The best athletes aren’t always the best football players.
But it doesn’t hurt.
In our 5th mock draft, we didn’t set out to find athletes – we look for the best prospects to review for the Packers. But we ended up with a 3 round class of some pretty ridiculous athletes.
Here are the results:
Devon Witherspoon – Cornerback
Profile: A 6’0, 180, Witherspoon has premium cover corner skills (earned PFF’s #1 coverage grade in the nation at 92.5, and made first team for pretty much every All American team) and plays the ball about as well as a defensive back can. He’s super fast and plays high energy every down, whether it’s running a receiver deep, closing on a running back on the perimeter, or even playing special teams. His size is a minor concern and he can get caught peeking in the backfield in zone coverage, but his list of faults is pretty short.
Analysis: Reminds me a lot of Jaire Alexander in that he’s everything you want in a corner except size. Jaire’s size didn’t scare the Packers away and Witherspoon is a little bigger. When you have a chance at a premium cornerback talent, you take it. It sure beats hoping Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas have bounce-back seasons.
Nolan Smith – Edge
Profile: A lanky edge rusher, the 6’3 235 is very athletic and plays physical despite his lack of bulk. He’s explosive off the snap and plays hard against the run. Speed, range, and good counters help him pressure the quarterback from a 2 or 3 point stance, despite not putting up gaudy sack numbers. He was the #1 overall prospect coming out of high school in 2019, and followed it up with an impressive college career. His lack of size means he will need to work on his hand counters and bulk up to help shed blocks.
Analysis: Edge depth is a concern for the Packers, but they might need a part time starter for the beginning of the season if Rashan Gary isn’t ready. Kingsley Enagbare was a nice find last year, but Preston Smith is on the wrong side of 30 and the Packers need to add to their pass rushing group.
Trey Palmer – Wide Receiver
Profile: A tall slot receiver, the 6’1 190 blew past pretty much everyone at Senior Bowl practices. He gets deep and specializes in big plays with quick acceleration and a natural catching motion in-stride. He played slot in a spread offense, so didn’t need to refine his route tree or learn to beat a lot of press coverage. He needs to grow in those areas, but has great height and speed to build his game around.
Analysis: The Packers still need weapons in the passing game and may have an opening at slot receiver. Matt LaFleur has always preferred taller receivers to the typical waterbug-type slot guys, so Palmer could be a perfect fit for this offense.
I felt like this class had someone drop to the Packers in every round. Witherspoon is a contender for CB1 ranking in this class and those guys usually don’t make it anywhere near the middle of the round. His presence immediately gives the Packers defense depth and flexibility – lighting a fire under Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes can’t be a bad thing.
Nolan Smith doesn’t fit the typical Packers thresholds on the edge, but he could be a key third down specialist in the worst case scenario. Trey Palmer could make his way into the 2nd round with a good Combine, and would be a dream fit for the Packers in the 3rd.
All in all, a great haul for the Packers.
Only 1 wide receiver was taken before the Packers first pick, which has been an early trend.
For this mock, I drafted against the board from Buffalo Fambase – Bills Big Board.
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