showed some good things on tape and some areas he needs to improve on. I think that he can get after the quarterback and he has a real good ability to get under tackles. His inside rip move was what stood out to me on tape. He has the ability to hoo the tackle. The thing I don’t like is that he looked inconsistent at times. As an outside linebacker in Pettine’s defense he would be asked to lock down the number two receiver in man coverages, so I would like to see him improve in coverage.
Oliver – Oliver looked good at the NFL combine and has good size for a cornerback. I thought he looked exceptional in cover 1 and played the bump and trail pretty well. Colorado played a lot of cover 3 so I think he would transition well. He is well prepared also, having faced so many pass happy Pac 12 teams.
Hamilton – Hamilton was one of the inside backers that I had on my top ten list when breaking down the position at Packtothefuture.com. He has good size but has had his fair share of injuries. My biggest concern was if his body could hold up over the course of a strenuous NFL season. His reads looked clean on guards and he matched up well with tight ends in man coverage. He was a good underneath defender in cover 3 and cover 2 looks. I would like to see him improve in his stunts as he was late to the quarterback from time to time.
Toth – Toth was an interesting prospect coming out of Army. He was a terrific down blocker in traps and counters. He fired out low and was sharp when he would lock and drive. Pass protection will be his biggest concern. Toth is coming from an offense that would only throw the ball 3 times a game if they could get away with it. He will also have to make the transition from being predominantly in a 3 point stance to a 2 point stance.
Coach, we could talk about the Packers and the draft for hours, but we are going to have to come to an end. Thank you once again for joining us here at LWOS, I want to finish by asking you, who do you believe the Packers will take with their top pick and give us one player who might go later in the draft that screams “Packer”?
I would love to see the Packers push for Derwin James out of Florida State with the number one pick. He has so many great qualities that teams look for in a defensive back. The thing that stood out to me was his ability to roll down in the box and put pressure on the quarterback. I’ve seen Pettine run a number of fire zone stunts and James could be that fifth rusher in the stunt who forces a bad throw or gets a sack. He’s athletic, lean, and flexible. I feel like you could use him in a number of ways. If I had to choose a player who has “Packe” written all over him it would be Jack Cichy out of Wisconsin. He’s a Wisconsin native and a good inside linebacker. He had some injury problems at Wisconsin, but when healthy he made an impact for the Badgers defense. He’s a tough, hard nosed inside linebacker who would love an opportunity to stay in his home state.
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