Packers go top-heavy on D in draft before turning to offense
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Growing up, Wisconsin native Vince Biegel rarely posed for pictures without wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey.
His childhood dream has come true.
The Packers selected Biegel, a Wisconsin Badgers linebacker, with the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. Green Bay spent the rest of the third day of the draft building offensive depth after the selection of fan favorite Biegel capped a top-heavy focus on defense.
”If you looked at old pictures of me growing up, it was all green and gold. I was a cheesehead, and I was as probably the most Wisconsin as you can be,” Biegel said.
”So to be able to say I played Wisconsin football in high school football, college football and now in the NFL, this is every Wisconsin kid’s dream.”
A lingering offseason memory in Green Bay is the blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game.
Adding speed and length to a secondary maligned by inconsistency and injuries was one priority. The Packers hope they’ve done that in part by drafting Kevin King, a 6-foot-3 cornerback from Washington, with the first pick of the second round on Friday.
Biegel checked off another box for a need to add a pass-rusher after Julius Peppers (Panthers) and Datone Jones (Vikings) left in free agency. Biegel also fits into the team’s recent philosophy of drafting players with the potential to play multiple positions. They think he can play inside, too.
The days of using primarily a base 3-4 defense on early downs are slowly disappearing in the pass-happy NFL.
”It’s all kinds of different people out there and different substitutional patterns,” general manager Ted Thompson said Friday.
Other notes from the draft for Green Bay:
BY THE NUMBERS: The Packers took 10 players overall, with the first four on defense and the last six on offense, including three running backs.
BIEGEL’S DAY: Biegel might have been overshadowed in 2016 by fellow Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt, who was taken in the first round by Pittsburgh, but he appears to be a good fit in a position of need for the Packers. Listed at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Biegel said he looked up to Clay Matthews, an ideal role model given that the Packers’ star pass-rusher also has experience playing inside.
MOVING AROUND: The Packers’ other second-round pick, North Carolina State safety Josh Jones, has also played cornerback. He could be a replacement for Micah Hyde, who excelled in a cornerback-safety role the past four seasons before leaving in free agency for Buffalo. Jones might also be able to play a hybrid safety-linebacker role similar to the one that veteran Morgan Burnett filled last season.
”Let’s face it, we need to play more (defensive backs),” coach Mike McCarthy said Saturday. ”Having players that can play multiple positions and can move around … is something we’re definitely leaning towards.”
WHAT A DAY: Possibly no pick had a more memorable draft experience than third-round selection Montravious Adams. The Auburn defensive end was drafted on Friday night, about six hours after his girlfriend gave birth to the couple’s first child, Montravious Adams, Jr.
”There (are) really no words I can say,” Adams said Friday. ”It was just, a lot of blessings, just coming from my son (being born) and then the Packers calling me.”
IN THE BACKFIELD: The Packers seemed determined to avoid the numbers problem they had at running back last season following injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks by taking three backs over the final four rounds. BYU’s Jamaal Williams was the highest pick of the three backs at No. 138 overall. He ran for school records of 3,901 yards on 726 attempts over four years.
Listed at 6 feet, 212 pounds, Williams has similar measurables to Ty Montgomery, the converted receiver who turned into the starter in the backfield after Lacy got hurt in October. Lacy left for Seattle in free agency, while Starks was released.
The Packers like Williams’ strong lower body and ability to make tackles. They then took running backs Aaron Jones from Texas-El Paso in the fifth round and Devante Mays from Utah State in the seventh.
”The biggest thing is they all can play three downs,” McCarthy said. ”It was definitely a position where we needed more competition, more numbers and we definitely achieved that.”
The other picks on Saturday:
-No. 175 DeAngelo Yancey, WR, 6-2, 201, Purdue. Packers had traded down three spots with Denver for this pick and the extra seventh-rounder (238th overall) used to take Mays.
-No. 212 Kofi Amichia, C, 6-4, 297, South Florida.
-No. 247 Malachi Dupre, WR, 6-2, 196, LSU.
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