What a strange off season this has been in Green Bay. As Packer fans, it’s foolish to expect Ted to sign any free agents that aren’t his own. Enter Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks and suddenly tight end goes from a need to a strength in just two days. But that’s the only need that the Packers have fully addressed. Nick Perry and Davon House returning are certainly going to help but it doesn’t fix the defense. Ted had opportunities to bring back Julius Peppers, TJ Lang, J.C. Tretter, Micah Hyde, Eddie Lacy, and Datone Jones. He didn’t, which is completely unprecedented. Ted and the Packers are known for taking care of their guys. I don’t hate the decision to let these guys walk, but I find it puzzling. The Packers always seem to have a plan, and as of March 19th, I don’t see it yet. The Packers still have the following core needs: Running Back, Cornerback, Guard (really, depth on the O-line period) Defensive Lineman and Outside Linebacker. As of today, the only way to try and fix these needs is in the draft. Here’s how I think Ted does it.
Round 1: Takkarist Mckinley, OLB/DE, UCLA
I’ll be honest, this is really difficult. An edge rusher or a corner here seems like the obvious call, right? What about Forrest Lamp after Lang’s departure? Are we really going to have Don Barclay start? Tom Silverstein seems to think it’s more likely than having Spriggs or Bulaga move.
The Packers still need a running back. Christian McCaffrey? Alvin Kamara? With Guion’s suspension and the fact you can never have too many big guys, why not a DT?
Taking all of that into account, I think the pick right now is Takkarist McKinley. After signing House the Packers should wait a little bit to fix the secondary in this corner heavy draft.
In my first mock, I talked extensively about Sam Seale. He seems to be Ted’s favorite scout, seeing as we take a lot of PAC 12 guys. Here’s another. McKinley is all motor, and he just moves differently. What I mean is that he’s so fluid in everything that he does, there is no wasted movement and he always finds the ball carrier. McKinley finished with 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss last year. The pass rush ability is there but it’s raw and needs polishing. Time with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry is what he needs to bring the best out of him.
Round 2: Desmond King, S, Iowa
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Packers draft a slower DB from Iowa that translates to a safety or a zone corner in the NFL. Oh, that’s right, Micah Hyde. We just lost him, let’s get a modified version. Now, their games aren’t identical. Hyde was bigger and a better tackler. But King does one thing Packers defensive backs didn’t do well last season, he finds the football. He finished with 14 interceptions in college. The speed you love isn’t there, and maybe he’s not the best tackler but that doesn’t mean he isn’t physical. He makes life tough on wide receivers if he can get his hands on them. A bonus, like Hyde, he can be used as a punt or kick returner as well.
Round 3: Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
Eddie Lacy heading to Seattle leaves the Packers without a bruiser for a running back. Wayne Gallman can fill that position nicely. What he lacks in quickness, he makes up for in physicality. In 2015 Gallman finished with 1,527 yards on 283 carries, and 1,002 last year but he only ran the rock 196 times. Gallman is the perfect complement to Ty Montgomery, he would bring violence to a running game that sorely needs it.
Round 4: Isaac Asiata, OG, Utah
In my last draft I had the Packers taking Nico Siragusa from San Diego St. because I wasn’t sure TJ Lang was going to be returning. He’s not. While Siragusa is still a possibility in the 3rd or 4th round, we know how Ted values guards (not highly), so he waits a little bit for a possible Lang replacement.
Isaac Asiata is the pick here. I don’t really need to say a lot about Isaac Asiata, I’ll just let these highlights speak for themselves.
Are you sold? Asiata has a mentality that NFL coaches will love to mold and work with. His aggressiveness can be a detriment that gets him out of position, but it’s something that NFL coaches can fix.
Round 5: Zach Banner, OL, USC
Depth. Depth. Depth. When Don Barclay is your depth but he’s technically a starter at the moment, you need more depth. Spriggs is the backup tackle, but there’s no way the Packers can be comfortable with Barclay at RG. Right? Yes, drafting two offensive linemen is boring, but it’s necessary. Banner is technically a tackle, but almost every scout views him as a guard and by some as a starting right guard. A battle between Banner and Asiata for Lang’s replacement is one I would love to see. The biggest concern with him is his weight. He’s gotten up to 380+, but when he’s at a good weight he still has rare size and athleticism to go with it. He’s a quality run blocker, but struggles against high profile edge rushers when playing outside. The Packers would never plan to use him at tackle, but his experience could make it possible in a disaster situation.
Round 5: Ben Gedeon, ILB, Michigan
There are no perfect players at this point in the draft, but the Packers always seem to find starters or key depth players in these later rounds. Ben Gedeon would be the latter. He doesn’t have ideal NFL speed but he has a sharp mind for the game and plays the run tough. He can be a very serviceable backup for Ryan and Martinez, and also a key contributor on special teams.
Round 6: Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota
Another guy I don’t have to say a ton about. He ran a 4.28 40 yard dash. He’s a little undersized and his ability to read the QB isn’t where it needs to be yet, but the Packers need to give his athleticism a shot in the sixth round.
Round 7: Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo
Although undersized for nose tackle, he has the opportunity to provide depth to a Packer defensive line that will be missing Guion for four games. Sometimes he plays too tall and is frustratingly inconsistent with his effort. Mike Daniels would put an end to that quick.
I’m not sure that the Packers will go into the draft with all of these needs, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Thankfully it’s a good corner class, and it’s a good guard class. Some of their needs can certainly be sorted out, and if anyone is going to try to make use of all of their picks, it’s Ted Thompson.