The Packers had a huge need at cornerback going into the offseason. They seemed to be fine at safety, but they lost Morgan Burnett to free agency. Green Bay now needs serious help at both positions, so it's no surprise that there are reports saying they'll take the best defensive back available.
The top defensive back on the board is Derwin James. It's very possible that James could go as high as No. 7 to the Buccaneers, so the Packers should consider this a steal, as their new general manager replaces Burnett.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Denzel Ward, CB - The Packers will try to trade up for Ward.
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S - The value for safeties has dipped, based on how little interest they've received in free agency this offseason, so one of the top players at the position should be available for Green Bay.
Rd. 2, Pk. 13
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
The Packers will have to find a new receiver to replace Aaron Rodgers' long-time weapon, Jordy Nelson, who signed with the Raiders this offseason. James Washington would be a logical option in Round 2.
Rd. 3, Pk. 12
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
It shouldn't surprise anyone if the Packers use multiple selections on cornerbacks in the first few rounds, given the dire situation of their secondary.
Rd. 4, Pk. 1
Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
Muhammad Wilkerson was signed to a 1-year deal. Here's a long-term solution at the position.
I liked Walt's pick in his trades mock of Jabrill Peppers. It makes tons of sense for Green Bay to get Peppers, but I'm not sure they would in light of his diluted-drug-test issue from the combine. I've heard that Green Bay loves Mixon and has done a ton of research into him in the leadup to the draft. The Packers could use a feature back and have the strong locker room, along with a small-town environment, to keep Mixon focused.
Mixon is an electric runner with excellent speed and the ability to rip off a long run on any carry. He became Oklahoma's featured runner as a redshirt sophomore with an average of seven yards per carry (168 carries) for 1,183 yards with eight touchdowns while sharing carries with Samaje Perine. Mixon also was a receiving weapon with 32 receptions for 449 yards with five touchdowns.
Sources have said that they think Mixon is a serious talent with three-down starting potential in the NFL. Some teams, however, already have ruled him out because of the incident from 2014 in which he punched a woman after she declined Mixon's advances. After video of the incident was released two years later, Mixon issued a tearful apology. Some teams have already removed him from their draft boards because of the character concerns.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Packers could use a cornerback upgrade, and I think they love Conley. The question will be if Green Bay is okay with the late-breaking off-the-field issues.
On Tuesday, news came out that Conley was the subject of a rape allegation. Two teams told me they thought it was bogus. Hopefully, they are correct for the sake of all involved. Another team said they thought it probably wasn't true, but they were very disappointed in Conley's lack of judgement and awareness to put himself in this situation. Regardless, the controversy could be damaging enough to cause Conley to slide in the 2017 NFL Draft, like La'el Collins or Laremy Tunsil in the past two years.
Conley recorded 26 tackles with eight passes broken up and four interceptions in 2016. He played well, and teams think he is a well-rounded player. The 6-foot, 195-pounder has enough size to start on the outside at the next level. In the NFL, Conley could fit in schemes that run zone, off man, and press man. He is a polished player who should be able to contribute quickly.
After some early issues, Conley had a solid 2015 season for the Buckeyes and improved as the year progressed. He totaled 49 tackles with two interceptions and five passes broken up that year. Conley has a good skill set, and he looks like a safe pick to develop into a quality starter.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Ryan Anderson, OLB/3-4OLB, Alabama
The Packers could use more edge-rushing talent.
Anderson (6-2, 258) was a clutch performer for Alabama in 2016. He supplied a lot of pass rush off the edge and also did well at setting the edge in run defense. Anderson totaled 61 tackles with 18 for a loss, nine sacks, three passes broken up, one interception and four forced fumbles on the season. In 2015, he put together a strong finish to the season, recording 37 tackles with 11.5 for a loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles on the year.
Anderson has versatile size and upside to develop. He would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Jaleel Johnson, DT/3-4DE/NT, Iowa
The Packers grab a some defensive line depth and competition.
The 6-foot-2, 309-pound Johnson has the skill set to be a difference-maker at the point of attack. He is strong enough to shed blocks, yet has the speed to close on the quarterback. Johnson needs to get more consistent and increase the tempo of his motor, but he racked up 7.5 sacks in 2016. He also had 55 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and two passes broken up. In a number of ways, Johnson is a similar prospect to former teammate Carl Davis, who had first-round potential but slid to the third round in large part because of inconsistent effort.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Tyrone Swoopes, TE, Texas
The Packers added a tight end weapon in Martellus Bennett, but they could consider a developmental backup.
