I think we can all agree that the last few weeks have been very forgettable, as far as the NFL is concerned. Green Bay losing to Seattle and Detroit, Ray Rice now undeniably guilty, the rapidly evolving Adrian Peterson saga, a punter getting kicked in the head... where art thou, amnesia? A football team is nothing if it can't look forward, though, and fans are the same way. So let's take a look at potential Packers targets for the 2015 draft, keeping in mind what seem to be early needs for the Pack. Since I have the Green Bay at #5 in my Power Rankings, I'll slot us at 28 (and, for math's sake, assume that no comp picks are awarded to any team.)
Round 1(28): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
At least on paper, Green Bay's cornerbacks are a strength right now. Of the top four, though, two are scheduled to hit free agency at the conclusion of this season (Tramon Williams and Davon House) and this is likely the end of the line in Green Bay for the former, unless he's willing to come back at a much reduced rate. Waynes has been part of college football's equivalent of Seattle's "Legion of Boom", the Spartans' "No Fly Zone". He doesn't have any super-freakish athletic ability, but he does have ball skills and looks very comfortable in run support, at least form the tape I've watched. He's also a tall cornerback at 6'1", which obviously helps with Marshall/Jeffery/Megatron. Best yet, drafting Wayne would likely allow Casey Hayward to stay in the slot, where he had his generational rookie season.
Other players I considered: I briefly thought about putting Devin Funchess here, but Green Bay is fresh off drafting a tight end in the third and is hopefully getting Brandon Bostick back from injury this week, so it's too early for me to give up on that group. If either LSU tackle La'el Collins or, somehow, Iowa's Brandon Scherff, falls to our spot, he might be tempting as well.
Round 2(60): Benardrick McKinney, ILB/OLB, Mississippi State
If you've read APC for more than a month, you're probably familiar with my support of Benardrick McKinney as a first-round pick for the Packers. My opinion of him hasn't changed, but the media's has. Most now list him as going in the fifties due to the fact that he's fairly unrefined. The physical tools (as aforementioned countless times) are undeniable, though; he could instantly be in the running as the most physically freakish inside linebacker in football. It's time to give the position coaches at ILB some real athleticism to work with. McKinney is just what the doctor ordered.
Other players I considered: This inside linebacker crop is getting interesting. If McKinney takes over the SEC this year, he could easily get his name called on the first day of the draft, but as of now, this crop doesn't have a surefire first-rounder. Eric Kendricks has been doing excellent work for the Bruins this season, and he's got the NFL pedigree (his brother, Mychal, starts for Philly), but his six-foot-flat size concerns me. Denzel Perryman out of Miami gets the headlines for his highlight-reel hits, and he's good in coverage as well, but, once again, I've seen the middle of our D get out-jumped by elite tight ends one time too many. Perhaps Kendricks or Perryman occupies this spot in my next draft, but I simply cannot ignore what McKinney can be in green and gold.
Round 3 (92): Ellis McCarthy, NT, UCLA
Well, I may have passed on Kendricks, but Green Bay ends up with its third UCLA player in as many years. McCarthy is probably in the running with Washington's Danny Shelton as the best nose tackle in the draft. He's a monstrous run-stuffer who has played through injury and actually did his best work down the stretch, not to mention that he can collapse the pocket. His stamina is not a plus, but it doesn't necessarily need to be, barring major schematic changes by the Packers, who put the nose on the field on about a quarter of all snaps.
Other players I considered: Call me crazy (anticipating comment section already) but if Nebraska star running back Ameer Abdullah falls to our pick in the third round, I think it would be a serious consideration. Replace John Kuhn with a tight end (Jake Stoneburner, I'm looking at you) and watch defenses try to pick between letting Aaron Rodgers burn them or dealing with Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris and Abdullah. Also, Syracuse's Sean Hickey (great name) may be a popular pick at OT, as the team has to pick up tackle depth, even if it chooses to bring back Bryan Bulaga (unintentional alliteration, by the way. Feel free to pat me on the back.)
Round 4 (124): Clive Walford, TE, Miami
So, yeah, some minor NFL players have played tight end at Miami. Like Jimmy Graham, and Jeremy Shockey, and Bubba Franks, and Greg Olsen, and Kellen Winslow Jr., and, eh, all that good stuff. Walford just might be the sleeper of this year's tight end crop. He's put up consistent production and he's one of the fastest tight ends in the draft, not to mention good size at 6'4". Green Bay has a couple of theoretically high-upside guys in Rodgers II and Bostick, but if neither shows himself to be a playmaker, Walford would be a great pickup.
Other players I considered: Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel might be a fascinating quarterback to groom as Rodgers' backup if the team is unsatisfied with Scott Tolzien's progress on the practice field. If Stefon Diggs out of Maryland drops into Day 3 because of injury concerns, Green Bay would have to be interested. He's freakishly fast and could end up becoming a better player than Randall Cobb.
That's the first iteration of what's sure to be a multitude of mocks!
Feel free to sound off below.