You don’t need a Ph.D. in football to realize the Green Bay Packers’ two biggest needs: tight end and safety.
Yet, with the NFL draft set to begin next Thursday night, it’s questionable whether there will be a tight end or safety available at No. 21 — where the Packers will pick, as of this time — to warrant being selected there.
As for a safety, the general consensus is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama will be long gone by the time the Packers pick. The next best safety is generally considered to be Calvin Pryor of Louisville. It’s iffy whether he’ll be still on the board when the Packers pick.
Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois is another safety who is drawing interest from numerous teams. In fact, all four of the NFC North Division teams — Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota — have expressed keen interest in him. However, some NFL scouts I spoke to about Ward regard him as a second-round selection.
As for tight end, Eric Ebron of North Carolina is easily the cream of the crop at that position. Slim to none are the Packers’ chances of landing him. The next best tight end is subject to debate. Some NFL officials like Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington, who has had some off-field issues and surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot.
Some other NFL scouts, however, favor Jace Amaro of Texas Tech, who seemingly would fit perfectly in the Packers’ pass-happy offense. One scout described the 6-foot-5 Amaro as a big target who runs excellent routes and, yes, can block. However, NFL network draft guru Mike Mayock, in his text to me Thursday, said Amaro “has mostly early second-round grades.”
If Pryor and Ward are off the board, and if the Packers aren’t enamored with Amaro or Seferian-Jenkins, they could look at an inside linebacker. C.J. Mosley of Alabama is the consensus best inside backer in the draft and will most likely be grabbed in front of the Packers.
Some scouts are high on Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, who is athletic, explosive and possesses excellent range. Mayock said Shazier is a lock to be a late first-round selection. The problem with Shazier, as he showed at Ohio State, is that he’s got a willowy frame and isn’t particularly strong. He had conspicuous trouble dealing with offensive lineman and, for an inside linebacker, that’s a major problem.
Personally, if I was going to take an inside linebacker, it would be Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, who is a flat-out tackling machine. Yes, he doesn’t possesses the “measurables” that the Packers covet: He isn’t fast and he’s slightly short for the position. But Borland isn’t afraid to mix it up with an offensive lineman and he make plays. His productivity is off the charts.
Asked where he projected Borland in the draft, Mayock, in a text to me, said, “Borland has mostly third round grades.”
So, who will the Packers pick?
Good luck figuring that out. Good luck trying to figure out who the Packers will ever pick as long as Ted Thompson is their general manager.
The odds are Thompson will pick someone we never even suspected.
Can you say Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater?
FYI: Mayock, whom I consider the gold standard of NFL draft experts, will conduct his annual mock draft next Wednesday night on the NFL Network, starting at 8.
Mayock’s finest hour as a draft predictor occurred in 2005 when most prognosticators projected Aaron Rodgers being one of the top picks. Instead, Rodgers did a free fall to the Packers at No. 24, precisely where Mayock had predicted.