Do you ever get the feeling that the draft experts just don’t get the Packers? Whether it’s not appreciating that the team has more of a focus on drafting for value rather than need or plainly misunderstanding the needs of the team in general, it seems like every year the talking heads miss the boat when it comes to the Packers. If there is any group of experts who just seem to consistently miss the mark it’s the draft team over at ESPN. We’ve recently picked on Kiper’s latest musing and now it’s Todd McShay’s turn. McShay released his latest draft scenarios today. For his full analysis you will have to have an ESPN Insiders’ subscription, but I’ll outline his general thoughts. McShay has three scenarios that he thinks the Packers will go after at 26:
1) The Packers draft an offensive tackle
McShay argues that the Packers have a need at OT and lists Justin Pugh, Menelik Watson, and Kyle Long as three possibilities for their first round pick. I’m not sure I agree with the beginning assumption McShay starts with, namely that the Packers have a need at tackle. They could have a need at tackle, but that depends entirely on the health of Derek Sherrod and very few people know where that is at right now. I know I don’t know and I highly doubt that neither McShay nor the Packers really know either.
I doubt the Packers are ready to give up on him so quickly though, and so the only real tackle prospect s I see the Packers going after here then would also be one that could push for a guard spot as well. That should eliminate Watson. Pugh is climbing up the charts and may sneak into the first round. Long would be a big reach at 26 and any need the Packers may have at tackle is not big enough to justify that sort of desperate pick.
Out of all the scenarios that McShay gives this makes the most sense but it’s still pretty doubtful. It’s too soon to thrown in the towel on Sherrod unless there is medical evidence that he just can’t play anymore….and I have seen nothing to suggest that is the case. The Packers could probably ride it out one more year and move Bryan Bulaga over to the left side if Marshall Newhouse can’t improve his game this offseason.
2) The Packers draft a running back
McShay then cues up all the dreadful stats about the Packers’ running game that you can imagine and talks about how Eddie Lacy would be a good pick if he is still on the board. Now I am always skeptical of drafting running backs high in the draft, unless that running back is just a special talent and clearly a top five player in the draft. There are many reasons for this, the ability to find decent running backs late or even as undrafted free agents versus rarity of finding quality linemen, the high risk of injury, and how generally short their careers are being the top three in my mind. Specifically with Lacy though I’m at a loss as to why people continue to push him as a first round talent other than the fact that he’s the best running back in this draft class. Last time I checked Lacy is still nursing a hamstring injury which caused him to sit out Alabama’s pro day. He will run and work out for NFL scouts on April 11th, but until those results come back I’m going to remain skeptical of Lacy truly being a first round player.
3) The Packers draft a safety
Cards on the table, I think the general assumption that the Packers need a safety is the laziest take these experts can give about the Packers this offseason. Most of the time it comes from people looking at the fact that Charles Woodson was cut and the career ending injury to Nick Collins and then concluding that safety is a need area, but the problem is that this flat out ignores guys like Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings. Jennings is undersized but solid and pretty good in coverage. McMillian appears to have a higher ceiling and could be a player in this league should the team give him time to develop. Adding another safety may provide good value, but it’s hardly what I would call a need when I look at other positions like nose tackle, running back, or center.
Well, McShay falls into this trap and throws out names like John Cyprien and Matt Elam as potential targets for the Packers. It’s a classic move by mock draftniks trying to match player value with draft position rather than truly trying to understand they team they are projecting the pick for…..which is disappointing.
Needless to say, but I’m unimpressed with the scenarios that McShay has put forward. I would be much happier with a Packers draft that came away with a good interior offensive lineman and a nose tackle early and then fill in some offensive skill players in the middle rounds. The Packers could surprise me, but given Thompson’s history or preferring to draft linemen early and skill players a bit later I doubt the team really follows any of the scenarios that McShay has lined out.