I’ve been diving deep into mock drafts this offseason and have now done 20. Actually, I’ve done a lot more than 20, but I’ve analyzed 20 and posted my thoughts on the Packers 2019 Mock Draft Archive page (you should really check it out).
A lot of themes have emerged to give me early insights on how the draft might unfold in April
Defense Dominates The Top of The Draft
In all the mocks I’ve done, analyzed or not, I think the most offensive players I’ve seen go in the top 11 is 3. Many times, it’s 1, but most of the time, there’s only 2 offensive players going in the top 11.
Now I know these are simulations, but what this really tells me is that this draft class over-loaded with defensive talent. The quarterback class is notably weak, but teams need quarterbacks and one or two of them will probably grab them before the Packers first pick at 12.
The Premium Edge Guys Won’t Last
There’s a pretty clear pecking order in this year’s deep draft class. You have Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell, and Josh Allen as the big three, followed by Jachai Polite and Montez Sweat as the next consensus big dogs, with Brian Burns hanging out in the fringe in tier 3 all by himself (pending his weight and 3 cone at the Combine). All these guys could be gone before the Packers pick at 12 and it looks possible-to-likely that none of them will be around at 30.
There’s still a lot of interesting prospects after that, but none of them that have all the traits (particularly an elite ability to bend around the edge) that these guys do. If the Packers want one of these guys, they will need to get him at 12. Bosa, Allen, and Ferrell hardly ever make it to 12 and they seem to go in that order. Still, Polite, Sweat, and Burns are guys that would probably be ranked much higher in a year where the class wasn’t so overloaded.
Offensive Line (especially ZBS) Can Be Found Mid-Draft
The Packers need offensive linemen and they’re making a move to a pure Zone Blocking System as Matt LaFleur brings Adam Stenavich in as the offensive line coach to use a Shanahan approach to blocking.
In the beginning, ZBS was a way to use smaller, athletic lineman, who did not require a lot of draft investment. I see that helping the Packers, who do not need road grading maulers and (thankfully) already have a great Left Tackle – this means they can afford to fill this need in the middle rounds.
In Mock Draft 14, I got Garrett Brumfield in the 4th round. In rounds 3 and 4 (and sometimes even 5), I regularly find guys like Garret Brumfield, Dennis Daley, and Bobby Evans, who are not top-tier prospects, but would fit just fine as a zone-blocking Guard because of their athleticism.
You Can Get A Receiver Any Time
This was a deep receiver class and the fact that DK Metcalf got full medical clearance just made it deeper. Really, if a team wants a receiver, they can just grab one whenever they want. I’m finding guys I think are capable WR2’s falling to the 5th round every single draft. Now, if you want a premier slot guy like Deebo Samuels, he probably won’t last until the 3rd, but if you have other needs, you can find a receiver later.
I’ve always believed that receiver is a position that you don’t need to draft high (and here’s all the reasons why) and I think the depth of the class makes that even more true this year.
The Extra Pick At 30 Is Huge
Having another pick at the end of the first has been huge in terms of flexibility when I am running mocks. Well, no sh!t, of course an extra first will make a big difference, right? Yeah, but i didn’t think it would be this big.
When you have so many needs and can address one earlier in the draft, it has an echo effect. For example, let’s say you wanted to address their needs with an Edge player, then an Offensive Lineman, then a Safety in that order. Instead of a 2nd round Offensive Lineman and a 3rd round Safety, you now have a 1st round Offensive Lineman and a 2nd round Safety – it’s like you upgrade every draft pick, not just get one bonus player.
Cornerback is Consistently Overdrafted
As I go through the drafts, I compare who I think the top players on the board are to who is available. I also compare who the expert charts think are the top players on the board to who is available.
There is almost never value at Cornerback based on my board or the expert boards, which is why I hardly ever take one, especially after the 2nd round.
In Mock Draft 16, I reached a bit for Rock Ya-Sin in part because I can never get a Cornerback. After Edge, it’s probably the most heavily drafted position (quite the opposite as Wide Receiver). I having a hard time telling if the class is just that good or if teams are grabbing them because everyone needs 4 or 5 starting quality corners to compete in today’s game (I mean look what happens if your slot corner can’t run with Julian Edelman).
The Senior Bowl Changed A Lot (And The Combine Will Too)
So why is the Senior Bowl such a big deal? Well, in the college regular season, you often see pro-ready grown men matched up against kids who just got out of high school and whose career highlight will be getting posterized by a future All Pro when they were 18.
The Senior Bowl is an invitational game featuring the best seniors and draft prospects in the country. All the practices are designed to show how they match up one-on-on against the best players in the game.
This is where small school guys like Corey Ballantine (one of my late round targets) have a chance to shine and erase any doubts about if they were successful because of level of competition (and potentially move from a late round target to a mid round target).
The Combine is a chance to confirm rankings (Is that guys really that fast? Is he really as tall as the team listed him all year?) or shake off a bad label (That guy is too small to play Edge. That guy doesn’t have the speed to keep up) and cement their draft position.
The Combine shouldn’t be a primary evaluation tool, but every year someone puts on a Mike Mamula show and blows teams away with their physical skills that never showed up on film. Suddenly people think that a player who never proved anything in games now has world-class potential.
It’s just another factor that makes evaluation so difficult.
Trades Can Be Silly
I use the FanSpeak Premium On The Clock Simulator to do my mock drafts. It’s a great tool with a lot of options to help understand how a draft will unfold.
The premium version of the tool supports trades. I’ve alluded to this a couple times, but, as much as I like trading down, I usually decline a lot of the offers because I don’t think they’re realistic.
For example, two of the trade offers I get regularly are the Browns moving from 17 to 12 in the 1st round and giving up the 17th pick in the 2nd round or the Texans offering the 21st and 23rd picks in the 2nd round for the 14th pick in the 2nd round.
Both would be incredibly favorable to the Packers, but I turn them down because I don’t think it will paint an accurate picture of what the Packers may be able to do.
When I look back at the Saints trade last year or the Packers trade with the Patriots in 2009, it’s clear that if a team falls in love with Marcus Davenport or Clay Matthews, they will pay to move up (see also Jones, Julio and Griffin III, Robert). Heck, look at the Julio Jones trade.
With the Dolphins reportedly moving on from Ryan Tannehill, they are in the market for a QB. Since they pick one spot below the Packers, it’s possible another team wants to leapfrog the Dolphins to get a QB.
It’s also possible that some other team falls in love with a guy like Jonah Williams and wants to move up and grab him.
Anything is possible.
Hopefully our mock drafts give you as much perspective on all those scenarios as possible.