NFL Draft: Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some final thoughts from Day 2 of the draft:

Standing Pat: Once known as Trader Ted, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has not made a single trade in the first two days of the draft. Said Thompson: "There were phone calls like there always are. There were offers made by us a few teams, by the opposing teams a few times and it was more 'we'll see when it gets to our pick or we'll see when it gets to their pick,' and it just never worked out."

Third-round reaches: While there should have been little to quibble with when it came to Thompson's first two picks -- safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round and receiver Davante Adams in the second -- his third-round picks appeared to be reaches based on general evaluations and even where they expected to be picked. Southern Miss defensive tackle Khyri Thornton was ranked as the 17th-best defensive tackle yet he was the ninth one taken. Said Thorton, who went 85th overall: "To be honest with you I really didn't have high expectations of going high in the draft." Cal tight end Richard Rodgers, who went to the Packers at No. 98, appears to be a bit of a project, having switched from tight end to receiver at Cal before leaving school early.

Thornton's journey: In Thornton's final two years at Southern Miss, the team won only one game -- and he missed that lone victory because of an injury. And that's only part of Thornton's collegiate story. He first committed to Florida State but did not qualify academically. Then, he enrolled at South Florida, which also denied him eligibility. "It was frustrating," the 24-year-old Thornton said. "Learned about college football."

"The Play": Rodgers' father took part in one of the most famous plays in college football history -- the five-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown at the end of the 1982 Cal-Stanford game -- and he has seen it countless times. But never in the company of his dad, who made two of the laterals. "I actually don't think I've ever watched 'The Play' with my dad sitting next to me," the younger Rodgers said.

Finley's future: Thompson insisted the decision to draft Rodgers was not an indication that team has moved on from free agent Jermichael Finley, who still hasn't been cleared to return from his neck injury. "I don't necessarily think the two are tied at all," Thompson said. "We were just trying to pick a good player."

Looking ahead: The Packers still haven't addressed two of their bigger needs entering the draft -- inside linebacker and center. Thompson watched the top center, Colorado State's Weston Richburg, come off the board nine picks before the Packers' second-round selection. In the third round, he saw Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland go eight before the Packers picked Thornton. Even with five picks in rounds 4-7 on Saturday, the chances of finding someone who could compete for a starting job at either spot are minimal.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last time the Green Bay Packers had four picks in the first 100 selections of the NFL draft, they came away with two quality starters and two players who never made an impact.

That was 2008, when they drafted receiver Jordy Nelson (No. 36 overall), quarterback Brian Brohm (No. 56), cornerback Pat Lee (No. 60) and tight end Jermichael Finley (No. 91).

General manager Ted Thompson will take a similar haul into this year's draft. With the addition of a third-round compensatory pick, the Packers have pick Nos. 21, 53, 85 and 98 in the first three rounds.

"It's good," Thompson said during his pre-draft news conference this week. "If we could, we'd have more. More is better. It gives you better odds. It wouldn't be any different if it were this year or last year or the year before or that sort of thing."

Can Thompson do better in the top 100 than he did in 2008? Nelson and Finley became major contributors while Brohm flamed out and Lee was only a short-term backup.

On Thursday night, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay went through the top 100, selecting players for teams as if they were in charge of the draft rooms.

For the Packers, they came away with this:
Kiper and McShay alternated picks, so it worked out that McShay made the Packers' first three selections, while Kiper picked their fourth.

Looking at the first round, the top two safeties were both off the board before the No. 21. Kiper had Louisville's Calvin Pryor at No. 14 to the Chicago Bears and Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gone two picks later to the Dallas Cowboys.

In picking Mosley, McShay said he had Mosley rated as the 12th-best player on his board and called him a relentless, tough playmaker. What isn't known is how the Packers feel about Mosley from a medical standpoint. There are concerns about a knee injury, which kept him from running at the combine, and other injuries during his college career.

If the Packers don't feel comfortable with Mosley's medical history but still want a linebacker at that spot, they could go with Ohio State's Ryan Shazier. McShay had Shazier at No. 31 to the Denver Broncos.

Nix has been described as a perfect 3-4 nose tackle.

"This is a value pick, as Nix merits late first-round consideration," McShay said. "Between first-rounder C.J. Mosley and Nix, we've now drafted the No. 12 and No. 30 players on my board, respectively, at No. 21 and No. 53."

