Green Bay Packers draft radar: Four college players to watch in Week 12
In this weekly series, we highlight four college football players to watch over the weekend that could be on the Green Bay Packers radar for the 2017 NFL Draft.
If the 2016 season ended today the 4-5 Packers would have the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Now, it’s unlikely Green Bay will stay at the 12th spot by seasons end. A lot of football is left to be played and many things are yet to be determined. But in the very least, it gives us an idea where the Packers could be drafting in each round, especially if they continue down this road of mediocrity.
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With so much attention paid to the potential first-round prospects the Packers could target next spring, I want to take this week and throw out a few names that Green Bay could take a look at on day two of the Draft.
The Packers have plenty of needs to address on their roster next offseason. They could really go any number of ways with their first few picks.
Here are four prospects playing this Saturday that I believe would be nice additions to their team next year.
1. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
One of the best receivers in the 2017 Draft class doesn’t come from a Power-Five school. Like former Packers great, Greg Jennings, Corey Davis is an early-round prospect from Western Michigan.
However, unlike Jennings, Davis offers the rare combination of size (6-3, 213), speed, and athleticism–the ideal makeup for a potential NFL wide receiver. The outstanding senior prospect boasts a complete game.
Davis shows reliable hands and proficiency with the entire route tree. He consistently makes big plays downfield and has the speed and suddenness to create separation from defenders across the middle of the field. He’s also effective on bubble screens or hitch routes. He’s an explosive enough athlete to make plays out in space with the ball in his hands.
Davis’ production over his four-year college career speaks for itself–297 receptions for 4,814 yards and 47 touchdowns. He’s averaged over 16 yards per catch in his time at WMU.
The Packers have plenty of good receivers on their roster, but they are missing true playmakers at the position. Jordy Nelson is still solid at age 31, and Davante Adams has shown he can make plays. It’s also hard not to admire how hard Randall Cobb plays each and every week.
However, does Green Bay really have a player at the position that creates mismatch problems for opposing defenses?
It would make sense for them to spend an early-round pick in next year’s draft on a receiver who is a true downfield threat.
When to Watch: Buffalo vs Western Michigan this Saturday on ESPNU at 2:30 pm central
2. Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
McKinley wasn’t on many people’s radar prior to the 2016 season. However, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound senior has really broke onto the scene this season.
The UCLA outside linebacker is tied for the nation lead in tackles for loss with 18. McKinley has also recorded 46 tackles, 10 sacks, and five pass breakups in nine games this year.
McKinley shows tremendous explosion off the edge as a pass rusher, and he has the build and athleticism to excel as an edge defender in a 3-4 scheme. He also has good strength to hold the point of attack against the run, and his high motor makes him the complete package as a front seven player.
And even if the Packers front office decides to re-sign Perry, bringing in another talented edge rusher wouldn’t be a bad idea considering Clay Matthews‘ injury history and age.
When to Watch: USC vs UCLA this Saturday on ESPN at 9:30 pm central
3. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Even if Sam Shields manages to continue his career next year after suffering his fifth concussion, the future of the Packers cornerback position still seems shrouded in uncertainty.
Damarious Randall and hasn’t been able to stay healthy this season, and even when he was in the lineup he was very inconsistent. Quinten Rollins has also really struggled in his second year. LaDarius Gunter has shown some promise, but Demetri Goodson may not have a future on the team if he continues to struggle.
Needless to say, the Packers could use another talented player or two to bring more depth and competition to their secondary.
Chidobe Awuzie may not be a well known prospect just yet, but he’s definitely one of the better cornerbacks currently in college football. He does a tremendous job keeping his eyes on the quarterback and tracking the ball when dropping in coverage.
Having seen significant playing time either as a starter or nickel corner in his four-year career at Colorado, Awuzie has recorded 27 passes defensed. A smart corner with good instincts, he does a nice job reading route progressions and breaking on the ball to make a play.
As a six-foot, 205-pound defensive back, Awuzie is also a pretty good run defender and excels playing up at the line of scrimmage or in the box as a nickel defender. He’s recorded 240 tackles in his time at Colorado, including 24 for a loss and eight sacks.
Awuzie would be a great nickel corner in the Packers scheme. His game reminds me a lot of former Packer Casey Hayward.
When to Watch: WSU vs Colorado this Saturday on FOX at 2:30 pm central
4. Billy Price, OG, Ohio State
For the second year in a row Ohio State’s roster is chalked full of potential NFL talent. However, one prospect that is often overlooked when evaluating the Buckeyes is right guard Billy Price.
The 6-foot-3, 315-pound junior began his college career as a left guard. He took over the starting role as a freshman in 2014 and has started every game since.
For three seasons now, Price has been a key cog in the OSU offensive line. He helped pave the way for Ezekiel Elliotts‘ outstanding 2014 and 2015 campaigns. And now moved over to the right side of line, Price has emerged as a leader on the Big Ten’s top-ranked offense.
Price is widely regarded among his peers and coaches as the strongest player on the team, but he’s also very athletic and quick off the snap for a guy well over the 300-pound mark.
It’s his combination of power and quickness that allows him to get to the second level and wash out opposing linebackers from the play. He’s also good at combo blocks and has the strength and base to stonewall massive one-technique defensive tackles.
The Packers could lose T.J. Lang, JC Tretter, or Don Barclay after this season. If Green Bay suddenly finds themselves devoid of interior offensive line depth, Price could be a solid option for them in the draft, specifically in the second or third rounds.
When to Watch: Ohio State vs Michigan State this Saturday on ESPN at 11 am central
Previous CFB Players to Watch: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11
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