Packers 2013 offensive draft needs
If you’re a Green Bay Packers fans, then you already have seen the writing on the wall for certain players who were on the team in 2012, but won’t be on the team in 2013. Greg Jennings has pretty much played his last game in a Packers uniform, and Jermichael Finley too.
The Packers still have a lot of offensive pieces to be successful in 2013, but there are a lot of holes that will have to be filled this offseason. That’s why we’re going to take a look at what the Packers 2013 offensive draft needs are, and what they can do in the draft to fill these needs.
The needs are as follows: OL, TE, WR and RB. Aaron Rodgers took some beatings in 2012, and that’s not good to have your franchise on his back every other play.
The Packers need bodies everywhere on the line, because they just aren’t that talented of a group. Unfortunately the premier offensive linemen in Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Chance Warmack, Lane Johnson and Jonathan Cooper will be gone.
D.J. Fluker may fall to the 26th pick, but it is unlikely due to the need of other teams on the offensive line. There is not much difference in value between the 25th pick and the 50th pick in this year’s draft.
That’s why if the Packers want to go offensive line with the 26th pick, then they would be likely looking at Menelik Watson of Florida State and Larry Warford of Kentucky. Menelik Watson is a natural fit at right tackle, and can start from day one of camp.
Warford on the other hand may drop the Packers with the 55th pick in the second round, because of his underwhelming Combine performance. Warford is also not as quick as scouts would like him to be, but he has shutdown premier interior defensive linemen talents such as Sharrif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson in college.
Watson would be the likely target if the Pack sees the offensive line as their top priority. In the second round the Packers could target Travis Frederick to be the long-term solution at center.
Barrett Jones of Alabama is a very versatile offensive lineman that can play every position, but he’s likely landing spot is at center. Dallas Thomas of Tennessee can play guard or offensive tackle, but he may lack the quickness for right tackle.
Brennan Williams of North Carolina is an excellent right tackle prospect who excels in run blocking, but his pass protection may be suspect. The swing for the fences pick is Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Armstead ran a 4.71 forty yard dash at the Combine at 306 pounds. The only question marks have to do with where Armstead belongs. He can play guard or tackle, and there has even been some buzz to have him play tight end.
He won’t last till the third round, and that’s why if the Packers want him. They’re going to have to take a risk of potentially over drafting him in the second round.
The third round offers Chris Faulk, Oday Aboushi, Xavier Nixon and Ricky Wagner. Aboushi is the best pass protector out of the bunch, but his run blocking is not up to par.
However the Packers need pass protectors and it’s worth the risk to get a good skill set player in Aboushi to help keep Rodgers healthy while you work on the run blocking side. After the third round is a significant drop off in talent with most of the prospects as developmental.
The tight end position is the second biggest need of the Packers, because there are a lot of rumors swirling that Jermichael Finley’s career in Green Bay is on its last legs. Even if Finley is retained; the Packers need to find another tight end to add talent and competition to the roster.
The top two tights in the draft this year are Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz. Who are 1a and 1b on most draft boards, but if I was to put money on whom the Packers would take with the 26th pick.
It would be Tyler Eifert, but only because Eifert has better hands. Ertz is the better blocker, but Eifert has more upside, because he has more athleticism and speed.
The second round however is hard to pinpoint who the Packers will take, because there are so many tight ends available. Gavin Escobar, Travis Kelce, Ryan Otten and Vance McDonald are all tight ends the Packers could target.
They are all neck and neck with each other for the most part. In the third round is Jordan Reed of Florida. The biggest knock on Reed is his run blocking ability, but he is very athletic as all Florida tight ends are.
From the fourth round to the sixth round is where Mychal Rivera, Jake Stoneburner, Chris Gragg and Brandon Ford. My favorites are Rivera, Gragg and Stoneburner.
Stoneburner in particular is a great run blocker who is faster than people expect. He was underutilized at Ohio State and could be a big steal in the 2013 NFL draft.
Greg Jennings’ exit in 2013 will force the issue to add some more wide receiver depth, because this Packer wide receiver group can’t seem to stay healthy. The top target for the Packers in the 2013 draft has to be a debate between DeAndre Hopkins and Tavon Austin.
Hopkins is one of the best route runners in the draft, and will be an instant contributor in the NFL. While Tavon Austin is an explosive slot receiver that I believe will be very hard to cover at the next level.
Austin is undersized, but his speed and quickness flash across the screen on tape. If you put him in the Packers receiving core; Austin will always be open.
The second round offers Da’Rick Rogers, Terrance Williams, Robert Woods and Stedman Bailey. Rogers reminds me most of a young Terrell Owens, because of his ability, but also because of his off the field issues.
Rogers is a big physical receiver who fights for the ball with good speed for the position. He can become a number one wide receiver, because of his physical tools and playing style.
Williams has the skill set, but needs development in his route running. Woods and Bailey are excellent route runners, but lack ideal speed for the position.
Woods and Bailey can be role players on the Packers, but they are never going to be anything other than matchup based starters. In the third round offers prospects such as Kenny Stills and Cobi Hamilton.
Stills was a productive college player at Oklahoma, but was never jaw dropping. Hamilton has the size and speed to be a big physical wide receiver.
The fourth round favorite is Aaron Dobson or Marshall. Dobson is a tall and physical wide receiver. He would likely be the addition, because the Packers can live with Greg Jennings.
All the Packers have to do is find more wide receivers to fill roles if injuries happen. Dobson can be that value pick in the fourth round that can be a contributor in the receiving rotation.
The last position that needs some work is at running back, because the Packers can’t find a long-term solution at running back. Ryan Grant was supposed to be that, but injuries and his decline in play led to his demise from the roster.
James Starks sparked a Super Bowl run, but was never as good as sports pundits made him out to be. Cedric Benson was given a one season lease that had some success, but injuries caught up to him.
There are no running backs worth taking in the bottom of the first round, but the second round has a variety of prospects the Packers could target. Giovani Bernard flashed on tape with his playmaking ability.
Bernard gives added value as a pass catcher, and would add another dimension to the Packers offense. Mike Gillislee of Florida would be a great pick, because his pass blocking ability makes him an every down player.
Le’veon Bell is a big back with deceptive speed and catching ability. Montee Ball of Wisconsin can be highly productive, but the only knock on Ball is his pass protection issue and fumbles.
The third round is Christine Michael, but there are some character concerns. He missed two interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine, because he overslept.
The rest of the running backs in the 2013 NFL draft blend in, but the biggest steal in the late rounds is Montel Harris. Harris is likely a late 6th to 7th round pick.
He was dismissed from Boston College due to character concerns, but his time at Temple showed he learned from his mistakes. He is very candid in interviews about his past, and his skill set on tape is special.
A lot of scouts are dismissing him, because of the college he went to at Temple, but he has all the skills to be a solid starter in the NFL. He’s worth a selection in the 6th to 7th round and can become one of the biggest steals in the draft.
The Packers have a lot of needs to fill the 2013 draft on offense, and we haven’t even begun to look at the defensive draft needs. However the Packers should be able to craft a decent team from the draft prospects mentioned to hopefully contend for another Super Bowl in 2013.
James Cobern is a Featured Journalist for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.