The 2017 NFL Draft is only a couple of days away, which makes this the perfect time to make some bold predictions for the Green Bay Packers.
Coming off a 2016 campaign that fell one game short of the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers will be looking to tie up any lose ends during the 2017 NFL Draft. The only question is do they have enough firepower (and luck) needed to make some impact additions this weekend?
My answer to that question would be yes, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point. They’ve got eight picks to work with, and general manager Ted Thompson is certainly capable of making the most of all eight. However, with all of their picks coming at the end of their respective rounds, some tough decisions will need to be made when it’s time to hand in their draft cards.
For now, though, there’s not much we can do except wait — and speculate. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do with the following bold predictions. They may not be all that feasible or make a ton of sense in the real world, but they’re a great way to look at the Packers’ potential draft plan from a different angle.
So here they are, five bold predictions for the Packers during the 2017 NFL Draft. Just make sure not to take them too seriously. They’re meant as innocent entertainment to keep us amused as we eagerly await Thursday’s arrival.
At this moment, cornerback is arguably the Packers’ biggest need. With Sam Shields gone and the duo of Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall coming off ugly sophomore seasons, more talent is needed in coverage if they’re going to keep pace in the NFC in 2017.
The class is loaded with cornerback talent, but a large chunk of it may be gone by the time the Packers have their first pick. However, as I’m predicting right now, Green Bay will watch Gareon Conley fall to No. 30 overall. When that time comes, the Packers will nearly run up to the podium to take the former Buckeye off the board.
By most accounts, Conley is one of the top cornerbacks of the 2017 NFL Draft. With so many teams knowing they can wait to address the position, though, someone is bound to slide. That could very well be the Ohio State product, although his slide could end up being a blessing in disguise.
Conley lands with one of the top teams in the NFC, and still hears his name called on Day 1. Better yet, he has the talent to eventually surpass Rollins and Randall on the depth chart. The Packers get their upgrade at cornerback without having to part with significant assets to do so.
Lots of folks are talking about the Packers potentially grabbing T.J. Watt in the first round. Why not, right? He’s an exception edge defender with outstanding bloodlines, and adding pass rushers is another obvious need for the Green Bay defense.
Well, as I’ve already predicted, Conley was the guy in the first round. That type of talent at the end of Day 1 was too good to pass on, even with Watt still on the board. However, after he starts to slide through the early parts of the second round, Thompson decides to go out and get what he wants.
It’s not going to be cheap, but the Packers move up to around the middle of the second round and select Watt. Even if they likely have to give up their second- and third-round picks in order to do so, it’s a move worth making. They address a significant need by adding a player with the potential to develop into a superstar pass rusher.
Watt would immediately slide in as a rotational outside linebacker alongside Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. With Matthews starting to slow with age, it won’t be long before the former Badger takes over as the main man in the Green Bay pass rush. Sounds like more than enough compensation to warrant trading away a third-round pick.
Even after getting Watt, it’s going to be a boring Day 2 after parting with a third-round pick. Instead of sitting on their hands waiting for Day 3, though, the Packers decide to make a bold move to get back in the mix.
Yes, I’m talking about trading away Randall Cobb for a third-round selection. There was some speculation at the end of the 2016 campaign that he could be a trade candidate, although it was mainly fan-fed. Still, it wouldn’t be completely out of left field considering the wide receiver’s recent struggles with injury and ineffectiveness.
Even with Cobb gone, the Packers have plenty of options to choose from at wide receiver. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams can run the show, while players like Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis provide depth. If Green Bay finds a capable featured back during the draft, Ty Montgomery could also make the move back outside.
Either way, it’s not a death sentence. Cobb has been on the decline in recent years, but still offers value as an offensive sparkplug. Some team will get desperate enough for receiver help in this weak class that they’ll part with a third-round pick to bring the former Pro Bowler aboard.
Back in possession of a third-round pick, the Packers continue to address the defense. We already know they have a dominant offense with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, so why not find more ways to fix a defense that looked lost at times during the 2016 season?
With cornerback and outside linebacker already addressed, the Packers turn their attention to inside linebacker. Blake Martinez appears to have one of the starting jobs locked down, but I’m a firm believer that an upgrade on Jake Ryans wouldn’t be the worst idea. Alex Anzalone is more than capable of providing said upgrade.
The Florida product is a rare athlete at the linebacker position, possessing excellent speed, agility and fluidity to make impact plays all over the field. The problem is he can’t seem to stay healthy. Shoulder injuries plagued him throughout the early parts of his time with the Gators before a broken arm brought an early end to his senior season.
Picking Anzalone on Day 2 is a gamble, that’s for sure. However, considering the talent and playmaking abilities he brings to the table, it’s well worth the roll of the dice. He’ll instant upgrade the Packers’ linebacking unit — assuming he can stay healthy long enough to actually see the field.
For all of the talk about Joe Mixon coming off the board on Day 1, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he stayed put until Day 3. Taking on that type of character concern simply isn’t what NFL teams want to do, especially in the early rounds.
That potential slide for the former Sooner could pay huge dividends for the Packers, though. They’ve already done their homework, and are seen by many as a potential landing spot for Mixon. Especially after the departure of Eddie Lacy, we all know they could use an influx of talent at running back.
The Oklahoma product would be just what the doctored order, at least from a talent perspective. He’s lauded as arguably the best all-around running back prospect of 2017 due to his excellent instincts as a runner and impeccable skills as a receiver. However, it’s that 2014 incident during which he punched a female in the face that continues to scare potential suitors away.
Assuming the Packers felt good after their interviews with Mixon, they decide to take on the potential PR disaster by drafting him in the fifth round. It’s a risky move for sure, but Green Bay has the strong locker room and coaching staff to keep him in check. The move rounds out this offense and gives the team a legitimate workhorse in the running game.