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Who should the Packers take in April? Well, we won't have really strong opinions for a while, but it's never too early to start looking at the draft.
Between now and the NFL Draft, I'm going to look around the internet at various mock drafts and see who draft experts think the Green Bay Packers could target come April. Of course, this is going to change frequently between now and the actual draft -- we haven't had the Senior Bowl, combine or pro days yet -- but it's still fun to think about.
We'll kick it off with our own mothership.
Barrett Jones' injury makes him a risky pick at this spot, so the conventional wisdom for this pick is out the window. The Packers' run defense was a disaster toward the end of the season, and a smart, thumping linebacker like Kevin Minter could go a long way toward fixing that issue.
The depth of Green Bay's offensive line was sorely tested in 2012 with injuries to former first-round picks Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod. The interior was steadier, especially once Evan Dietrich-Smith took over at center, but the Packers' inability to protect Aaron Rodgers played a critical role in their loss to San Francisco. There is no simpler way to put it: the Packers' offensive line lacks toughness and physicality - two of Fluker's most impressive traits.
This may not make complete sense on the face but Green Bay is one of those teams that can afford to keep one eye on the future rather than being locked into addressing specific, immediate needs. Jermichael Finley is still just 25-years-old and won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season but his play has been trending downward for a couple of years now and he has also rocked the boat a bit off the field. Whether or not Finley is in the Packers long-term plans remains to be seen but Zach Ertz of Stanford could serve as either a replacement or compliment. Ertz may not be quite as fast or athletic as his former teammate Coby Fleener but he is undoubtedly a better all-around player. That's not to say Ertz isn't a terrific pass catcher though, with the size, hands, body control, ball skills and route running ability that you look for in a top prospect at the position.
While many do not view Johnson as a first rounder, he is a gifted athlete who is still developing at the position and would give the Packers a young, athletic tackle to upgrade their pass protection.
With the run of offensive linemen coming off the board before this pick, the Packers move their attention to the big uglies on the other side of the line. Presenting a great value pick is Jesse Williams, who has come a long way since his youth playing rugby in Brisbane, Australia. Williams is a JUCO transfer who has collected as many accolades as he has tattoos - which is a lot. While his stats may not look that impressive, NFL scouts are drooling over the unique talents Williams presents. Extremely strong with quick feet, Williams can play any position on the line, which is exactly what he did for the Tide. After one season as a defensive end, Williams switched to nose tackle for the 2012 season. But wait - there's more! Williams has also played fullback in the Jumbo Package for the Tide. With Ryan Pickett entering his final contract year in 2013, Ted Thompson drafts his replacement and gets a boatload of versatility to boot.
The Packers need to add speed and athleticism to their linebacker corps. Ogletree is an explosive sideline-to-sideline defender with tremendous burst.
Poll time! We're going to do this poll every week.
Who do you want?
OL Lane Johnson (32 votes)
LB Kevin Minter (114 votes)
OL D.J. Fluker (100 votes)
DE Jesse Williams (204 votes)
TE Zach Ertz (20 votes)
LB Alec Ogletree (164 votes)
These options are all absolutely horrible (81 votes)
715 total votes