Ted Thompson’s favorite weekend of the year is a mere days away with the 2017 NFL Draft set to begin on Thursday night. The Draft is critical for every NFL franchise, but all the more important for a Green Bay team that typically eschews free agency in favor of drafting and developing their primary talent.
That said, the Packers were unusually active in free agency this year, adding TE’s Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, ex-Packer CB Davon House, and DT Ricky Jean-Francois. Still, Thompson has more work to do in order to fortify the Defense and patch some new holes created with the departures of TJ Lang, Eddie Lacy, and Julius Peppers, among others.
Several weeks ago I put together a Mock Draft 1.0 based on my early read of various prospects who fit well in Green Bay. Now that Green Bay’s official big board is settled though, I decided to shoot Ted Thompson an email to get a better feel for who he’s targeting this weekend.
As it turns out, Thompson doesn’t have an email address, or even a computer. I opted to write him a letter instead, and he was kind enough to rush deliver me his response.
So without further adieu, with the 29th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Packers will select…
If Ohio State’s Gareon Conley is unavailable at #29 (which now appears likely), Ted should opt for the next best available option: Tre’Davious White. White didn’t test as well at the Combine as other top CBs Marlon Humphrey and Chidobe Awuzie, but for my money is a better bet to succeed in the NFL than both.
White’s 4.47 forty speed is adequate, if not spectacular, however being an effective cover man requires a lot more than just straight-line speed. White excels by jamming receivers at the line and knocking them off their routes, and proved his merit last year by allowing a completion percentage of just 41.7% on throws into his coverage. If his lack of elite long speed proves too detrimental for him in the NFL though, he still has the footwork and tools to be an elite Nickel CB in the slot. As a bonus, his football IQ and leadership traits are reportedly off the charts, and he can even contribute as a punt returner from day 1.
A four-year starter and de-facto captain with the #18 jersey at LSU, White brings experience and leadership to a defensive locker room that sorely needs it with the recent losses of Shields and Peppers.
Previous Pick: CB Gareon Conley
As great as Aaron Rodgers is, we saw in 2015 what happens when Green Bay doesn’t have enough receivers who can consistently get open in Iso situations. Davante Adams is a strong WR2, but Jordy is 31 and only getting older while Cobb has a lot of miles (and injuries) to his name, even at 28. Trevor Davis, Geronimo Allison, and the Artist Formerly Known As Janis each have their strengths but would likely be exposed if forced into starting roles.
And so after neglecting the offensive side of the ball early in the last few drafts, Thompson secures his next great Round 2 WR with this dynamic Greg Jennings clone. Taylor in the 2nd may be a little rich for some people’s blood, but Thompson has made a living drafting future star receivers higher than many expected. Taylor’s elite quickness (6.57 3-cone drill) and crisp, smooth routes are reminiscent of the old #85 and make him a tremendous fit in McCarthy’s West Coast offense. Most importantly, Taylor has the speed (4.50 forty) to consistently win deep on the outside in the NFL, giving him all the tools needed to be a WR1 in Green Bay.
Previous Pick: OLB Jordan Willis
If you look long enough it’s easy to poke holes in every RB prospect in this class, including the premier prospects. In Hunt’s case, the most obvious criticism is his lack of top end speed, evidenced by his 4.62 forty at the Combine. My hope is that Thompson looks past the testing numbers however and instead focuses on the tape, where Hunt’s proven he’s one of the more impressive all-around backs in this entire class.
Hunt shines virtually every time he touches the ball, exhibiting tremendous vision and balance when shaking off initial contact from defenders. Despite his lack of elite size or speed he was still elusive enough to force 98 missed tackles last year – 2nd most in the entire FBS. In addition to handling 262 carries for 1,475 yards, Hunt added 41 receptions in his Senior season, proving he has the skills to be a three down back in the NFL and versatile complement to Ty Montgomery.
Previous Pick: OT/G Dion Dawkins
Both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews have been injury prone in recent years, and with the OLB depth chart down to just career special-teamer Jayrone Elliott and the unproven Kyler Fackrell after the departures of Peppers and Jones, Thompson could use reinforcements both for the present and the future.
