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2018 NFL Draft: Handicapping the field of potential Packers first-round picks

The combine narrowed the group of possible picks at No. 14 with Brian Gutekunst holding to traditional Ted Thompson thresholds.

Virginia Tech v Boston College
Boston College pass rusher could be an ideal fit the Packers at 14.
Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

You could read mock drafts (and you should read all of the ones we do here at APC). And you could listen to all the reporting out there about “teams like player X,” most of which are complete nonsense.

Luckily for Packers fans, more informed decisions can be made because Ted Thompson, and now Brian Gutekunst, have clear cut preferences at certain positions.

We don’t know if Green Bay wants an edge rusher or a receiver or what position they’re targeting at 14, if they’re zoomed in on one at all. But we do know they have a defined history of preferences and athletic thresholds. You can read more about those thresholds here.

With 13 picks ahead of the Packers selection, it’s not that hard to narrow down the consensus players at the top and be left with both a tier of players who could be available, and then offer names in that tier who fit Green Bay’s types.

Peter King polled coaches, front office people, and GMs after the combine and came out with a rough top-10.

  1. Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
  2. Sam Darnold QB USC
  3. Bradley Chubb DE North Carolina State
  4. Josh Allen QB Wyoming
  5. Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
  6. Josh Rosen QB UCLA
  7. Quenton Nelson G Notre Dame
  8. Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama
  9. Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
  10. Roquan Smith LB Georgia

If we assume those are the picks, even if we can’t assume the teams taking them, that leaves three spots ahead of the Packers and a host of talented players potentially at their disposal. A non-scientific polling of consensus suggests the next tier of players includes the following:

  • Derwin James S Florida State
  • Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
  • Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
  • Josh Jackson CB Iowa
  • Marcus Davenport DE UTSA
  • Vita Vea DT Washington
  • Connor Williams OL Texas
  • Harold Landry DE Boston College

There are certainly other guys in that mix and Green Bay will be higher on a handful of other players simply because of type and need.

After blowing up the combine, Derwin James would be the player most likely to be picked in those three intervening spots. Miami could be in the market for a QB and that could lift someone like Lamar Jackson into the mix, pushing down even more quality players.


Let’s start with the position Packers fans seem most interesting in addressing: cornerback.

The only top-tier corner who checks all the physical boxes Green Bay looks for is Josh Jackson. Not all of them have completed the athletic profile; for example, Denzel Ward will almost certainly test in range in the 3-cone, but he’s already in Peter King’s proposed consensus top-10.

He’ll likely be out of range for the Packers.

Lousiville’s Jaire Alexander and UCF’s Mike Hughes are too small for what Green Bay traditionally looks for. In fact, Jackson is the only cornerback with complete testing data who is likely to go in the first two rounds.

If the Packers want to get a pedigreed corner, it has to be at 14 and Josh Jackson.

Edge/Pass Rusher

The other major need for Green Bay, and a place they’ve traditionally allocated high draft capital, is on the edge. Luckily for the Packers, Davenport and Landry each meet their standards and have a good chance of being available when the Packers select.

Each player is capable of playing standing up or with his hand in the dirt. Davenport has some experience dropping in coverage and although Landry doesn’t, the BC product tested like an ultra-elite agility athlete, suggesting he could be taught to play in space more often.

Unlike corner though, there will be a host of edge players who fit what the Packers are looking for in later rounds, at 45 and 76 or even beyond. That said, edge is a place teams don’t expect to find diamonds in the rough. If you want a new edge pass rusher, you better use a high pick on one.

Landry and Davenport are worth the 14th pick and fit what the Packers want.

Wide Receiver

The combine risers get the most pub, but Alabama’s Calvin Ridley may have taken himself out of that top-10 consensus with a poor showing in Indy. He ran in the 4.4’s, but his jumps were atrocious (bottom 10th percentiles)

His loss could be Green Bay’s gain. The Packers don’t need a true No. 1 receiver which Ridley frankly isn’t. He’s going to be 24 as a rookie and breaks the mold of this front office going young at receiver. Remember, Randall Cobb was the youngest player in the league when he was drafted, and Davante Adams played his last season at Fresno State at 20.

He fits the size/speed/agility mode the Packer covet and his route running fits beautifully with the Mike McCarthy/Joe Philbin offense. But the red flags with his jumps (his short shuttle was also abysmal) plus the age could scare Gutekunst off.

The other side of the Ridley coin is Courtland Sutton, the 6’3 218 pound SMU star who came into the combine with questions about his athleticism and came out testing as one of the top athletes in the class.

If the interest in Muhammad Wilkerson translates into free agency and the Packers want to sign their way into a better defense, a big receiver like Sutton, who has serious upside, would be an ideal option. It also guards Green Bay against worrying about a replacement should they feel it necessary to move on from one of their expensive receivers.


Two more names to watch are Tremaine Edmunds and Leighton Vander Esch. Each are physical marvels and would be ideal SAM linebackers in this defense, capable of playing at the line, rushing, and athletic enough to cover if necessary.

Edmunds has an incomplete athletic profile, but he’ll likely be fine. He’s a freak. Vander Esch, on the other hand, tested as a top-5 percentile type linebacker athlete. He lacks polish, but his tools are undeniable. If he falls to 45, it would be a no-brainer pick for Green Bay.