This is the first article in a multi-part series that will attempt to project what the Green Bay Packers’ draft board will look like at each position in the 2018 NFL Draft.
With Ted Thompson as the team’s general manager, the Green Bay Packers have been notorious in their rigidity in regards to athletic testing thresholds, at least at certain specific positions. One of those is at cornerback, where the Packers have a well-established profile for the type of players that they tend to select in the NFL Draft.
This year, however, Brian Gutekunst has moved into Thompson’s spot as head decision-maker, and questions abound regarding how closely he will stick to his predecessor’s preferred skill sets. However, based on those desired traits and the qualities possessed by the players whom Gutekunst has been meeting with in advance of this year’s draft, we can speculate that he may be open to different types of corners than Thompson was — or at least to expanding the thresholds a bit.
First, let’s review what those thresholds are. We must give thanks to Justis Mosqueda for his excellent work with CheeseheadTV last year, which effectively established these cutoffs in the minds of Packers fans by looking at past Thompson draft picks. The trends he found consisted of a minimum height of 5-foot-10 7/8, a 40-yard dash time of 4.57 seconds or better, and a 3-cone time of 6.87 seconds or better. Although other sources have indicated that the Packers require a minimum height of 5-foot-10 5/8 instead, we can chalk up that difference to the team simply not being in position to draft anyone between 5105 and 5107 over the past few years.
Last year’s one cornerback draftee fits these requirements beautifully. That player, of course, is Kevin King, who had a ridiculous workout. King stands 6-foot-3 1/4, ran the 40 in 4.43 seconds, and posted a blistering 6.56-second time in the 3-cone drill.
However, this year’s pre-draft visits suggest that Gutekunst is actually open to players who are a bit shorter than those the Packers historically have been looking for. He invited Mike Hughes of UCF, who measured in at 5-foot-10 1/8, as well as LSU’s Donte Jackson, who stands 5-foot-10 1/2, for pre-draft visits this season. As such, we have expanded the height cutoff on our draft board to look at players who come in at or above that 5101 value.
We also expanded the 3-cone time just a bit, to account for players who fell within a tenth-second of that cutoff. Prospects who ran that drill in under 6.95 seconds are included on our draft board as well, and are noted as borderline players. (I will explain the reason for this decision in more detail when we get to the safeties later on.)
One final note was brought up by my colleague Jason Hirschhorn. It seems that on the few times that the Packers have relaxed their requirements on cornerbacks and wide receivers, they have done so for players with demonstrated return ability. Randall Cobb is one example of that exception, though he was also a highly-rated player who appeared to drop on draft day a bit as Justis noted last year. That may help explain the interest in Hughes a bit, as he was an excellent kickoff and punt returner for UCF in 2017, averaging 31.8 yards per kickoff return and 16.6 yards per punt return with three total touchdowns.
Using the cutoffs above, we looked at each of the top 75 cornerbacks on NFLDraftScout.com’s position rankings, which covers all likely draft picks and many potential priority free agents, to see how many fit the criteria on the board. Of those 75 individuals, 14 made it through all of the filters, with one (Denzel Ward from Ohio State) likely making it despite not running a 3-cone drill, one more (Jackson) being just below the 5105 cutoff AND not running a 3-cone, two who met the cone cutoff but who were a bit on the short side, and finally five more who were in the borderline range on their cone times. That brings us to a total of 23 players whom we can see being in play for Gutekunst based on all of the testing results available to us.
The board is formatted based on testing success; players who are shown in bold passed all the cutoffs, players in italics did not complete full testing but appear on track to pass, and players with no special formatting were in the borderline range for either height or 3-cone time (with the offending measurement shown in
strikethrough). In addition, players whose names are shown in ALL CAPS reportedly met with the Packers on an official visit. A final note: asterisks next to any of the testing results indicate that the result was obtained from his Pro Day testing, and note that those results came from either NFLDraftScout.com or from the college’s official press releases.
Without further ado, here is the cornerback draft board as I projected it for the Packers, with players sorted by their ranking by NFLDraftScout.com.
Projected Packers 2018 CB Draft Board
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; Projected round 1; 6001, 204; 4.46 40, 6.73* 3-cone
- Denzel Ward, Ohio State; Round 1; 5107, 183; 4.32, no 3-cone
- Jaire Alexander, Louisville; Round 1;
5102, 196; 4.38, 6.71
- Joshua Jackson, Iowa; Round 1; 6003, 196; 4.42*, 6.86
- MIKE HUGHES, Central Florida;
5101, 189; 4.53, 6.70
- DONTE JACKSON, LSU; Round 2;
5104, 178; 4.31*, no 3-cone
- Isaiah Oliver, Colorado; Round 2; 6002, 201; 4.50,
- Anthony Averett, Alabama; Round 2-3; 5114, 183; 4.36, 6.93
- M.J. Stewart, North Carolina; Round 3; 5107, 200; 4.54,
- Isaac Yiadom, Boston College; Round 3; 6007, 190; 4.52, 6.85*
- Holton Hill, Teas; Round 3-4; 6015, 196; 4.49, 6.83
- Quenton Meeks, Stanford; Round 4; 6010, 209; 4.49*, 6.72
- Tony Brown, Alabama; Round 4-5; 5117, 199; 4.35, 6.78
- Nick Nelson, Wisconsin; Round 5-6; 5105, 200; 4.52, 6.69*
- Michael Joseph, Dubuque; Round 6; 6005, 187; 4.52*,
- Christian Campbell, Penn State; Round 7; 6006, 195; 4.51*, 6.77*
- Andre Chachere, San Jose State; Round 7; 5116, 197; 4.49, 6.78
- Taron Johnson, Weber State; Round 7-UDFA; 5111, 192; 4.50, 6.86*
- Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma; Round 7-UDFA; 6001, 187; 4.55*, 6.28
- Dee Delaney, Florida; Projected UDFA; 5114, 200; 4.46,
- Emmanuel Moseley, Tennessee; UDFA; 5111, 190; 4.42*, 6.84*
- Chris Seisay, Portland State; UDFA; 6007, 197; 4.50*, 6.71*
- MIKE FORD, Southeast Missouri State; 5106, 190; 4.47*, 6.85*