NFL Draft: What to Watch For

Here at last, the greatest day of the NFL offseason! After months of preparation and over analyzation (how many more mock drafts can you cram in before the draft actually starts?) we can finally sit down and watch as NFL GMs alter the future fates of their franchises. Green Bay, holding the 29th pick in the first round, won’t pick until hours after the draft begins. As Packer fans, here’s a few things to watch for in the hours leading up to Green Bay’s time on the clock, and in the days after.

Runs on Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers
It’s a fact of the NFL that quarterbacks are overdrafted, and overdrafted by a lot. Quarterback is such a vital position in the NFL that teams will pass on better players in the hopes of landing the quarterback of their future. Effectively, this gives teams without questions at QB a decided advantage. As a byproduct of team’s frantic desires to have successful quarterback play, GMs often overdraft wide receivers as well. The young QB you mortgaged your future on is struggling? Might as well overdraft some receivers to put around him.
A team like Green Bay, with zero intention of taking a quarterback or wide receiver early in the draft, will reap the benefits in the form of good players sliding down the draft. Remember, the more players overdrafted equals more players underdrafted too. The only quarterbacks who are seen as consensus top-32 players in this class are Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson. Likewise, the only receivers with top-32 grades are Mike Williams, Corey Davis, and John Ross. That being said, expect more than five quarterbacks and receivers to get drafted, to the Packers delight.

Photo via Getty Images
Trades Galore
It seems as though we see more draft day trades with each passing year. Nearly half of the teams in the draft have been linked to a trade, either up or down, in the first round. Several teams have the ability and desire to move up in the draft, and if the picks fall the right way many teams will want to move down. This is especially true for the Packers. Ted Thompson has made first round trades twice in his time in Green Bay. The first was in 2008, when he traded out of the first round entirely, swapping the 30th pick for the 36th and a fourth round pick, and selecting Jordy Nelson with the 36th pick. The second such trade was in 2009, when Ted dealt New England two third round picks and a second round pick in exchange for a fifth round pick and the 26th overall selection, which was used on Clay Matthews.
Don’t be surprised if, after hours of waiting for the Packers to pick, Green Bay trades out of the first round entirely. If a top quarterback, running back, or wide receiver is on the board at 29, a team at the top of the second round could swap their pick and a fourth rounder for Green Bay’s. While it’s disappointing to not see the Packers pick in the first round, they could get a top player, such as TJ Watt, early in the second round and take another contributor with the extra pick they’d gain.

Dramatic Draft Day Slides
It’s truly shocking how often a player expected to go in the top 10 of the draft experiences a drastic fall. Aaron Rodgers fall from potential No. 1 overall pick to 24th overall is arguably the most famous such fall. Last season, Laremy Tunsil was the unfortunate player who slid after questionable videos and texting conversations of his were released via twitter in the minutes before the draft.
Jabrill Peppers and Reuben Foster already have cost themselves in the week prior to the draft, failing their combine drug tests due to diluted samples, which will undoubtedly result in them losing millions of dollars in rookie contract money. Who else will tumble? Watch, wait, and see.

Photo via Sports Illustrated
Best Player Available
The Packers preach their best player available approach every offseason, but how true is it? It certainly has appeared to be the case in years past, as the Packers took players at positions that weren’t seen as needs because they viewed that player as the best remaining option. If the Packers are on the clock in the first two rounds and the best player available is clearly a running back, quarterback, or wide receiver (and the Packers don’t trade the pick), this approach will be put to the test. The Packers have glaring needs on defense, and passing on a starting caliber defender, even if a better offensive player is available, could wind up costing them in the playoffs. Best player available is great when a has holes all over or has very few holes, but when a team has as specific areas of need as the Packers do (cornerback, linebacker), need starts to take precedence.

The unknowns, which are aplenty, make draft weekend exciting. All that’s left for us to do now is sit, wait, watch, and overreact after the Packers pick.


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