As the NFL Draft approaches, APC’s contributors are putting our heads together to give you some of our individual impressions about specific prospects in the 2017 draft class. For each of the next few days, you’ll hear from various writers about our favorite prospects, those we think will be over-drafted, and maybe even a prediction or two for the Green Bay Packers at pick #29.
With the draft just one day away, it’s time to go on the record and make our predictions. Here are the guesses from five different APC contributors as to what the Packers will do with the 29th overall selection.
Evan “Tex” Western on trading down and landing a versatile CB
I think it makes total sense for the Packers to trade back into the early part of round two this Thursday night. Ultimately, I think there will be a first-round quarterback or two available (along the likes of Patrick Mahomes and possibly a faller like DeShone Kizer), and teams that passed on a QB in the top 10 will want to pay handsomely to get the 5th-year option on a QB. I suspect that we see the Packers move back between 5-10 spots, either with the 49ers (back to 34 and getting a 4th-round pick) or the Chargers (back to 39 and adding a 3rd).
At whichever spot they end up, there should still be a couple of good edge rushers available, but I think Chidobe Awuzie ends up being the Packers’ pick. The Colorado defensive back checks all the athletic boxes that the Packers like, and he’s a really smart player who has experience at every position in the secondary and the ability to do so in the NFL. He also seems to me to be the rare rookie who would be able to absorb the Packers’ defensive scheme right away, and he would probably be the week one starter at slot corner.
Jason B. Hirschhorn on line-of-scrimmage defenders
When it comes to the first round, Ted Thompson focuses on line-of-scrimmage defenders more than any other area of the roster. With the departures of Julius Peppers and Datone Jones as well as diminishing returns from Clay Matthews, the Packers general manager appears likely to use his top selection on a pass-rusher. For a team that values measurable athletic traits for such prospects, this year's class has plenty of intriguing options expected to last to the end of Day 1. Wisconsin's T.J. Watt, Houston's Tyus Bowser, and Kansas State's Jordan Willis -- all ranked in at least the 91st percentile athletically among NFL edge rushers -- should garner serious consideration at pick No. 29. Landing one could significantly reduce the pressure on Matthews and Nick Perry, the only two established outside linebackers currently on Green Bay's roster.
Jon Meerdink on big bodies
I’m basically with Jason when it comes to what the Packers will do with the 29th pick. They’re going to pick someone in the front seven, and he’s probably going to be a pass rusher. Big, athletic guys are the rarest commodity in the NFL, and your defense really doesn’t go without one. Having a great pass rush can cover a lot of ills, and with only Clay Matthews and Nick Perry available as proven pass rushers, the Packers are in need. Time to get one.
Paul Noonan on “Offense, baby”
This draft is purportedly lousy with corners and edge rushers, and there is really no reason to spend an early pick in this area when the second and third rounds will still have plenty of good options available. I’m not a fan of the receiver or offensive line depth this year, and you want to pick out of the shallow pond first. The Packer offense is still the most important thing about the club, and receiver will be a critical need very shortly. The Packers also hemorrhaged linemen in the offseason, and they will need to replace depth there (and maybe even find a starter) if at all possible.
I think this will ultimately be a defense-heavy draft for the team, but in the first I’ll go counter to the common wisdom and predict they focus on getting Aaron one more weapon. If any top receiver falls, or if Ryan Ramczyk happens to be there, I think it’s very likely they pull the trigger.
Mike Vieth sees a possible connection to a past draft with trading back
There are so many scenarios that could happen with the Packers this year. I think the Packers (and most of us) would love to see T.J. Watt sitting there at number 29 but I don’t think it’s going to happen. If Watt gets selected prior to 29, I can see the Packers trading back with the 49ers or Jaguars to grab a pick early in the second round. There should still be a couple decent pass rushers at that point and they will add other picks, probably an early fourth rounder plus a later round, to help fill out their needs in other places.
For whom they could pick early in the second round, I look to some history possibly having a connection. Last time the Packers traded out of the first round was in 2008 and they picked a wide receiver out of Kansas State, Jordy Nelson. This time, I predict they select Kansas State EDGE player Jordan Willis. Willis is moving up on a lot of draft boards and I hope he is still there early in the second round. Like I said a little earlier, there are a lot of scenarios. If the Packers don’t think Willis will be available in the early second, they may just stay put and grab him at 29.