Most of the pieces are in place for the Green Bay Packers to make another Super Bowl run. Crushing the 2017 NFL Draft will be the final step.
Last season, the Green Bay Packers fell one game short of the Super Bowl. It was a disheartening end to what was a season characterized by resilience and an unwillingness to quit. Unfortunately, when all is said and done, there can only be one champion and it wasn’t the Packers.
That was the past, though. Now the focus has turned towards the 2017 campaign, which brings with it another opportunity for Green Bay to secure the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy. While free agency did more harm than good, the 2017 NFL Draft seems like the right time for general manager Ted Thompson to add the finishing pieces to this roster.
The Packers are currently the proud owners of eight picks, including all of their original selections and a fifth-round compensatory pick. With that type of ammunition, Thompson and Co. should have little trouble making a splash on draft day. They’ll need to if they plan on carrying their momentum over from 2016.
For now, though, all we can do is speculate on the future. With the draft less than a month away, let’s take a look at my latest seven-round mock draft for the Packers, created using Fanspeak’s On the Clock tool.
Keep in mind that these picks are meant to comment on Green Bay’s needs and the stock of the mentioned prospects–they aren’t hard predictions of what will happen in late April.
Considering most folks see Haason Reddick coming off the board in the middle of the first round, finding him at No. 29 seemed like a steal. He’s been one of the biggest risers during the pre-draft process, and appears ready to make a huge impact wherever he lands.
It just so happens the Packers could use his unique skill set in a number of ways. They currently have a need at both inside and outside linebacker—the Temple product can excel at both positions. Some teams see him as more of an interior presence due to his lack of strength at the point of attack, though.
Whether he plays inside or out, he’d be an instant contributor for the Packers. I think he’d be a better fit at inside linebacker, where he can team up with Blake Martinez to provide Green Bay with a young playmaking duo. Even if he’s not on the edge, Reddick has the athleticism and pass rushing chops to still make life uncomfortable for opposing quarterbacks as an interior blitzer.
Reddick is an excellent athlete with exceptional speed for the position. If he can get stronger and continue refining the finer points of his game, there’s potential for him to emerge as a star for this Green Bay defense sooner rather than later.
Even with the return of Davon House, the Packers are still in need of more help at cornerback. The group as a whole was underwhelming in 2016, with youngsters Damarious Randall, Ladarius Gunter and Quinten Rollins all struggling a little too often. The release of Sam Shields didn’t help, either.
Hence, the selection of Cordrea Tankersley in the second round. And honestly, he’s a steal at this point in the draft. If the Packers are truly looking to land a potential playmaker on the boundary, they need look no further than the former Clemson star and potential shutdown cornerback.
Tankersley waited patiently behind the Tigers’ other star cornerbacks. When his opportunity finally arose, he didn’t disappoint. In only two seasons as a starter, he racked up 100 tackles, nine interceptions and 20 passes defended. There are some holes to his game, but his mix of size, speed and athleticism make his unpolished technique and instincts worth the risk.
There’s a good chance Tankersley never pans out as a superstar cornerback in Green Bay. However given his physical tools and what we’ve seen from his tape, it’s very likely he develops into (at least) a quality starter. In the second round, you can’t ask for much more than that.
The addition of Reddick was a terrific start in terms of fixing this Green Bay linebacking unit. However, there’s a good chance he ends up inside, which means the Packers’ need on the edge would essentially go unaddressed with that selection.
Thankfully, the Packers will get more opportunities to make upgrades than just with that first-round pick. So why not add another high-upside linebacker to the mix in the third round? There just so happened to be a quick riser on the board who has the look of a huge steal.
If you glance at the stats, Joe Mathis doesn’t exactly have the look of a future star pass rusher. However, the former Husky has put some film together that has NFL scouts drooling over the upside. Put simply, Mathis has all of the physical attributes that make up an excellent edge rusher at the next level.
His bend around the edge and speed off the snap are excellent. If it wasn’t for a 2016 campaign marred by injury, he may very well be a first-round prospect—he managed 8.5 sacks in only eight games. The third round may be early in some folks’ minds, but I can assure you Mathis is worth it for a team that desperately needs more talent at outside linebacker.
In my previous seven-round mock draft, fans weren’t too happy about my decision to take Forrest Lamp in the first round. Guard is a significant need for the Packers heading into 2017, but apparently landing a potential Pro Bowl talent isn’t worth the No. 29 overall pick.
