Since defensive coordinator Dom Capers initiated his league-famous 3-4 defense in Green Bay in 2009, he has yet to have a difference-maker in the middle.
In the 2006 NFL Draft the Packers selected former Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk with the 5th overall pick, and Hawk moved inside when the team switched to the 3-4 defense in 2009. While Hawk has had a distinct ability to stay healthy (has missed only two games due to injury in nine-year career) he is hardly a difference-maker on the inside. I think most would agree that if Hawk had an above-average counterpart to man the middle with him, his game would be elevated significantly. As the story goes in the NFL, you are only as good as the man lined up next to you.
That has been the problem in Green Bay in a nutshell since the team's Super Bowl XLV victory — a lack of talent beside Hawk at the inside linebacker position.
The Packers have gone from Nick Barnett to Desmond Bishop to Brad Jones in recent years, and even career backups Jamari Lattimore (four starts in 2013) and Robert Francois (two in 2011 and one 2010) have combined to start seven games since 2010. D.J. Smith was once a promising inside linebacker before he blew out his ACL in 2012 and has since been on a number of teams unable to find his footing again in the NFL. The Packers haven't used a pick any higher than the fifth round on a player intended for the inside linebacker position since Nick Barnett was a first-round pick in 2003.
Then they wonder why the inside linebacker unit in Green Bay is among the league's worst.
Many people are clamoring for the Packers to take a safety, tight end or another defensive linemen with their first-round pick, but that would be a disastrous mistake. I'm of the mindset that unless you have a sure-fire All-Pro caliber safety prospect entering the draft, you do not take a safety in the first-round. In my opinion the story is the same of the tight end position. There isn't a single safety or tight end in this year's draft class that is worth the Packers' while at pick No. 21. Adding another defensive linemen with the pick would also make little sense with Jerel Worthy coming back from injury, mixed with Julius Peppers, B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd and possibly Ryan Pickett and/or Johnny Jolly.
If they pull the trigger on a safety in the second round they could be in the market for a guy like Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois, a guy that reminds me a lot of former Packers' safety Nick Collins. They could also take a look at Deone Bucannon, safety out of Washington State. It's not out of the realm of possibility for those to be available for the Packers in the second round. Both would be good prospects for the Packers to consider instead of potentially wasting a pick on the "top two safeties" in the draft — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor.
The signing of Peppers will surely help the Packers' front seven, a unit that finished 25th in the league against the run in 2013. However, the front seven is obviously still missing a dominant linebacker to pair with the ever solid Hawk.
Enter C.J. Mosley.
With the 21st pick in the 2014 APC Mock Draft, the Green Bay Packers select....
Name: C.J. Mosley
C.J. Mosley and the Packers are a match made in heaven.
Mosley, a three-year starter for one of the nation's top-ranked defenses, is a tackling machine. Four times in 2013 Mosley racked up 10 or more tackles in a game. His 107 tackles in 2012 were eclipsed by 108 in 2013 and he sits in 7th place in the SEC in career tackels (a stat which goes back to 2005).
Mosley is the type of tackling machine and athletic monster the Packers have been missing for years now. The athletic inefficiencies the Packers have shown the last three years is eye popping. The San Francisco 49ers took the Packers' to the wood chipper in the 2012 Divisional Playoff game, likewise for the New York Giants in the 2011 Divisional Playoff game. Although the Packers closed the gap a bit last year with a heart-breaking last-second loss to the 49ers in the Wild Card round, the athletic gap between the defenses of the NFC's top teams such as the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks and the Packers' is still pretty significant.
Mosley will help close that gap in a number of ways.
First, unlike Hawk, or any other linebacker on the roster for that matter, Mosley can cover the opposing team's tight end. Mosley is the definition of a three down player and his athletic abilities will allow him to cover tight ends like Vernon Davis in the NFL.
Second, Mosley is a very strong run defender. He is a sure tackler, and his ability to find the football is second to none. No matter where the play is Mosley finds the ball and finishes the play, something the Packers have sorely missed.
Third, his football IQ is through the roof. Rarely do you see Mosley out of position or making mental mistakes. A big reason for this is his head coach Nick Saban. Saban coached in the NFL as defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1994 and was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for one season in 2005. Saban has a track record for preparing his players for the next level (see Lacy, Eddie), which he has done nicely yet again with Mosley.
The only issue that I and some others have with Mosley is his injury history. In 2011 he missed time with a dislocated elbow and in the 2012 BCS National Championship game he apparently suffered an undisclosed knee injury; both injuries have to be weighing heavy on team's minds entering the draft. Teams will no doubt have to fully dive into Mosley's injury history before they spend an all important first-round pick on him.
The injury history may be a deal breaker for the Packers considering the injury trend that the Packers have seen of their own over the last three or four years.
The bottom line though is that Mosley is the difference maker the Packers have been desperate to find to man the linebacking unit with Hawk. He adds a blitzing ability that the Packers have never had in any of their 3-4 inside linebackers. Arguably most important to the Packers is that Mosley is NFL-ready right now and can step in and start for the Packers on day one.
If Mosley is available for the Packers at pick No. 21 they must pull the trigger.
Round One Summary
|1||Houston Texans||Blake Bortles||QB||Central Florida|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|10||Detroit Lions||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Aaron Donald||DT||Pittsburgh|
|12||New York Giants||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||S||Alabama|
|14||Chicago Bears||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Timmy Jernigan||DT||Florida State|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Taylor Lewan||OT||Michigan|
|18||New York Jets||Odell Beckham, Jr.||WR||LSU|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Zack Martin||OT||Notre Dame|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Dee Ford||DE/OLB||Auburn|
|21||Green Bay Packers||C.J. Mosley||ILB||Alabama|
Keep it locked at APC as Aron will have the pick for the Philadelphia Eagles, No. 22 overall, later this afternoon.