With just over a week to go, the ESPN draft nuts, Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay, have their latest mock drafts out. Their boards actually look surprisingly similar for once, with only two picks in the top 9 differing (and those are just a pair of offensive tackles who are flipped).
Where Packers fans are focusing is of course on pick number 21, and there's a trend brewing - one with which this author is fully on board.
Here is Kiper's breakdown of the pick:
The Packers get one of the more instinctive players in the draft, and they fill a void at linebacker next to A.J. Hawk with another Buckeye. Shazier is that modern linebacker who will play a little lighter but can shoot gaps upfield and also get through the trash and make plays sideline to sideline. He's also going to cover for you. I said before that if you watch Ohio State tape from the past two seasons, you'll see Shazier consistently playing faster than everyone else.
And here's McShay's analysis:
Safety and tight end are other needs for the Packers, but Shazier is a good fit at linebacker. He has marginal bulk for the position but very good speed and sideline-to-sideline range against the run. Green Bay has spent its past eight first-round picks on offensive line or defensive front-seven players, so taking Shazier would continue that trend. There's a lot of playmaking ability in the group of Julius Peppers, A.J. Hawk, Shazier and Clay Matthews.
It is worth noting that once again, both of these mocks have top safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor off the board in the teens and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley going a pick or two in front of the Packers. This scenario has been becoming more and more prevalent of late, but it is a bit of a surprise to see so many draftniks in a consensus about how the Packers would handle that situation.
If those three are indeed off the board in the first twenty picks, would you rather see the Packers trade down from the 21st pick or stay there and draft Shazier?