Draft needs and prospect fits for the Green Bay Packers

Senior Analyst Mike Renner identifies the three biggest draft needs for the Packers heading into late April.

| 3 months ago
Mike McCarthy

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Draft needs and prospect fits for the Green Bay Packers

For a team that was one win away from a Super Bowl appearance, the Green Bay Packers have a good deal of glaring and immediate needs. Unsurprisingly, they come on the defensive side of the ball. After the Packers put up less resistance than a summer breeze against the Falcons in the NFC title game, almost every position other than safety is a possibility for the Packers on Day 1. They’ll need to knock at least a few picks out of the park this April to field a championship-level defense.

Need: Cornerback

This need is so big the Packers could legitimately double-dip at the position much like they did in 2015. The major issue in the secondary stems from that draft, where Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins were selected with the Packers’ first two picks. With Randall and Rollins still failing to live up to their draft status and Sam Shields released, the Packers are without a single quality starter at the position.

Early-round target: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

This corner class is as deep as any in recent memory and it could push a talent like Humphrey right into the Packers’ laps. Humphrey ticks every box athletically and has production to boot. He was the fourth-highest-graded corner in the SEC a season ago. The only worry with Humphrey is his penchant for allowing big plays. Last season he allowed five catches of 30-plus yards a season ago.

Mid- or late-round target: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia

Douglas has size and production that will intrigue many teams. While he’s limited to a degree athletically, the Packers haven’t shown a heavy reliance on testing. Douglas had the 13th-highest coverage grade among all corners last year. That’s all the more impressive considering how pass-happy the Big 12 was. Douglas was targeted 93 times and only allowed 41 catches, picking off eight passes, and breaking up 10 more.

Need: Linebacker

It seems as if this is the fifth straight year that linebacker has been among the Packers’ draft needs and they’ve still yet to address it seriously. Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan were both recent mid-round selections who’ve failed to solve the problem that ails the middle of the Packers defense. The lack of any sort of dynamic playmaker will continue to limit the Packers defense until it’s fixed.

Early-round target: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis has the sort of athletic ability that is ideal at the position in the NFL today. He’s a true three-down guy who can stick with even the quickest backs and tight ends in coverage. What really makes Davis a first-round talent though is his blitzing potential. In his last full season in 2015, he racked up 22 pressures on 49 pass rushes. The Packers haven’t had a linebacker capable of being a weapon as a blitzer since Desmond Bishop.

Mid- or late-round target: Blair Brown, LB, Ohio

There’s a common theme between Brown and Davis for the Packers and it’s athleticism. The Packers don’t have a single linebacker on the roster that can move quite like Brown. Unlike a lot of top-tier athletes at the position though, Brown has the production to match. He was the second-highest-graded linebacker in college football last year behind Reuben Foster. On 134 tackle attempts, he missed a total of three.

Need: Guard

After losing Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang in successive seasons, the Packers have left themselves thin on the interior. Barring a position change from either Jason Spriggs or Kyle Murphy, the only option at right guard currently is the much-maligned Don Barclay. The chances of the Packers rolling into the season with Barclay as the starter are exactly zero percent. They might not address it early, but one has to think at some point they’ll add some depth.

Early-round target: Taylor Moton, G, Western Michigan

Moton fits the Packers trend of shifting small school tackles to the interior. The Western Michigan product also has the benefit of experience at guard in college already as well. Moton had the 11th-highest grade among FBS guards in 2015, before becoming the eighth-highest-graded tackle in 2016. This past season he allowed a total of eight pressures and his pass-protecting prowess would go a long way in replacing T.J. Lang.

Mid- or late-round target: Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh

There’s a good deal of large, powerful guards in the middle round of this draft, but those types would be out of place in the Packers’ scheme. Johnson on the other hand can move well enough to fit in on the Packers scheme and is polished enough to step in and start right away. Over the past three seasons, Johnson has only allowed 15 pressures.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Joe Doe

    Humphrey would be good because they don’t really play a lot of man. Although, they don’t play much zone either. I actually don’t have a f***ing clue what the Packers secondary does, but they sure as hell give up a lot of yards.

    • http://allgbp.com/ Thegreatreynoldo

      GB plays a lot of man.

  • JimmyCrackCorn

    They’re not going to take an early ILB, they don’t value the position, wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t draft one at all.

    I’d bet against them taking an early corner as well, Ted isn’t likely to give up on his first and second round picks after one bad year.

    EDGE and RG are much more likely to be addressed early than either of those positions.

    • Rossonero

      Exactly. Even two years ago when AJ Hawk and Brad Jones were cut and Clay Matthews had to slide to ILB, Thompson ignored ILB until the 4th round. I wanted Eric Kendricks so bad in the 2015 draft. Oh well.

      I’d imagine that Ted would go for an Edge rusher in the 1st round over a RG. Guard is just not a premium position. Plus, he’s found gems in the 4th round before like Sitton and Lang, as well as Bakhtiari (even though he’s a tackle). Linsley was a 5th rounder, so Thompson’s track record of finding O-linemen later on is quite good.

      • Brian Dugan

        Agree 100%. As an aside, Sitton and Lang were tackles in college, too. Ted generally only drafts college left tackles and the Packers move them around the line. Corey Linsley, who you mentioned, was the rare exception to the rule.

  • Dan Gilliam

    What about RB? You going to enter the season with a converted WR as your starter? No no no….

    • JimmyCrackCorn

      I’d bet yes.

    • Brian Dugan

      They need a RB, maybe 2. But Ted isn’t likely to take one before the middle rounds. I’d bet a middle round RB (round 3-5), plus an UDFA or 2.

  • Zeke Boreman

    Howbout all 7picks on defense for Packers…They say there is safety in numbers..This horrific D needs all the help it can get

  • Brian Dugan

    Not to nit pick, but “…the Packers haven’t shown a heavy reliance on testing” is wildly inaccurate. Look up Justis Mosqueda and all the awesome work he does in finding Ted Thompson’s draft tendencies and predicting the Packers draft board. Tl:dr, the Packers strictly adhere to measurable testing in the vast majority of cases, unless a highly ranked prospect unexpectedly falls down the draft board (ex. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix).

  • Steve B a Packer fan

    Why is Ted Thompson so afraid to look into the free agency market?

    • crosseyedlemon

      Teams can fall into the trap of relying on free agency as a regular “get out of jail free” card when they botch the previous years draft. It’s possible Thompson doesn’t want to be lured in that direction.

      • Brian Dugan

        I honestly think with the Packers it’s mostly about strategic cap management, as well as rewarding your own players and encouraging a healthy team dynamic. Thompson made a few interesting comments a week or so ago related to a GM having to think about how giving an outsider a huge contract affects everyone else already in your locker room.

    • Brian Dugan

      Probably not the year for us Packers fans to complain about free agency. Ted has already signed his most FAs in one offseason, in addition to being active on the waiver wire.

    • the deplorable john doe

      Look at how many of those signings fail and cripple the team for years. And in the end there can be only one (heard that before??). So the Pack has the second highest winning % in the NFL during Ted’s time. That’s not bad. So ya he does piss me off when he lets good guys go or misses chances to sign FA to one year deals. But I remember 1973 to 1993. I’ll take Ted.

  • Dave Scott

    Brown would be a great fit and might be available as late as the third round.