The boldest move of the 2018 NFL Draft will come at the Packers’ hands. We’re calling it now in this “mock draft” scenario. Yes, the biggest draft-day move for Green Bay in recent memory is forthcoming.
In our eyes, the Packers have two distinct needs to fill with their first couple draft picks: a pass rusher and a defensive back. The months leading up to the 2018 season is all about fixing the defense.
This Packers’ regime isn’t talking about taking the “best player available” as they know their mandate is to win now (while Aaron Rodgers is still around and in his prime). Therefore taking the best player, although usually smart, might not be the most conducive choice to make when it comes to immediate success for this team. Three years from now don’t matter if we don’t win for the next three years, ya know?
Management wants to see what this team can do this year.
Some might say that this proposed draft-day trade is almost the anti-Ted Thompson move, others may label it the move that will define the Brian Gutekunst Era as General Manager of the Packers.
Gutekunst, surely, wants to give head coach Mike McCarthy as good of an opportunity to succeed now and get back to winning the division and, ultimately, the Super Bowl. As McCarthy is, arguably, on the hot seat as coach of the Packers. This “mock draft”, if it has any legitimacy, could signifianctly cool McCarthy’s seat down a bit.
But for that to happen–just like in this year’s free agency–Gutekunst will need to make a big splash.
That splash, or trade, is as follows…
First Round: Go Big or Go Home
With the 5th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft the Denver Broncos… trade their pick to the Green Bay Packers.
There is no bad blood between these NFC and AFC foes, so neither team’s management wouldn’t have a reason to not play ball with each other.
After the trade the Packers waste no time and select Bradley Chubb (defensive end, North Carolina State).
Green Bay trades their First Round pick (14th overall), next year’s First Round pick and the first pick in this year’s Fourth Round to Denver.
Write this in stone: The first three teams in this year’s draft will all take Quarterbacks, even if Giants trade out of 2nd overall pick. The Browns will take Running Back Saquon Barkley, which will leave Chubb available for the Packers.
The Rationale here is that the Pack will not get a deal done with Aaron Rodgers in time to affect this year’s salary cap. But they will get a deal in place with No. 12, which will be on the books for the 2019 season. And not having a to pay first round pick will certainly help the cap situation.
Plus, it would signal next year that Clay Matthews and/or Nick Perry would give up some cash or maybe step away from the Packers altogether. But hopefully Chubb will already be helping apply significant pressure to opposing quarterbacks by then.
The Packers’ entire defense will get better if they have a pass rush; the biggest beneficiaries of adding a pass rush will be the defensive backs. Adding Tramon Williams might not seem like a big pickup in free agency, but his play and impact will be so much greater if quarterbacks have to worry about the pressure from the ends.
Going pass rusher in the First Round is a no-brainer.
Second Round: CB or Bust
Green Bay has the 13th pick in Second Round (45th overall) of the 2018 Draft. So that buys them a little wiggle room to trade up or even snag a decent cornerback with that pick.
If the Packers stay put with the 13th pick in the Second Round, they will be hoping a quality cornerback falls to them. But with a bevy of five extra draft picks this year, you can be sure they’ll trade some of them at some point (even after a possible day one trade).
There is no chance the Packers will make 12 draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft; we are doubting they even make more than eight.
We could see them trading their 13th pick in the Second Round, along with two or three of their extra picks in rounds 5-7 to move up to the top of the Second Round.
If they do that, they should have access to at least one of three potentially great corners, in our opinion. Those men are Mike Hughes (cornerback, Central Florida), Carlton Davis (cornerback, Auburn) or Donte Jackson (cornerback, LSU).
Hughes is the smallest of the three, but has great ball skills. If all three were somehow available, I’d see the Packers leaning toward him.
Unlike in previous years, compensatory picks can be traded in this year’s draft. That opens the door wide for the Packers to be as aggressive as GM Gutekunst apparently wants to be. He went out and signed two big free agents at positions of need in tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (three if you count Tramon Williams).
