2018 NFL Draft: Green Bay Packers on the clock at No. 14
NFL Draft Scout
When the NFL Draft begins selections in Arlington, Tex., April 26, the Green Bay Packers have the No. 14 pick in the first round.
Here is an in-depth look at the team’s needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com’s experts.
Who would you pick and why?
TOP 5 NEEDS
Cornerback: Opponents had a passer rating of 102.0 against Green Bay in 2017 – the worst mark in franchise history. Opposing quarterbacks also completed 67.8 percent of their passes, which was also the worst mark in franchise history. Amazingly, the Packers have done very little to improve the position. Damarious Randall was traded for quarterback DeShone Kizer and 35-year-old Tramon Williams was signed in free agency. Otherwise, the same cast of characters could be back in 2018.
Outside linebacker: Clay Matthews and Nick Perry will count more than $22 million against the salary cap next season. Even with that duo – who both rank among Green Bay’s top-five paid players – the Packers ranked 17th in sacks (37.0) in 2017. The biggest reason is injuries. Matthews missed nine games over the last two seasons, while Perry has never played 16 games in his six NFL seasons. Holdovers Kyler Fackrell and Vince Biegel have a lot to prove, meaning an infusion of youth and talent are imperative on draft weekend.
Wide receiver: Jordy Nelson was released and signed with Oakland. That should be addition by subtraction. Jeff Janis also signed with Cleveland. That leaves the Packers with Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and not much else. Green Bay needs to add speed to this group in the worst possible way. The Packers also need better depth than the current group of Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and DeAngelo Yancey. Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson was a wizard at drafting wide receivers. We’ll soon find out if new general manager Brian Gutekunst has the same magic.
Safety: The Packers let veteran Morgan Burnett walk in free agency. Returning starter Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a horrendous 2017 season and many believe he quit on his team late in the season. Second-year man Josh Jones was drafted in the second round in 2017 to eventually replace Burnett, but he struggled through a miserable rookie campaign. Kentrell Brice is another in-house candidate that will be given a chance at the job, but Brice missed 10 games last year with ankle and groin injuries. The Packers would love to find another candidate in the draft.
Tackle: Veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga counts $7.9 million against the salary cap in 2018. Bulaga is coming off the second ACL tear of his career and has missed 43 games during an eight-year career. The Packers’ best option might be third-year man Kyle Murphy, who played well early in 2017 before suffering a broken foot. Fellow third-year tackle Jason Spriggs has been a disappointment and also ended 2017 on injured reserve with a dislocated kneecap. Look for the Packers to add at least one more player to the mix.
–BEST FIT: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. Green Bay has one of the worst cornerback situations in football. Now, after striking out in its cornerback quest in the early stages of free agency, the Packers have to address the position early and perhaps often. Fitzpatrick gives Green Bay much needed speed at the position (4.46), is extremely competitive and could play slot corner or outside from Day 1. The Packers might need to move up to take Fitzpatrick, but Green Bay is armed with 12 selections and has the firepower to maneuver on draft night.
–Rob Rang: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. With an aging roster that still ranks among the best in the NFC, new general manager Brian Gutekunst may be looking to make a splash with his first selection. Landry’s numbers plummeted in 2017 after ranking among national leaders in sacks, tackles for loss and fumbles as a junior but his burst and bend off the edge is unparalleled in this class — attributes which Gutekunst may find appealing with Clay Matthews Jr. and Nick Perry each struggling with durability concerns of their own.
–Dane Brugler: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. The Packers are expected to go with either a cornerback or pass rusher at this pick and if that is the case, there will be several options available. However, an easy argument could be made that Landry is the best of the group.
FANS ON THE CLOCK, ON THE RECORD
OK, it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.