In the run-up to the NFL Draft, we are publishing a weekly “Mailbag” feature here at Cheesehead TV.
If there’s any question you’d like answered, tag your queries with the hashtag #PackersDraft on Twitter.
— Paramveer Singh (@ParamveerMKE) March 18, 2014
— Seth Meier (@MeierSeth) March 18, 2014
Great questions and appropriate given Ted Thompson's track record of developing wide receivers outside the first round. Let's start with the big-bodied receivers that the Packers might consider if they don't sign Jermichael Finley or a free agent like Owen Daniels in free agency. As hard as might be believe that he'd drop in the draft, the Packers might not be able to pass up Mike Evans of Texas A&M, should be still be on the board with the 21st pick. He's a Calvin Johnson type of talent with room for development. In the second round, Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State is another big target if a bit raw, declaring for the draft after only his sophomore season. Both are 6-5 and over 230 lbs.
Among the faster options, a trio of SEC receivers are among my favorites to be selected on Day 2 of the Draft. Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt and Donte Moncrief of Mississippi are both athletic marvels as receivers that are over 6-0 and more than 210 lbs. but can still run the 40 in the 4.4-second range. Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU is slightly smaller but makes up for it with better quickness. This year's class of wide receivers is very deep and the Packers should be able to find a good one with any number of players not listed here as well.
— Dylan Baker (@bakerdc1) March 18, 2014
— Rusty Weise (@RustyWeise) March 18, 2014
I've previously taken the space in this weekly column to sing the praises of Washington State's Bucannon. I know I'm in the minority in this opinion, but I've got Bucannon as the No. 1 overall safety, and I don't think he makes it out of the first round. His size is ideal, his measurables were among the best at the Combine and his production in college was better than his peers. He's the best combination of hard hitter and ball hawk there is in this draft class. Depending on who else is available, I wouldn't necessarily hesitate to take him at 21.
Ward is the best cover safety in this year's class, but he's different from Bucannon. The Northern Illinois product can easily play safety, but his best position may be as a slot type of cornerback. His size comes as the biggest concern. Ward is sub six-foot and sub-200 lbs. There are safeties in the NFL that can make it at that size, but there's not a ton. You don't pass up the prototype at safety in favor of the guy who might present some issues. Now, if Bucannon is off the board in the second round and Ward is the best available player, then sure, take him.
— Charles (@csraymond08) March 18, 2014
Watching Tripp in the Senior Bowl, he did not look out of place. And that is what you worry about from a player coming from the FCS level, playing in an all-star environment with the big boys. Coming out of Montana, Tripp will definitely undergo a learning curve in the NFL, but his ceiling is higher than just a nickel linebacker. He could become a starter in due time, probably just not in Year 1. He provides value on the third day of the Draft, potentially as high as Round 4.
@BrianCarriveau What positions would you like to see the Packers draft in the first 3 rounds?
— John (@jrunde10) March 18, 2014
Since last season ended, I've believed that the biggest needs for the Packers are at safety, inside linebacker and tight end. And I don't think that's changed, even after the Packers re-signed Andrew Quarless in free agency. The Packers could still use a hybrid tight end/wideout type of receiving threat that can stretch the field and be dangerous up the seam. That might change if they re-sign Finley, but that's looking more unlikely by the day.
One more need that has become apparent since the start of free agency is at center after Evan Dietrich-Smith left for Tampa Bay. There might not be a single center that's worthy of being taken before Round 3, however. But it wouldn't be surprising to see Ted Thompson pull his seemingly annual trick of taking a college left tackle and converting him to an interior offensive lineman.
— Jesse Z (@JotaZee) March 18, 2014
You always have to take the idea of "Best Player Available" with a grain of salt. Even if the Packers felt a quarterback or a running back was the best player available in the first round, there's not a chance in hell they address either of those positions. If that were the case, the Packers would ideally look for a trading partner willing to part ways with an extra draft choice.
That being said, there's plenty of positions of need on the Packers roster. They certainly could be in position to find the best player available among safeties, linebackers, tight ends and wide receivers.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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