Say what you want, but what Thompson was doing as GM was no longer working and signing three name-brand free agents is about as different from Thompson as one can get. And that’s what we see happening in this draft, too.
Yes, Thompson made a lot draft day trades, but he traded back to acquire picks more often than trading up (okay, yeah, 2009 aside).
Getting a defensive back that can slot in and play big minutes as a rookie is almost a must for the Packers and the second round seems like the most logical place to find one. We think at least one of the three corners we mentioned will fall to the Packers in the second round.
But remember, this is all dependent on getting that pass rusher in the First Round.
Third Round: OT or WR?
With the Packers’ Third Round selection (12th in the round and 76th overall), the Packers could go in any of a couple directions. Offensive Tackle wouldn’t be shocking at all, but if there’s a wide receiver with enough upside they may go in that direction, with Jordy Nelson’s departure still looming.
At offensive tackle the best-case scenario would be Ohio State’s Jamarco Jones, but if he’s taken the Packers may take a chance on Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby. Both men have size, Jones gives up a little size on Crosby, but Crosby has a bit of an injury history.
Or the team could go in an entirely different direction.
Simmie Cobbs Jr., wide receiver from Indiana, would be an absolute steel in the third round for the Packers. His 6’3” size is intriguing despite still being a little rough around the edges, but with the best quarterback in the league throwing to you, it’s easy to grow up fast. That said, most people would rather have higher draft picks protecting Rodgers than running routes for him.
Either way, the Third Round will be one of the most interesting picks of the draft for the green and gold.
Fourth Round & Fifth Round: Depth, Depth, Depth
With tight end Richard Rodgers out the door this year, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Packers take fan-favorite Wisconsin Badger tight end Troy Fumagalli in either the Fourth or Fifth round.
Fumagalli would have fans wanting his jersey from day one and could bring some good depth behind Graham. But again, he may be around in Round Five, too.
We definitely think the Packers will dip back into the offensive line or defensive line pool during these middle rounds. Although they will not take another offensive linemen if they do go ahead and snag Jones or Crosby in the Third Round.
You can be absolutely certain that management is looking to add depth to the trenches on both sides of the ball. For this pick though, if they did previously take an offensive tackle, we hope they select JoJo Wicker from Arizona State in either of the middle rounds. He’s listed as being able to play DT or DE, but with his speed we think he’s destined to be a defensive tackle at the next level. Him and Chubb could really start to revamp the Packers’ defense up-front.
He’s a guy that’s known for getting pressure on the quarterback, but should be available in either the Fourth or Fifth Round. You simply can’t have too many big guys rotating in on the defensive line.
Sixth Round & Seventh Round: Literally Who Knows
We stopped the “mock draft” after the fourth/fifth round, because–honestly–any predictions after the fifth round are just an utter crapshoot.
With that said, you can almost guarantee that the Packers will take a linebacker at some point of the 2018 NFL Draft. The same goes for a safety (for those of you screaming we didn’t focus enough on the defensive side of the ball in this exercise).
The Packers have, on occasion, found some success with linebackers in the mid to late rounds of the draft, but I’m doubting they’ll find an impact safety this late in the draft.
So that’s interesting to ponder. I guess you can’t have it all.
Either way, this draft will be exciting because of the many directions the Packers can go after the first round. But it all hinges on being aggressive in that First Round — just like the team was in free agency.
The trade we’ve presented simply has to happen because it sets everything else in motion (and eventually clears some room to help sign Rodgers to his next, historic, contract).
The time to win now is upon Packer Nation, even if it means giving up that First Round pick next year.
Watching the tape from last year, it’s obvious that the Packers have to get someone that can get after the quarterback in the First Round — it’s just a matter of how creative they’ll get to accomplish that. But after that, look for some of the names we presented in this “mock draft” exercise. They just might be the newest members of Titletown USA.
Thanks for reading. Go Pack Go!