2014 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper Projects Ryan Shazier, Jace Amaro to Packers

Kirk Irwin

The ESPN draft analyst agrees with the first-round pick we made in the SB Nation mock draft last week.

It's that time of the year again, when Draftniks abound and you can't go three clicks on the internet without running into somebody's mock draft. Still, there are certain names whose mock drafts always generate interest, partially due to the analysts' reputation and partially due to the platform he has to speak from. Mel Kiper is one of those individuals, and his latest mock draft was released today.

Kiper's draft has a few intriguing notes. First, he has Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr being drafted ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, despite his feelings that Bridgewater is the best quarterback available.

However, it's the Packers' pick who we are all interested in, and he projects that Green Bay will draft linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State.

Here's Kiper's reasoning for the pick. Stop me if you've heard this before.

While (linebacker C.J.) Mosley would also be a good fit here, with him off the board the Packers nab a similarly special linebacker in Shazier. This is a player with great instincts and range, an ability to attack the backfield and chase down plays across the field. He's also going to cover underneath and stay on the field. Watch Ohio State tape over the past two seasons, and you'll see Shazier consistently playing faster than everyone else. He'll line up next to A.J. Hawk and solidify a need spot for the Packers.

Note that in Kiper's mock, much like the SB Nation mock draft, both top safeties (Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor) and linebacker C.J. Mosley were off the board already.

In the second round with pick #53, Kiper has the Packers taking a tight end, but not one of the prospects who have been connected to the Packers in recent weeks. Instead of Notre Dame's Troy Niklas or Washington's Austin Saferian-Jenkins, Kiper has Ted Thompson picking Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech:

The Packers have seen the departures of James Jones, Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings over the past 14 months, and could use another pass-catching weapon lest they try too hard to prove Aaron Rodgers can make anyone look good. This upgrades the talent level at tight end, though Amaro will typically be split out.

Personally, I don't see the Packers going for a tight end prospect who can barely play on the line at all, and certainly not in the first two rounds of the draft. I would see the 54th pick being a more likely selection: cornerback Pierre Desir from Lindenwood college. Desir has the size and speed and ball skills to be a very good safety, and he seems to be a better fit for the Packers (at least in my eyes) than Amaro. Plus, there's this.

Here is Kiper's full mock draft(ESPN Insider subscription required). Please sound off in the comments on what you think of Kiper's picks.

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