Bruce Irons 2021 Draft Crushes For The Packers

Every year, I spend too much time studying the draft. Not all the players or all the teams, just the Packers and prospects that are relevant to them. I run hundreds of mock drafts and write up a full analysis on a small portion of them (see PFTW 2021 Mock Draft Archive) after far too many hours of watching film and reading writeups.

Then I get ready for the big event with my list of players.

After all that, here are the guys I would most like to see the Packers get this year:

Don’t forget to check out Packers Draft Central 2021 for all our 2021 NFL Draft coverage!

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DAY 1

Zaven Collins, Inside Linebacker
It’s true. I don’t like the idea of using a 1st round pick on an inside linebacker (in large part because that’s not how champions draft). However, it’s hard to deny what dynamic inside linebackers like Devin White have done in recent years. While I think the Packers can win without an elite inside linebacker, I can’t help but be excited by what Collins brings to the table. He can defend the run with incredible range and power for his size, he can drop back into coverage, and he has a knack for making big plays. If there was ever a time I wanted the Packers to take an inside linebacker in the 1st round, it would be for Zaven Collins.

Christian Barmore, Defensive Line
Unlike inside linebacker, I love the idea of drafting defensive linemen in the 1st round. The game is won and lost in the trenches and defense wins championships. That being said, Barmore may be the only defensive lineman in this class worth a 1st round pick. As it is, he may be long gone by 29, but if he was there, I’d love to get him. He’s disruptive in both the run and pass game. Known primarily as a pass rusher (with 8 sacks last year), he’s also become an impressive run stopper (with 9.5 tackles for loss) en route to a dominating effort in the National Championship Game. With a quick release, fast stunting agility, powerful legs, leverage, and athleticism, the only things that can stop him are injuries and attitude.

Trade Down
More true this year than in any other year, I favor trading down. The Packers biggest needs are cornerback and offensive tackle and while there are guys I like in the 1st at both positions (like Asante Samuel and Samuel Cosmi), I don’t think they separate themselves from a value perspective. If a key guy like Collins or Barmore don’t make it to them, I’d like to see the Packers roll the dice on a trade down.

What might there options be for trading down? Well, I’m glad you asked, we have that right here!

 

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DAY 2

Ifeatu Melifonwu, Cornerback
Big and physical at 6’3, 215, Melifonwu harasses receivers from the snap to the end of the play. Physical enough to cover tight ends and support the edge against the run, he’d give the Packers everything they wanted from Kevin King and keep the defense diverse for any kind of coverage set.

Eric Stokes, Cornerback
Dude is fast. He doesn’t have ideal athleticism or change of direction for covering the slot, but is great in zone and very good locking up in man coverage, where he uses his speed to stay close and physical at 6’1.

Levi Onwuzurike, Defensive Line
The 2nd best defensive lineman on my list, and – aside from Barmore – the only other complete defensive lineman in this class. A good first step, he’s long, athletic, and knows how to use his leverage. Powerful legs with a beastly anchor, he has a natural ability to find the ball and make plays.

Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Tackle
Cosmi isn’t perfect. He needs to add some muscle to his 6’7 frame to handle power rushers and clean up his footwork, but his athleticism and mobility are the perfect fit for zone blocking. His natural length makes it possible for him to hold the edge in a way some tackles simply can’t.

James Hudson, Offensive Tackle
A developmental prospect, Hudson has only played offensive line for one year, but he looks like he has a future there. With long arms and a strong anchor, he was PFF’s highest-rated blocker at Senior Bowl practices.

Dyami Brown, Wide Receiver
He can play wide and he can play in the slot. He can go over the middle and he can go deep. He explodes off the line with an array of smooth release moves and has a great late catch technique. His game looks modeled after Davante Adams and he brings similar size, just big enough for Matt LaFleur at 6’1.

 

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DAY 3

Benjamin St-Juste, Cornerback
My biggest crush of this draft class, the 6’3 St-Juste plays his man, not the ball. He’s physical and disruptive and never had an interception in his college career. There’s nothing flashy about him, but he locks onto him man and holds the edge in run support. He was the highest-graded cornerback at the Senior Bowl.

Josh Imatorbhebhe, Wide Receiver
Another physically imposing player, Imatorbhebhe brings rare size (6’2 220) and strength (24 reps on the bench press), albeit with average timed speed. A big catch radius, especially with back shoulder throws, he has the hand strength to come down with contested balls. He didn’t run a varied route tree in college, but he looks capable of learning them and is a monster to bring down after the catch.

Alim McNeil, Defensive Line
This 6’2 320 nose tackle was athletic enough to play running back in high school. A powerful short yardage run stuffer with a heavy anchor, he’s grown as a one-direction pocket-collapsing pass rusher.

Marvin Wilson, Defensive Line
A boom or bust pick, Wilson looked like a top 10 pick a year ago, then lost weight and played like garbage all year with some injury concerns. He finished the year with a terrible Senior Bowl showing. It’s possible that Wilson just needs to get healthy an hit the weight room. It’s just as possible he never sniffs a 53 man roster. His potential intrigues me.

Robert Hainsey, Offensive Tackle
There are no perfect prospects on Day 3. Hainsey has trouble with the quickest, widest edge rushers and his balance isn’t perfect. However, he has a good pass blocking technique, some raw power, and the smarts to handle combo blocks and switches easily. He also looked very polished at the Senior Bowl.

Jimmy Morrissey, Center
The epitome of try-hard player, he won the Burlsworth Trophy for the most outstanding player who started his career as a walk-on. He’s undersized and lacks ideal athleticism, but he is an absolute blocking technician and has all the smarts you want in a center. His only possible role at the next level is a zone blocking center. If the Packers get late in the draft and are looking for competition at center, he could be a great value.

Pooka Williams, Running Back
A patient zone runner who goes from zero to stupidly fast the instant he finds his spot, Pooka can’t handle a full workload at 5’10 170, but his 4.37 speed makes him a scary role player for jet sweeps and spot packages.

Drake Jackson, Center
Another undersized center, Jackson has great feet and mobility. He wins with hands and leverage and would be a great option as a zone blocking center.

Jermar Jefferson, Running Back
A compact power runner, Jefferson has explosive jump cuts and great wiggle. He has good vision for holes and great balance through contact.

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Want to learn more!?

Want more insight into how winning teams build through the draft (and how losing teams fail)? We’ve got you covered!

Start shallow, then get deep into understanding draft strategy with our draft book (rated a #1 New Release): A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft: Strategies, Tactics, And Case Studies For Building A Professional Football Team

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Finally, get to the game behind the game with our new must-have book for 2021: A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap – which lays out detailed, easy-to-follow scenarios to explain exactly how contract structures and salary cap rules impact teams.

All these great books  are available in ebook and paperback – and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!

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Don’t just watch the draft – understand it and learn why GMs make the moves they do.

 

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Check out our PFTW 2021 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!

Check out Packers Draft Central 2021 for all our 2021 NFL Draft coverage!

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