20/20 Hindsight Packers 2016 Mock Draft
From Brian E. Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor
~Ted Thompson is among the best as a draft navigator. Along with New England, Seattle, Baltimore, and Minnesota recently, Thompson seems to come away with one of the best draft classes every year. Packer fans, we hope this year is no exception.
I like Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez. I think those two guys will make this team better, this season.
I’m not so sure about Kyler Fackrell, Dean Lowry, Trevor Davis, and Kyle Murphy helping make the team better, this year or beyond. Davis has speed. Fackrell might be a good cover-backer, but not sure if he has the athletic ability to beat NFL offensive tackles. Only time will tell.
Jason Spriggs has some upside, but there are some mixed opinions of him from scouts. Clearly, Thompson believed the rave reviews as he traded three picks for him, reducing his draft class from nine to seven.
I would not have done that. But I also, admittedly, would not have traded up in 2009 and taken Clay Matthews. And I would not have traded down in 2009 and 2006 and selected Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, and without any of those moves that Thompson made, there’s no Super Bowl XLV.
But Thompson has made his share of mistakes.
As first round picks, Justin Harrell, Nick Perry, and Datone Jones didn’t make the team better. Harrell was a bust. Derrick Sherrod was another first round pick, 2011, who was a total bust, but that’s 100% on injury, not on Ted or his scouts.
Jerel Worthy as a trade-up and take in round two was a bomb. Michael Neal as a second round DE pick was a failure, and he was projected as a day-three pick, not a second rounder. Thompson also traded up to select Terrell Manning, thinking he was the future at inside linebacker.
Anyway, here is how I would have drafted. Now sure, I did my pre-mocks, and doing that is all guess work because you never know who will be picked where. Did you know Laremy Tunsil would slide down to the 13th pick? But this is how it actually played out, how the board went. And this is who I would have selected in each spot based on what really transpired in Chicago.
And I would not have traded up in round two to take Spriggs, sacrificing one of our fourth and seventh round picks to move up for him.
Note: Yes I know how it played out with Billings, that I actually could have taken him at pick #88, but when the #57 pick was on the clock, I would have not known that at that time, so realistically, I would have taken him then.
Round one, pick #27 ILB REGGIE RAGLAND, Alabama, 6-1, 247
I believe what Rex Ryan believes. Rex grabbed him in the second round after he took his pass rush edge guy already in round one with Shaq Lawson. I think Ragland is the enforcer in the middle that the Packers have been missing. The type of leader in there like Carolina has with Luke Kuechly, and the Niners had with Patrick Willis when they were great and eliminating the Packers in 2012 and 2013.
Round two, pick #57 DT ANDREW BILLINGS, Baylor, 6-1, 311
Only time will tell who’s better among Billings, Kenny Clark, and the Alabama guys A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed. But I believe Billings would have made the Packers defense better immediately. I think he’s a BJ Raji clone, but with fresher legs.
Round three, #88 TE TYLER HIGBEE, Western Kentucky, 6-6, 249
This guy is a knucklehead off the field, and perhaps that’s why Thompson did not select him. But Thompson signed Jared Cook and he’s more of a knucklehead with his support of the radical racist movement in Ferguson Missouri. Higbee has the best blend of size and speed among all tight ends in this class, including Hunter Henry.
Round four, #125 ILB BLAKE MARTINEZ, Stanford, 6-2, 237
Pro Football Focus graded Martinez as the best inside linebacker in coverage from the whole draft class. He’s also good against the run and blitzing. And he’ll be a great special teamer right away. This was a pick Thompson made that I live as well.
Round four comp, #131 RB DEVONTAE BOOKER, Utah, 5-11, 219
He has first round talent. Booker is an all-around RB that is physical, quick, catches the ball out of the backfield, pass protects, and he’s strong. He reminds me of a young Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers, who was a first round pick out of Oregon about eight years ago.
Round four comp, #137 OT JOE HAEG, North Dakota, 6-6, 304
He’s won five national championships blocking for Carson Wentz and Packers running back John Crockett. I think he’s better than Kyle Murphy, whom Thompson selected on day-three, but I hope I’m wrong in the end as Murphy might be needed next year. Haeg fits the profile that Thompson looks for on his offensive line.
Round five, #163 OLB TYRONE HOLMES, Montana, 6-2, 253
A smart, hard-working, high-effort player who fans and coaches will love. Impressive pass rush success with 18 sacks in 2015. Has everything you’re looking for in an edge-rusher. Size and speed are ideal, effort and intensity are never questioned. He will make Nick Perry expendable after this season.
Round six, #200 DE ANTHONY ZETTEL, Penn State, 6-4, 277
A team captain and emotional leader at Penn State. He is relentless and competitive with flashes of rush ability. He’s not quite as tall as Lowry is, but I think he offers the Packers just as much as Dean will give. A nice rotational piece on the defensive end for Capers.
Round seven, #248 ILB SCOOBY WRIGHT, Arizona, 6-0, 239
Back before he got injured this past season, Scooby appeared to be a lock for a day-two pick, probably a second rounder. He didn’t have to turn pro, and may not have had he known he’d slide to the bottom of the draft. Team captain with great instincts and tremendous production at MLB despite below-average pass coverage ability. Likely a future starting two-down LB and special teams contributor.
At worst, he’s Chris Borland, but an inch taller. At best, he’s Mike Singletary.
You might be thinking that there are too many inside linebackers with three being selected. But let me ask you this: How many current Packers do you think are quality inside linebackers?
Are you comfortable with Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington? How about in coverage? Blake Martinez is a better cover inside backer than any of them. Joe Thomas? He’s about 220 pounds, and short. I’ve never seen anyone as lost as he was last year in coverage. I love Carl Bradford, but we’ve yet to see him out there.
I believe Ragland can cover well. Wright, not so sure. But I think Ragland, Martinez, and Wright would immediately be the best three ILB’s on the roster, making Ryan and Barrington get better or not play. Barrington is coming off of a serious foot injury that’s been mysterious.
Ryan looked atrocious in coverage. You don’t want him on the field when the offense isolates him covering a fast running back or tight end. You saw that last year.
Anyway, I feel this way many times following a Packers draft. Quite often, I’m proven wrong as guys like Jordy and Jennings, Nick Collins and Damarious Randall turn out great. Hopefully, this is the case again with this draft class.
But if I was in charge, this is what would have played out. Now, we have to check back in a year, three, five, and see the results. Hopefully, Mr. Thompson is proven to be the genius that many call him.