Over the years, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have put out dozens, perhaps hundreds of mock drafts as the lead NFL Draft analysts for ESPN. But it makes you wonder a bit - what would the Packers’ roster look like if one of those two were the general manager instead of Ted Thompson?
Thanks to the magic of the internet, we have been able to look back through the last seven years’ worth of mock drafts, focusing solely on the final mock before the draft of each season. Here’s a look at each year in turn, as we examine the picks from each of ESPN’s talking heads and compare it to what Thompson actually did in round one.
2010 - pick 23
Kiper: G Mike Iupati, Idaho
McShay: T Charles Brown, USC
Actual pick: T Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Let’s give a little bit of credit to the ESPN guys on this one - both of them at least were in the ballpark, picking offensive linemen. Prior to the team’s The Packers had aging players at both tackle positions, with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher holding down the fort. There were also some questions in the middle, with left guard Daryn Colledge hitting free agency after 2010.
Kiper’s pick could have solidified the guard position, as Iupati has made four Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2012. However, he was long gone when the Packers picked, having gone 17th to the 49ers. In addition, the Packers would not have had a backup ready to step in at right tackle when Tauscher was lost for the season early on.
Brown, who ended up as the final pick of round two, played only sparingly in New Orleans and started for one season and is now out of football.
While Bulaga endured some injury difficulties a few years ago and has not earned the honors that Iupati received, he has been a stalwart right tackle for the past three seasons, missing just four games combined. In fact, 2016 marked the first year since his rookie season that Bulaga was healthy for every game. His contribution as a rookie was critical, as he started 12 regular season games and all four postseason contests.
2011 - pick 32
Kiper: G Danny Watkins, Baylor
McShay: CB Aaron Williams, Texas
Actual pick: T Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
Because of Colledge’s departure, the left guard spot was a bit of a question mark. Clifton’s age (35) necessitated a succession plan at left tackle as well, especially with Bulaga now entrenched on the right side.
Kiper went for the guard spot, projecting Danny Watkins. He ended up going 23rd to Philadelphia, was abysmal for two years with the Eagles, and was out of football by 2014. Williams, McShay’s pick, went two slots later to Buffalo and played corner for a few years before moving to safety and being a solid starter. However, neck injuries have put his career in question, as he has suffered one in each of the last two years.
Sherrod, of course, suffered a gruesome broken leg during one of his first few snaps - in the Packers’ only 2011 regular-season loss, which came in Kansas City. He sat out all of 2012 with the injury, then returned as a reserve for two more seasons (including a brief stint filling in for Bulaga at right tackle in 2014) before being unceremoniously released midway through that season.
2012 - pick 28
Kiper: OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State
Actual pick: OLB Nick Perry, USC
It took a bit, but Thompson looks smart on this one. Kiper and McShay get some points for identifying the right position, but they didn’t expect their guy to go almost 10 picks earlier. Regardless, Perry was the Packers’ most complete edge rusher this season, leading the team with double-digit sacks and holding the edge well against the run. He has been hampered by injuries throughout much of his career, but is set to get a big payday this offseason.
McClellin...not so much. He went 19th to the Bears instead, who tried him in a multitude of different positions - defensive end, outside linebacker, and even inside linebacker in their 3-4 in 2015. He signed with the Patriots last offseason, playing in 14 games and starting 4. However, he has been far from the impact player that Chicago expected when they drafted him.
2013 - pick 26
Kiper: DE Datone Jones, UCLA
McShay: G/T Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Actual pick: Jones
WE GOT ONE!
Kiper’s 2013 pick for the Packers was right on, and this would be the only correct pick for either of the two over the past seven years. At the time, Jones was seen as a perfect fit for a 5-technique lineman in the Packers’ 3-4, a unit that had been getting by with C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal at that spot up to that point. Of course, Jones never became an impact player, as he instead lost some weight and moved to the hybrid edge/interior pass-rusher role that he shared with Julius Peppers over the past two or so seasons.
If McShay expected Pugh to play tackle, his pick could make some sense; the team was working with Marshall Newhouse at right tackle, with Bulaga tabbed to move to the left side. The guard positions were in Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang’s more-than-capable hands by this point. Pugh did play right tackle at first after being picked by the Giants before moving inside to guard.
