I have brought together 21 draft “experts” in an attempt to gain some form of consensus on who the Green Bay Packers will likely take in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. The plus side is that all of these jokers actually get paid to share their opinion, which would suggest they might know what they are talking about.
On the other hand, in this country someone doesn’t have to be good at what they do in order to make money — Twilight series, I’m looking at you. That’s one of the things that makes this country great. So, when you add that to the fact that Ted Thompson‘s brain is like the Divine Mystery, you basically come to the conclusion that the Packers could draft anyone at any position and no one really knows.
|Daniel Jeremiah – NFL.com||John Cyprien – FS Florida International|
|Bucky Brooks – NFL.com||Eric Reid – FS LSU|
|Akbar Gbajabiamila – NFL.com||Eddie Lacy – RB Alabama|
|Gil Brandt – NFL.com||Montee Ball – RB Wisconsin|
|WalterFootball||DeAndre Hopkins – WR Clemson|
|WalterFootball||Tyler Eifert – TE Notre Dame|
|Charlie Campbell – WalterFootball||Menelik Watson – OT FSU|
|Rob Rang – CBSsports.com||Matt Elam – SS Florida|
|Dane Brugler – CBSsports.com||Tyler Eifert – TE Notre Dame|
|Pat Kirwan – CBSsports.com||Tyler Eifert – TE Notre Dame|
|Pete Prisco – CBSsports.com||Sylvester Williams – DT North Carolina|
|Alex Kay – BleacherReport||Sylvester Williams – DT North Carolina|
|Michael Schottey – BleacherReport||Matt Elam – SS Florida|
|Todd McShay – ESPN||Justin Pugh – OT Syracuse|
|Mel Kiper Jr. – ESPN||Eddie Lacy – RB Alabama|
|Russ Lande – National Football Post||Eddie Lacy – RB Alabama|
|Don Banks – Sports Illustrated||Sylvester Williams – DT North Carolina|
|Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk||John Jenkins – NT Georgia|
|Matthew Fairburn – SB Nation||Manti Te’o – LB Notre Dame|
|Al Bracco – Draftek||Eddie Lacy – RB Alabama|
|NFLDraftGeek||Tyler Eifert – TE Notre Dame|
So, it is entirely possible that these clowns put a bunch of names on a board, closed their eyes and threw a dart. However, if we are looking for any kind of consensus, then about 40 percent of the group say the Packers will be selecting either Eddie Lacy or Tyler Eifert with their first-round pick.
Eifert is a tight end out of Notre Dame who projects to be somewhere between Jeremy Shockey and Rob Gronkowski — yes, a completely racist and lazy comparison. Of course, of those two guys, the first is known for his all-around douchebaggery and fragile feet, and the second is known for his love of appearing shirtless at clubs, hanging with porn stars and crushing kegs at frat parties. Since Eifert is presumably a good Christian boy from Notre Dame, the Packers perhaps could expect a player who is less of a headache off the field while being a comparable match-up nightmare for defenses on the field.
The strikes against Eifert would be that the Packers haven’t taken a skill-position player in the first round since Aaron Rodgers. They already have a wealth of talent at the pass catching positions, while sorely needing another impact player on defense. Also, the tight end position itself is considered by many GMs as a position that isn’t drafted for until at earliest the second or third round. Gronk himself was a rare second rounder while the Saints’ Jimmy Graham was a third-round pick.
Lacy is a big, powerful back with quick feet who is in the mold of a Steven Jackson without the dreads. Lacy is the only running back projected to be taken in the first round, and some believe that he may be available in round two. The Packers would be interested in Lacy for most of the same reasons they were reportedly interested in Action Jackson. Lacy could be the cure to the infamous 3rd-and-short the Packers need. He may also enable the Packers to grind teams down in the second half.
By signing blocking tight end Matthew Mulligan, the Packers have signaled their commitment to the running game as a means to break teams out of the two deep shell that has proven effective against Rodgers. This suggests to me that either the Packers are high on DuJuan Harris or they plan on drafting a running back high in this draft.
Probably the biggest strike against Lacy, besides the offense-related strikes listed against Eifert, is the fact that he skipped his Pro Day due to a strained hamstring. Considering Bears fans have allegedly poisoned the Green Bay water with something that weakens hamstrings — Viking fans are too stupid to think of such things — it should be a concern to the Packers to learn that Lacy even has hamstrings, let alone that one of them is already injured. Plus, other decent running back options like Johnathan Franklin, Giovani Bernard and Montee Ball will all be available in the second round.
The advantage to picking either one of these guys, Eifert or Lacy, is that both are the top players listed at their positions. Like I explained in my last article, finding an impact player who contributes immediately is more important than trying to fill a specific need. In that sense, if either of these guys are at the top of Thompson’s board when pick No. 26 is on the clock, he should take them.
Sylvester Williams, a large-bodied DT from North Carolina, is the next most popular choice. Presumably, this would help the Packers with their run defense while providing an heir apparent for Ryan Pickett. This pick would also fit nicely with Thompson’s motto of picking big guys over smaller guys.
Probably the biggest reason to pick Williams would be if Thompson does NOT believe that B.J. Raji can play the nose. When you play the 3-4 defense, you must have a monster in the middle who can absorb blockers. If Thompson doesn’t believe Raji can fulfill that role, then picking Williams or someone similar could be a strong consideration.
The main issue I see with picking Williams is that as long as Pickett is there — this year at least — Williams would likely only be a situational player, and like Pickett, would not play on most passing downs. That means you spent your first-round pick on a guy who is essentially a part-time player.
Several of the remaining scouts went with the safety position for the Packers’ first pick. The guys in the mix to be taken are Eric Reid from LSU, Matt Elam from Florida, and John Cyprien from Florida International. Out of these guys, I would lean towards Reid, personally. He is a proven playmaker who has the best ball skills out of the three. Elam is a big hitter who has been compared to Dante Whitner of the 49ers, and Cyprien is also a big hitter who has been compared to Morgan Burnett.
The film work I did during the season told me that Burnett is a better player near the line of scrimmage, either supporting the run or covering the tight end. I believe the Packers need a ball-hawking centerfielder who is also a sure tackler to best compliment Burnett.
Considering this, Bacarri Rambo from Georgia might actually be the best fit for the Packers. Rambo is a true centerfielder-type safety who has been compared to Dashon Goldson, formerly of the 49ers. That is high praise for me. Rambo is projected to be available in the second round, meaning the Packers don’t have to use their first-round pick to necessarily improve at the safety position.
There are also a few offensive lineman — typically tackles who are capable of playing guard — on the list of Packer probables. Personally, I would lean away from drafting another tackle in the first round, but as I said previously, if Thompson thinks he sees an immediate upgrade, he should draft him.
Locally, Margus Hunt, a DE from SMU, has been named as someone that Packers are interested in. The native of Estonia apparently showed freakish athletic ability at the NFL combine and his stock has soared since. At 6-8, 275 pounds, Hunt seems more the prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but of course, if he can add some weight, he could make an every down 3-4 end as well. Hunt’s size and raw potential both characterize the prototypical Thompson first-round pick.
Another strong possibility, considering the depth of the draft once you get past the middle of the first round, is Thompson may trade down to either the end of the first round or out of the round altogether. By doing this, he may be able to acquire another third or fourth-round pick while moving up in the second round.
Yes, I would prefer quality over quantity, but if you’re essentially going to be getting similar quality anyway, then you might as well get as many picks in a deep draft as you can.