Three weeks from today, we will know what the Green Bay Packers have done with the 26th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. But until then, we can continue to speculate! Mel Kiper is the latest draftnik to update his mock draft, and I suspect that many people will be happy about the player he projects to the Packers at 26.
26. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Packers have lacked top-end reliability and explosiveness at running back, and that's what Lacy can give them. He ran behind a great line at Alabama, and he offers the best combination of power and open-field shiftiness in this draft. He's the guy in this class who can run with power but also break off some big runs. He also catches the ball well and can be a good safety valve for Aaron Rodgers.
That is all valuable analysis, but the difference of opinion that I have is that I still think there are other complete backs in this draft who will be available into the third round. Personally, I would have gone in a different direction, given some of the defensive players on the board, but this certainly is not a pick that I would complain about.
However, Kiper has taken his mock out for a full second round this time, and he projects the following pick to the Packers:
55. J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
The Packers are set at cornerback, but need to add a safety in the first three rounds.
Interesting. While I think that safety would be a good add sometime, I would have looked for a player in the trenches here, perhaps a center like Barrett Jones or Travis Frederick, or maybe a defensive lineman who's falling. But at least it's not like there are any highly-rated players left on the board when the Packers pick at 55, right?
56. Seattle Seahawks Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio St.
He's fallen due to draft depth at the position, but Hankins helps at a need position.
Wait. A safety, and not a particularly highly-rated one drafted in the second while Hankins was still on the board? I don't like that one bit.
57. Houston Texans John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
He moves incredibly well at 348 pounds and will help solidify the middle of that line.
Hold the phone. Kiper is just trolling Packers fans now. Yes, he has projected the Packers to pass on both John Hankins and John Jenkins twice. The safety position may indeed need some improvement, but I do not see a way that it is so critical that the team would pass on two defensive linemen who would fit well in a 3-4 and would represent great value. Instead, Kiper projects a reach for a small-school safety here.
Don't interpret this as a knock on Wilcox. He had a good Senior Bowl and he could very well be a good NFL player. I also acknowledge that "reaching" for a small-school safety worked for Ted Thompson when he drafted Nick Collins out of Bethune-Cookman in 2005, but given the players still on Kiper's board it seems difficult to imagine that the Packers would make the pick that he projects.