Packers 2021 Mock Draft 16 – Another Aggressive Move

I’m a big fan of the best player available philosophy. I think it’s proven to be the optimal way to build a talented team (along with trading down).

I rarely trade up in mock drafts and if I do, it’s usually just to see how the draft would pan out and if the Packers could get a good class with fewer picks.

But every once in a while, a player drops and I wonder if Gutey (who has traded up in the 1st round of every draft he’s been the GM for), might make an aggressive move up.

In this case, someone fell and I pulled the trigger to see what would happen.

Here are the results:

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Round 1

*Trade* – Bears
Packers traded Round 1 Pick 29 (#29) and Round 2 Pick 30 (#62) for Round 1 Pick 20 (#20)

Patrick Surtain II – Cornerback
Profile: Surtain turned in a solid 40 yard dash in the mid-to-low 4.4’s. This is the kind of time that would have been considered blazing not long ago, but is merely considered fast now. That’s pretty much the biggest knock on him. With prototypical size at 6’2, 200, he plays a very controlled game. He calmly eyes up his receiver, then just sticks to him. Off the snap, he does a good job rerouting with long arms, and once the balls in the air, he always goes after it.

Analysis: Surtain is a guy I didn’t research very much because I felt that he was a cornerback who just wouldn’t make it anywhere near the Packers. I would expect him to easily be a top 15 pick (along with Caleb Fairley). When he dropped to 20, I thought I might have a shot to trade up with my 2nd round pick. It was the Bears, but really, they’re so pathetic at drafting, so why not? The result is grabbing a premium player at a premium position where the Packers desperately need a starter upgrade. His timed speed was fine, but he plays so much faster and if speed ever became a matchup issue, he could just swap with Jaire Alexander (who ran a blazing 4.38). This move gives the Packers the best young cornerback tandem in the league.

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Round 2

No picks due to trade

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Round 3

Walker Little – Offensive Tackle
Profile: Big and strong with prototypical size at 6’7 310, Little looked like a future star before a knee injury kept him out of 2019 and then he opted out of 2020. He hasn’t played in a while, but when he did, he showed strong hand usage and long arms for the edge. Mobile with great footwork, he’s a blocking technician who is very good at managing stunts and blitzes.

Analysis: The Packers need another true tackle and if they want to be aggressive early, a pick like Walker could be a gold mine in the 3rd. He hasn’t played in two years, but seemed like the kind of prospect that usually goes in the top half of the 1st round. He could be a steal if he falls this far and is able to work back into form.

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Round 4

Payton Turner – Defensive Line
Profile: A quick-moving pass rusher, Turner has long arms and uses his hands to get separation. He has a lot of good inside moves, including a lightning-quick swim move. Hustles nonstop and, though he played edge at times, looks best suited to line.

Analysis: Packers need defensive linemen. Ideally, they would get a complete defensive lineman who could dominate against the run or the pass. At this point in the draft, they may have to choose one or the other. Turner is not a loss against the run but hes definitely stronger against the pass, which would fit with the Packers priorities and the general evolution of the game.

 

Imhir Smith-Marsette – Wide Receiver
Profile: Great at deceptive routes, the 6’2 185 Smith-Marsette has a knack for shaking defenders and getting free on double moves. He has a thin build and doesn’t power through the catch point, but he can definitely get vertical and has potential as a returner.

Analysis: Everyone says the Packers need a wide receiver… but they really don’t… at least not right away. They went to back to back NFCCGs with the receivers they have and there’s no reason they can’t do it again. But after this year, when all their receivers are free agents, they’ll need to have some guys ready to step up. A raw, talented receiver like this could spend a year absorbing the offense and building up strength, then step into a large role as a more complete player in 2022.

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Round 5

Khalil Herbert – Running Back
Profile: A patient runner who floats to a crease, makes one cut, and goes, the 5’9 205 Hebert uses his frame well, leaning forward with a low center of gravity. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he shows good anticipation of when and where holes will open and eats up chunks of yards with decisive, purposeful running, wasn’t. Though he wasn’t a big part of the passing game in college, his limited reps don’t show any glaring weaknesses as a receiver.