Vereen and Fiedorowicz would fill clear holes at safety and tight end, respectively. However, waiting until late in the third round to address safety seems a little late considering that might be the Packers' greatest need in this draft.

Analyzing McShay mock: Packers 

April, 24, 2014
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No one knows for sure who Ted Thompson will pick with the 21st selection in next month's NFL draft. Even the Green Bay Packers general manager himself might not know yet.

But put ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay on the clock, and he's ready to make a pick right now. In his latest mock draft , McShay selected who he would pick if at the controls of all 32 teams.

Chat about the Packers today

April, 22, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We're a little more than two weeks out from the NFL draft, which means speculation about who the Green Bay Packers will pick is growing.

Bring your draft questions -- or anything else Packers-related -- to our weekly chat. It starts today at 4 p.m. ET (or 3 p.m. if you’re in the surrounding area).

You can submit your questions ahead of time or do it live by clicking this link.

Note: This will be our last chat until the week of the draft because we're taking next week off for a little rest and relaxation before things ramp up again.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Packers 

April, 17, 2014
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The Green Bay Packers began the process of rebuilding their defense by adding free-agent pass rusher Julius Peppers and re-signing several of their own key players -- B.J. Raji, Sam Shields and Mike Neal among them -- but there's still much to do in next month's draft.

Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today, and his projected first-round pick for the Packers at No. 21 overall should help in that process.


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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Pick after pick crawled across the bottom of television screens last April 25, 26 and 27 and those wondering when the Green Bay Packers would draft a safety got their answer when the 254th -- and final -- pick in the 2013 NFL draft was announced.

Three safeties went in the first round, but none to the Packers.

Two more came off the board in Round 2, but neither was a Packers pick.

[+] EnlargeHa Ha Clinton-Dix
AP Photo/Rogelio SolisHa Ha Clinton-Dix may be available to the Packers when they draft in the first round.
Seventeen more were drafted on the third and final day, yet the Packers still had not filled one of their biggest needs.

That's not to say they went into last year's draft wholly convinced that they didn't need help at the position. But when it came time to exercise each of his selections, there wasn't a safety sitting there that intrigued general manager Ted Thompson enough to make that call.

Thompson liked a few of the safeties in the draft, but the ones he was sold on were either already off the board or would have been a reach at the time of his pick.

So here are the Packers, nearly a year later, and Thompson still has not put pen to paper on a contract for a new safety of any consequence. (And no, street free agent Chris Banjo does not count.)

That has to change next month, when Thompson will take nine selections into the May 8-10 NFL draft, doesn't it?

If Thompson fails to land one of the top, say, five or six safeties in this draft -- be it Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama or Calvin Pryor of Louisville, both of who are locks to go in the first round; or possible second- and third-round picks like Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois, Deone Bucannon of Washington State or Terrence Brooks of Florida State -- then he will be handcuffing defensive coordinator Dom Capers in much the same fashion he did last season.

Last summer, Capers and coach Mike McCarthy opened the competition at free safety to a pair of second-year players, Jerron McMillian (a 2012 fourth-round round pick) and M.D. Jennings (an undrafted free agent the same year). It was a close competition, more so because neither one stood out, and when strong safety Morgan Burnett was unavailable for the season opener because of a hamstring injury, that duo started Week 1 at the two safety spots.

The Packers thought so little of their performances that they cut McMillian late last season and did not even bother this offseason to offer Jennings a restricted free agent tender, which would not have cost them any guaranteed money.

"Obviously we didn't get the production that we wanted from that [free safety] position," safeties coach Darren Perry said this offseason.

To be sure, the Packers need Burnett to show that Thompson wasn't misguided when he signed him to a four-year, $24.75 million contract last summer.

"I think he's fully capable of doing it," McCarthy said this offseason. "Morgan's going to do everything he can. He needs to be more assertive in play-making opportunities."

In order for Burnett to flourish, he can't be worried about the player lined up next to him. That player was supposed to be Nick Collins, the three-time Pro Bowl safety whose career was cut short in 2011 by a neck injury. At age 30, he still would have been in the prime of his career last season.

If the Packers don't find another Collins, they must at least come close.

