We're taking a quick break from our regularly-scheduled Acme Packing Company mock draft to address our selection on behalf of the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 SB Nation Mock Draft.
To get you up-to-date on where the draft board stands, let's look at the entire first round as it stands so far:
|2||Rams||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|3||Jaguars||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|5||Raiders||Blake Bortles||QB||Central Florida|
|8||Vikings||Derek Carr||QB||Fresno State|
|9||Bills||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|10||Lions||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|16||Cowboys||Zack Martin||OT||Notre Dame|
|17||Ravens||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State|
|18||Jets||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina|
With the top two safeties gone with picks 13 and 14, that shifted our focus to inside linebacker. Unfortunately, all of the top offensive tackles were drafted early, which forced the Dolphins bloggers to take C.J. Mosley and left us without the top inside linebacker on our draft board.
Options to Consider
All told, this would seem like a logical situation for Ted Thompson to trade down and acquire an extra draft pick or two and still get a preferred player at his appropriate value. That obviously isn't feasible in the context of this mock draft, however, so there were three main players I looked at in this situation: Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III, and Virginia Tech defensive back Kyle Fuller.
Each of those three players could help at a need position in the middle of the Packers' defense. Shazier could step in as a fast, athletic inside linebacker; Nix could rotate in at nose tackle with B.J. Raji, potentially making the veteran expendable after this year; and Fuller could contribute at safety and in the slot in substitution packages and be a potential long-term starter at safety or corner. Ultimately though, one name stood out to me as the best value of the three.
With the 21st pick, we on behalf of the Green Bay Packers selected:
Player: Ryan Shazier
School: Ohio State
Shazier's speed and athleticism gives him the ability to cover tight ends and slot receivers, which is a critical factor for the Packers as they like to keep their inside linebackers on the field in sub packages. Though his size is frequently cited as a concern, Shazier bulked up from around 228 to 237 pounds in the offseason and showed no loss of athleticism or speed at the Combine or his Pro Day.
Admittedly, Shazier struggles to disengage from blockers, so the Packers' defensive line will need to occupy the opposing linemen; if they can do so and keep the guards off of Shazier, his ability to find the ball carrier and close quickly will be a big boost for the Packers' run defense.