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2016 NFL Draft First Round Recap: Jack plummets, Packers pick Kenny Clark

The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft had its share of surprises while Green Bay filled a big hole (literally and figuratively) by selecting a defensive tackle from UCLA.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

If you had an image of a player in a gas mask smoking a bong as the most striking image of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, you are probably a very rich person.

Of all the crazy things many people expected to happen, the fall of Laremy Tunsil out of the top ten was not one many expected. Thanks to an video posted on Tunsil’s Twitter account of what many thought was Tunsil smoking a bong wearing a gas mask, he fell all the way to number 13. The Miami Dolphins may have gotten a steal but it was still a shocking fall for a player once considered a possible number one overall pick before the Tennessee Titans traded the pick to the Los Angeles Rams.

As for the rest of the first round, there was nothing too unexpected. Quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were selected first and second overall.  The San Diego Chargers improved their defense with Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott to the Cowboys made it back-to-back top five picks for the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Jacksonville Jaguars closed out the top five.

With the sixth pick, the Baltimore Ravens started a run on linemen (both offensive and defensive) by taking tackle Ronnie Stanley from Notre Dame.  Eight of the picks between 5 and 19 were offensive or defensive lineman.

As the first NFC North team to pick, the Chicago Bears traded up to number nine from number 11 overall  (also giving up a fourth round pick) and selected Leonard Floyd a linebacker from Georgia whom head coach John Fox hopes will continue the Chicago tradition of stud linebackers like Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher.  The Bears needed help with their pass rush and they got it in Floyd.  He’s not quite the size of a traditional outside linebacker, but Fox will take all the pass rushers as he can get as he continues to rebuild the Bears defense.

The Detroit Lions picked five spots later and selected offensive tackle Taylor Decker, from Ohio State.  The Lions obviously were looking to immediately shore up protection around Matthew Stafford and got one of the best offensive tackles in the draft.  Decker was the fourth of five Buckeyes selected (outside linebacker Darron Lee was taken at number 20 overall by the New York Jets)

Laquon Treadwell went to the Minnesota Vikings at 23, the third of three receivers taken at 21 through 23. The fact he and Josh Doctson were still on the board at 22 and 23 was a surprising development for the two players considered by many to be the top two receivers in the draft.  Treadwell gives Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a big target.  He won’t kill you with speed, but Treadwell is a physical receiver who will win more jump balls than he loses which is critical for a quarterback like Bridgewater who still struggles with the deep ball.

The Broncos traded up to 26 to get their quarterback of the future in Paxton Lynch, which should finally end all the speculation of Colin Kaepernick to Denver despite Lynch being a bit of project.

Finally the Green Bay Packers were on the clock. General manager Ted Thompson had his pick of  great defensive tackles as well as inside linebacker Reggie Ragland and the very gifted, yet significant injury risk, Myles Jack available.

So who was the pick?

Well, Ted selected Kenny Clark, defensive tackle from UCLA.  He will be expected to replace B.J. Raji, who retired in the offseason at age 29.  Clark is a powerful young man, who can bull rush and get to the quarterback.  While the pick does not fill the hole at inside linebacker that will allow Clay Matthews to move back outside full-time, it does bring a healthy (literally, as Clark didn’t miss a game or have surgery in college) combination of strength and athleticism.

He’s lighter than Raji was (Clark is 310 lbs, Raji was 327 lbs) which will enable him to move quickly against the run, and that’s good news for a Packers defense that struggled against the run in 2015.  He also will not turn 21 until October, and that means he can do plenty of molding in the weight room.

As for negatives, he at times lacked gap discipline and allowed some broken tackles.  He also has limited ability as a pass rusher due to his initial burst being so strong that he tops out early. If he could become more of a penetrator at the line, it would generate a lot more opportunities for Matthews, much like Clark did for Myles Jack at UCLA. Speaking of Jack, the concerns about his injured knee plunged the previously projected top five pick to plummet all the way out of the first round as three of the final five picks were defensive tackles.

The first round may be over, but the intrigue is far from over.  There are plenty of questions left to be answered in the second and third rounds on Friday.

Could Trader Ted make an appearance to move up and take Jack? Where will Reggie Ragland land? Will the Packers fill holes at inside linebacker and tight end in the next two rounds?

Predicting Thompson draft picks can often be a fool’s errand, but there are plenty of choices for him in the second and third rounds.  With the 57th and 88th selections on Friday as well as three fourth round picks on Saturday, Green Bay has ammunition to move up.

It’s difficult to see Jack and Ragland lasting until 55, but if they do it wouldn’t be surprising to see Thompson pull the trigger on one of them.  If not, Joshua Perry would be a good choice. He’s almost another A.J. Hawk, but that might be okay there at 55 instead of number five overall pick like Hawk was.  He’d be a solid presence in the middle, which would be an improvement over what the Packers currently have. Scooby Wright is also a possibility, but he’s worth more of a third round pick than a second thanks to his injury shortened 2015.

If Ted chooses to go tight end in the second round, Hunter Henry would be a heck of a steal.  He’d be the downfield tight end threat the Packers have been missing since Jermichael Finley was lost to injury in 2013.  Nick Vannett would also be a solid choice at 55 or even the third round if Henry is not available or the Packers go inside linebacker in the second round.

Thinking the next two Packers selections are inside linebacker and tight end is logical, but who knows what Thompson is thinking? That’s why he’s the GM and the rest of us aren’t.

Stay tuned to Acme Packing Company tomorrow for full coverage of the second and third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.