Final 2014 mock draft for the Green Bay Packers:
1.21 ILB C.J MOSLEY, ALABAMA
I get the feeling the Packers may not have a chance at either Mosley or Ryan Shazier come Thursday night. But if one of the two will make it to No. 21, it's probably Mosley. Some team will fall in love with Shazier's speed in the top 20 picks, while Mosley's injury history may scare off just enough clubs. The Packers would then take him as a plug-and-play starter alongside A.J. Hawk. Without the medical red flags, he's a borderline top-10 talent in this class. And just for kicks, I'll put it in writing that Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller remains my first-round surprise pick for the Packers (if he makes it to 21). I rate him as the No. 1 cornerback in this class, and he may just have the range and anticipation needed to project as a Pro Bowl-caliber free safety.
2.53 FS TERRENCE BROOKS, FLORIDA STATE
Have the Packers not locked themselves into taking a safety somewhat early in this draft? Unless Micah Hyde is making a full-time transition to play the backend with Morgan Burnett, no position on the Packers roster needs more attention. And with the position continuing to rise in importance, and the relative top-heaviness of this safety class, the Packers can't afford to wait too long to get one. Brooks isn't Nick Collins, but he's athletic, rangy and unafraid to support against the run. Given the choice, I'd much rather have Brooks in the second than Calvin Pryor in the first.
2.62 (TRADE) TE TROY NIKLAS, NOTRE DAME
The Packers give up one of their third-round picks (3.85), plus a fourth (4.121) and a fifth (5.161), to move up and take Niklas, Green Bay's next starting tight end. It's an aggressive move up the board, but Niklas is worth the lost draft capital in the middle rounds. He's huge, standing 6'6" and weighing 270 pounds, but he's athletic for his size—capable of winning down the seam, underneath and in the red zone. He gained experience working in-line (excellent potential as a blocker) and out wide at Notre Dame, a tight end factory. Big upside considering he worked just two years at the position after moving over from the defensive side. Also, his uncle is Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews. What's not to like? Watch him become a poor man's Rob Gronkowski in the Packers offense.
3.98 WR KEVIN NORWOOD, ALABAMA
I'd be shocked if the Packers don't use one of their first four picks on a receiver. This class has too many difference-making receivers in the top-100 and the Packers still need to replace James Jones on the depth chart. Jarrett Boykin is a fine No. 3, but Green Bay's offense requires the receiver position to be four-deep, especially if the Packers lose the receiving ability of Jermichael Finley at tight end. No one talks about Norwood, but he's 6'2" with 4.48-speed and reliable hands. His change of direction skills are vastly underrated; at 6.68 seconds in the three-cone drill, Norwood blew away Randall Cobb's 7.08 seconds from back in 2011. I think he'll be a better pro than college receiver, especially with Aaron Rodgers pulling the trigger.
5.176 DE BRENT URBAN, VIRGINIA
Ted Thompson won't like waiting 78 picks between selections, but that's the tradeoff for moving up and taking a potential impact player early. His wait is rewarded when Urban, a 6'7" behemoth with ideal body specifications for a 3-4 base end, is still available in the fifth round. Picture a very poor man's version of J.J. Watt, and that's Urban. A broken foot suffered this offseason required surgery, giving him a real chance to fall. The Packers could use his wingspan (34 1/4" arm length) and power along the defensive line. They lack a little of both, especially at the five-technique.
6.197 OL RYAN GROY, WISCONSIN
I remain unconvinced that Thompson will deviate from his standard operating procedure and take a pure center. The safer bet remains that he'll find a college tackle and move him inside. Groy has actually already made that transition. Helping his cause is a versatility to play all three interior linemen positions, including center. The Packers could use more depth at guard, and competition at center—a still unresolved position—can't hurt. Don't forget, Thompson has taken at least one offensive lineman in each of his first nine drafts. And his nine picks along the line lead the NFL since 2009. He'll take one at some point.
7.236 QB JEFF MATHEWS, CORNELL
Experienced (four-year starter) and smart (40 on the Wonderlic), with professional size (6'4") and arm strength, Mathews has the profile of an ideal late-round project quarterback. While a limited athlete who played against poor college competition, he'd be great in the quarterback room and helpful on the Sunday sidelines. His intangibles are through the roof. Mike McCarthy could work with his existing tools and make him into a quality, long-term backup. I'm thinking Mathews could be Aaron Rodgers' version of Doug Peterson.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV and is the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].
Photo: Florida State safety Terrence Brooks by Brian Carriveau.
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