Sources tell me the Packers could target a linebacker or wide receiver help in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. If there isn't a good option available at one of those positions, they would think of going with the best player available. Even though Green Bay has used a lot of draft picks on cornerbacks, the position remains a need, and they're getting a good value in Jackson. <br> <br>
Jackson (6-0, 196) enjoyed an excellent 2017 as a dangerous ballhawk for the Hawkeyes. He put an exclamation point on the year with a three-interception game against Ohio State. For the season, Jackson recorded 48 tackles with 18 passes broken up and eight interceptions. He has a good size for the NFL with length and athleticism. His timed speed will be important, and some team sources believe that Jackson will run well in the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sources tell me the Packers could target linebacker or wide receiver help in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. If there isn't a good option available at one of those positions, they would think of going with the best player available. Even though Green Bay has used a lot of draft picks on cornerbacks, the position remains a need, and they're getting a good value with perhaps the top corner in the 2018 NFL Draft outside of the top-10 picks. Ted Thompson targeted a lot of big corners, but what the Packers need now is a cover corner who can prevent separation. <br> <br>
Some team sources are very high on Ward (5-10, 183) and think he is one of the best defensive prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. The one concern shared across the league is Ward's height as he checked in just below 5-foot-11 at the combine. For the NFL, Ward has good speed, athleticism, ball skills, and quick feet to run the route to prevent separation. He times his reaches well and shows nice instincts to play the eyes and hands of receivers. To go along with his cover skills, Ward is generally a disciplined player and is not a gambler. Ward looks like a future starter and could have No. 1-corner potential in the NFL if he can overcome his size limitations. <br> <br>
Ward recorded 37 tackles with 15 passes broken up and two interceptions in 2017. While primarily a backup in 2016, Ward totaled 23 tackles with nice passes broken up.
The Green Bay Packers find themselves in the perfect position to be able to take the best player available in the draft. The Packers have many different directions they could go with this pick as well. Aaron Rodgers is the face of the franchise and is returning from a broken collarbone during the 2017 NFL campaign, so it makes that new general manager Brian Gutekunst may want to draft an offensive line prospect to help protect their diamond gem. However, the Packers tackles are solidified and it may be just too early for any one of guard Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, Billy Price, or James Daniels. Rodgers' best friend Jordy Nelson was cut by the team in free agency, so giving A-Rod a new weapon may also make sense. Wide receiver prospects Calvin Ridley, DJ Moore, or Courtland Sutton are definitely options here, but one has to think that head coach Mike McCarthy cut Jordy for a reason knowing the Rodgers can get by with what they have on the roster already. The team also unexpectedly traded away starting cornerback Damarious Randall, leaving a seemingly massive hole in an already terrible secondary. The Packers drafted Kevin King in last year's draft and brought back former Packer glory in Tramon Williams and Davon House to at least allow the positional group to survive what may be a difficult year.
All of these possible avenues are going to make McCarthy and Gutekunst's decision a very difficult one. The Packers have been lacking in one department that may help the team overall and the defense as a unit: rushing the passer. In recent years, Clay Matthews has been forced to the middle linebacker position and age is beginning to take its toll on the former superstar, but he is back on the edge where he should be able to help some. Nick Perry on the other side is a great player. The team has a solid defensive line with Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, and new acquisition Muhammed Wilkerson. Why not inject some youth and athleticism who compares favorably to All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack?
Marcus Davenport is a small school prospect who looked explosive against inferior talent during the 2017 season with 8.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. He once again flashed after he was invited to the Senior Bowl with two back-to-back sacks. Then, he hit the scene once again the NFL Combine by running a 4.58 40 yard dash and 124 inch broad jump. Davenport is raw, but behind the mentorship of Clay Matthews and a positive situation in Green Bay playing on a team led by Aaron Rodgers, Davenport might be able to blossom into an elite pass rusher in the league.
