It is that time of year again. The time when the National Football League opens up the NCAA cupboard and selects fresh players for their teams. It’s the first day of the NFL Draft.
The Packers are in pretty good shape. The Cleveland Browns, notsomuch. What will each team do to improve for the 2016 season. We will find out starting tonight.
Here are some thoughts on the NFL Draft in general, and five predictions for the Packers specifically. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
Packers observations and predictions:
- The Packers will NOT draft an inside linebacker, at least not a traditional one. Yes, this is probably the biggest need for the team. Even if Reggie Ragland – one of the top inside linebackers in the draft – is available, don’t expect them to take him with the 27th pick. Instead, I expect them to go with a tweener-type player to play a huge role in their defense. Su’a Cravens, Miles Killbrew and Jeremy Cash all played safety in college. All are quick, can cover a running back, and can hit. Expect the Packers to take one of them or a similar player in the 2-3 round area to replace what they hoped to do with Sean Richardson last year.
- Ted Thompson loves players who can play multiple positions, and will draft accordingly. Damarious Randall, Jake Ryan, Randall Cobb and Micah Hyde are just a few players who played multiple positions in college. Thompson values versatility, as we will see this weekend.
- Packers take the best available players. Here are the positions of need they will fill. Packers love to say they draft the best available player. The do that, with an asterisk. Thompson is great at filling areas of need, and areas of future need. With three members of the starting offensive line becoming free agents next year, you can bet at least one pick will be spent on a backup who can start next year. Apart from offensive line, the Packers could use depth at inside linebacker (see above), outside linebacker/pass rusher (Julius Peppers is getting old), defensive line and tight end and safety. I think you’ll see most if not all of those addressed this weekend.
- So, who do the Packers take tonight? Ted Thompson surprises (and usually infuriates me) every year. So here are three people I think will be around that I think he could take, along with one surprise pick. That said, he’ll likely take someone completely different.
1. Vernon Butler, Defensive Line
2. Andrew Billings, Defensive Line
3. Noah Spence, Outside Linebacker
Surprise! Josh Doctson, Wide Receiver
General Draft predictions and observations:
- The cost of quarterbacks continues to rise. The Rams and Eagles traded a boatload of draft picks to move up to draft quarterbacks no one really knew about a few months ago. These players are not Andrew Luck type tallent. They have an opportunity to be good, but equal opportunity to bust. If you’re a Packer fan, be happy you get to enjoy the good life for at least a few more years.
- Not an exciting class. I’m not as excited about this class of rookies. Maybe it’s because the top two players are a tackle and a cornerback. Maybe it’s because some of the top talent is injured. Maybe it’s a lack of skill players. I am not saying it’s a bad class, just less excited about it compared to other years.
- The defensive line prospects are incredible. So much talent on the defensive line this year. The players I mentioned for the Packer in other years could be considered top 10 talent. If you need people up front on defense, this is the year to get a player.
- With the 83rd pick in the Draft, the New York Jets take Cardale Jones. I like this prediction.