We’ve made it to Mock Draft 11 – that means we are in the full 7 round draft part of our offseason coverage!x`
We tend to ease into our mocks each year, starting with a two rounds and adding a round after every couple of mocks until we make it all the way to a full 7 rounds. This lets us (and you) ease into the offseason, learning the bigger names first, then getting deeper into what the Packers might be looking for.
Now that we’re at 7 full rounds, we get to see more than just what players might be available and how they might fit on the team – we get to see what an entire class could look like. The players drafted early definitely impact that players drafted later. Most teams put players into tiers as opposed to a numbered list because it’s hard to differentiate all 400 or 500 prospects at that level of granularity. Teams get a rough breakout of what levels players are on, then see who is available from their top remaining tier when their pick comes up.
So if a team’s first pick comes up and they have two players remaining from their top tier – let’s say a cornerback and a safety – the team can decide which is a bigger need. If they choose to draft the cornerback and their second pick comes up and their only players from their next tier are a cornerback and a wide receiver, odds are they would go with the wide receiver.
This is how teams get built.
This is why 7 round drafts give us so much more insight into how a draft may shake out.
We went into our first 7 round with one simple plan: draft the best players available and get guys that could help the Packers the most. We try to put ourselves in the GM’s shoes and come away with the best draft for the Packers, taking into account their current roster, future salary cap, coaching schemes, and everything else we know.
For us, this is among the most exciting parts of the season.
Here are the results of our first 7 round mock draft of the year:
Asante Samuel, Jr – Cornerback
Profile: A smooth athlete with limited size. At 5’10 180, Asante Samuel Jr is a great cover corner. Athletic with quick feet, he mirrors routes well. He plays physical and feisty, and allowed a 46.2 passer rating in coverage last year – the lowest among all cornerbacks in the class. In 8 games, he only allowed his receiver to get 179 yards. Despite his smaller stature, he doesn’t shy away from contact and tackles hard with great wrap up form.
Analysis: The Packers desperately need a cornerback to play opposite Jaire Alexander. So why not get another cornerback like Jaire Alexander? When Alexander came out, his profile basically said he has everything you want in a cornerback except height. Samuel has a very similar profile (and, yes, the similarities go far beyond height). The Packers would probably prefer a taller corner so that they can play matchups with more flexibility, but having two very talented cornerbacks on the shorter side wouldn’t be a terrible thing – and if Samuel plays anywhere near as well as Alexander, they’ll be in a much better spot than they are today.
Travis Etienne – Running Back
Profile: An explosive, shifty back, Etienne get to top speed fast and shows great balance through contact. He’s productive as a runner (7.2 yards per carry and 70 touchdowns over his career) as well as a receiver (racking up over 1,000 yards receiving over the last two years). With a compact 5’10, 210 build, he looks like a prototypical feature back. Running a 4.40 in his pro day certainly boosted his stock (last year, only Jonathan Taylor ran a better time and he barely beat it at 4.39).
Analysis: The Packers have AJ Dillon ready to take over for Aaron Jones, but he needs a complement. When a runner this talented falls to the bottom of the 2nd round, it’s hard to lay off. The Packers have more pressing needs, but another running back would help the offense more than another receiver and Etienne is clearly the best player available at this point.
Daviyon Nixon – Defensive Line
Profile: High motor with great hand moves, Nixon powers out of stance and forces his way into the backfield. A twitchy big guy at 6’3 305, he shows good change of direction skills and is a an overall menace. His technique needs some work and he can get high at times, but he brings natural ability and full effort to be a complete lineman.
Analysis: People like to claim that the Packers haven’t surrounded Aaron Rodgers with enough help, but it’s absolutely criminal how little they have done to put complete, competent defensive ends on Kenny Clark’s flanks. Mike Pettine didn’t emphasize stopping the run and Joe Barry may not either, but the fact of the matter is, no matter what scheme you run, you need better defensive linemen than the Packers have had in recent years. Nixon would be a good step in the right direction. He won’t be an All Pro, but he has the tools to be an effective, well-rounded starter.
Pat Freiermuth – Tight End
Profile: A big receiver with great hands, Freiermuth gets open with good route running and brute force. At 6’5, 250, he’s a red zone monster who catches well in crowds. Even without elite speed, he’s tough to bring down after the catch. He has the tools to be a good blocker, but wasn’t asked to do it much. He looks like a top tight end, but is coming off mid-season shoulder surgery, which could give some teams pause.
Analysis: The Packers seem to be deep at tight end, but Bob Tonyan is a restricted free agent, Marcedes Lewis is an unrestricted free agent, Jace Sternberger hasn’t really flashed yet (and may never), and Josiah Deguara is coming off injury. Freiermuth has an injury of his own to rehab, but it’s nothing that should keep him from missing the start of the season. He’s a physical presence that the Packers offense seems to be trending towards and would add a lot in the passing game. His shoulder surgery may have been what dropped him this far, but he’s too talented to pass up on Day 3 even with an injury flag. He could just as easily be a late 1st round pick on talent as he could fall to Day 3 because of his injury. I don’t care if you have prime Tony Gonzales on your roster, Freiermuth is too enticing to pass up in the 4th round.
