Packers Mock Draft 3.0
From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor
~The draft is approaching fast. We’re under four weeks away. It’s “Draft Month”.
Since our last mock, the Packers have been unusually busy in Free Agency. Ted Thompson added one guy.
By now, you’re well aware that the Packers filled one of their two biggest holes.
Jared Cook has been added and he’s immediately the best tight end on the team. That leaves inside linebacker as the biggest immediate need. Defensive line needs some help as B.J Raji has retired. At least for this year. I suspect he’s done for good, although that doesn’t matter because this year is what matters.
Last thing before the mock: I still hold out hope for Carl Bradford, the 2014 fourth round pick.
“He was an edge player in college, but I don’t think that’s what his future is in the NFL. I think he’s a middle linebacker,” said Eric Stoner of Draft Mecca. “The reason why I think he transitions well to middle linebacker is that his skills as a pass rusher translates well to a flowing, downhill-type of linebacker.”
At 6’1, 250 pounds, Bradford is much closer in size to most of the NFL’s starting inside linebackers than the pass rushers that populate the sack leaderboards. Teams have evidently taken notice of Bradford’s versatility as well and told him that there are a variety of spots on the field he could be used in the NFL.
But the team seems scared to play him. Last year, as horrific as we saw Nate Palmer and rookie Jake Ryan in pass coverage, at times, I thought they should have thrown Bradford out there. Throw him to the wolves and see what he can do. But they didn’t, and now who knows.
On to the mock. I don’t anticipate the head of scouting, Ted Thompson, to add anymore free agents. So it’s time to draft better than everyone else.
TRADE: With the guy Thompson coveted, ILB Reggie Ragland, snatched a few picks earlier, Ted Thompson works his magic and trades down. He obtains an extra early third round pick, by trading down 11 spots. He expects to get the guy he wants 11 spots later anyway, so gaining another nice pick early round three feels like a great value play. And it is.
Round 2 #38 -from trade with Jacksonville- OLB Noah Spence, 6-2, 251, Eastern Kentucky
A true wild-card prospect, Spence has top 15 talent, there is no question about that. But the former Ohio State Buckeye has a history of drug abuse, although he has cleaned up his habits since being banned from the Big Ten.
Spence is a slippery rusher with the lateral quicks and low pad level to be an impact pass rusher in the NFL. How Spence interviews and carries himself in the pre-draft process will be an important step in his job interview for NFL teams.
–Dane Brugler and Rob Rang (2/1/16)
From USA Today, March 29: Eastern Kentucky defensive end/outside linebacker Noah Spence has come under criticism after what some perceived to be a disappointing combine performance in Indianapolis last month, but NFL teams remain very interested in the young defender. Spence told me this afternoon that he has seven visits scheduled for next week, including stops in Arizona, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, New Orleans, and with the New York Jets.
Round 2 #55- TE Tyler Higbee, 6-6, 249, Western Kentucky
A pick that elicits many “oohs and ahhs” from both Packer fans and fans at the draft. Remember, Ted Thompson often selects guys a round or two, or three before most pundits project. Few had James Jones as anything higher than a late round pick. Ted took him in the third round. Michael Neal, Damarious Randall also went higher than any so-called experts projected.
Here’s another opinion on Higbee.
Despite many projections listing him closer to a Day-3 pick, Jon Ledyard of USA Today thinks Higbee’s talent is worthy of a second-round pick:
The senior’s hands are excellent, he can win at all levels of the field, he’s a dynamic red zone threat, and he’ll block all day if that is what is asked of him. Higbee can play flexed, in-line, or even line up in the backfield and be effective as a lead blocker.
A former wide receiver who bulked up considerably to convert to tight end, Higbee can step into an offense early on and create mismatches for defenses in coverage. If Higbee were from a Power Five conference, I genuinely believe we’d be talking about him as a second round pick at worst.
Round 3 #69 -from trade with Jacksonville – OT, Kyle Murphy, 6-6, 306, Stanford
The Packers learned the hard way last year that Don Barclay is not worthy of being an NFL offensive tackle. That afternoon in week 16 in Arizona was more than a disaster, and it was a miracle Aaron Rodgers didn’t leave on a stretcher. Fortunately, the Packers also found out a week later that J.C. Tretter is capable of filling in at LT. But there isn’t anyone else, and that’s a recipe for disaster considering that Bryan Bulaga has been known to suffer injuries, and that underrated David Bakhtiari is in the last year of his very bargain-like rookie contract. He’ll be getting a gigantic pay raise soon, hopefully from the Packers.
