Over the past two weeks, we SB Nation NFL blogs have been working through our 2015 mock draft, with each blog making the selection for the appropriate team. So far, we have seen our fair share of surprises, including several of our targets for the Green Bay Packers going in the last several picks.
Here are the first 29 picks, as APC was on the clock with pick number 30:
|1||TB||Jameis Winston||QB||Florida State|
|6||NYJ||Kevin White||WR||West Virginia|
|11||MIN||Trae Waynes||CB||Michigan State|
|13||NO||Dante Fowler, Jr.||DE||Forida|
|16||HOU||Alvin "Bud" Dupree
|19||CLE (from BUF)||Shane Ray||DE||Missouri|
|24||ARI||Preston Smith||DE||Mississippi State|
|27||DAL||Kevin Johnson||CB||Wake Forest|
|29||IND||Eddie Goldman||NT||Florida State|
|31||NO (from SEA)|
There's the board as it sets up. Before getting to our pick, let's address the strategy and the best players remaining on our board.
Seeing Peters and Johnson go at picks 22 and 27 was disappointing - those two were our top options once Trae Waynes was picked up early. We believe Peters would be an excellent fit in Green Bay - coming to a team with strong veteran leadership and few distractions would allow him to focus all of his energy on football, and he's in our opinion the most talented corner on the field in this draft. Johnson also has the length and speed that one would want from a starting corner, but now he is off the board as well.
On the front seven, all of the top-tier pass rushers are off the board. We were hoping to see either Armstead or Goldman fall to 30, but alas they were both scooped up just in time. Jordan Phillips would be next up on our board, but the nose tackle position is certainly one that could be addressed later on in the draft thanks to the recent re-signings of Letroy Guion and B.J. Raji.
With that in mind, we firmly believe that Ted Thompson would attempt to trade back a few spots and pick up a few extra picks, but that is not an option for us. Therefore, we make our selection to improve the interior of the defense:
Shaq Thompson, linebacker, Washington
Height: 6 feet, 1/4 inch
Weight: 228 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.64 seconds
With all of the inside linebackers remaining on the board, we had our pick of the litter, along with a few options at other positions such as Phillips and cornerback Jalen Collins. Ultimately, the decision for us came down to Shaq Thompson or Eric Kendricks from UCLA.
Both linebackers are undersized by the typical definition, but either one would fit relatively well as the weak-side inside linebacker in the Packers' 3-4 defense. Plugging either in at that position, next to middle linebacker Sam Barrington, would give the Packers a three-down inside backer who is more than capable in coverage. What gives Thompson the edge, however, is his ability to line up all over the formation - inside, outside, even in a dime safety position. He would be as much of a Swiss Army Knife for Dom Capers as Clay Matthews was a year ago, and has both the athleticism and tackling ability to play in the open field.
Thompson's presence inside would also allow Clay Matthews to return his focus more heavily on his more traditional pass-rushing role. Ultimately, Shaq Thompson is not only the most versatile of the bunch, but we believe he will be the best player of all of them, and he is therefore our pick.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks when we're back on the clock for the Packers' second-round pick at #62 overall.