By Jim Weidner. NFL mock drafts have become a very popular thing for NFL experts and fans around the world. Although Packers general manager Ted Thompson is about as exciting as vanilla ice cream, it’s a fun task to put yourself in his shoes with the NFL draft such a valuable tool for Thompson and the Packers to build their roster.
After reviewing the holes the Packers currently have on their roster and projecting where the Packers draft board might fall, we take our best shot at projecting what the Packers might do in this year’s draft.
First round, 29th pick overall
OLB TJ Watt, Wisconsin, 6’4”, 252 lbs.
Most Packers fans want to see a cornerback selected with the first round pick. But with Thompson just spending a first and second round pick on cornerbacks in 2015 on Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, there is a high probability Thompson won’t spend another first round pick on a cornerback. With the Packers allowing Datone Jones and Julius Peppers to depart via free agency, they need to shore up the depth at arguably the most important position in their 3-4 defense.
In the first draft of this article, we projected University of Houston outside linebacker Tyus Bowser. Although we believe Bowser is the more explosive pass rusher at this point, the ceiling for Watt and his bloodlines — he is the younger brother of Houston Texans JJ Watt — is just too much for Thompson and the Packers to pass up. Watt only had one overly high productive season at Wisconsin, but it was a very impressive one. Watt registered 11 ½ sacks and his all-out effort made him one of the best pass rushers in the nation.
Second round, 61st overall
CB Quincy Wilson, Florida, 6’1”, 211 lbs.
The Packers cornerbacks struggled mightily last season, especially Randall and Rollins. They did sign former Jacksonville Jaguar, and former Packer, Davon House, but added depth is still needed. At one point, Wilson was projected as a first round pick, but has slid as of late. He comes from Florida, a team that has had great depth at cornerback as of late. Wilson has the type of size the Packers like and has flashed superior talent. But still, he has a lot to learn and there isn’t a better NFL cornerback coach than Packers Joe Whitt who can get the most out of him.
Third round, 93rd overall
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova, 6’7”, 289 lbs.
With the departures of Jones and Peppers, the Packers are missing a big long levered presence inside their 3-4 defensive alignment. With the selection of Kpassagnon, he would bring just that to the Packers defense. He is raw and played at a lower level while at Villanova, but showed great explosion. As they say, you can’t teach size and that is what he brings to a defensive line. Kpassagnon will need time to develop, but when he does, he will bring a presence to the Packers defensive front they sorely need.
Fourth Round, 134th overall
RB James Conner, Pittsburgh, 6’1”, 233 lbs.
Running back depth is brutally slim with only converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael listed on the Packers depth chart. Both running backs aren’t big thumpers, and with the Packers releasing James Starks and Eddie Lacy signing with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, they need a traditional running back on their roster.
James Conner’s story is well known. He overcame a knee injury and cancer after his junior season and returned to rush for over 1,000 yards his senior season. Connor is a brute running the ball and would be a solid option to Montgomery or Michael.
Fifth Round, 174th overall
OLB Vince Biegel, Wisconsin, 6’2”, 246 lbs.
Watt might be getting most of the attention for this draft but Biegel might just be as good, or even better. Unlike Watt, who just had one very productive season while at Wisconsin, Biegel was productive for a longer stretch. He didn’t put up the type of sacks Watt did this past season, but he still had four, and for his college career, he had 15. What is impressive is his tackles for loss while at Wisconsin which was 28 ½. Biegel is strong against the run and could be a major asset at for the Packers especially on special teams.
Fifth round, 184th overall
OG Jordan Morgan, Kutztown, 6’3” 309 lbs.
Thompson and the Packers love selecting college tackles and converting them into guards. They did that with Josh Sitton and TJ Lang and both turned out to be very good players for the Packers. Guard is a huge need after Thompson curiously released Sitton before the start of last season and allowed Lang to walk this offseason and sign with the Detroit Lions.
Jordan Morgan dominated at Kutztown and is projected to play guard in the NFL. Packers fans who want the Packers to only select SEC players will be disappointed, but Morgan has the potential to be a very good player at the next level.
Sixth round, 214th overall
LB Dylan Cole, Missouri State, 6’0” 239 lbs.
It is a well-known Ted Thompson loves selects players nobody has heard of. It could be the scout in him or just shear arrogance on his part, but Thompson loves unearthing potential gems.
Dylan Cole was a standout playing at the FCS level and was a tackling machine. He leaves Missouri State third on the all-time tackles list. Cole has a knack for getting to the ball and punishing ball carriers when he gets there.
Seventh round, 247th overall
WR Chad Williams, Grambling State, 6’2” 193 lbs.
Thompson hasn’t been very good at selecting defensive linemen during his tenure, but he has done a nice job selecting wide receivers. The Packers have a lot of depth at wide receiver, but Jordy Nelson will turn 32 years old in May and fellow wide receiver Davante Adams will be entering the final year of his rookie contract. Williams is a big bodied wide receiver and stood out at this season’s Senior Bowl, where he was a late addition to the roster. In his last season at Grambling, Chad Williams caught 90 passes for 1,337 yards and hauled in 11 receiving touchdowns.