So instead, I waited until the fourth round to add an underrated interior blocker to the mix. While Ethan Pocic isn’t the quite on Lamp’s level, I’m confident he has the physical tools to develop into an NFL starter in the near future. Seems like a quality mid-round addition for a team that must keep Aaron Rodgers’ protection intact in 2017.
The loss of T.J. Lang during free agent forces Don Barclay atop the right guard depth chart. By drafting Pocic, though, the Packers immediately add competition for the starting gig. The former Tiger is a smart, competitive leader who played all five offensive line positions at LSU. Although not an overwhelming run blocker, Pocic wins with toughness and a relentless motor.
If he winds up in Green Bay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him steal some starts in 2017. Especially considering his versatility and the Packers’ question marks at guard and center, Pocic was simply too hard to pass up in the fourth round.
At this point, it wouldn’t hurt for the Packers to add some more depth to the defensive line. Especially with nose tackle Letroy Guion suspended for the first four games, Green Bay is going to need more bodies who can hold their own along its 3-4 front.
While the undersized Davon Godchaux isn’t a nose tackle, he shows enough talent on tape to warrant a look at defensive end. If he can prove capable of contributing early that would allow someone such as Kenny Clark to bump down instead of being forced to start someone like Chrisitian Ringo or Ego Ferguson.
Especially with the Packers’ need for more pass rush, I believe Godchaux is a worthy option here in the fifth round. He’s more than capable of getting after the passer, evidenced by the 5.5 sacks he racked up a season ago. While some would say his college career didn’t quite live up to the hype, he’s more than capable of at least earning a rotational role in the NFL.
Dean Lowry was a strong addition last year, and Ricky Jean-Francois should provide some veteran experience for this Green Bay defensive line. However, it doesn’t hurt to add more young options up front. Godchaux may never be a star, but he can be a quality depth piece for the Packers.
Trust me when I say that I wanted to address the running back position earlier than this. Unfortunately, every time the Packers’ pick was up, there was more value to be had at other positions. So instead, I settled on a late-round selection with some upside.
Enter USC’s Justin Davis. While not an overwhelming prospect, the former Trojan has enough to work with in his toolbox to make a difference at the next level. My guess is that’ll cut it at least for 2017, especially with Ty Montgomery slated for starting duties and Christine Michael serving as a decent backup.
What makes Davis an intriguing addition is his mix of athleticism, patience and vision as a runner. While far from a power back, he’s got the frame to add some muscle in an NFL strength program, thus increasing his effectiveness on inside runs. If he can accomplish that, he’d be a solid complement to Montgomery’s speed and receiving skills.
He’s not the workhorse back the Packers are likely looking for during the 2017 NFL Draft. However, Davis has potential to develop into a capable contributor, especially if Green Bay ends up implementing a committee approach. It’s not ideal, but they could definitely do worse.
In the sixth round, finding quality offensive line talent isn’t going to be easy. However, with a need for more depth at offensive tackle, the Packers can afford to take a late-round flier. Grabbing Jessamen Dunker at the end of the sixth round would be a pick well spent.
Sure, there are some red flags with the former top recruit after he left Florida following a grand theft auto arrest. He then landed at Tennessee State, and never looked back. While the level of competition dropped, Dunker looked like a big fish in a small pond–exactly what you want from any FCS prospect.
With Dunker, it’s all about the physical tools he brings to the table. He’s a terrific athlete for his size, allowing him to mirror the speediest of edge rushers and effortlessly work to the second level against the run. His power at the point of attack needs work, but he has the frame to add muscle once he enters an NFL weight room.
Dunker is essentially a shot in the dark at this point. He’s obviously loaded with upside, but may never pan out after his college career took an ugly turn. Inserting him into this strong Green Bay locker room could be just what he needs to get back on the right path.
When I saw that Kenny Golladay was still available near the end of the seventh round, I jumped at the opportunity. The Packers may not have a pressing need for a big, rangy receiver, but the talent he brings to the table is well worth the late-round investment.
Golladay is an underrated talent who has the upside to quickly became a contributor at the next level. He possesses reliable hands, noteworthy speed for his size and can be a nightmare for defenders in the red zone. His route running needs some work, but the raw materials are absolutely available.
Now I’m entirely sure where he’d fit into the Packers’ receiver depth chart. However, behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, the race for the final spots on the roster is wide open. Jeff Janis never seems to capitalize on his opportunities outside of the playoffs, and Geronimo Allison is still a work in progress. Golladay could come in and push both for a job.
Golladay would be a developmental pick for the Packers, especially considering their depth at receiver. However, with a couple of years to learn and grow, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the former Huskies star emerge as a No. 3 or No. 4 option in Green Bay.