The Packers, like every team in this Covid cap-squeezing offseason, have a lot of needs. Some of them, like cornerback, are in short supply in this draft, while others, like offensive tackle, feature deep classes.
But drafting is rarely so predictable.
In the end, it all comes down to which players fall. In our 4th mock draft of the year, the chips didn’t play directly into the Packers hand, but there’s an abundance of talent to be had, anyway.
Here are the results:
Alijah Vera-Tucker – G/T
Profile: Alijah Vera-Tucker has a good kick step for pass sets at tackle and can glide defenders around the arc with ease. An agile, fluid athlete, he moved well for wide zones and pulls. He played left tackle all last year after playing guard the prior seasons. There are questions around if he could play tackle at the next level, but as a guard, he projects as the top player in the class. When playing inside, he’s shown a physical style and a solid anchor. He’s a potential 4-position swing man.
Analysis: Tucker would give the Packers a lot of flexibility along their line. Given the injury to Bakhtiari and the cutting of Rick Wagner, that’s something they could really use. Tucker could potentially be a long-term fixture at right tackle. Or, he could play right guard and form one of the best interior tandems in the league with Elgton Jenkins. Or. he could displace Jenkins at left guard and allow him to play tackle or even center. The possibilities are endless. With Tucker’s talent and versatility, the Packers could afford to just grab him and see how training cam goes before deciding his place. Whatever happens, he will give the line some much-needed options.
Michael Carter – Running Back
Profile: Carter lacks elite size at 5’7, but carrying 202 pounds, he has a similar build to Ray Rice. He’s by no means a power back, but he can twist for yards after contact. He has fantastic vision to find creases, good wiggle, and enough speed to get 8 yards per carry last year. He’s also versatile, showing skills as a pass catcher (he had 10 yards per catch last year) and the ability to return kicks (averaged 22 yards per return).
Analysis: With Aaron Jones gone, the Packers have a new lead back in AJ Dillon. Dillon is a hammer, a one speed, power back, and the Packers would do well to get him a flexible complement. Carter is no Aaron Jones, but he brings a similar game. He quick-reaction vision and decisive cuts would be a great change-up to AJ Dillon.
Jabril Cox – Inside Linebacker
Profile: Jabril Cox is a coverage backer with limited run ability. He doesn’t have the strength for blow up tackles, but he is a consistent tackler and he is the best coverage linebacker in the draft. Fluid with good change of direction, Cox uses his athleticism to evade blockers because he struggles to shed once engaged. Good instincts, doesn’t get fooled in space, and often covered the slot without issue. Played safety and cornerback in high school (as a two-way quarterback), then took a redshirt year at North Dakota State to move to linebacker. Had 5 interceptions and returned 2 for touchdowns in his final two years before transferring to LSU in 2020, where he had 5 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, and returned 1 for a touchdown.
Analysis: The Packers have a promising young pair of inside linebackers in Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes, who are both primarily run-stoppers. Neither were able to stay healthy last year and neither has the range of Cox, who would give Green Bay a coverage element they currently lack at linebacker. Savage and Amos were often called up to cover, but a linebacker like Cox could give them more flexibility in their sub packages.
The Packers offense gets patched up and has the tools to be every bit as effective as it was last year when it outscored everyone in the league. They’ll have to hope Bakhtiari can return to form in time for the playoffs, but in the mean time, picks like Tucker and Carter should keep the offense moving. On defense, the Packers will have to wait until Day 3 to address their primary needs at cornberack and on the line, but Cox gives them another versatile piece for their front, modelling Tampa Bay, who showed how valuable rangy inside linebackers can be.
Only four offensive tackles went before the Packers first pick (which is a fair amount, but less than previous mocks). It gave the Packers options, but I went for versatility.
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