The 2018 NFL Draft is now just hours away, and draft analysts have made their final predictions for the first round of the draft. Some of the most notable, such as former Green Bay Packers beat writer Bob McGinn and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, issue just a single mock each year. Others like ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, go through the exercise repeatedly.
Still, with the actual picks about to come out later this evening, it’s worth looking at how their final projections of round one shake out. For the Packers, defensive back is clearly a priority, but two of these analysts see a surprising name being the pick at #14 after that player was rarely connected to Green Bay all spring.
Fitzpatrick has dropped a little bit because teams don’t know exactly what position he’ll play. He’s a tweener. He’s a really good player, and this could be the steal of the draft.
Kiper sees Derwin James going to Tampa Bay at 7 and Denzel Ward at 9 to San Francisco. However, with a few surprises, like Josh Rosen falling to 12, Kiper sees Fitzpatrick dropping to the Packers at 14. Once thought of as a top-five player, he seems to be a bit confusing to teams because of his hybrid safety/cornerback skill set. However, Mike Pettine seems like the right type of defensive coordinator to unlock his potential.
On the prowl for a cornerback two years running. New GM Brian Gutekunst figures to make a strong attempt to trade forward for Denzel Ward, who is easily the best corner in the draft. If Ward and Fitzpatrick both are gone, the selection would appear to be McGlinchey assuming James, Edmunds and Smith are gone, too.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about McGinn’s comments here are not about his projection itself; it’s the mention that Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey would be very much in play rather than an edge rusher like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport. In light of McGinn’s report that the Packers asked Bryan Bulaga to take a pay cut, this could make some sense. We don’t know for sure how McGlinchey’s agility stacks up against the Packers’ typical trends, but that’s a pick that has barely been considered.
McGlinchey has recently been gaining buzz as a possible top-10 pick, as both Kiper and Mike Mayock projected him to the Raiders at 10. He would help address a more subtle need for Green Bay, but of course he would not help with the concerns on defense.
Edgy, tough, competes, finds the ball in the air and added value as a punt returner. I think he’s a great pick and will fit in Mike Pettine’s new scheme.
That’s great, and if Brian Gutekunst indeed has opened up the Packers to shorter cornerbacks, I suppose it’s a possibility here — especially with Ward, James, and Fitzpatrick going in the top 12. However, Alexander stands just 5-foot-10 1/4, a little short of the team’s typical cutoff at 5-foot-10 5/8. Still, the Packers brought in Mike Hughes for an official visit this year and he is an eighth-inch shorter than Alexander.
Fundamentally, however, I don’t feel Alexander is worthy of the 14th pick, and I’m a bit concerned about his ability to play press man coverage. Given Mayock’s board, I would rather see the Packers take Harold Landry.
Alexander has been a fast riser through the process and played well when he was on the field. Green Bay needs help at cornerback and edge.
What is going on? I can count on one hand the number of times that I saw Alexander as the Packers’ projected pick prior to this morning. Frankly, I would be upset with this situation if the Packers hadn’t tried to trade up a few spots; with Denzel Ward going off the board at the 12th pick, I would be confident that the Packers would try to move up a few spots to snag him. The dropoff from Ward to Alexander or other corners is more than enough in my eyes to justify moving up.