With the NFL season winding down, fans of many teams are already looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft. The Green Bay Packers still have a long shot at a playoff spot, of course, which is keeping us and our fellow cheeseheads from fully embracing offseason player acquisition. Plus there’s the whole question of finding a new head coach that will need to be answered first.
Still, it’s the start of mock draft season now that college football’s regular season has wrapped up, and ESPN’s Todd McShay published his first of the year on Wednesday. The Packers have two first-round picks, of course, thanks to GM Brian Gutekunst’s shrewd trades on the first day of this year’s draft. Those picks are currently projected at 15th — the Packers’ original pick — and 32nd, where the New Orleans Saints are currently slotted based on their record.
Here’s a look at the two players McShay projected for Green Bay.
15th overall pick: EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Sweat, who transferred from Michigan State after the 2015 season, has a tantalizing frame for a 3-4 edge rusher, being listed at 6-foot-6 and 241 pounds. He was an all-SEC player a year ago and now has back-to-back seasons with double-digit sacks. A nice bonus factor is that he has extensive experience as a 3-4 outside linebacker in addition to playing a little bit of 4-3 end, so the transition to a Mike Pettine defense (should Pettine stick around for next year) should be pretty smooth. Sweat probably will test well at the Combine as well.
Here’s what McShay had to say about the pick:
The Packers need a wide receiver, but getting the rangy and quick Sweat to come off the edge would do Green Bay well and provide better value. They have two first-rounders, after all, and plenty of wideouts will be on the board when the Packers pick again at No. 32.
32nd overall pick (from Saints): WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Brown is one of the more productive receivers expected to declare this year; like Sweat, he has two years of big numbers, with over 1,250 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. He has a surprisingly thick build, listed around 6-foot-1 in height and between 220 and 230 pounds, depending on the source. That should make him a dangerous receiver over the middle, but he has great speed as well.
We’re getting Aaron Rodgers some help. It’s about time! Brown’s ability to go up and get the ball, as well as make tough catches in traffic, would be welcomed on an offense desperately looking for receiving options beyond Davante Adams.
McShay did not give the Packers any help on the offensive line here, however, which is an area where we could see Brian Gutekunst going in round one. The Sweat pick came just after back-to-back offensive tackles, however, as he projected Oklahoma’s Cody Ford and Brown’s Ole Miss teammate Greg Little at 13 and 14. Wisconsin Badgers fans may want to keep an eye on the Badgers’ Michael Dieter towards the end of round one or in round two, as he is a versatile player who can play practically any position on the line.
Sweat would instantly give the Packers’ pass rush a big boost, while Brown paired with Davante Adams and some of this year’s rookies settling into complementary roles could make for an excellent receiving corps.