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.
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.
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.
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.