Thompson’s best pick of 2013, however, came when he selected little-known tackle David Bakhtiari out of Colorado. When Bulaga tore his ACL at Family Night, Bakhtiari took hold of the left tackle job and has not let go ever since.
2014 - pick 21
Kiper: ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
McShay: WR Marqise Lee, USC
Actual pick: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
This is a funny year for the mocks. The Packers’ defense suffered through the brutal years of M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian up to this point, but were also dealing with aging or injured linebackers. Many had projected the Packers to snag either Mosley or Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, but neither fell to Green Bay at 21 - Shazier went to the Steelers at 15, while Mosley became a Raven when they picked him 17th. Mosley has been to two Pro Bowls and is among the best young inside linebackers in the game.
Kiper actually predicted Clinton-Dix to go 13th, but McShay went away from the defense despite Ha Ha still being on the board. His rationale? Rumors among personnel folks that Lee wouldn’t fall past the Packers at 21. He even said the following in his mock: “Clinton-Dix is probably the more logical choice, but we'll roll the dice on Lee based on what we're hearing.”
Oops. Lee dropped to Jacksonville at 39 and has averaged just 37.5 receiving yards per game. Clinton-Dix is in Orlando now for his first Pro Bowl, and has finally solidified the free safety position for the first time since Nick Collins’ untimely injury.
2015 - pick 30
Kiper: ILB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
McShay: CB Byron Jones, UConn
Actual pick: CB Damarious Randall, Arizona State
At this point, both Kiper and McShay were guilty of thinking that Randall was still a safety. McShay hit on the defensive backfield with Jones, the Combine freak, but he went three picks ahead to Dallas. Kendricks then went 15 picks later to the Vikings.
Jones started out as a corner, but moved to safety, where he started every game for the Cowboys this season.
Randall had a nice rookie year, but struggled mightily this season with injuries and general poor play.
2016 - pick 24
Kiper: DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
McShay: ILB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Actual pick: DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
With no B.J. Raji, nose tackle was certainly seen as a critical need last offseason for the Packers, while inside linebacker was also a major question mark thanks to the planned move of Clay Matthews back outside. The two ESPN guys picked players off the reigning champion Crimson Tide’s defense, while Ted went back to the well at UCLA for a big body up front.
Ragland’s grade is incomplete this season, as he missed the entire year due to injury. Reed recorded 1.5 sacks for the Seahawks, who drafted him 49th overall. He also started five games this season. Clark, meanwhile, did not start a game, but gradually earned more and more snaps as the season went along. It’s far too early to make any judgments about this pick, but keep in mind that Clark was one of the youngest players in the NFL this year (he turned 21 in October), and has plenty of room to grow.
When it comes to identifying the right position that Ted Thompson would pick (or at least the right position group), Kiper hit on 5 of seven drafts compared to McShay’s three. Kiper also had the only correct pick of either one. Here’s a list in grid form of the breakdown, which includes where the two analysts projected the Packers’ actual pick to go.
Kiper-McShay Packers Mock Drafts
|Year||Kiper Pick||McShay Pick||Actual Pick||Where Projected|
|Year||Kiper Pick||McShay Pick||Actual Pick||Where Projected|
|2010||OG Mike Iupati, Idaho||OT Charles Brown, USC||OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa||Kiper 12, McShay 8|
|2011||OG Danny Watkins, Baylor||CB Aaron Williams, Texas||OT Derek Sherrod, Miss. St.||Kiper/McShay 29|
|2012||OLB Shea McClellin, Boise St.||OLB Shea McClellin, Boise St.||OLB Nick Perry, USC||Kiper/McShay Out of 1st|
|2013||DE Datone Jones, UCLA||OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse||DE Datone Jones, UCLA||McShay 28|
|2014||ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama||WR Marqise Lee, USC||S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama||Kiper 13, McShay 22|
|2015||ILB Eric Kendricks, UCLA||DB Byron Jones, UConn||CB Damarious Randall, Arizona St.||Kiper 22, McShay 29|
|2016||DT Jarran Reed, Alabama||ILB Reggie Ragland, Alabama||DT Kenny Clark, UCLA||Kiper/McShay Out of 1st|