The Green Bay Packers need an inside linebacker. That has been established all offseason and Acme Packing Company readers confirmed that this week in our survey of the Packers' draft needs, when the position fell just short of the defensive line for the top spot.
It has also been a popular position for mock draft projections, with Reggie Ragland of Alabama often being the selection for the Packers with the 27th overall pick in the draft. Tonight we will find out what actually happens, but we can add one more name to the list of pundits picking Ragland to Green Bay: Mike Mayock.
The NFL Network's top analyst issues just one mock draft each year on the eve of round one, unlike most of his fellow draftniks (like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN, for example) who have new ones at least every few weeks during draft season. In any case, Mayock has chosen Ragland as his projected selection for the Packers, explaining it as follows:
Ragland is an old-school, downhill thumper. The Packers were ranked 21st against the run last year, but more importantly Ragland allows them to get Clay Matthews back outside.
The question remains about Ragland's ability to be the coverage linebacker in the dime package, but he certainly should provide an instant upgrade at the Mike linebacker position.
It is worth noting that numerous defensive tackles were still on the board at 27. Names still available included Andrew Billings, Vernon Butler, Chris Jones, and Kenny Clark, to name just a few. However, Ragland comes in second among off-ball linebackers in Mayock's final top-5 rankings, slotting in behind only Myles Jack of UCLA.
We should know in around 12 hours whether Mayock is correct.