Packer Update

Mock 1.0: Packers Get Defensive

Plenty of depth at defensive tackle and outside linebacker

Predicting exactly which player general manager Ted Thompson will select in the first round is next to impossible, but his distinctive pattern after seven drafts makes it easier to at least narrow down the field of potential candidates. All seven of his previous first-round picks have played in either the Pac-12 (quarterback Aaron Rodgers and outside linebacker Clay Matthews), the Big Ten (linebacker A.J. Hawk and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga), the SEC (defensive lineman Justin Harrell and offensive tackle Derek Sherrod) or the ACC (nose tackle B.J. Raji). Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but I seriously doubt it.

While Thompson has no problem choosing players from smaller conferences after round one, he sticks with the big boys when it comes to the money pick. Need is the other thing that should narrow down the field of candidates. Thompson always talks about taking the best available player regardless of position, but let’s be honest, he’ll be taking the best available defensive player regardless of position this year. He has no choice considering just how awful things were on that side of the ball in 2011.

OK, so let’s immediately exclude defensive players from major conferences that almost certainly won’t be around at 28. That list includes Michael Brockers, Fletcher Cox, Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, Morris Claiborne and Mark Barron.Who might still be on the board? Jerel Worthy, Brandon Thompson, Devon Still, Dont’a Hightower, Luke Kuechly, Whitney Mercilus, Nick Perry and Andre Branch. Notice that Dontari Poe, Kendall Reyes and Shea McClellin didn’t make either list because of where they played.

Some of the players I’ve listed as being available won’t be, but it’s a starting point. I’m going to cross out Kuechly because the Packers are fairly deep at inside linebacker. Ditto Hightower, even though he might be versatile enough to play on the outside in a 3-4 scheme. I’ll get rid of Thompson and Branch because they played at Clemson, and there are more busts at that school than there are at Hooters. Perry and Mercilus scare me a bit because they’re both projections from defensive end to outside linebacker. That increases the risk factor exponentially. And then there were two.

Flip a coin. Worthy has more natural talent than Still, but he was inconsistent in college and he’s a bit short for a 3-4 end. Still isn’t as explosive as Worthy, but he’s built for the position. He has ideal size (6’5″, 303) and is rock solid against the run. And while he probably won’t get 10 sacks, he’ll be a disruptive inside rusher. He’s also a pretty safe pick. After battling injuries as a freshman and sophomore, he’s been durable and dependable for the past two seasons. Adding Still would give coordinator Dom Capers the defensive end he desperately needs. In the loss to the Giants, one starter was a natural nose tackle and the other was a player who had already been cut once by the Packers.

Still is a very solid player, but he won’t dramatically improve the pass rush. That means the next pick should be someone who can provide pressure opposite Clay Matthews. After studying a handful of the second-tier outside linebackers, one player stood out from the rest when it came to getting after the quarterback. West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin isn’t going to be the total package right away, but he doesn’t have to be. One of the returning vets should be able to hold his own on early downs, and then Capers can turn Irvin loose in the nickel package. He’s extremely quick off the edge and he’s dangerous on inside stunts where his explosiveness is usually too much for a guard to handle.

1st round pickDEVON STILL

2nd round pick: BRUCE IRVIN 

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18 Comments to "Mock 1.0: Packers Get Defensive"

  1. Greg says:

    I could live with that. I think McClellin in the second might be a better all-round pick than Irvin, although Thompson would probably have to move up to take him there.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Agree about having to move up to get McClellin in round 2, and I just don’t think he’s a great value at 28.

  2. Hands says:

    I think this year’s draft is somewhat like last years except the Packer’s are looking for D-Line guys vs. LOT last year. This year Worthy vs. Still vs. Reyes vs. Glenn. I know a lot of people had Green Bay going w/ Branch now are going w/ McClellin. I like Worthy but if Glenn is available, TT might pull the trigger on him.
    I just think someone outside what I’ve mentioned and what Michael has posted will drop. If you can figure that then that is who TT will pick. I also think 28 is too early for McClellin but I really like Irvin in the 2nd round.

  3. Tangysizzl says:

    I like your logic and both of your choices for the first 2 rounds.

    My list of players that may be available starts with Whitney Mercilus then comes Nick Perry, Devon Still, Shea McClellin, Vinny Curry and Kendall Reyes. Give me anyone of those guys at 28 and I will be happy as hell.

    2nd round I like Bruce Irvin, Andre Branch, Jared Crick and Derek Wolfe.

    Of all the guys mentioned though, its hard to come up with a player thats more suited for the Packers then Shea McClellin IMO. When I hear the phrase “Packer People” this guy fits that to a T and its not like hes a major reach at 28.

    Last year I really wanted the Packers to draft Brooks Reed at 32 even though he was considered by many to be a 2nd round prospect. I really wonder how the season could have been different had TT just gone with Reed over Sherrod.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Or what if Ted signed Anthony Hargrove last summer. He was available on two separate occasions.

  4. BWL says:

    I like it .. Still would be at or near the top of the list for the Packers ar #28. He’s a perfect fit for the 5T DE spot, and would give the Packers a major improvement at DE going forward.

