Earlier this week, NFL.com's Chad Reuter unveiled a four-round mock for the 2016 NFL Draft. When looking at the Green Bay Packers' projected selections, Reuter's picks make sense when considering the projected needs of the Packers, but there are questions about some of his selections. Here are Reuter's picks and my reaction to each of them.
First Round (#27), DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Reed has climbed draft boards this year from being unranked by some early on to now a projected first-rounder (ranked among the top 5 DTs in the draft class). A great fit for the Packers 3-4 alignment, Reed is 6'3" and 311 pounds with great strength. He simply eats up blockers and stuffs the run, something Dom Capers seems to prefer in his defensive tackles. Reed could very well be the best run-stopper in this year's draft. He has great instincts and surprising quickness and athleticism for someone of his size, two things which allow Reed to slide out to defensive end when necessary. Scouts also rave about his instincts and balance, especially at the point of attack. The primary knocks on Reed are less than refined pass-rushing skills and a "motor" that isn't always revving.
My View: As a believer that the front line dictates the quality of a defense, I like Reed as the Packer's first-round pick. Reed might not be a stand-alone pass-rusher, but his presence will allow Ted Thompson to pass on re-signing the underwhelming B.J. Raji, and allow Capers more freedom in his use of his linebackers, especially if Clay Mathews makes the move back to the outside as an edge rusher. Reed's presence would improve the Packer defense, making it more formidable up front.
Second Round (#57), ILB Antonio Morrison, Florida
Morrison projects as an undersized ILB (6'1", 232) in the Packers' 3-4 scheme. His lack of size may be a contributor to his history of injuries, including a severe injury late in 2014 which tore multiple knee ligaments (including the ACL). When on the field he is considered a tackling machine with great burst to the ball and sideline to sideline speed. He's a solid tackler in the open field. He's considered a terror when blitzing off the edge. And some say he was the most intense player in college football this past year.
My View: I find this an interesting choice by Reuter, as Morrison is projected anywhere from the second round to the sixth. When healthy, some say he is a top-40 pick. While the upside definitely exists, I don't like using a second-round pick on someone a year removed from a serious knee injury. That said, in a thinner inside linebacker class, Morrison may be perfect risk for Thompson's "best player available" approach.
Third Round (#88), TE, Thomas Duarte, UCLA
Duarte has great size for a receiver at 6'3", 220. He runs good routes and can make the highlight reel catch, but he has only average foot speed for a WR. At UCLA he was used in a hybrid TE/WR position where he was used down the seam frequently. Tight end may be his future in the NFL.
My View: I completely disagree with this choice by Reuter. First, if Thompson chooses to go receiver this early, I expect it to be a legitimate all-around TE like Nick Vannett (Ohio State) or Bryce Williams (East Carolina) who could be available in this spot, not a speculative pick like Duarte who who is projected as a late round to free-agent signee. I like the idea of TE, but Duarte is more than a stretch.
Fourth Round (#122), OG, Spencer Drango, Baylor
Drago played left tackle at Baylor, but most believe he is better suited to guard in the NFL. Drago has a powerful upper-body and uses awareness, angles and snap quickness to get the job done. He has good balance and a mean streak. Some question his lower body strength, but that can be addressed in an NFL weight room. Playing in Baylor's up-tempo offense, Drago showed he can operate in space. Some scouts rave about Drago while others question if he can perform as well in the NFL, even at guard.
My View: I love the this pick...especially if he's still available this late in the fourth round as he is projected as a 2nd or 3rd-rounder by many. The Packers need to upgrade their depth at tackle and although projected as guard, Drago could contribute here and eventually ease the eventual loss of TJ Lang or Josh Sitton.
I believe this draft could play out very well as far as the Packers addressing their most glaring weaknesses. Give us your takes on what the Packers should do with these picks in the comments below.
Editor's note: APC is happy to announce the addition of new author Nitchke to our writing staff (and yes, he is aware of the difference in spelling from the legendary Packers linebacker). Please give him a warm welcome.