Another week closer to the 2019 NFL Draft brings us another slate of mock drafts, and this week we have another round of projections to mock from ESPN’s top draft analysts. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay published a joint mock draft on Tuesday, with each projecting the top 32 picks simultaneously.
For the Green Bay Packers two first-round picks at #12 and #30 overall, both analysts came up with the same projections. One should make Packers fans excited. But the other...it will probably underwhelm and annoy most Cheeseheads.
With the 12th pick, both Kiper and McShay project the Packers to select Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. Yes, the same D.K. Metcalf who ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 Combine, but also the one who had some of the worst results in agility testing of any receiver in Combine history. Is Metcalf an explosive athlete? Yes. He’s enormous at 6-foot-3 3/8 and 228 pounds, while his 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot-2 broad jump are exceptional numbers.
But the Packers have historically valued change-of-direction ability in their wide receivers, which is measured by the 3-cone and short shuttle drills. The Packers haven’t drafted a receiver in recent memory with a slower 3-cone time than 7.19 seconds, and only one recent pick (Malachi Dupre) was slower than 7.08. Metcalf’s time was 7.38 seconds.
For a draft that’s littered with intriguing receivers towards the end of the first round and into day two, over-reaching at 12 for a receiver with obvious, specific limitations is silly. But that’s what they’re doing here:
Kiper: The Packers focused on improving their defense in free agency, and they could use their two first-round picks in this draft on offense. Metcalf has the potential to become Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 target.
McShay: Despite the free-agency aggressiveness, the Packers still have to get help for Rodgers. T.J. Hockenson probably won’t be available, and Noah Fant is a bit of a reach. Metcalf is a physical specimen.
This pick becomes even more laughable for McShay when you see his next three picks:
13 (MIA): Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
14 (ATL): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
15 (WAS): Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Any one of those would be a better pick for Green Bay, in my opinion. Oliver is an absurd talent, and he plays a position that will become a need in 2020 when Mike Daniels’ contract expires. Meanwhile, Sweat could work into the lineup with Za’Darius and Preston Smith, likely providing a similar versatility to rush from inside and outside that Za’Darius has. Either of those edge rushers would be preferable to Metcalf, as they both are just as impressive of athletes as the receiver without sharing his glaring flaw. At least Kiper made this pick with both Oliver and Sweat off the board already — but McShay cannot explain this one away.
Where Packers fans will probably be pleased is with the pick at #30 overall, as both Kiper and McShay send Iowa tight end Noah Fant to Green Bay. 30 is a great range for him, and his ability to attack defenses up the seam and from the slot should make Jimmy Graham fully expendable by 2020.
As more and more mocks come in, Fant continues to be a popular pick late in the round. His athletic ability is almost unmatched at the tight end position, and it bears itself out on tape. He’s not the all-around tight end that his teammate T.J. Hockenson is, but that’s why Hockenson is being projected in the top ten recently; getting Fant at 30 would be an excellent consolation prize.
But Metcalf at 12? That’s a hard pass.