    McCellin just doesn’t seem quite worth #28 value .. much like Brooks Reed last year. I think the Packers will pass him up if he’s there. I’m a bit tired of hearing how great Reed was last year. He did have a good playoff game, but most people would be surprised to know that he ranked below Walden in pressures per pass rush attempts last year according to Pro Football Focus.

  5. Greg says:

    How would you compare Reyes vs. Still? Still is big school vs. Reyes’ small school. Their size is about the same, but Reyes grades as a better athlete. I would like to know how did Still fare vs. o-lines like the Badgers, etc.?

    • Michael Rodney says:

      I really haven’t seen much of Reyes, so I’ll withhold judgement. I did, however, watch just about every game Still played at Penn State. I’ve always thought he was a bit overrated, but that’s probably because so many people were talking about him as a top-10 pick back in the fall. He’s not worth that high of a pick, but he’s an excellent value at 28. It’s tough to be a great 3-4 defense with nose tackles and fringe NFL players like Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson getting significant snaps at end.

  6. Tangysizzl says:

    If your saying that Eric Walden is better than Brooks Reed then your out of your mind. Reed was a Rookie playing a new position and didn’t even start until Mario Williams went down with his Pectoral injury in week 5. So for 4 weeks he saw maybe 15 plays a game at most.

    I never said Reed was great but hes a lot better than any LBer we have not named Clay or Desmond. Oh he did have a good playoff game, don’t you think we could have used him in the playoffs? Wasn’t Walden benched for the Packers playoff game, replaced by Brad Jones?

  7. Archie says:

    Great analysis. Recently I’ve been thinking Branch would be a good pick, the Clemson factor is a major red flag.

    Other reasons for Still……The good Lord only made so many big guys…….also, the 3rd time may be the charm i.e., TT whiffed on Harrell and Neal, two other ….the good Lord only made so many big guys. From day 1 I have been saying Still is the stereotype of what TT loves at DE. His downside is supposedly he takes too many downs off and free lances.

    I love Irvin. It’s bold. It’s a swing for the fences. If he emerges as a pass rushing terror, we will be set for years to come. Especially with Stills, Pickett and Raji in front of him. I think he’s there at pick 60. His downside – needs to learn coverage and may not be a Packer People. Although he may be like DD and JJ in that he had a really tough life and managed to escape it.

    I watched McClellin at the Senior Bowl (I focused on him every play he was in the game). I saw a guy that took conservative angles and did way too much backing up. Very AJ Hawk-like. Lots of tackles on the wrong side of the first down line.

    I’ll take Still and Irvin right now.

    If TT wants a RB, he could take him in R3. That’s where 2nd tier RB value should max out.

    I’m expecting mid-round picks at C and G too.

    I think TT will go fishing for defensive players late in the draft.

    I’d like to see him add a S/CB but analysis of recent drafts shows that R2 and R3 picks don’t do that well. So, it’s either R1 or get lucky later in draft (after R3).

    WR is deep this year. TT excels at finding WRs. He might take a stab or two late. The question is where will he stash them this year. Next year we could lose both DD and GJ. Our two practice squad WRs will play elsewhere in 2012 if they don’t make the final 53 here.

  8. BWL says:

    I never once said Walden was any good … was just saying that Reed is overrated. I don’t think he was a first round talent and I’m glad the Packers passed on him.

  9. Dewey Cooke says:

    Count me among the “I wanted Brooks Reed in a trdeown last year crowd” I also really like Jorel Worthy. He can be totally unvlockable but his stature is a problem. However, should GB get Still and Irvin I would be pretty content. I think the analysis is very good and like you I see TT as typecast (big schools, big programs first chances- trust your instincts later!

  10. DHoward says:

    I spend way more time then I should reading/watching/analyzing the Packer 53 man roster. I don’t know how you all find the time to be so knowledgeable about college players and how they project in to the next level….I’ll leave you experts to the predictions and I stick with prayer. Dear Lord, In the upcoming draft may the best player available and Packer ‘need’ always match-up so that the Packers can bring glory to Your chosen team and fans. Amen.

  11. Archie says:

    Amen to that. :)

  12. Troy Kelsey says:

    Michael – I don’t at all doubt your logic and can see it going as you mentioned. To me the only real wild card is the sheer number of picks that Ted has to work with this season. The Pack is way beyond needing a bunch of camp bodies so I just don’t see them exercising 12 picks. Also, consider how every year Ted targets a handful of guys to sign after the draft as FAs… Knowing his history with the latter and given the former, I would really be surprised if the silver fox didn’t package some of those picks to make a bold move up. I am guessing he uses his own first rounder and then trades up for one of the remaining #1s or he goes up to near the top of round 2 to grab someone who fell through the cracks that would project as a starter at either OLB or DE (whichever he didn’t take with his D1). The other less likely possibility that I see is that if they don’t clear Collins to return he trades up to the middle of round 1 to grab Mark Barron.

    Or, I could just be full of crap and he may just use most of his picks and make some minor trades in the later rounds… LOL

  13. Ben says:

    You forgot about Raji. He played in the ACC.

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