If the NFL draft seems to be taking a lot longer to get here this year than in years past don't worry you're right. Finally, the draft will take place this Thursday. No, I am not doing a mock draft even though I can't keep myself from reading them (I admit I have a problem). I will share some players I feel the Pack should target in the first round and then look for in the later rounds.
Potential 1st rounders:
1. Calvin Pryor, S Louisville - The hard hitting safety from Louisville is the enforcer the Packers need in their secondary. The guy knocked three guys out three consecutive weeks. He wants to be in a defense who allows him to free-flow a bit. I admit this is more of a "I hope he is there selection" but if he is, how can the Packers pass up a physical and talented presence such as Pryor?
The first hit should tell you the kind of guy you are getting.
2. CJ Mosley, LB Alabama - Every sane Packers fan knows the team needs some speed in the middle of the field. Mosley is hard-working, fast and a sure tackler. Those are three things the Packers really need in their middle of the field to help them get over the athletic quarterback hurdle. Does have some injury concerns.
3. Ryan Shazier, LB Ohio State - Shazier is more athletic than Mosley but does need to put on more size. He played last year in the 220's and was around 237 for his pro day. Shazier has more speed than the average OSU linebacker and has big play potential.
4. Anthony Barr, DE/OLB UCLA - Barr is an interesting prospect. If you read into mock drafts he could be going anywhere from Minnesota at 8 to the mid 20's. Yes, the Packers signed Peppers and he will keep his hand up more than we might think but a guy as talented as Barr could bolster the pass rush.
5. Louis Nix, DT Notre Dame - Nix will be there at 21. He is massive at 6'2, 340 pounds. He only played in 7 games this season due to a knee injury but his talent is undeniable. The Packers only signed B.J. Raji to a one year deal and Nix could be the future at nose tackle.
Here are some guys that could be looked at in the 2nd round and later :
1. Jordan Matthews, WR Vanderbilt - Matthews would be great value in the 2nd round after having a monster 2013 campaign (112 catches, 1,477 yards, 7 td's). He's built like Jordy Nelson and has the toughness of James Jones.
2. Jimmie Ward, S Northern Illinois - Most experts have Ward rated as the third best safety in the draft. He's smaller than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor but isn't afraid to lower his shoulder. Had 7 picks last year as well.
3. Jace Amaro, TE Texas Tech - As much as I would love to have Jermichael Finley back on the roster I really don't see a return to the green and gold. Amaro could be the deep threat at tight end the Packers covet in their offense. Phenomenal athlete but needs to become a better blocker.
4. Shane Skov, LB Stanford - If the Packers pass or are unable to get Shazier or Mosley, Shane Skov would be a great fit. He's intense and gets all over the field. Skov could bring an enforcer to the front 7.
5. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB Nebraska - Jean Baptiste is a monster at 6'3. Tall, physical corners are the sexy thing in today's NFL. He can hit and was a former receiver. Tramon Williams and Davon House are in the final year of their contracts. Looking at a corner might not be a bad option.
6. Deone Buchanon, S Washington - Buchanon is another big, physical safety the Packers could take a look at in the middle rounds. Doesn't move as well as a Clinton-Dix or Ward but like Pryor knows how to bring the pain.
7 and 8. Dri Archer, RB Kent State and De'Anthony Thomas, Weapon, Oregon : I know the Packers don't need a running back but these are two guys who could be around in the third day that can really bolster a return game. Archer can flat out fly and has incredible agility. Thomas posted good numbers in the return, rushing and passing game. He doesn't really have a set position so if the Packers don't get a receiver early, Thomas could play in the slot as well.
Who do you want the Packers to draft? Let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org.