Robert Hainsey – Offensive Tackle
Profile: Robert Hainsey is a polished product brimming with raw power. His mobility is average, but he plays very smart. He gets into his pass sets quick and shows quick processing in stunt pickups. The widest edge rushers give him some problems, which makes him a better fit on the right side than the left. He played both sides and guard at Senior Bowl practices and looked very consistent against the highest levels of college competition.
Analysis: The Packers picked a good year to be in the market for an offensive tackle. The 2021 class is extremely deep and, while Robert Hainsey isn’t going to remind anyone of David Bakhtiari, he could potentially man the right side every bit as competently as, say, Jared Veldheer, which would make him a fine starter and give the Packers a lot of flexibility with Billy Turner – something they will desperately need with David Bakhtiari rehabbing a torn ACL.
Rodarius Williams – Cornerback
Profile: Greedy Williams’s older brother, Rodarius isn’t getting the same attention as his sibling, but he has shown the ability to lock into receivers and match routes in consistent, solid coverage. He’s good in zone, playing smooth on route adjustments, and is an above average tackler. A conservative cover man, he tries to knock away passes (31 deflections in his career) more than go for interceptions (only 2 in college).
Analysis: Even with Asante Samuel, Jr, the Packers still need corners. Williams would make a great nickel option and, at 6’0, give the Packers a little bit of height to play matchup games.
Jaelon Darden – Wide Receiver
Profile: A waterbug slot receiver. At 5’9 170, Darden is not going to fight off the line and doesn’t have a huge catch radius, but he is really good with motion plays, has the ability to get deep, and it downright dangerous with the ball in space. He’s also a proven kick returner with over 17 yards per return.
Analysis: The Packers offense is still evolving. Earlier in this mock, we got Pat Freiermuth as a niche weapon and now Jaelon Darden gives them the complete opposite type of player. Getting a big lumbering power target and a small quick twitchy target would give Matt LaFleur all kinds of options in week to week game-planning, which could take the offense even higher than they were in 2020, when they ranked #1 in the league.
Tony Fields – Linebacker
Profile: Aggressive and smart, Fields shows good instincts in dissecting plays and finding the ball carrier. At 6′, 200, he doesn’t have full thumper size, but that doesn’t stopping him from crashing into the plays. He’s decent and coverage and, though he can move, he doesn’t have elite speed of the highest-rated linebackers in the class.
Analysis: The Packers need a lot of depth help at inside linebacker. It’s not a position they tend to prioritize, so they often look for help on Day 3 like they did with Kamal Martin or in the undrafted ranks like they did with Krys Barnes. While Martin and Barnes were both good finds, neither has stayed healthy. Fields gives them a nice, safe, well-rounded (if not exceptional) option in the backup capacity.
Jimmy Morrissey – Center
Profile: The Burlsworth Trophy winner for the most outstanding player in college football who began career as a walk on, Morrissey is a guy with decent size at 6’3 300 and little else but brains and moxie. He lacks explosion and elite athleticism, but he is an absolute blocking technician. He’s quick from his snap to his pass set, keeps great pad level, and wins with tremendous hand placement and usage.
Analysis: The Packers may have their center of the future on the roster, but Morrissey is a great Plan B: a consistent, low-ceiling, high-basement player that could step in and do an adequate job.
Lamont Wade – Safety
Profile: Good speed and high energy make Wade a nice late round option. He’s a bit undersized and has limited vision, but he’s aggressive in going after receivers in the process of catching and never slows down.
Analysis: The Packers are missing depth at the safety spot behind Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. Wade would be a noticeable dropoff if he needed to step in to start, but the Packers could do worse. Wade could play in dime zone packages, but his real value would probably come on special teams where his energy and effort would be a welcome addition to a lagging unit in need of some pop.
You never know how the draft is going to fall. I would have preferred one of the taller corners from tier one in the 1st round, but Samuel would be a very welcome addition who could shore up the biggest hole in the secondary. Nixon would be an upgrade in the defense’s second-biggest hole.
The offense is where the upgrades really roll in, though. Outside of Haisney, there may not be any immediate starters, but Etienne would be a big contributor as the second running back and I really like the diversity Pat Freiermuth and Jaelon Darden could bring to the offense. Neither is going to take over the game or be a Davante Adams type of stud, but they have unique niches that will make them tough matchups. This kinds of flexibility for matchups give the Packers some big advantages in week to week game planning, especially in the playoffs.
Pat Freiermuth falling to the 4th was a new option for me. I’d seen him go in the 1st round a couple of times, but he rarely made it to the 3rd and never made it to the 4th. I think he would be a downright steal.
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