The Packers have needs on both sides of the ball.
Sometimes, the draft doesn’t let you get everything you want, though. To avoid drafting for need (like we did in our last mock draft, to poor results), you have to take the best player available.
In some cases (like this one) that may mean waiting until Day 3 to address needs on one side of the ball.
Specifically, in this year’s deep tackle class, the Packers would love to get one early (since they cut their starting right tackle and lost their starting left tackle to an injury that will probably keep him out of the beginning of the season).
If things just don’t line up that way, they may have to get creative. That’s what happened in our 15th mock draft of the season.
Here are the results:
Jaycee Horn – Cornerback
Profile: Horn has clearly emerged as one of the top corners in this class. He plays a disruptive physical press technique and only allowed 8 catches for 116 yards in 7 games last year. He doesn’t mirror routes well, but when he leans on his strength, he’s very effective in man coverage. Running a 4.39 just boosted his stock.
Analysis: Cornerback is the Packers biggest need by far and Horn is a plug and play starter. He’s a lockdown man corner and no matter what kind of scheme Joe Barry wants to run, Horn can help. With Jaire Alexander, the Packers would have a young, talented corner duo that could become the strength of the defense for years to come.
Chazz Surratt – Inside Linebacker
Profile: One of the more interesting stories in this draft class, the 6’2 225 Surratt started college career as a quarterback. His coaches told him his best chance to play in NFL was to switch to linebacker, so he did. After his first year at linebacker (2019), he was runner up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. In 2020, he showed a lot more polish to his game, improving his tackling and showing a better feel for dropping into coverage. Still learning the position, he is a fast, twitchy athlete with a lot of range who understands defensive schemes the way a quarterback does. Very intriguing player who is still learning his position.
Analysis: Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes are penciled in as starters after surprising rookie seasons. However, neither of them were able to stay healthy and both of them are thumper types. Surratt would give them a rangier option, granting them flexibility for different looks, and also another capable starter-level player for the inevitable injury.
Darius Stills – Defensive Line
Profile: A quick inside pass rusher, the 6’1, 280 Stills is undersized, but uses his hands well to gain an edge. He jumps off the ball, is fast on twists and stunts, and runs nonstop – he’s all gas. Not an every down player or a great run defender, but a nice option as an inside pass rusher.
Analysis: Stills isn’t the every down line defender that the Packers really need, but there aren’t many of them in this class. He brings another element to the pass rush, though. With Gary, the Smiths, and Keke, Stills could give the Packers an unblockable front to put out when the Packers have an opponent in pass mode. This would come in really handy if they had to start an inexperienced rookie at cornerback.
Ben Cleveland – Center/Guard
Profile: A powerful drive blocker, the 6’6 354 Cleveland has powerful hands and a great base. He’s not very mobile, but he’s the kind of drive blocker makes creases against even the largest fronts. Handles handoffs and combo blocks very well and has just enough mobility to get to the second level.
Analysis: Cleveland is one of my favorite centers in the draft because of his appearance. However, his ability to manhandle lineman and set a nasty tempo is something the Packers could really use as the try to build more of a power running game. Cleveland could play guard, but his mobility shortcomings would be more pronounced there. In the middle, he could serve as an anchor that the rest of the blocking scheme works around. I dream of seeing AJ Dillon running short yardage between Cleveland and Jenkins.
Caden Sterns – Safety
Profile: A 6’0 210 coverage safety that can play man or zone, Sterns is good at reading route combos and aggressive in getting after the ball.He doesn’t offer much in run support and his tackling is inconsistent, but he lots of range and closing speed to roam the back end.
Analysis: The Packers have a great safety tandem that can both play in the box. Sterns gives them a nice backup at a position lacking depth and also is another option for nickel and dime sets. The fact that he is a coverage safety who can’t play in the box works for Green Bay since they already have two safeties that can play in the box.
Deommodore Lenoir – Cornerback
Profile: A zone corner with the quickness to cover slot, Lenoir is fast and agile enough to keep up with twitchy receivers on the inside. A fluid athlete with loose hips, the 5’11 200 Lenoir lacks deep speed to be a complete man cover corner, but performs very will in zone and against slots.
Analysis: The Packers need at least two cornerbacks and can’t afford to be choosy. Lenoir is a nickel back and the Packers could use one of those. Getting a guy like Horn earlier wold make a pick like this even more valuable.
Patrick Johnson – Edge
Profile: Quick off the ball, the 6’3 255 Johnson uses his hands well to get past blockers. He’s fast up the arc from two point or three point stance and comes out with good punch. He moves will in drop backs and sets a hard edge int he run game, but lacks ideal height, which shows up in problems rushing against larger blockers.
Analysis: Edge is an underrated need for the Packers. Preston Smith may not be long for this team, even after a pay cut, while Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary both take snaps on the line. Johnson isn’t a stud starter prospect, but he does have most of the tools that teams want in edge rushers, he’s just a little on the shorter side to go up against some of the towering tackles in the league.
Cole Van Lanen – Offensive Tackle
Profile: A powerful run blocker at 6’5 310, Van Lanen uses his body well to make space off the snap, and he’s mobile enough for zone blcoking. In the passing game, he needs work on his feet and balance. He does a solid job mirroring, but quick edge rushers give him problems on the outside.
Analysis: This isn’t a homer pick. I would have liked to address tackle earlier, and Van Lanen is a bit of a project, but he could be a good fit in the late rounds. He already has everything he needs to be an effective run blocker at the net level and the Packers have doubled down on their dedication to the run game by re-signing Aaron Jones. While he’s not the most polished pass blocker coming out, Green Bay has shown the ability to coach up offensive linemen quite well.
Cornell Powell – Wide Receiver
Profile: Powell didn’t play much before this year, but stepped up when called on. At 6’0 205, he runs smooth routes and doesn’t give anything away to defensive backs. He’s good at tracking ball deeps and has soft hands. Despite note being a burner, he makes space by changing up route speed, and is productive after the catch.
Analysis: Yes, the Packers need a wide receiver… but more for next year than this year, where they’re bringing back a group that was more than good enough to win the Super Bowl with. Next year, they’re all free agents, so having a guy like Cornell, who looked like an ascending player last year, is a great move. He can learn the offensive system as he continues his development, then step into a bigger role in 2022.
Max Duffy – Punter
Profile: The Ray Guy award winner for top punter in 2019, Duffy has a career 46 yard average including a 75 yard bomb last year.
Analysis: How much analysis are you looking for here? He’s the best punter in the class. It’s the 7th round. JK Scott has underwhelmed. Let’s take a shot on a punter and see what happens.
I would have loved to get a tackle in the first three rounds, but the board didn’t fall that way. Tacking Cleveland to play center could free up Lucas Patrick to play guard, which could allow Elgton Jenkins and/or Billy Turner to play tackle. It’s a lot messier and less efficient than just getting a better tackle, but if the draft doesn’t fall that way, this is the next best option.
On the other side of the ball, though, Horn was too good to pass up, Surratt gives the Packers defense an element they’re lacking, and Stills can contribute on a line that needs reinforcements.
Eric Stokes made it to the 4th round. If that happened in real life, the Packers would need to trade up.
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