Analysis: The Packers re-signed Aaron Jones and have AJ Dillon ready to roll. However, Jones has had injury issues in the past and his contract is structured in a way where me may be cut after two years, Herbert, who has a very similar frame and skillset as Jones, would fit the Packers zone scheme and could be a great insurance policy against injury, potentially ready to take a large role in two years when the Packers have an option to cut Jones before his salary jumps.

Michal Menet – Center
Profile: At 6’4 305, Menet has the power to anchor nose tackles one on one and just enough athleticism to slip to the second level and wall off linebackers. He doesn’t have the reach to play guard, but is an experienced center who is smart in double team blocking, knowing when to press and when to let up.

Analysis: Corey Linsely is gone and, while the Packers have some potential replacements already on the roster, they could use some competition. Ideally, they would pick up a player with the flexibility to play center or guard, but drafting a solid center option lets Elgton Jenkins stay at guard, where he adds more value to the line.

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Round 6

Wyatt Hubert – Edge
Profile: A but undersized at 6’3 265, Hubert is an average athlete. He plays lots of energy and good hand usage and his wins usually come on initial moves. If his first move doesn’t win,  he can get swallowed up and lost. He’s a project, but some new techniques – especially building a repertoire of counters – could enhance his impact.

Analysis: The Packers have some good edge options, especially since Preston Smith is back in the fold. But with Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary playing snaps at defensive end, having more options for situational pass rushers gives them flexibility on 3rd down. With a little coaching, Hubert can contribute as a dedicated rusher in 3rd down pass sets, hopefully drawing auxiliary blockers while rushing next to beside Za’Darius or Gary.

 

Grant Stuard – Inside Linebacker
Profile: Undersized at 5’11 230, Stuard makes up for his size by playing fierce and powerful. Always going downhill and never lacking for effort or energy, he’s smart at sorting blocks and instinctive at finding the ball. He needs to avoid blocks or gets locked up, though, and he doesn’t have sideline range or great coverage abilities. Played special teams all the time throughout college.

Analysis: Stuard is a fun guy to watch, but probably doesn’t have starting potential. He can be a good short yardage linebacker where his quick instincts can help him fill holes, but his real value would come on special teams, where the Packers desperately need help.

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Round 7

Evan McPherson – Kicker
Profile: McPherson was 51/60 in his college career and showed good leg strength with a career long of 55.

Analysis: Kicker may not be a big driving need, but Mason Crosby ain’t getting any younger and if they were hurting for cap space, kicker could be a place to squeeze out a little. If nothing else, bringing in some competition can’t hurt./

(Editor’s note: after this article was written, the Packers restructured Mason Crosby’s contract to free up cap space this year, effectively locking him in as the Packers kicker barring injury)

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Analysis

This cornerback class has been moving up boards and many of the top prospect have been running faster 40’s than predicted. Moving up for a guy like Samuel could be a big win, even with Kevin King re-signed. A trio of Alexander, Samuel, and King would be a flexible group capable of smothering passing attacks.

Getting a guy like that comes at a price, though. This draft appears to have a talent tier with a pretty big dropoff around the beginning of the 3rd round. After that, the Packers were able to find talent at the holes they have, but the best options were usually high-risk, high-reward types or outright developmental projects.

For a team that brought back almost every major piece from a team that could have one the Super Bowl is one play, one call, or even one injury had gone a little differently, that risk may be worth it.

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Of Note

There were 15 offensive tackles selected before the Packers 3rd round pick. It’s a deep class of tackles, but that’s a lot.

Board used: NFL Draft Diamonds

 

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Want to learn more!?

Want more insight into how winning teams build through the draft (and how losing teams fail)? We’ve got you covered!

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Check out our PFTW 2021 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!

Check out Packers Draft Central 2021 for all our 2020 NFL Draft coverage!

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