Since the team's resurgence in the early 1990s, they have enjoyed a strong group of safeties -- from LeRoy Butler to Darren Sharper to Collins; all were Pro Bowl selections during their time in Green Bay.

The dynamic of the position has changed in recent years. Whereas Butler was a fierce hitter, today's safeties are judged just as much on speed and ball skills as anything else. What NFL teams need now are safeties than can cover chunks of yardage in milliseconds and knock passes away or, better yet, intercept them. The Packers were the only team in the NFL last season that didn't get a single interception from a safety.

"The intimidator isn't necessarily needed anymore," ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said. "The big hitters, you don't need that."

Kiper doesn't believe Clinton-Dix will be around when the Packers come up at No. 21 in the first round, but Pryor very well could be available.

Even if Pryor is gone or Thompson passes on him, he will have other options, says Kiper.

"Jimmy Ward from Northern Illinois you could make an argument is the best cover safety in the draft," Kiper said. "He's coming off the [foot] injury but he had a very good career, has great ball skills, real good hands for the interception. And Ward is a decent tackler, but he doesn't have tremendous size [5-foot-11, 193 pounds].

"The days of that big, intimidating safety are just about over. Terrence Brooks from Florida State would fill that void at that point as a safety that could come in and help you right away."

No matter what Thompson does in the draft, Capers and McCarthy plan to work cornerback Micah Hyde at safety this offseason. Perhaps the fifth-round pick out of Iowa last year will be the full-time answer; he certainly showed enough as a rookie to warrant more than the 39.4 percent playing time he got last year. But if the Packers think Hyde can allow them to concentrate on other areas of need in the draft, they'd better be right.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- From the outside, the Green Bay Packers' list of needs in the upcoming draft seems obvious.

Safety, tight end and linebacker surely would be at the top of general manager Ted Thompson's wish list.

But sometimes GMs think a little differently.

That's something new ESPN Insider Mark Dominik knows as well as anyone. Dominik has nearly 20 years of experience as an NFL personnel man, including most recently as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13, before joining ESPN last month.

So it was interesting to see that Dominik, in an ESPN Insider piece, identified the Packers as a team that might have what he called a "hidden need." And he wrote that need is offensive tackle.

"The Packers drafted offensive tackles in the first round of the 2010 [Bryan Bulaga] and 2011 [Derek Sherrod] drafts, but they are still hunting for that dependable long-term option at left tackle," Dominik said. "Even though the team has other, more pressing needs, I believe general manager Ted Thompson could target a tackle earlier than expected in this draft. Remember, Chad Clifton was a second-round selection back in 2000, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Packers look to find a player like him -- in roughly that same range -- in this year's draft."

Perhaps Dominik isn't convinced second-year pro David Bakhtiari is the long-term answer at left tackle. Coach Mike McCarthy said recently he plans to leave Bakhtiari there, where he started every game last season as a rookie after Bulaga blew out his knee two weeks into training camp, leaving Bulaga to return to right tackle.

Or perhaps Dominik was taking the contract and injury history of Bulaga and Sherrod into account. Bulaga missed all of last season because of a knee injury and the second half of 2012 because of a hip injury. Sherrod returned late last season from the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011, an injury that sidelined him for all of 2012 and the first half of 2013.

Both likely will be free agents next offseason. Bulaga is entering the final year of his rookie contract, while the Packers have an option for 2015 on Sherrod's deal that they are unlikely to exercise.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Packers

March, 13, 2014
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With a defense that slipped to No. 25 in the overall rankings last season, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson will no doubt go into the draft thinking defense.

He did that in 2012, and he used his first six picks on that side of the ball.

Those picks were supposed to be the core of the defense, but last year only one of them -- fourth-round defensive tackle Mike Daniels -- made a major impact.

So where does that leave the Packers when it comes to the 21st pick in the draft?

They could conceivably address any level of their defense. They could use some run-stopping muscle on the interior of the defensive line, another pass-rusher off the edge to complement outside linebacker Clay Matthews, a playmaking inside linebacker and a ball-hawking safety.

There's a chance the top-two safeties, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville, will be off the board before the Packers pick. But if either one was available, Thompson might have a hard time ignoring that spot.

On the defensive line, Louis Nix III of Notre Dame would be an option at nose tackle, while Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman could be a viable pick as a 3-4 end. There's a good chance both could be there at 21.