The Packers go with the best player available and add a difference-maker for their leaky secondary. HaHa Clinton-Dix is in the last year of his contract, and they could replace him with James. James and Josh Jones could form violent tandem on the back end. <br> <br>
James totaled 72 tackles with 11 passes batted and two interceptions in 2017. While he didn't put together flawless performances against Alabama and N.C. State during the season, they were impressive overall. James was healthy and able to display his great instincts and rare combination of great size, speed, physicality and versatility. He played dime linebacker, nickel corner, free safety and strong safety, basically doing everything a coach could ask of him. The one steady problem James displayed in 2017 was he could have some limitations in man coverage and being a free safety deep downfield, but he still is a tremendous strong safety with versatility. <br> <br>
James totaled 11 tackles and an interception through two games in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He had been playing well for Florida State. Entering that season, there was a lot of hype that James was an elite player and perhaps the best defensive player in college football. As a freshman in 2015, he had a strong debut with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles, but zero interceptions. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder has a great athletic skill set with tremendous speed, instincts, and strength to hit. He shows the ability to do everything an NFL safety is needed to do. James is fast and long with coverage skills in the deep middle of the field. He also is strong enough to be the eighth man in the box and tackle.
The Packers could use more edge-rushing talent. <br> <br>
In 2017, Landry totaled 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. The senior was manhandled by Notre Dame, struggling against a freshman right tackle and, on a few snaps, against left tackle Mike McGlinchey. Landry was moderately better, but still underwhelming, against Clemson. He missed the final five games of 2017 with an ankle injury. The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops and 4.5 sacks. Landry would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Harold Landry Going to Packers
Rd. 1, Pk. 18
Jaire Alexander, CB
If Jaire Alexander can stay healthy, the Packers will be getting a terrific cornerback for their maligned secondary. The problem, however, is his durability. Some teams thought Alexander could slip to the second round because of all his injury issues. In fact, I think Alexander could have been available at No. 27, so I'm not thrilled about the Packers surrendering a third-round pick to get him. That said, Green Bay acquired a 2019 first-rounder in the entire process, so I'm not going to give them a bad grade. Again, if they luck out with Alexander's health, they will have made a huge upgrade to the defensive backfield.
Rd. 2, Pk. 13
Joshua Jackson, CB
Holy hell, I forgot Joshua Jackson was still available. How in the world did he fall this far? Jackson is a player who could've gone No. 14 overall to the Packers, and I would've been fine with it. Some people whose opinion I respect think Jackson should've been in the conversation as the top cornerback in this entire class. Jackson is tall and instinctive and in the mold of Aqib Talib, and he should be an instant upgrade in Green Bay's atrocious secondary.
Rd. 3, Pk. 24
Oren Burks, ILB
Oren Burks is a solid pick in the middle of the third round. He's an athletic linebacker with nice instincts, and he could eventually become a starter for the Packers, who desperately needed some inside linebacker help.
Rd. 4, Pk. 33
J'Mon Moore, WR
J'Mon Moore is a better version of Jaleel Scott, who went one selection earlier than this. Moore is highly athletic with upside, but he drops too many passes. Still, he could be developed into a solid starter.
Rd. 5, Pk. 1
Cole Madison, OT
Cole Madison was introduced as a tackle, but I think he may have to play guard. That makes more sense, as Green Bay had to bolster its interior protection. I like this pick a lot, as I could see a scenario in which Madison starts as a rookie.
Rd. 5, Pk. 35
JK Scott, P
Once again, punters grow on trees, and solid ones at the position can be obtained as undrafted free agents. They make sense in the sixth or seventh rounds, but a fifth-round pick should be used on a real football player.
Rd. 5, Pk. 37
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a very raw player, but has some good upside. He's a player Al Davis would've liked as a height-weight-speed guy. He could be a good player one day, or he could be a flop. Sounds like a fifth-round pick to me.
Rd. 6, Pk. 33
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
Wow, what a steal! I consistently had Equanimeous St. Brown in the second or third round of my mock drafts, and I'm shocked that he lasted past the fourth frame. St. Brown was very productive in 2016, but that changed this past season because of the quarterbacking problems at Notre Dame. St. Brown could develop into a solid NFL starter, so he's a steal this late in the draft.
Rd. 7, Pk. 14
James Looney, DT
James Looney was considered a potential mid-round prospect heading into 2017, but he struggled this past season. On top of that, he's a tweener. The good news is that Looney is athletic, so he has potential. Why not swing for the fences in the seventh round?
Rd. 7, Pk. 21
Hunter Bradley, LS
Long-snappers can be found on the street, but I'm fine with a team selecting one in the seventh round.
Rd. 7, Pk. 30
Kendall Donnerson, OLB
Kendall Donnerson made a name for himself with a stellar pro day workout. He ran a 4.44 and leapt 40 inches despite weighing close to 250 pounds. Donnerson was going to draw tons of interest on the UDFA market, so credit the Packers for taking the initiative by going after Donnerson prior to the conclusion of the draft.