You know who I'm talking about.
Even though Mel Kiper Jr. hasn't updated his hairstyle since sometime between the the Boston Tea Party and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the guy is ESPN's go-to-guy between February and April. He's a full-fledged draft guru, and he's released his four-round mock draft this morning. Unfortunately, you can't access the article without Insider status, and I'm not about to cut/paste it and risk the wrath of tWWL.
I will, however, offer up who he projects to join the Packers. After the jump, of course.
R1-P9: B.J. Raji, DT (Boston College)
Raji (6'1", 337) has been mentioned on this site as a potential star at NT. I, however, don't like it. Green Bay's biggest needs are OT and 3-4 OLB. Ryan Pickett is big enough and talented enough to play over center for a while yet. If Aaron Maybin, Everrette Brown, and/or Michael Oher are still on the board (as Kiper says they will be), I want them to be considered. Besides, if Raji really is the second coming of the "QB Killa" Warren Sapp, why would he fall out of the top-5? I'll tell you why: character issues. The academic ineligibility in 2007, altercations with other players in 2006, and testing positive at the Combine in 2009 are three big red flags. And I'm not comfortable drafting someone with three big red flags in the top-10.
R2-P41: William Beatty, OT (Connecticut)
From what I've read, he seems to be a solid football player with only above-average lineman skills. Beatty (6'6", 306) is a strong LT who earned first team All Big East honors. He's considered the 6th best tackle prospect in the draft, which is positively loaded at OT. In a normal year (i.e. one that doesn't have three OT's drafted before the 9th pick), he'd be a mid-first rounder. I would be comfortable with him joining the o-line rotation, but I'm somewhat doubtful as to whether or not he'll be available at pick 41. If Thompson trades down from the 9th spot to later in the first round, don't be surprised if the Pack takes Beatty at picks 20-35.
R3-P73: Cody Brown, OLB (Connecticut)
Kiper must think that Thompson is a Huskie at heart. Brown (6'2", 244) had excellent production at UConn over his four years, and became a team captain in 2008. As an NFL linebacker, he projects to be just average against both the run and the pass, but he will play primarily as a pass-rushing OLB. Can a slightly undersized linebacker produce as a pass rusher? If Brown's 18.5 sacks over the last two years are any indication, the answer is yes. Providing Thompson doesn't fill this need earlier in the draft, Brown is an excellent pick early in the third round.
R3-P83: Tony Fiammetta, FB (Syracuse)
Come again? Fiammetta (6'0", 245) is ranked as the best FB in the draft. He is an above-average blocker and can catch passes in the flats. He was a captain in 2008, and is an all-around solid football player. But...really? I was under the impression that Korey Hall and John Kuhn already filled these roles. Maybe Thompson doesn't want to resign Kuhn? I am scratching my head at this point. Why does Kiper think Green Bay needs a fullback?
R4-P109: Zach Follett, LB (California)
In the middle rounds is where Thompson earns his keep. I'll admit, I'd never heard of Follett (6'1", 236), and ESPN.com doesn't have a write-up on him. However, given the state of the 3-4 transition and the lack of depth, linebackers like Follett are infinitely valuable. Follett is an impressive athlete who excels in run support. He has also shown some pass rush ability, averaging 4 sacks over 4 years. He does not, however, shine in pass coverage, which limits his usefulness as an every-down linebacker. Follett is a classic "upside" pick; a player that might develop into a high-level starter.
So that's who Kiper thinks we'll end up with after 4 rounds, and you've got what I think. What do you guys think?