By: Matt Bove
It will be really hard to nail the Packers pick this year, as this draft will be so unpredictable and the Packers have many needs, but not a huge glaring one. These are the players I think have the best chance of being selected by the Packers at #26 if they do not trade the pick. I would imagine that the Packers would loved to trade down in this draft, although the majority of teams would like to as well, which will make it hard.
1. Datone Jones DE UCLA- The Packers biggest need is the defensive line and Jones would provide immediate help there. He is a powerful five-technique player who played in the 3-4 at UCLA. Jones had a stellar season last year notching six sacks and 17.5 tackles for losses, while earning all-conference honors. His strengths are his long arms and his bulk. He is great at using his hands when pass rushing and has shown an array of pass rushing moves, along with an impressive bull rush. Also, Jones is quick for his size. At only 284 pounds, Jones will need to bulk up a little to handle base 3-4 defensive end responsibilities, but that should not be a big issue. The big question is whether Jones will be there at #26 for the Packers or not. The Colts at #24 might present a problem there.
2. Matt Elam S Florida- The Packers want to get more physical and Elam, despite being only 5'10", would certainly help that. Elam is a violent and explosive wrecking ball at safety. He is at his best around the line of scrimmage making plays against the run, blitzing and packing a punch with his hits. Showed a good ability to cover slot wide receivers, but covering big tight ends might be an issue for him due to his size. Elam also played some deep single high safety to show his versatility at Florida and has the speed to be able to do that. Sometimes, he is overaggressive and gets burned deep. He would be a perfect compliment to Morgan Burnett, who would be able to handle the deep coverage at free safety, giving Elam the ability to make plays at the line of scrimmage.
3. Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame- I would not expect Eifert to be available at #26 for the Packers, but if he is Ted Thompson would have a tough time passing him up, as he is far and away the best tight end prospect in this class. Eifert fits the mold of what the position is becoming in the NFL perfectly. He can line up as an outside receiver slot receiver or tight end, so he is extremely versatile. Eifert is just a beast at 6'6" and 250 pounds, and he ran a 4.65 40 yard dash and had a 35.50" vertical leap. Possess extremely strong hands and made amazing catches in traffic at Notre Dame. Very fluid and smooth as a route runner and will stretch the field vertically with his great speed for a tight end. Great at jump balls and will just go up and snatch the ball out of the air with those strong hands. He is great at a gaining position for those passes and making adjustments in mid-air. Eifert is a willing blocker and improved greatly in that area during his senior season at Notre Dame, even though he still has room to grow in that area.
4. Eric Reid S LSU- Reid has elite size at 6'1" and 213 pounds. Just a prototype frame for a safety. He has elite athleticism and is another hard hitting safety that would add physicality to the Packers defense. Has great read-and-react ability and great closing speed. Reid can play in the box or deep in center field. Plays downhill and will lay huge hits on receivers. Reid's aggressiveness is great, but it will need to be toned down in the NFL, as it often burned him at LSU. He had a few too many coverage breakdown and can be a little stiff in coverage.
5. Jonathan Cyprien S FIU- Ted Thompson has not been afraid to pick small school safeties in the past, and
Cyprien certainly fits that bill. He has been rising up draft boards ever since the Senior Bowl with good reason. He has great versatility, as Cyprien has a great combination of physicality and athleticism, so he can play at either strong or free safety. The Packers should like that because they like to use both safety positions interchangeably. Has sideline to sideline range and is aggressive in hitting people at line of scrimmage. Like Elam and Reid, Cyprien loves to hit people and would bring some much needed physicality to the defense. He is a very vocal player on the field and brings great passion to the game. Concerns are about his level of competition and his straight line speed.
6. D.J. Fluker OT Alabama- Fluker is projected at right tackle in the NFL so Bryan Bulaga would have to move over to the left side if Fluker were drafted. However, I would be pretty surprised if Fluker was still around at #26. A massive human at 6'5" 339 pounds, he would immediately upgrade the Packers run game. His size and power make him an outstanding run blocker, but there are questions about whether Fluker will be able to handle the athletic speed rushers in the NFL, which is why him having to play guard is not out of the question. Fluker would be a different kind of lineman than the Packers have right now, and if he can hold up in pass protection he would be great for them. However, considering how much the Packers pass the ball, Fluker would be a big risk for them.
7. Eddie Lacy RB Alabama- Lacy is falling down draft boards due to an awful workout, but he still has great film. Lacy is a player who the Packers probably would not take at #26, but only if they traded down into the second round, which is a distinct possibility. Lacy would bring the physicality that the Packers have been lacking at running back for awhile now. He is a great between the tackles runner and would solve a lot of Green Bay's 3rd-and-short woes. Certainly not one of the more elusive running backs you will ever see, but he is a bull running through tackles and has enough elusiveness to get by with that. His one trademark elusive move is his spin move, which he made tacklers in college look foolish on. Lacy will always fall forward and has great balance. Also, he has only 355 career carries in college, while a lot of the other running backs in this draft were way overworked in college.
8. Jesse Williams DL Alabama- At 6'4" 323 pounds Williams is another massive player from Alabama. He is as strong as an ox, as his 600 pound bench press would indicate. Williams, Raji, and Pickett would give the Packers a gigantic line to play against the run, and they could matchup up well against huge offensive lines like San Francisco for example. His game is build around his power and he will be able take on double teams with ease. Will battle and hustle on every play. The problem with Williams is that he provides next to nothing against the pass, and in today's NFL he might not be worth a first round pick because of it.
9. Alec Ogletree ILB Georgia- Inside linebacker is not a huge need for the Packers, but injury concerns with Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith make it not impossible for the Packers to use a first round pick on one, although that player would have to be rated well above everybody else available. Ogletree is an extremely talented player who comes with major off the field issues. A former safety, Ogletree has outstanding athleticism and the ability to make plays sideline to sideline. Very good in coverage and does not shy away from making the big hit. Struggles to take on and get off of blocks, which might make him a better 4-3 OLB than a 3-4 ILB, although he is a very good blitzer from the inside spot.
10. Arthur Brown ILB Kansas State- Like Ogletree, Brown would have to be by far the best player available for the Packers to take him at #26 with their depth at ILB. Brown is on the small side at 6'1" and 241 pounds, but he makes up for it with his instincts. Is great at diagnosing plays quickly and not taking false steps. Has great athleticism and fluidity in coverage. Also, Brown is very adept at timing his blitzes. Might have a tough time playing inside in the NFL due to his lack of size.