Everyone talks about wide receiver and inside linebacker as the Packers big needs, but it you look at how the season ended, it’s clear the biggest need isn’t a position, it’s a task: stopping the run.
In this draft, the board didn’t fall in favor of the popular Packers needs and picks, so we kept our focus on the biggest need we see from the Packers: stopping the run.
Here are the results:
Yetur Gross-Matos – Edge
Profile: Most project Gross-Matos as an edge best-suited to a 4-3 alignment at defensive end. He’s an agile player with a long, powerful build. He has a bull rush, setup moves, counter moves, and polished technique. Plays with leverage and has a surprisingly tough anchor for a 6-5 270 guy. Not the quickest off the snap and doesn’t seem to get amped up, but he’s very good at covering ground, which shows when he shuts down jet sweeps.
Analysis: Gross-Matos doesn’t show up on a lot of Packers drafts because of his position designation. He’s usually listed as an edge, but with his body type and athleticism, he could play a hybrid elephant role like or even be a straight 3-4 edge defender. Given his height, athleticism, and versatility, he could be a surprisingly good fit in a defensive front that places a premium on those traits. Rotating spots around with Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary could give the Packers a lot of flexibility to play a stronger front against the run without sacrificing the pass rush that Mike Pettine is so concerned with generating.
Jordan Elliott – Defensive Line
Profile: A stout 6’4, 300+ pounder with a strong upper body and a proven ability to two-gap. He’s been bulking up in a healthy way and could still add positive mass. He jolts blockers with his first move and power through gaps rather than shooting through them. He’s a disruptive run stopper who flashes potential as a pass rusher. He was mostly asked to hold point in his college scheme and he did. Doesn’t play with urgency and his technique is still unpolished, but there is no denying his power in the trenches.
Analysis: Jake Fromm went one pick earlier or I may have been tempted to grab him. As things went, I like the Elliott pick. He has the length that Pettine likes up front, but adds a powerful presences in run defense that the Packers sorely lack outside of Kenny Clark. If Gross-Matos and Elliot were pushing guys around in the trenches, I don’t think the Packers would have given up 200 yards rushing to anyone.
Akeem Davis-Gaither – Inside Linebacker
Profile: A linebacker who plays with fury, Davis-Gaither shows the ability to cover backs and ends. Moves well laterally and sorts through blocks, but needs to add some muscle mass and work just a little more on hand shedding to be a true force in run defense. He has the range to cover the sidelines shows the ability to blitz. Good ball instincts and when he’s headed downhill, he does a much better job shedding blocks.
Analysis: In the 3rd round, Davis-Gaither is about as good as it gets for inside linebacker prospects. There’s no glaring, uncorrectable weakness in his game. He’s be an immediate upgrade for the Packers. At 6’1 he’s just barely tall enough to be a three down linebacker who could develop into a Pro Bowler if he added some muscle and honed his craft. Great fit for the Packers and his on-field energy would be a great addition to the group.
Tyler Johnson – Wide Receiver
Profile: Sold build at 6’1 206, Johnson’s best asset is his quick feet. He’s not a speed burner, but creates separation by manipulating defenders and cutting strong. He runs aggressive routes despite only average speed and has good awareness in the the open field, resulting in yards after the catch. Not very strong, he isn’t much of a blocker, but he hustles and works back to the quarterback in the scramble drill.
Analysis: With Adams on the outside and Lazard filling the role of big-bodied target on the other boundary, the Packers wide receiver needs are greatest in the slot. Johnson fits there. The Packers don’t necessarily have to use a Day 1 or Day 2 pick to get a receiver in this class if they want to address bigger concerns and fill the receiver need with a role player that complements the current group.
Charlie Heck – Offensive Tackle
Profile: Tall and lean, with good movement, Heck looks like a zone blocking fit. He doesn’t have great strength, which pushes him down in a deep class. As the son of former 1st round pick and current Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck, he has the best pedigree of anyone in this class – he was born and raised to be an NFL tackle. He uses his length to arc defenders around the quarterback and fluid with combo blocks. He doesn’t have the drive or leverage to be a run blocker, but if he adds some muscle, he can be a long-term zone-blocking tackle.
Analysis: The Packers need someone to play right tackle. They could sign a stop-gap in free agency, but they need to draft someone. There’s a lot of needs for the team, so they’re lucky this is a deep class of tackles and can get a value like this in the 5th round.
Joe Bachie – Inside Linebacker
Profile: A thick, powerful downhill run-stuffer, Bachie doesn’t have the athleticism or awareness for coverage, but he can take on blockers, shove them aside, and get to the ball without missing tackles.
Analysis: Bachie is the type of run-stopping role player the Packers needs in their linebacking core and could be a great complement to Davis-Gaither.
Trajan Bandy – Cornerback
Profile: At 5’8 180, Bandy may not meet the size requirements for some teams, but he will not be discounted because of his effort. He plays with passion and aggression. He needs to work on his hand technique and footwork, but he handled playing outside receivers in college with little more than willpower. He’ll be relegated to the slot in the pros, but shows a good feel for routes and the ability to time balls and swat passes away. Raw and athletic developmental player.
Analysis: The Packers need a player in the slot. It would be nice to have one that is taller or faster, but you can’t teach his instincts or passion. He makes Jaire Alexander look tall, which means the Packers may have to move their corners around – particularly Kevin King – to avoid huge mismatches.
Kalija Lipscomb – Wide Receiver
Profile: Crisp routes and good cuts give Lipscomb the space he he needs, because his 4.5 speed isn’t blowing anyone away. He does have a crisp release, though, and shows the ability to play any receiver position with a very diverse route tree. He concentrates on his catches, and shows good run after the catch ability that he also used in punt returns.
Analysis: With a class this deep, Lipscomb is the kind of guy worth taking a flyer in when the Packers are looking for a receiver.
Darius Anderson – Running Back
Profile: Small runner who can catch, Anderson added weight this year. but at 5’10 208, he may have topped off, which means a full workload will be tough. He runs high, but has nice moves and the ability to bounce outside. He could be a nice change of pace back.
Analysis: For a guy with the nickname “Jet,” I expected a little more speed, but, as Billy Bob Thorton famously proclaimed in Bad Santa: “they can’t all be winners, kid.” Anderson could fit as a change of pace back or a future committee back since the Packers don’t have any running backs locked up long term.
Mitchell Wilcox – Tight End
Profile: A big receiver, Wilcox is versatile and fluid. He’s a little narrow to be a great blocker, but shows the effort. He run smooth routes and has big catch radius. Not a lot of yards after the catch, but, has good hands.
Analysis: LaFleur’s offense works best with good receiving tight ends. Graham is on the downside, Tonyan hasn’t fully established himself, and Sternberger is a total unknown after missing most of his rookie season (though I’m still a believer). Throwing a developmental guy like Wilcox into the mix makes a lot of sense.
Inside linebacker is going to be really hard to get in the 1st round if these mocks play out – the big three are gone by 30 almost every single time with the Ravens and Titans at 28 and 29 grabbing them frequently.
Check out our PFTW 2020 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!
Check out Packers Draft Central 2020 for all our 2020 NFL Draft coverage!
|Get even deeper into understanding draft strategy with our new 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
Available in ebook and paperback – and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!
If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited, you can get a free trial of Kindle Unlimited here!