With the Green Bay Packers' season on the brink of total collapse and the team currently holding a pick in the top half of the 2014 NFL Draft at slot #16, this seems like as good a time as any to start a way-too-early look at some mock drafts. Today's comes courtesy of SBNation's Dan Kadar (aka @Mockingthedraft).
Unsurprisingly, he has Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater going first overall to the Houston Texans, but his selection for the Packers has me scratching my head a bit.
16. Green Bay Packers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: Green Bay's cornerbacks haven't been playing that well this season, so if the opportunity to take a player like Verrett presents itself, they should pounce. Verrett is currently rated as the draft's top cornerback because of his athleticism and ball skills. He could be the player general manager Ted Thompson falls in love with at the Senior Bowl.
By all accounts, Verrett is one of the top corners in the draft, and could jolt some life into a Packers secondary that has struggled this season. His size is reportedly a concern, though, as he is listed at 5'10" and 176 pounds. Here's what confuses me, though: the Packers' safeties have played far more poorly than their cornerbacks, and the top safety on everyone's board, HaHa Clinton-Dix of Alabama, is still available in this mock. About Clinton-Dix, Kadar says he "is easily the top safety in the class. He's capable of playing up at the line and dropping into coverage." Sounds like just what we need at free safety next to Morgan Burnett.
I decided to ask Dan on Twitter about why he chose Verrett over Clinton-Dix, and this was his response:
@acmepackingco Understandable. I think adding quality in the secondary period would help. Verrett is an island player.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) December 3, 2013
Fair enough. If Verrett is truly a shutdown corner, his presence might give the Packers enough leverage to get out from under Tramon Williams' contract for 2014. While he has improved this season over his play in 2011 and 2012, he still is not playing at a level worthy of his $8.5 million cap hit, and that grows to $9.5 million next season. Drafting Verrett might also allow the Packers to shift one of their other corners to safety in the hopes of bolstering the position from within the organization instead of in the first round.
A few other players I would keep an eye on would be nose tackle Louis Nix III of Notre Dame and tight end Jace Amaro from Texas Tech. Both players fit a need (given the expected free agent departures on the defensive line and the lack of playmaking ability from the tight end position without Jermichael Finley). However, both of those players were drafted in the three picks prior to the Packers', with Nix going to San Diego at 13 and Amaro to the Rams at 15.
At 17, however, is an intriguing prospect in Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, a 6'6" freak of nature. The problem with Hageman, at least in my eyes, is that his size (310 pounds) and skill set don't seem ideal for a 3-4 nose tackle. He would likely be a force from the three- or five-technique spots, but the Packers have some bodies there in Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, and others.
All in all, mock drafting in December is no fun, and certainly isn't something we're used to, but it may be necessary to get an early start on it this year.