We are seeing a change in mock drafts this week as the Packers are now locked in at the #14 draft slot.
The last edition of this Mock Draft Roundup had significantly more offensive players while this one has a solitary tight end that many would argue is projected too highly in this draft class. It’s an exciting time in Green Bay as the coaching staff undergoes an overhaul just about everywhere except at Head Coach. Will we see a change in draft strategy to go along with this change in direction?
Let’s look at the players and projections.
USA Today & SB Nation: Arden Key, OLB/DE, LSU
The buzz around Arden Key is that he’s a Top-5 talent that could fall due to circumstance. In the Ted Thompson regime, this would be a huge red flag that wouldn’t get a second look, unless he fell to a late round. There’s a new sheriff in town, however, and Key could be a great addition to the Packers as they need pass rush assistance.
The reasons for the precipitous drop would be from a mystery leave of absence for “personal reasons” (something I’m sure he’ll be interviewed on at the Combine), a shoulder injury, and a pinky injury.
NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah said about Key:
”Key has some similarities to Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Taylor,” Jeremiah wrote. “They have a similar frame/length and they both have great instincts as pass rushers.”
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller echoed the same sentiment, adding that hurt players tend to stay hurt and that’s hard to overcome. I think of Jadeveon Clowney when I hear this in that Clowney suffered several injuries in college and during his first few pro seasons. At risk of being labeled a bust, Clowney is now a top DE.
The hope is that Key can avoid the initial injury speed-bumps and hit the ground running.
Walter Football: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
SI’s Albert Breer mentioned in an early December column that he spoke to various execs who told him that Davenport wouldn’t make it out of the Top-15, which is high praise.
The tape shows as much.
The converted wide receiver stands at 6’7” and has a great motor. While he has really good chase down speed, he also has really good contain discipline. That’s big for a young player learning the position and not just chasing sack numbers.
A good combine could have this pass rusher vault up the draft board.
CBS Sports: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The lone offensive player here won the Mackey Award as college football’s top tight end and was a unanimous All-American.
The cries for a good tight end have been fairly loud after the Martellus Bennett fiasco. Some of us (me) have been begging for a first-round TE since the Pack passed up Vernon Davis to draft A.J. Hawk.
While Andrews is a good prospect, I’m not entirely certain he’s the type of player that Green Bay needs at TE unless Richard Rogers stays on as a more traditional blocking TE. Andrews is split out wide at Oklahoma on a lot of plays, often drawing blocking assignments against smaller defensive backs.
However, Andrews does have great size (6’5”, 255) and would be a match up nightmare for opposing defenses in the passing game. His skills as a receiver make him a very intriguing red zone weapon for Aaron Rodgers and Co.
Bleacher Report: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The prior edition of this Mock Draft Round-Up had Bleacher Report making the same projection of Jackson going #16 to the Pack. They really want Green Bay to pick this guy.
Wisconsin Badgers fans among us will remember Jackson for his two pick-6 performance against the Badgers — or more happily for his 3-pick performance against Ohio State.
I’m still worried that Jackson’s high interception rates are a product of right-place-right-time, but it also reminds me a little bit of Marcus Peters on Kansas City. Similar in size (both 6’ tall), Peters excels in baiting opposing quarterbacks into making bad throws and it seems that Jackson has that very same potential.
The upside with Jackson is extremely high and the Packers would be adding a boundary corner that can help give Rodgers a short field.