We are closing in here on the eve of the NFL Draft. When it comes to the Packers, one word stands alone in this draft: defense. The Packers had issues on defense last season, especially in the secondary. Injuries were a major problem last season, and that made it tough on young corners like Ladarius Gunter. The pass rush was another big concern. Clay Matthews wasn’t as dominant as he’s been in the past, and many pass rushers have moved on. With a deep draft like this one, the Packers should be able to reload the defense and add some playmakers for Aaron Rodgers.
Round 1, 29th Overall: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The Packers need help in the secondary, no matter if both Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins pan out. The depth at corner is lacking with the release of Sam Shields. Davon House was a solid add in free agency, but it’s time to get younger and stronger. Quincy Wilson is long, physical corner that could in excel in Dom Capers’ system. He could come in right away and help patch up a secondary that gave up so many big plays.
Round 2, 61st Overall: Jordan Willis, EDGE, Kansas State
In round two, the Packers address another position of need. This time, they look to find an edge rusher. Currently, the only edge rushers on the roster with game experience are Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott, and Kyler Fackrell. The Packers need some help getting to the quarterback, which could help mask some issues in the secondary. Jordan Willis has enjoyed a rise throughout the draft process. His athletic ability was shown during the combine, and if you watch the tape, there’s a lot to like. He has the ability to win with speed on the edge, and you see the hustle if he misreads the play. Yes, he needs to work on run defense, but the Packers need pure pass rushers added to the roster.
Round 3, 93rd Overall: Derek Rivers, EDGE, Youngstown State
Doubling up at pass rusher? Why not? You can never have enough pass rushers in this league. Plus, Derek Rivers at 93 is excellent value. Rivers has the motor to make a real difference for the Packers. He has very good power and strength to win one-on-ones, and he can stack and shed blockers with ease. You can see him overrun plays at times, but discipline is something that can be taught. The ability Rivers has cannot. Plus, if Willis and Rivers pan out, you can move Matthews inside more.
Round 4, 134th Overall: Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State
Aaron Rodgers, offensive line reinforcements are on the way. Even with the signing of former Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans today, guard is still a need. Lane Taylor and Evans wouldn’t be bad, but Evans is a short term option and Ted Thompson always seems to find gems along the offensive line late in drafts. Nico Siragusa has a chance to be that late round gem. When you watch the tape, you see an extremely effective run blocker. He gets to the second level with ease on running plays, and he has enough quickness to succeed at the next level.
Round 5, 172nd Overall: Joe Williams, RB, Utah
The Packers need more from the running back position. Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael will be fine, but you can always have depth. Montgomery is more of a 15-18 touch guy instead of a 20+ guy. Plus, it would be nice to have someone else for short yardage situations. Joe Williams is a solid pick in the fifth round. On tape, Williams shows a lot. He can be a one cut back with his quickness and his ability to find the hole and hit it hard. Williams is not afraid of contact, and he is reading and willing to run people over. He can be a nice complement to Montgomery, and he can be a threat in short yardage situations. It’s always good to have depth.
Round 5, 182nd Overall: Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma
In today’s NFL, you need more athletic linebackers. Players like Deion Jones are going to be coveted earlier because of this passing league. Third down linebackers are important, because you need quicker guys in coverage over the middle of the field. Joe Thomas has carved out a role, but his recognition isn’t as good as it should be for a dime linebacker. Jordan Evans can come in and fill a role as a dime backer, and will shore up a unit that already has their early down guys in Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez. Ryan is getting better in coverage, but Evans has the speed to succeed in coverage.
Round 6, 212th Overall: Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
There is no doubt a double up at corner will be considered this time around. Quincy Wilson will help out, but that doesn’t mean that Thompson will stop there. If Howard Wilson is available in round six, I think there’s too much value to pass on him. Wilson is another corner with very good ball skills and good recognition. You can see him drive back toward the ball and make plays. Wilson is also a competitor, and guys who want to compete and get their hands dirty should be who the Packers look for.
Round 7, 247th Overall: Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
Late round flier on one of the most productive wide receivers in college football last season? Check. Westbrook does have some concerns with his size and some off the field stuff, but you can’t pass up his explosiveness with the ball in his hands. If anyone can turn this guy into a solid pro, it’s Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.
Agree with the picks? Disagree? Comment here or find me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.
Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and NFL Draft for The Sports Guys. For all things draft this year, find him on Twitter above and follow the new cover32 account he manages! @cover32_KC