Going into any draft, it can be easy to focus on the positions you want to target.
The art of drafting isn’t about plugging holes as much as it is about finding value, though.
The perfect blend comes when you can find value at the positions of need when your turn is up. That usually means having a list of needs ready to fill at each slot, not locking into a specific position or player.
In this draft, things worked out pretty well in that regard.
At the same time, it can be hard to differentiate between football players and athletes. In college, it’s a lot easier to get by on raw athleticism than it is in the NFL. The Combine is where guys can really wow scouts with their athleticism. In the past, this led to athletes getting drafted
Here are the results:
Jaylen Mayfield – Offensive Tackle
Profile: Mayfield has a great frame at 6’5 320 and the explosion you want to see out of your blockers. He developed very nicely in 2019, but had some injury issues in 2020 that slowed his growth, leaving him with lots of room to develop. He’s not an elite athletic specimen, but he is light on his feet and shows the ability to get out of his sets, pull in the run game, and mirror efficiently in pass protection. He has a tendency to lean off balance on the edge at times, but he can take on bull rushers with no problem and is an overall strong prospect
Analysis: The Packers missed out on the Super Bowl in large part due to lack of depth at tackle. Mayfield isn’t one of those top 5 franchise left tackle prospects, but he has more than enough talent to step into the starting right tackle role. Given the time he missed in 2020, and the development he showed in 2019, he hasn’t hit his ceiling yet and going to a team with a great offensive line coach (like the Packers have) would be best way to help him reach his potential.
Greg Newsome II – Cornerback
Profile: Newsome looked like an ascending talent as a sophomore, but injuries his junior year limited him to a handful of games. Still, he only allowed 12 catches for 93 yards in the 6 games he participated in. He only played through a full game 3 times, but he looked good in those 3 games, with 9 pass breakups and an interception. He’s not very strong, but at 6’1, he uses his length well to disrupt routes. With his time missed in 2020, he’s one of a multitude of prospects that is still developing and has the opportunity to take their game to another level in the pros.
Analysis: Cornerback is easily the biggest need on defense and, although this class isn’t loaded with elite prospects at the top, there are a lot of guys like Newsome – who have flashed ability and could become a solid starter – that could be availble on Day 2. If the top prospects are all gone by the Packers first pick, this may be their best case scenario.
Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr – Defensive Line
Profile: A powerful technician, Boogie Basham relies more on spin moves and rip combos to get through the line than explosive twitch or natural athleticism. He’s solid in filling run lanes, though occasionally gets walled off. Still, he had 112 pressures in 2 years (2018-2019), showing his ability to disrupt from defensive end or the edge. No defensive end really stood out at the Senior Bowl, but Basham looked as good as anybody.
Analysis: The Packers need help on the line and at edge. They’ve shown a propensity to take guys who can do both like Rashan Gary and the Smith Brothers. Basham fits a similar mold. He’s solid against the run and disruptive in the pass game, which is what the Packers like. He could step in and fill a critical role early.
Sage Surratt – Wide Receiver
Profile: A big-bodied receiver at 6’3 215, Surratt was highly productive in 2019 with 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in 9 games before sitting out 2020. He showed great body control, strong hands, and the ability to own corners in contested catches. He’s not fast, but he finds soft spots in zone and runs physical routes, pushing for yards after the catch (though he isn’t going to run away from the field). He’s a possession receiver who can play on the perimeter but has the agility to line up as a big slot, as well.
Analysis: Surratt fits the Packers scheme, which favors big targets over fast targets. He’s not the athletic freak, deep threat, or twitchy slot guy that fans may favor, but he has a good skillset for this team. With AJ Dillon taking over as lead back, the offense is going to look to establish a more physical identity with big guys at skill positions like Allen Lazard and Josiah Deguara. Surratt would fit right in with that plan.
Darrick Forrest – Safety
Profile: Versatile enough to play high, low, in the box, or even line up in the slot, Forrest is a strong tackler who is always around the ball. He’s not an elite athlete, but he hustles nonstop and came up with 5 interceptions in the last 2 years. An all around solid defensive back with no gaping holes in his game.
Analysis:The Packers like versatile safeties that they can move around to limit substitutions with their packages. Forrest would give them another guy with that skillset. Savage and Amos are a great tandem, but the Packers need depth and Forrest is a guy that would not be easily picked on in situational matchups.
Trey Hill – Center
Profile: Trey Hill is a big boy. Big. Boy. At 6’3 330, he’s not easily moved. As one might expect, he is also not extremely mobile. He has enough movement to get to the second level and punish linebackers, but he can be a bit of a liability when pulling. Hill has a strong punch and jolts defenders, shows good awareness to reaching to defensive shifts, and easily handles bull rushers. His struggles with lateral rushers show up when the line spaces out.
Analysis: The Packers are almost certain to lose All Pro center Corey Linsely and, even with guys like Jake Hanson developing, they need help on the interior. Elgton Jenkins is a fantastic center, but moving him there would leave a hole at his best natural position and kill depth if he is needed to swing out to tackle. Hill gives the Packers flexiblity to not only compete for the starting center job, but also to move into a guard slot if the line needs to be shuffled. He’s not a perfect fit for zone blocking, but at center, he would be asked to do less pulling than at guard. His physical presence would help short yardage packages and give AJ Dillon some drive blocking to get behind. Look for the Packers to take at least one versatile offensive lineman for depth on Day 3.
Chuba Hubbard – Running Back
Profile: In 2019, Hubbard ran for almost 2,100 yards on 6.4 yards per carry while scoring 21 touchdowns, earning unanimous All American honors and looking like the top back in the 2021 draft class. In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he was less productive, but still averaged 4.7 yards per carry while battling an ankle injury of questionable severity. With a solid frame at 6’0, 205, he’s a good zone runner who waits for a hole to emerge, takes one cut, and moves. He has strong enough legs to run through arm tackles and enough speed to pick up chunks in the open field. He’s not much of a receiver, and he ducks on a lot of blitz pickups, but he does have all the ingredients to be a productive complementary back.
Analysis: AJ Dillon will take over for Aaron Jones, but who will take over for Jamaal Williams? Well, Dillon is cut from a different mold than Jones and Hubbard is cut from a different mold than Williams – but that’s ok. The Packers approach to running the ball is going to be different in 2020 and a guy like Hubbard can help lead that charge. Dillon will enter the year as the undisputed first option on the ground, but the Packers will need a steady complement and Hubbard can provide that.
This class bolsters the Packers offensive line with two potential day one starters in Mayfield and Hill and gives the defensive front some help with Boogie Basham. The offense also picks up some skill guys who could fill important support roles in Surratt and Hubbard. Newsome and Forrest give the defensive backfield some much-needed help, as they are sorely lacking depth or even quality after Jaire, Amos, and Savage.
Six wide receivers went before the Packers first pick, which makes it feel like this deep class could get picked apart as quick as last year.
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