The best offensive lineman on Stanford last year, which helped pave the way for Christian McCaffrey to almost win the Heisman Trophy, Murphy will be a nice addition, and is much more ready to keep Rodgers upright than Barclay is. He’s also a nice option going forward as Bulaga has many miles on his frame. He fits the profile Thompson and McCarthy like for their offensive linemen.
Murphy sports a prototypical build for an NFL tackle with broad shoulders, long arms and a relatively trim middle. He anticipates the snap, rather than waiting for it, often getting a slight advantage over defenders (but also risking a false-start penalty) and overall showing impressive initial quickness, including on cut-blocks.
Murphy’s quick start and length make him a formidable opponent in pass protection. He slides well laterally and is alert to stunts and blitzes, getting a strong shove on one defender before switching off to another. While quick enough to get to the second level as a run blocker, Murphy can get off-balance when attempting to change direction.
He is very effective, on the other hand, as a drive blocker, showing surprising flexibility to get under the pads of opponents and impressive leg drive to consistently move the pile.
Round 3 #88- ILB Antonio Morrison, 6-1, 232, Florida
Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com acknowledged some of Morrison’s strengths back in November:
The unquestioned leader and tone-setter for the Gators’ suffocating defense.
He is a light athlete to quickly redirect and burst towards the play, bringing himself to balance on the move to finish in the open field.
Keeps his feet well to work off blocks and displays outstanding awareness to recognize things quickly and react to the play before the ballcarrier can make a move.
Ultra competitive with unmatched intensity. Alpha male in the locker room who teammates gravitate toward. Work ethic on full display as he recovered from a severe knee injury two to three months ahead of schedule and in time for start of the season. Plus lateral quickness. Has burst to beat offensive lineman to a spot. Not content to sit back and wait on a play. Always in attack mode. Uses explosive hips to launch into his tackles with as much force as he can. Can turn, swivel and close ground with good change of direction. Was one of the best tackle finishers in the game in 2014. Plays with extraordinary balance and is very rarely off his feet. Used as an effective spy vs. mobile quarterbacks. Could become interesting blitz option as a pro. Refuses to stop pursuing until he hears the whistle.
“Write him up however you want, but he’s a two-down MIKE linebacker who is tough as hell and a good football player. I worry much less about his ‘negatives’ than I do with what he can do.” — AFC general manager
NFL COMPARISON: Denzel Perryman
Dense, powerful lower half combined with burly upper body. Snap experience at multiple spots along the line. Explodes out of stance and into his downhill charge. Striking athletic ability for a big. Has some change of direction twitch. Sets hard edge with good punch and arm extension to deny blocker’s intentions. Grows roots against double teams and fights hard for his spot. Defeats most single blocks. Has play power to step through a blocker’s edges with little trouble. Plays with good recognition and quick discard capability to snap down on tackle opportunities. Talented interior pass rusher. Uses coordinated attack with violent active hands and nimble feet. Flashes power to push and quickness to disrupt.
NFL COMPARISON: Kawaan Short
Round 4 #131- ILB Blake Martinez, 6-2, 247, Stanford
TFY Draft Insider’s Tony Pauline reports that NFL scouts are still talking about Stanford ILB Blake Martinez’s showing at the Senior Bowl. Martinez is often lost in the shuffle. Though he played well in Mobile, he didn’t get much attention in the press for his work. The NFL, according to Pauline, noticed. “Teams were impressed with his athleticism and the way Martinez quickly moved sideline to sideline,” Pauline wrote. “The fact he recorded six tackles during the game didn’t hurt his cause either.” The 6-foot-2, 247-pounder is a tackling machine. Pauline previously reported that west coast scouts were saying Martinez “has traits of Luke Kuechly in his game.”
Per NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks, Stanford senior ILB Blake Martinez is “one of the unsung heroes on a rapidly improving Cardinal defense.” Wrote Brooks, “Martinez has a strong nose for the ball, displaying a knack for weaving through traffic to make solid shots on runners in the hole.” The 6-foot-2, 247-pound senior’s logged 129 tackles (six for loss) with a sack, an interception and five pass breakups. He was a whirlwind in Saturday’s 42-21 win over USC in the PAC-12 Championship Game, recording 11 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Brooks believes the most important takeaway from that performance was that “[Martinez] showed scouts he could control the tackle-to-tackle box against a physical offense.”
Round 4 #137- KR/PR/WR Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Yes I know this is higher than all your rating lists show. Many have Grant as a 5, 6, 7 round guy. He’s too small, like Trindon Holliday was.
I don’t buy that one bit. I’ve seen this guy play, and he can and will be a playmaker at any level. His size is actually an advantage on punt and kick returns. His speed and quickness are unquestioned. He also has good hands, which matter.