The top outside linebackers almost certainly will be gone by the time the Packers pick, but inside linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama could be available.

And if Thompson decides to go with an offensive player, he might strongly consider North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, if he's still there.

Check out ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 3.0 Insider to see which players he thinks the Packers should target with their first pick.

McShay Mock 3.0: Packers 

March, 6, 2014
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Todd McShay’s third NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today. The Packers could use just about everything on defense and they have some prominent members on that side of the ball up for free agency. Also, unlike most years, it would not be surprising if Green Bay were buyers during the free agency period, especially on defense.

The Packers might need a new center by the time the draft rolls around, but that obviously will not be their first-round selection. With James Jones and Jermichael Finley possibly leaving town, Green Bay could go tight end with the No. 21 overall pick. Whom does McShay have the Packers drafting at No. 21?

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Kiper-McShay Mocks 2.0: Packers 

February, 6, 2014
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In their first mock drafts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper went in opposite directions for the Packers.

Todd McShay's Mock 1.0: Eric Ebron*, TE, North Carolina

Mel Kiper's Mock 1.0: Calvin Pryor*, S, Louisville

Has there been a change for their second mocks? Here's the latest projection from each of our experts.


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Kiper Mock Draft 1.0: Green Bay Packers 

January, 15, 2014
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For the fifth straight season, the Green Bay Packers will pick in the bottom half of the first round in the upcoming draft. But at No. 21 overall, it’s their highest selection since picking No. 9 in 2009.

General manager Ted Thompson almost certainly has to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball again despite using his first-round picks in 2012 and 2013 on outside linebacker Nick Perry and defensive end Datone Jones, respectively.

The Packers have needs up the middle of their defense on all three levels.

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McShay Mock Draft 1.0: Packers 

December, 18, 2013
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The 2013 Packers will have a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year in second-round pick Eddie Lacy. When the Packers drafted Lacy, they expected him to take some of the pressure off Aaron Rodgers. Instead, Lacy has taken on a major role in the absence of Rodgers. But Rodgers will be back healthy soon, and surely for 2014.

So who will the Packers add in the draft to help him once again?

Todd McShay released his first 2014 mock draft Wednesday, and identified the biggest areas of need for the Packers as tight end, cornerback and linebacker. You can never give Rodgers enough options. Here’s who McShay believes will provide the best fit for the Packers in Round 1.


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Rookie Review: Green Bay's Eddie Lacy 

October, 21, 2013
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Eddie LacyAP Photo/Mike RoemerGreen Bay rookie RB Eddie Lacy has given the Packers' offense another dimension.
Last April, after selecting UCLA DT Datone Jones in the first round, the Packers drafted Eddie Lacy late in the second round with the 61st overall pick. After Green Bay gave up 51 sacks in 2012, which was second worst in the NFL behind only Arizona, Packers general manager Ted Thompson clearly was looking to find a workhorse-type runner to take some pressure of the offensive line and help preserve the health of their franchise quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

Lacy was our No. 1-ranked running back in the 2013 draft class. However, durability issues, along with a pedestrian pro day, played a part in him being the fourth overall running back taken last April. Lacy dealt with minor injuries throughout his final two years at Alabama and was unable to work out at the NFL combine last February because of a slight tear in his hamstring.

That said, when healthy, Lacy displays above-average feet, top-end speed and good vision for a 231-pound running back. These go along with elite power, balance and determination. All this was on display during his strong finish to the 2012 season where he played a huge part in Alabama’s national title run by accumulating 321 total yards and three touchdowns against Georgia in the SEC Championship and Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship.

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Will the Bears take Te'o? 

March, 22, 2013
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All week we've been taking a look at how the NFC's divisions have been affected by this year's free-agent shuffle. After tackling the East, South and West, the old Black-and-Blue Division, the NFC North is up.

Let's examine the thinking these teams may have going into the 2013 NFL draft.

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Five players who stand out in space 

April, 20, 2012
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The fourth annual edition of my All-Satellite team has arrived, offering up the five players from the 2012 draft class who are most dangerous in space.

These players present all kinds of danger in the open field and each has the ability to burn a defense for a touchdown with the ball in his hands. Here's how they break down, with prospects listed in order of their overall draft grade.

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