Assessing players for skills and scheme fit is only the beginning of a successful draft. Picking as the draft unravels to make educated bets on when players will be available is another part. This year, I believe the Packers can be patient in finding their Offensive Linemen and in this draft, I exercised that patience to the extreme.
Here’s the results:
Rashan Gary (DL/Edge) The Packers need help with their pass rush and that could be from getting an Edge rusher, a Defensive Lineman, or… both in the case of Rashan Gary. An odd type of tweener, Gary has had success as an Edge rusher and a Defensive Lineman. Rare blend of a 6’4 guy with a 38″ vertical and a 280 pounder with 4.5 speed and a lot of strength. He hasn’t really developed a lot of moves, but plays with energy and attacks with fury. He has the tools to go this high, but needs some refinement in techniques and a scheme that can work around using him properly… however that is. He’s a weapon without a clear position and that may play nicely into some hybrid fronts with flexible guys like Za’Darius Smith now on the team.
TJ Hockenson (TE) A devastating blocker and a very polished receiver, TJ Hockenson looks like a perfect fit for what Matt LaFleur wants to do in his offenses. It’s interesting that the 6’5 250 Tight End keeps showing up as a top 10 talent on almost every board, yet is hanging around at 30 quite a bit. I think this shows how devalued the position is and could play in to the Packers approach to the draft.
Chase Winovich (Edge) With a utility defender in the first round, the Packers could go for a more traditional Edge rusher in the second. The top tier of Edge rushers (including free-falling Jachai Polite) are always long gone by 44, but the second tier is solid. Chase Winovich is missing the elite bend and athleticism of the top tier of Edge rushers, but he has a very polished technique and a wide variety of moves. He plays gaps very well and is a smart hustle player who surprised scouts with a 4.59 40 at the Combine, indicating he may have more burst than originally thought.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside (WR) I can usually count on a top Edge rusher to be available at 12, a great Tight End to be hanging out around 30, and at least a few zone blocking Guards to be waiting in the 4th, but the 3rd round is the least predictable. I think this underscores the talent cliff between 44 and 75. I took JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a 6’3 225 receiver who lacks top end long speed, but has a good burst, great routes, and is a willing blocker. With his height, some of the best ball skills in the class, and great body control, he is a jump ball master, who would fit well in the red zone with Davante Adams.
David Long (LB) At 5’11 227, David Long is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with aggression and a reckless style that results in good plays more often than overruns. Impressive athleticism, good speed, burst, and range with 4.45 speed, Long fights through blocks with his compact build and attacks inside blitzes.
Justice HIll (RB) I’m so confident that there will be zone blockers that I’m going to wait even more before taking one. I’m going with Justice Hill, a twitchy, springy back with decisive cuts and a natural ability to set up blocks that will serve him well behind a zone blocking scheme. He runs good routes and has decent hands, but at 198 pounds, isn’t really a consideration in pass protection. He’s a really good complementary back.
Lukas Denis (FS) There are some good, complete safeties to be had in the early rounds. By the time you hit Day 3, though, you are looking for role players like Lukas Denis. A former Wide Receiver, he shows natural athleticism and ball skills. He’s quick and fluid on the back end, but at 188 pounds, his thin build often finds him tackling as a courtesy. He has a defined role as a deep roamer.
Mitch Hyatt (T/G) I always say we can find good Offensive Linemen late in the draft. I usually think that the 4th round is the sweet spot, but I waited all the way until the 6th round this time and was still able to grab an All American Left Tackle – this is a deep OL class. Mitch Hyatt has some things to clean up in his technique, like hand placement, but he played Left Tackle because of his athleticism and handled mirroring very well – this is exactly what is needed for zone blocking. He shows poor technique with drive blocking in the run game, but that is exactly the kind of thing he won’t need to do in a zone blocking system. He’s a textbook example of a guy who falls because he doesn’t fit every scheme – his weaknesses are things he won’t need in Adam Stenavich’s scheme.
Garrett Brumfield (G) There’s enough good zone blocking linemen around that I can double up in the 6th with Garrett Brumfield. He’s an aggressive run blocker who explodes out of his stance, but has all the athleticism needed for zone blocking. His hand placement also needs some work, but with a strong anchor and good feet in pass protection, he’s a very good Guard prospect for a zone blocking team like the Packers.
Javon Patterson (G) This is a great draft for big guys of offense and I figured I’d grab one more before wrapping up. Javon Patterson put up 27 bench reps at the Combine, but doesn’t play with the punch or power that would seem to indicate. However, he has great hips and feet and is quick to processes in zone blocking. He’s not a drive blocker, but he’s a great fit for zone blocking.
More than anything, I think this draft shows the depth of the zone blocking Offensive Lineman crop. With the last three picks, I grabbed three guys that I think would all be upgrades at Right Guard, if Billy Turner plays tackle. If Turner is going to play Right Guard, this draft class will give him some competition and can bring much-needed depth across the line. Hockenson and Hill also add a little spice for offensive playcalling.
On defense, Gary and Winovich are great tools for Mike Pettine to work with for an ailing pass rush. Given the pickups of Smith and Smith in free agency, a class like this would give us a lot of interesting hybrid fronts that could take advantage of their individual strengths, allow for a lot of week-to-week game-planning, and keep offenses constantly guessing.
- Kyler Murray went #1 overall, which I hadn’t been seeing in mocks previously
- Even after closing the draft with three straight Offensive Linemen, there were still UDFA targets that I think would be good fits
Check out our PFTW 2019 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!
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