Jakeem the Dream is a mixture of Darren Sproles, Trindon Holliday, Devin Hester, and DeSean Jackson. He’s simply electric. He’ll make guys look ridiculous in the open field. He’ll break their ankles.
I’m not sure how to get him on the field for the Packers offense, but I envision Darren Sproles. Sproles doesn’t hurt defenses with his third down pass protection. He hurts defenses with his pass catching ability and his quickness mismatch on any linebacker or safety. Grant is faster, and has better hands.
Grant also will give the Packers big plays as a return man. Randall Cobb’s days as a punt returner will be over. Micah Hyde is a very good punt returner. Grant can be the Pro Bowl punt returner. He will supplant Ty Montgomery as kick returner and allow Ty to focus more on his job as a Packers wide receiver.
Lastly, Grant is a good person, which is important for the Green Bay Packers. You want more speed on this Packers roster, without adding a criminal or a possible suspension? Here’s your guy.
Round 5 #163- OLB Victor Ochi, Stony Brook
There’s always someone who comes along and just blows the top off the NFL. And usually leaves people saying where did he come from or how did he not get drafted sooner or at all even. That player could very well (will) be Ochi…
I’ll just throw this out there now, I can’t help but see Robert Quinn when watching this kid. His sped off the edge just can’t be taught. More impressively, his motor is everything you want in a defensive player regardless of position. He comes off the ball like a man on a mission. And no mission is complete until the target is eliminated. Ochi is rare in the sense that he moves so fluidly but can translate that speed into power. It’s something every defensive end wants to do, but can’t do. His best trait as a pass rusher is his ability to bend. At times it seems like he’s as close to parallel to the ground as possible, and then some…
Ochi has exceptional skills and of everyone listed here, he has the best chance to make an immediate impact. He’ll have to develop more pass rush moves for his arsenal and play lower more consistently, but make no mistake about it, Ochi is the real deal.
Round 6 #200 – WR Moritz Boehringer, 6-4, 227, Germany
The Packers are more than set at wide receiver. There’s no more space for guys to dress. Personally, I would trade Davante Adams to any team that offers a fourth round pick or higher. Remember, Adams was a second rounder just two drafts ago, and last off-season everyone was penciling him to blossom into a superstar. I think New England or Dallas might think he’s worthy of a third round pick since his only two good games were against them.
Boehringer is more raw than Jeff Janis is, by a mile. And his level of competition that he’s faced makes Janis’ level of competition look like playing against Bama and LSU every week. Boe looks like he was going against 1950 NFL cornerbacks, or current outstate high school defenders.
This guy is a developmental prospect if you’ve ever seen one. But you can’t teach size and speed combinations like this.
He’s 6-4, 222, and runs a 4.39 forty. It’s pretty rare.
Moritz Boehringer has played football for only four years. In Germany. On fields that rival the ones high-school teams play on in the United States.
Yet that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the biggest sleepers and best-kept secrets of the 2016 NFL Draft that some teams wish could be kept quiet a little longer.
“I’d be intrigued, that’s for sure,” said NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt, a former longtime front-office executive with the Dallas Cowboys who signed his share of players lacking big-time football experience. “He’s the kind of guy you rush out and see.”
It’s not certain how many or which teams will be present on Thursday at Florida Atlantic’s pro day, where Boehringer will work out with FAU prospects, including DT Trevon Coley and CB Cre’von LeBlanc. But the Cardinals, Packers, Broncos andVikings have all shown interest in him. Minnesota has a meeting with the German receiver scheduled for Wednesday night.
Round 7 #248- CB Michael Jordan, 6-1, 200. Missouri Western
Yes, his name is really Michael Jordan. And yes, he really wears number 23. That’s all you need to know for him, future stud guaranteed.
Ok, just kidding… There’s plenty more to know. Jordan brings to the table the size that the NFL has started to fall in love with. He’s a long rangy corner, with exceptional ball skills. He essentially eliminated one side of the field regularly throughout college finishing his career with 16 career interceptions and 60 passes broken up. He’s also a good tackler finishing with 196 tackles for his career.
Teams will be interested but will also have some worries as well. Questions may arise about recovery speed, hip flexibility and level of play. Although for the latter, it should be mentioned the conference that he played in has regularly delivered NFL talent, and one player Jordan shut down personally as a mere sophomore on a senior was former Pittsburg St, and current Arizona Cardinals WR, John Brown.
So to Recap:
#38- OLB Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
#55- TE Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky
#69- OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford
#88- ILB Antonio Morrison, Florida
#125- DE/DT Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
#131- ILB Blake Martinez, Stanford
#137- KR/PR/WR-RB Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
#163-OLB Victor Ochi, Stony Brook
#200 -WR Moritz Boehringer, Germany
#248- CB Michael Jordan, Missouri Western