The season did not end as expected for the Green Bay Packers, but as we look towards a new coaching regime, we can also look forward to the NFL Draft and the Packers possessing two first-round picks this April.
Ten years ago, the Packers drafted Clay Matthews III and B.J. Raji in the first round of the ‘09 draft and both ended up being key figures in the Packers’ Super Bowl run just a year later. Green Bay will hope to strike gold again this time around (barring any trade, which is always possible for this organization).
The Mock Draft Roundup is a series that was started last year, where we carefully took a look at what direction some publications say are possible for the Packers. This year, we’re going to divide the roundup into two separate articles to give each draft spot the spotlight they deserve. Hold on to your butts, cause here come the players slotted for the 12th overall pick:
CBS Sports: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Deionte Thompson is a rangy safety who did a really good job of erasing plays down the field for Alabama. The Crimson Tide liked to stick Thompson out in a single-high look quite often throughout the season and when teams attacked that look down the field, the 6’2” safety covered a ton of ground to break up passes. A skillset that the Packers would love is his ability to play the ball like a true centerfielder, and not have interceptions fall right into his chest like a certain other former-Alabama safety. Thompson’s frame isn’t very stout so that makes me worry about the potential for frequent injury like Kevin King, but the kid can play.
USA Today: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
On the Florida State website, Burns is listed a 6’5” and 235 pounds and he has plenty of frame to add more lean muscle at the NFL level. He does have elite athleticism, length, and speed coming off the edge. His spin move is virtually a blur. A willing run defender, he displays solid patience when trying to diagnose the run-pass-option. At Florida State, Burns was pretty quick off the snap in a three-point stance, and he also stood up on certain plays which is good to see with Mike Pettine returning as defensive coordinator.
SB Nation: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
I wrote a little about Ferrell early in the mock draft process last year when he was thought to come out. But he stayed at Clemson, earned a National Title, and improved his stock considerably. His numbers improved year-after-year at Clemson which I like. Ferrell brings bigger size than Burns at 265 pounds, and he’s definitely used that size to remain stout in the run game. Ferrell did have the benefit of playing with the best defensive line in the country so it’s hard to tell how much production came solely from him and where he benefited playing alongside guys who also needed a lot of attention.
Bleacher Report: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Last year, I had Derwin James and Roquan Smith high on my Packers wish list because of their abilities to drop into coverage and handle the coverage responsibilities for tight ends and running backs. While the Packers needed pass rush last year— and still do this year— Mack Wilson is another prospect I like for the same reasons of James and Smith. Wilson is a 6’2”, 230-pound linebacker who has great range and does well when dropping into coverage. He’s the type of sideline-to-sideline athlete that would do well in today’s modern NFL. His size is an issue as far as shedding blocks, but his athleticism might help him stay clean.
Sporting News: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
Polite’s speed off the edge is blinding. His closing speed in getting to the quarterback or sealing off the edge is very impressive. It’s not just speed that he uses, though; he’s already displaying a nice arsenal of pass-rush moves. While most EDGE guys take a while to get traction at the pro-level, Polite’s solid technique will help with that learning curve to make an impact more quickly. It’s hard to tell whether Polite’s decisiveness will allow him to become more than a pass-rush specialist, but he’s an elite pass rusher nonetheless. Like Burns, he doesn’t have elite size in terms of bulk, but that can always be added once he gets to the NFL level.