The NFL Draft is still right around the corner – despite all the uncertainty surrounding our everyday lives while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic – and the lack of news has left Mock Draft Season as the saving grace for football content.
Lofty plans for the draft in Las Vegas will have to take a back seat to the virtual/remote event as we watch video game characters make their way across the stage to interact with a digital commissioner. Speculation for who the Packers will have walking across the digital stage during Day 1 of the draft have swung between wide receiver, offensive tackle, and inside linebacker most frequently.
This early-April edition of the Mock Draft Roundup sees it largely going back to wide receiver for the Packers despite signing Devin Funchess in free agency. Even with Funchess’ pedigree as a second-round draft pick, he’s far from a sure thing as the Packers number two receiver. He’ll essentially replace Geronimo Allison (who signed with the Lions) as a big-bodied WR who still needs to prove he belongs in this league.
Smart teams for years have thrown resources at positions of need through free agency to best lower the urgency on needing a draft pick to be a starter/contributor immediately. At pick 30, the odds of a plug-and-play pick being available lessen as it is.
USA Today: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Aiyuk has the ability to take a five-yard play and turn it into 60 with ease. He’s a good route runner and has shown how explosive he is on tape and at the combine (40” vertical jump, 10’8” broad jump). He would be a player to line up on the outside or potentially in the slot for the Packers and he also brings versatility being a solid return man. He lacks a bit of strength so battling physical cornerbacks will be something he’d have to work on when coming off the line.
Bleacher Report: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
Another potential PAC-12 WR to go to the Packers – and someone I really like – would be Pittman out of USC. He’s not incredibly quick, but his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) is high due to elite size and good explosion. He’s not the fastest player on the field, but he has great body control, uses his size to his advantage, and is a decent route runner for a big man. His 1.9 percent drop rate is also incredibly impressive.
He has the NFL pedigree and the college numbers to suggest a level of production at the NFL level if he’s in the right situation. Adding Pittman would suddenly turn the Packers receiving corp into a group of basketball players with Pittman Jr., Funchess, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all at 6’4” or taller. Imagine Davante Adams at 6’1” being the “runt” of that group.
SB Nation: Laviska Shenault, WR Colorado
The Denver Post is reporting that Shenault could see a “pretty significant” draft stock hit from the novel Coronavirus breakout resulting in extensive social distancing. The Colorado product had post-Combine surgery to fix a core-muscle problem. Dan Kadar’s mock draft here is a rare one that has Shenault in the first round as many experts are anticipating a drop in draft stock of Shenault because he can’t get in front of medical teams right now.
Should Shenault drop to 30, that’s a relative steal for the Packers if they don’t think injury concerns are valid with the wide out. He’s a big-bodied playmaker who could help the offense take an immediate jump forward.
CBS Sports: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Mims is a player whose draft stock went up quite significantly after the combine. His RAS based on results from the combine turned in Elite speed, Elite explosion, and Great size. His 4.38 40-yard dash was surely a draft booster, but his 1.54 second 10-yard split was most impressive.
Mims’ area of worry has to be his agility, though, and one wonders if his ceiling will be just a deep threat as opposed to an all-around talent. His route tree is pretty limited, especially being in the Baylor offense, and his ability to change direction needs some work.
Mims is somewhat of a project, but not so bad compared to other rawer athletes. He’s definitely somebody that flashes on tape and makes pretty great catches away from his body. He’s a good value at 30 or as a day-two pick.
The Draft Network: Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
Finally, we get to a non-WR in this Mock Draft Roundup and the spot belongs to one of the best linebackers in this class. Murray is a rangey linebacker who can shoot through the A-gap or blitz from the edge. Murray is the type of linebacker that will give the Packers defense a ton of flexibility in packages. If Murray falls this far in the draft, it’ll be because there’s a huge run on WR and the Ravens pass on him.
Again, this is a position that the Packers know they need to improve on (letting Blake Martinez walk) and already threw resources at it by signing Christian Kirksey. However, Murray is the type of second-level defender that can be an every down player at a level that Kirksey hasn’t shown.