Here are some thoughts about who I would like to see the Packers take tomorrow. I think chances are better than 50/50 that the Packers trade down for more picks. It’s a deep draft — especially at DB and OT, the places the Packers have to be looking most carefully. So trading down makes sense. Plus, Ted Thompson loves to do it. Miami didn’t take Matt Ryan and if Atlanta doesn’t take him, both could be candidates to move up to get a Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco or, unbelievably, Chad Henne. (Atlanta has three second-round picks right now – 34, 37, 48. The Packers could give up 30 and a late round pick for one of atlanta’s second-round picks and a couple later picks. See here for the point system NFL teams use to determine the value of picks.)
My list below is not meant to be exhaustive. I skipped the guys most analysts think will go in the Top 10. I don’t have opinions about other guys. I didn’t spend much time on DT, thinking that the Packers probably don’t need one. But given the emphasis Thompson and Mike McCarthy place on the D-line, I would not at all be surprised if they went back to DT early in this draft again.
For what it’s worth (not much):
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
There is virtually no way he would fall this far. He has risen from a likely second-rounder a few months ago to an almost-certain Top 15 pick now. He will be phenomenal. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says he’s the best back in the draft. I agree.
Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Candidate to do the best Lambeau Leap ever. Has a vertical of 42 inches. 42 inches. That’s 42 inches. NFL.com’s Vic Carruci has a mock draft with the Packers taking him at #30. I think he’s on crack. I’ll be shocked if he’s still around after the first 15 picks. We would have arguable the best LB corps in the NFL.
Leodis McElvin, CB, Troy State
Potentially the best Packer name since Cletidus Hunt. The consensus top CB in the draft, will almost certainly be gone early. My favorite statistic comes from CBS: McElvin only played two offensive plays but nonetheless holds Troy State’s record for all-purpose yards over a career at 3,909. He was a pretty good return man. If Ted Thompson were ever inclined to move up to get anybody, I’d think McElvin would be a good candidate.
Branden Albert, G/OT, Virginia
Basketball athleticism in a football body.
Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
He’s slipping but I can’t imagine he slips this far.
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Can’t imagine he slips this far, either, and he looks just like Jeff Otah.
Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
Again, can’t imagine he falls to anywhere close to #30. But he’s a stud.
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
I agree with NFL analyst Pat Kirwan’s take. If Brohm had come out last year, after his junior season, he would have likely been a Top 5 pick. I think he’ll be a solid NFL quarterback and maybe a very good one. The big concern is injuries, as he’s missed time with three big ones over his college career.
Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
A little concerned that he was a stud only for one year at Michigan State. But he has good numbers and a lot of upside. I don’t think we need a receiver, but I’ve become a believer in Ted Thompson’s best-player-available philosophy.
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Solid. This is a great year for tackles and if it weren’t, Williams might have found himself at the top of the draft board.
Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
This guy is a beast. When I see him projected as a late first-rounder I’m baffled. Did these guys see him play? I understand that good linebackers can be had later, but I think he is an absolute monster. Can play inside or outside. Too bad he wasn’t around to play with Jack Ham.
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Everything I’ve seen about this guy suggests he will be a star. He is supposedly very strong in man-to-man, obviously important for a Packer draftee.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
He has two last names. Ugh. Despite his solid combine numbers and impressive Senior Bowl, I’m worried that he’s overrated in part because his last name is Cromartie. (Lots of draft experts have him as a Top Ten pick.) I think there are several teams who wish they’d taken his cousin, Antonio Cromartie, when he was available two years ago. The Chargers got him with the 19th pick in the 2006 draft and he has become one of the most exciting players in the NFL, leading the league in interceptions last year.
Philip Merling, DE, Clemson
He sounds like a character from Masterpiece Theater. He’s had some injury issues – a sports hernia – but is solid. The Packers would do well to add someone strong opposite Aaron Kampman. I like KGB and I always want him to do well. But he’s just not getting it done anymore.
Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
See above, though his slow 40 times at the combine are a concern.
Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
His name is Limas Sweed. I don’t think we need a receiver, but I’ve become a believer in Ted Thompson’s best-player-available philosophy.
Gosder Cherlius, OT, Boston College
His name is Gosder Cherlius. If he’s still around, I bet the Packers grab him. Think the Packers have been on the phone with his coach last year, Jeff Jagodzinski?
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
His name…kidding. A lot of draft analysts are high on him and his numbers are competitive. I haven’t seen much of him and he has some off-the-field issues. Clark Judge at CBS says a couple of teams are so worried about those issues – drugs – that they’ve taken him off of their board. Yikes.
Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
You have to like it when the knock on a corner is that he sometimes misses tackles because he tries to hard to punish receivers. He was a first team All-American last year. Everyone says that he plays faster than his 40 times – that’s because he 40 times were relatively slow (4.54). Questionable whether he can play the man-to-man schemes the Packers prefer.
Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
Solid. Often described as a “ball hawk,” which I like. Could be very effective in press coverage.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Not a position of need, in my view, but he can play. I’d prefer to wait on taking a running back – Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, or Steve Slaton later – but he’s the only other back I could see taking in the first round.
Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
Too skinny? This guy intrigues me. He’s nearly 6’7” and can throw. Became a Blue Hen after leaving the University of Pittsburgh. Big risk in Round One, though.
Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
He played a ton at Miami, which is saying a lot. And the school cranks out a lot of top-tier NFL safeties. His strengths are in coverage, which might mean he overlaps with Nick Collins too much. (That’s right, we’re not drafting for need.)
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
I have a man-crush on Ryan Grant and I want to see him as the lead back, so it’s hard for me to get excited about another guy coming in to steal carries. Especially a high pick that’s not named Mendenhall. But Jones has a lot of potential and together they could be a nice combination.
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
The Packers don’t need WR help, but they’re reportedly interested in Jackson and despite his size he could be a solid player. Very fast. I think both Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy liked what they were able to do last year with such a strong receiving corps and with Donald Driver likely nearing the end of his career, it wouldn’t be crazy for them to keep it strong.
Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
Nothing against Keller. I don’t want the Packers to pick a tight end here. In general, I don’t like using high picks on tight ends because they are not likely to be game-changers and lower round picks often emerge as professionals and early picks are unpredictable. Who was a more valuable rookie TE last year? Greg Olsen (1, 31), Zach Miller (2,6) or Kevin Boss (5, 16) out of Western Oregon? 2006 gives us better examples. The best tight end that year has proven to be Owen Daniels, the 9th TE selected. There are exceptions – Kellen Winslow Jr. in 2004. But he was the 6th overall pick. Bottom line: There are four or five TEs that virtually every analyst has graded evenly. It just doesn’t make sense to reach for one in the first round.
Fred Davis, TE, USC
John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame
Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
Did anyone see him play in college?