Ahh yes, the NFL Draft is finally here! A time for all Thompson haters to come out to complain about not picking the sexy prospect, or not drafting for obvious need, and so on and so on. I’ll clarify again, not sure if it’s needed, I’m a huge fan of Ted Thompson’s philosophy, system, whatever you’d like to call it. Building through the draft, paying your own guys and rarely paying big money for free agents is how one keeps your team from really ever getting in trouble. This eliminates many factors that contribute to teams being unable to compete for various reasons. I’m happy to elaborate, but in the interest of time, and getting to the point let’s move on.
The need for the Packers is on defense, or so it seems. The last time Green Bay took the field they were outplayed in all 3 phases of the game. The D couldn’t get a stop, the Offense couldn’t score a point, and one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL missed a 40 yard field goal in a dome. While many believe the offense will be “tough to stop,” there’s always a need for improvement on each side of the ball. Hence why drafting the best player available is rarely the wrong decision, that player will eventually help, and help greatly. If you’re still reading, let’s get on with players the Packers could take (in the 1st round), and why.
TJ Watt – OLB Wisconsin: Of course this seems like a homer pick, however he seems to be the best edge rusher that’ll be available by the time GB picks. He’s played one season, produced at a high level and likely will only improve. It’s also impossible to look past the genetics, which have fared well so far at the next level.
Kevin King – CB Washington: mostly unheard of due to playing in the PAC 12/west coast. However, he’s a big corner (6’3” 200lbs) that can run (4.43 40-yard dash). The scouts say he’s not as physical as his body shows he should be, however he was a solid defender on a solid defense, which was ranked in the top 4 all season.
Chidobe Awuzie – CB Colorado: like King, Colorado plays in the PAC 12 and they weren’t expected to be nearly as good as they were this year. However, according to the scouts and pundits (which may mean nothing) he’s a 4-year starter at a big time program, is big (6’0” and 202lbs), fast (4.43), and should be selected in the late 20’s.
Forrest Lamp – G Western Kentucky: this pick would send nearly every Packer fan into a frenzy, he may be the best player available if still on the board. He’s 6’4” 309lbs, fairly strong (34 reps at 225lbs) and was a Tackle in college. Thompson doesn’t draft college guards, but tackles in college and some convert to guard. Reason being is tackles are more athletic than guards, while guards are usually more of a mauler. If you find a good athlete at tackle that’s strong, that could trend well in the NFL. I still have high hopes for Jason Spriggs (the Packers moved up in the 2nd round last year to select him), as he’s an incredible athlete that needs to add weight and see the field. The signing of Jahri Evans yesterday may take Lamp off the board for Green Bay, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if the Packers selected him as he’s very highly thought of by all scouts, teams.
Jabrill Peppers – S Michigan: a pick that would have Packer fans pinching themselves because they can’t believe Ted chose a cool player. Peppers was productive and dangerous in college, but I’m not sure where he’d play in the NFL. With the proper coaching he could be a Safety, or act as a linebacker in Nickel and Dime packages (defenses set up to defend the pass). I wouldn’t hate this pick, but I’d be really interested to see how he’s used and produces.
Christian McCaffery – HB/WR Stanford: after a decorated career at Stanford, he could be a difference-maker as a rookie. It helps he comes with football genes (his father played WR with the Broncos in the 90’s) and he knows how to play football and what to do with it once in his hands, and more importantly what to do when he isn’t holding it. Somehow, without working out or playing football McCaffery has shot up draft boards, but if he’s selected by Green Bay he wouldn’t be fitting a need as he’s a similar player to his former teammate, Ty Montgomery, but absolutely fits the bill and phrase of having as many good players isn’t a bad thing.
What will Ted do? That’s really what everyone is trying to figure out. My choice? I’d love for him to find a trade partner and trade back accruing as many 2nd – 4th round picks as possible as it seems this draft is loaded with talent and having the most picks gives one the best shot at obtaining as much talent for the long haul. Keep in mind the draft isn’t about the year at hand, but the next 3-10 years. Fans are sick of not “going all in,” but the failure of the last 7 seasons by the Packers is a direct result of not being successful drafting years prior and on-field execution, or lack thereof.
My guess? Probably King from Washington, Awuzie from Colorado, or Watt from Wisconsin. Regardless of whom the Packers take, there’s something about the NFL Draft that is exciting and great for true football fans! Have fun!