We know that the Packers need a wide receiver, but again and again, we’re seeing that this class is deep enough to warrant waiting. The defense made big strides in 2019, but the payoff performances showed that there’s a need for improvement.
In this 3-round draft, we tried to address the defensive, while also getting a wide receiver that could contribute.
Here’s the results
Xavier McKinney – Safety
Profile: The best safety prospect in the draft is junior Xavier McKinney (not Grant Delpit as many would have you believe). A versatile athlete who played everywhere – in the box, in the slot, single high, zone, quarters, he did it all. Hes explosive and disruptive like a strong safety, but plays with the fluidity of a free safety. He also makes plays with 3 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 4 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks last year (plus a similar stat line as a sophomore). With lots of pluses and no glaring weaknesses, he could be a late riser like Darnell Savage was last year, though his speed (which is adequate but not spectacular) if what will probably keep him closer to the 30’s than the teens.
Analysis: Safety may not seem like a major need for the Packers, but they value versatility in their defensive backs and a team can never have too many good DBs. Green Bay plays a lot of hybrid sets and McKinney could allow Darnell Savage to play slot more or Adrian Amos to play in the box full-time.
Ross Blacklock – Defensive Line
Profile: Blacklock is a bit of a sleeper. After making the Freshman All-American team in 2017 (and co-Defensive Freshman of the Year in the PAC 12 along with Kenneth Murray), he missed the entire 2018 season with an achilles injury suffered in off-season practices. He came back and had a solid junior year, but the NFL Advisory Committee recommended he return to school for another year. He declared anyway, stating that he’s dreamed of the NFL since he was 5 years old.
The energy he plays with on the field supports that statement. Blacklock is a guy who loves to play football. At 6’4, he still has room to add to his frame. He’s a little over 300 pounds, but has a frame to add more weight. With his length and leverage, he’s shown the ability to hold two gaps and his athleticism has allowed him to slip into the backfield. He’s a well-rounded, high-potential player with limited film and one major injury.
Analysis: Yes, the Packers need to draft a wide receiver, but don’t worry, this class is three rounds deep (at least). However, defensive line is also a need and Green Bay will be hard-pressed to find a defensive lineman with Blacklock’s potential hanging out at the end of the 3rd. He has the length the Packers like in their front-line defenders, with more athleticism than anyone else on the line except maybe Kenny Clark. He should be an immediate starter on the defensive line, with the potential to show a Clark-eqsue growth curve.
Van Jefferson – Wide Receiver
Profile: Jefferson will be 24 years old when the season starts (the result of a summer birthday and a redshirt season), but he plays with the polish and maturity that comes with that age. The son of former NFL wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, who has been a wide receivers coach on four different NFL teams, Van has been given more instruction and coaching on the finer points of the position than maybe any receiver prospect ever and it shows in his game.
Jefferson has a polished release and is a route technician. Complete body control and great hands in contested situations, he really impressed at Senior Bowl practices and would be capable of starting immediately on an NFL team, even if he’s already maxed out his potential
Analysis: Guys like Van Jefferson hanging around in the 3rd round are why I’m never in a hurry to grab a receiver early in these mocks. Aaron Rodgers usually doesn’t get huge production out of rookie receivers because of the time he takes to build a rapport. Jefferson, with his highly polished routes and reliable hands, may be the receiver in this class most suited to the quarterback’s play style. With Allen Lazard penciled in as WR2, there would be plenty of opportunity for Jefferson to contribute.
In the second round, the Broncos offered two picks in the middle of the 3rd round (numbers 77 and 83 overall) for my 2nd round pick (number 62 overall). This would be an interesting offer as the trade value chart lines up and the talent tiers could be similar if the Packers are targeting a wide receiver.
Check out our PFTW 2020 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!
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