The Super Bowl has come and gone, as has the 2018 Senior Bowl. During the Senior Bowl practices and the game itself, a player’s stock can rise and fall. Generally, this causes big ripples throughout the mock draft world.
Compared to the last mock draft round-up, this current one is vastly different.
Let’s take a look at what some are projecting for the Packers in April:
Walter Football & SB Nation: Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech
One thing that jumped out on the tape, was the Virginia Tech defense lining up in a 3-4 over look with Edmunds lined up next to a second middle linebacker. On draw plays out of the shot gun, Edmunds was always lined up on the side to where the run was going to go:
Seconds later on the above play, Edmunds is meeting the runner right in the hole that is erased by his presence.
What’s best about Edmunds, as displayed by this ability, is that he’s lined up at both inside linebacker positions depending on where the direction of the run is headed. Blake Martinez did something similar this season when the Packers lined up a safety down in the box in the Nitro package.
Not only did Edmunds stop inside runs, but he’s generally the first linebacker to the edge when the runner bounces it outside. The man is fast and has great lateral quickness, which should be impossible given his 6’5,” 250-pound frame. He needs some work in coverage, but his athletic gifts should help him compensate a little until he refines those.
CBS Sports: Will Hernandez, G, University of Texas- El Paso
This is definitely not the sexy pick that Packers fans would get excited about right away, but after a series of offensive line injuries this past season, it could be valuable.
His Senior Bowl practices were impressive as he wasn’t confused or frustrated by a variety of different pass rush moves that he saw. He can move from side-to-side really well and while he primarily played the left guard position, he’d likely be able to slide into the right guard spot without issue.
Jahri Evans is a free agent and Bryan Bulaga has been an injury concern, which leaves the right side of the line vulnerable. Shoring that up with Hernandez would be smart, but there could be more offensive line talent in later rounds. What’s also interesting is that Hernandez spent time at UTEP that coincided with current Green Bay running back, Aaron Jones.
USA Today: Derwin James, S, Florida State University
If it’s one word that pops up on draft analysis’ of Derwin James, it’s ‘freak.’
According to ESPN, James has drawn several comparisons to Kam Chancellor in Seattle. What’s also notable is that he’s often drawn praise for being a leader in the locker room and commanding respect of his teammates.
James is a nasty tackler who’s great in run defense and flies to the quarterback on safety blitzes. This may be hyperbolic, but if he didn’t miss significant time in 2016 with a knee injury, James might be a top-5 pick.
What drafting James would do is allow Burnett to walk in free agency and fill a void at safety considering Ha Ha Clinton-Dix hasn’t taken the next step that many expected. It’s an underrated aspect, but a solid safety is often the reason a defense can be dominant. We saw how badly the Seahawks missed Earl Thomas III in 2016 and the loss of Eric Berry contributed to the sharp decline of the Chiefs this past season.
Bleacher Report: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
This pick would be somewhat of a surprise, because early on the majority of mock drafts don’t have Smith falling past the Raiders at #10. What a treat, though, if the Packers were able to nab him at #14. My best player comparison is James Howlett from Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Seriously, watch him come across the formation on this read option. It’s actually terrifying:
This is LB Roquan Smith teleporting. Insane closing speed pic.twitter.com/ng3RgPZHKJ— KP (@KP_Show) February 5, 2018
Smith is not as large as Edmunds, standing at 6’1,” 225 pounds, but is a superior defender in coverage. He’s adept at covering running backs coming out of the backfield, which is a need I detailed here in regards to Jake Ryan’s weaknesses.
In the Packer’s defense, Smith has the speed to stay on the field during passing situations and would be a better option than the suggested move of Clay Matthews back inside.