Vince Biegel hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as his teammate with the famous last name, but he is arguably just as exciting of a prospect. He plays with a ton of energy (sometimes to his detriment) and his athleticism reportedly shined in Senior Bowl practices, even in coverage drills. He could possibly excel as an off the ball LB with his speed, but his quick-twitch agility (and spin move) should make him a solid pass rusher in the NFL. His motor and passion should make him an exceptional Special Teams contributor early in his career as well.
Previous Pick: RB Marlon Mack
The signing of Ricky Jean-Francois could spell the end for Letroy Guion, whose upcoming 4-game suspension and slipping play no longer justify his roster spot or 2017 cap hit ($3.7M). Cutting Guion would leave Green Bay precariously thin however, with only Daniels, Clark, and Lowry left as proven contributors on the defensive line.
At 6’5″ with insane 35″ arms, Wise is built to be a prototypical two-gapping DE for a 3-4 system. He had a disappointing Senior season that will hurt his stock, but his pass rushing upside provides exceptional value this late in the Draft. Look no further than his ridiculous tape against LSU in 2015, where he collapsed the pocket for four full quarters and single-handedly dominated the game.
Previous Pick: DT Carlos Watkins
The departure of TJ Lang has left a gaping hole in the right side of Rodgers’ line with no obvious replacement on the current roster. Roullier is a powerful blocker who profiles very similarly to both Lang (6’4″ 318) and Josh Sitton (6’3″ 318), and would have a good shot at winning a competition with Barclay and Murphy for the starting RG job. He moves well in space despite his stocky build, which is critical for a zone blocking scheme. Only adding to his value is his experience as a Center, which would enable him to serve as a versatile backup for all three interior OL spots if he doesn’t win the starting job, a role JC Tretter previously filled.
Previous Pick – WR Robert Davis
With Morgan Burnett in the final year of his contract and Hyde departing in the offseason, I think the Packers will aim to come away with a piece of this loaded 2017 safety class. Clark brings athleticism, versatility, and a high football IQ that could make him a potential Day 3 gem. He is an extremely strong tackler, a fundamental skill Green Bay secondaries have lacked for years, and thrives playing down in the box near the line of scrimmage. Like Hyde, Clark also comes in with plenty of experience as a slot corner, and has the speed and agility (4.54-forty and 6.85 3-cone) to perform that role well in the NFL. PFF speaks highly of Clark, noting that “top defenses thrive on assignment-sound disruptors of Clark’s quality.” At worst, Clark profiles as a Special Teams ace and valuable third safety in the NFL and a welcome addition to Capers’ group.
Previous Pick – OG Nico Siragusa
Yancey was one of the bigger Combine snubs of 2017, but has still managed to garner a ton of pre-draft interest after posting a 4.53-forty, 6.84-3 cone, and 36″ vertical at his Pro Day, all at 220 pounds. Yancey’s reportedly since met with at least half a dozen teams, including the Green Bay Packers. Thompson typically uses his formal pre-draft visits to meet with potential UDFA’s, but Yancey’s stock is clearly on the rise as a potential Day 3 steal.
Yancey is a little stiff in his route running, but is a tremendous size/speed athlete who is already a more polished Pro prospect than 2015 seventh rounder, Jeff Janis. Yancey excels at winning vertically down the sideline and attacking the football, something ex-Packer James Jones used to do very well. Interestingly enough, Yancey has a 92% athletic match with Jones, according to MockDraftable. Yancey can spend a year or two serving that niche role as a deep threat while he develops his overall route-running game. Along with Davante Adams and Taywan Taylor, Yancey could eventually help complete a dynamic all-star WR corps for the next portion of Rodgers’ career.
Previous Pick: RV De’Veon Smith
With this 2017 class, Ted Thompson will have successfully heeded Aaron Rodgers’ request to reload by emphasizing impact positions and replacing key contributors lost in the offseason. Further development from Green Bay’s second and third-year players along with this new talent should have Green Bay primed for another deep postseason run.
1 (29th overall) – CB Tre’Davious White
2 (61) – WR Taywan Taylor
3 (93) – RB Kareem Hunt
4 (134) – OLB Vince Biegel
5 (174) – DE Deatrich Wise
5* (184) – OG/C Chase Roullier
6 (214) – S Chuck Clark
7 (247) – WR DeAngelo Yancey
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