The Packers are coming off their much needed bye week. After a 1-2 start, this bye couldn't have come at a better time. As dry as it is right now for Wisconsin sports, I thought I'd concoct the first installment of NFL Draft prospects for the Packers going into the 2014 NFL Draft. I think it's very important to get familiar with potential prospects for your pro sports teams, which is why I do these. These are purely based on blatant needs the Packers will be looking for in the draft and how these players could fall to them. (I recommend that if you're going to watch the videos that you enlarge them to full screen to really watch the featured player.)
Round 1 - Cyril Richardson, G/OT, Baylor
Depending on the Packers draft position, this would be the logical choice as our first round pick. Cyril Richardson could go in the Top 15, but he could also go late in the first round. I've seen him scattered all around draft boards. Richardson can play both guard and tackle on the offensive line. As we've seen so blatantly this year and in years past, Aaron Rodgers needs to be protected a heckuva lot more than he does. It seems every year the line suffers a huge injury that bumps somebody into a position on the line they are experienced at. This year = prime example. Bryan Bulaga gets hurt, insert rookie right tackle David Bahktiari at left tackle. I'm probably in the minority, but the only offensive lineman I trust to protect Aaron Rodgers in Josh Sitton. I want to get on the TJ Lang club, but too often I see him being lost. Now, maybe its him getting used to the new position this year (went from left guard to right guard)? Who knows.
Focusing on Cyril, this is a big boy. He knows how to protect a quarterback. The highlight video shows that. Richardson is 6'5", 340 pounds. He's a mammoth of a man and a true force. At Baylor, he was their starting left tackle for some guy named Robert Griffin III. After RG3 was drafted, Richardson shifted to left guard. He excels at both positions. For his size, he's very light on his feet. Guard, in my opinion, is his natural position.
Round 2 - Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
A little back story on why I see a wide receiver coming off the board so early for the Packers...
James Jones - Free Agent in 2014
Jermichael Finley - Free Agent in 2014
Jordy Nelson - Free Agent in 2015
Randall Cobb - Free Agent in 2015
See where I'm going with this? We all know how Ted operates. We all know that those four individuals won't all be Packers come 2015. We are going to have to replenish the targets that the gun shoots at. Catch my drift? Josh Huff may not have the elite speed, but is one of the most physical and tough wide receivers in this draft class. Rob Rang from NFLDraftScout.com wrote this up on him...
"...a difficult match up for cornerbacks. Huff uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball and he is a strong runner after the catch, demonstrating the balance and leg-drive to spin and run through arm tackles. Huff is not a future No. 1 target in the NFL, but his size and strength should make him an effective complementary wideout capable of contributing early in his pro career."
I did say he doesn't have elite speed. However, he still runs a 4.48 40 yard dash. That is definitely enough to qualify as a kick returner, something the Packers also need dearly. The team values Randall Cobb too much as a wide receiver to risk injury and having him return kicks for us anymore. It is unfortunate that the Jeremy Ross experiment didn't pan out, but it's back to the drawing board. Maybe Reggie Dunn will give us a spark.
Round 3 - Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
Bennett Jackson is like sap on your hands after you touch a pine tree. He's like duct tape. He's a leech. He's one of the best defensive backs and the Packers could really use the depth. The most unique attribute about Jackson is that he's a former wide receiver. That being said, you could assume that he strives so well at corner because he knows the ins and outs of the position he's defending.
Last year for the Fighting Irish he recording 65 tackles (3rd best on the team) and 4 interceptions. Through the first five games of this season, he has accumulated 31 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception that turned into a pick-six for Bennett.
Round 4 - Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State
Max is a firecracker. He's calls the shots on defense. Players have compared him to Matt Wilhelm, who you might remember from the Packers 2010 Super Bowl XLV Championship team.
The Packers have an acceptable inside linebacker core, but every year it is lacking one major piece to the puzzle. That, my friends, is the pass rush. Clay Matthews can't do it all. Max has a knack for being physical and being a major presence in slowing a run game down.What he has in strength he lacks in speed. You don't want him in pass coverage, but it's something he can improve on during his senior year.
Speaking of the run defense, Max Bullough's #1 run defense in the country has given up a total of 229 rushing yards over the last 4 games. That averages out to be 57.25 yards per game. Absolutely mind blowing.
(I think you'll all like the next inside linebacker I feature in 2.0)
Round 5 - Boseko Lokombo, OLB, Oregon
With the shadows of Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay gone, meet Boseko Lokombo. Coming into this season, he's accounted for 39 total tackles (26 solo tackles), 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble. He also has 4 defensive touchdowns on his resume. Lokombo will likely be a finalist for the 2013 Butkus Award.
Main reason for drafting him - security blanket in case Nick Perry doesn't live up to his potential. You can never have too much depth at linebacker on a football team in my opinion.
Here's an interesting note on Boseko that I came upon - Back in May of this year he was selected in the CFL draft to the B.C. Lions. He is obviously continuing his college career and still is 100% focused on the NFL, but by being drafted by the CFL as a redshirt junior gives him something to fall back on in case the NFL doesn't work out. Basically, the CFL can draft red shirt juniors and can wait to sign them until their college careers are over with. Also, if they choose to go to the NFL instead, they can still be signed by the team they were drafted by after their NFL career.
Round 6 - Jacob Pederson, TE, Wisconsin
Probably not the first Badger you thought I'd feature in one of these. In any event, Pederson addresses a huge hole for the Packers. The Packers just don't have a legitimate tight end behind Jermichael Finley, and that shows whenever Finley doesn't play. You don't realize how important Finley is until he's gone. Well, not anymore.
Jacob Pederson is pretty much Jermichael Finley in another body. They both are 6'5". They both weight 240. They both are play-makers and game changers. For the most part, they have good hands. They are both pivotal. The thing I really like about Pederson is that he isn't afraid to throw a block. Like I mentioned above with the offensive line, any extra help and protection the team can give Aaron Rodgers the better.
Round 7 - Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois
The last time the Packers drafted someone from Northern Illinois was in 1994. LeShon Johnson was a running back for the Pack for two years. Unless your name is Michael Turner, you aren't really known for playing at NUI. Until you meet Jimmie Ward.
Ward has potential to be a stud. He plays the strong safety position extremely well. He's a lock down kind of player. He's always in the middle of plays either tackling breaking up passes. Ward is known as one of the locker room leaders and voices of the team. Coaching staff has nothing but great things to say about him. He's currently playing through a serious injury on his left hand/wrist area. It has been in a cast for a few weeks now.
The Packers need serious help in the secondary. Not saying we lack the talent now, because we don't. we have a few regular starters beat up and hurt right now, and much like the offensive line, we have guys subbing in at positions they aren't used to which turns into disasters. Ward would be a great option late in the draft to address this particular issue and if anything provide depth and competition.
Until next time, Beer, Brats, and Championships.
- Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)
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