With the NFL Draft tomorrow
Reach – Hassan Reddick – EDGE rusher
Reddick is my favorite pick of anyone I’ve seen mocked to the Packers. And because of that, he surely won’t be available at pick 29. Reddick is one of this year’s fastest rising prospects. He projects as an outside linebacker who can also move inside and drop back into coverage when needed. He’s one of the more explosive athletes at his position, AND one of the most versatile. Reddick played defensive back in high school, and according to Pro Football Focus, Reddick dropped into coverage on 14.2 percent of plays. Oh, and he posted the longest broad jump by a defensive lineman since 2003, the fourth fastest 40 time by a D-lineman in the last 10 years. He’s an elite athlete.
When we look at his mockdraftable.com spider chart and pro comparisons, some impressive names come up. Bobby Wagner, DeMeco Ryans, Lawrence Timmons, and Ryan Shazier are all matches for Reddick’s athleticism. If the Packers could get a Wagner or Timmons at the end of the first round, I’d take it.
Again, Reddick has reportedly skyrocketed up lots of teams draft boards and likely won’t be there for the Packers, but this is my reach pick after all.
Stop the Drop – Reuben Foster – ILB
Foster is moving the other direction on teams’ draft boards. While Reddick rises and could potentially be taken as high as the top 15, The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi claimed on Twitter that Foster would be available in the second round. That’s a drastic drop for a player once considered a top-10 pick.
If that’s true that many teams will be passing on Foster, the Packers should strongly consider drafting the middle linebacker. Green Bay hasn’t had a reliable middle since AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett patrolled sideline to sideline. GM Ted Thompson has tried to patch together an inside presence with Day 3 draft picks and undrafted free agents in recent years, but Foster could be the talented piece in the middle the Packers have been missing.
Foster’s NFL.com draft profile includes the phrase “Brings swagger to a linebacking corps.” Foster is a big hitter and someone offensive weapons will be aware of at all times when coming over the middle. That’s a difference maker the Packers could buy into when his stock is at its lowest.
One of a Kind – Kevin King – Cornerback
Bill Belichick is known for liking tall cornerbacks. Bill Belichick is known for loving the 3-cone drill. Kevin King is in the 98th percentile for height among cornerbacks. Kevin King is in the 96th percentile in the 3-cone drill among cornerbacks. I think Bill Belichick would like Kevin King, and players Bill Belichick likes usually turn out to be very good.
Unfortunately, King is another player who could be off the board by the time the Packers get to picking. But, considering it’s a very strong cornerback class, it only takes one or two corner-seeking teams to have a different player higher on their board for King to slip a few picks.
I think King is the real deal and would be a great get at the end of the first round.
Grab an Athlete – Jabrill Peppers – Safety/Linebacker/Whatever You Want
I won’t be including Peppers’ spider chart for the same reason I think he’ll make a great NFL player. He’s too versatile. Mockdraftable.com gives the option to compare Peppers to “linebackers” or “athletes”. At linebacker, Peppers is obviously WAY smaller and weaker than most others, and it’s a similar situation at athlete. At the same time, he’s in the 98th and 95th percentile of LBs in the 40 and broad jump.
In today’s NFL, versatility is the new king. With so many specialized packages and formations, being able to stay on the field despite the situation is an incredible asset. And Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers loves to shift around and experiment with players at different positions. Clay Matthews inside? Morgan Burnett at linebacker? Remember the Psycho formation a few years back when there were like 6 linebackers all standing at the line and B.J. Raji was the only lineman? Peppers would thrive here.
I’d see Peppers playing mostly in rotation with Morgan Burnett at safety and the other moving into a sort of linebacker/nickel corner hybrid player. It’s always a good thing to get another elite athlete on the field. Add the ability to return punts and we’ve got a winner.
Bore Everyone but Make Probably the Right Move – Trade Down
This is what I think will happen Thursday night. Packers fans will wait for three hours while the draft draaaaaaaags on and on, only to learn their team won’t be selecting anyone that evening and they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Lots of mock drafts have those enticing quarterbacks still on the board near the end of the first round. Guys like DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes, and Davis Webb are all mocked into that late first/early second area. Both the Steelers and Saints have been rumored to be looking to groom backup quarterbacks and they’re picking just one and three spots respectively behind the Packers.
So if Cleveland, San Francisco, Jacksonville, San Diego, or another quarterback-hungry team pass on a passer with their first pick, they may want to jump some teams to grab their guy at the end of the first. As well, they’ll get the benefit of the fifth-year option on their future star that wouldn’t be available if taken in the second round.
It just makes too much sense to me that someone a few picks behind Green Bay would get too anxious and want to move up. Even if it’s not a quarterback, somebody will want to move back into the first to grab a player they’ve fallen in love with, and Thompson will be all too happy to oblige.