The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine is over. Which means it’s time for my second mock draft for the Green Bay Packers. For those of you who are interested, here is my initial mock draft.
As I do with all of my draft stories and my mock drafts in general, I’m going to be relying on the information and insight I have gotten from NFL scout Chris Landry.
The input I have received from Landry has been very helpful in giving me a pretty good track record over the years in terms of correctly identifying players who Ted Thompson and the Packers will select in the draft.
For instance, last year I was correct in my projection that both both cornerback Quinten Rollins and linebacker Jake Ryan would be selected by the Packers in my final mock draft last year.
The Packers currently have picks in all seven rounds of the 2016 NFL draft, plus are expected to receive two compensatory picks for the losses of Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency.
As I did in my first mock draft, I am projecting that the compensatory picks will garner the Packers an extra selection in the fourth round and also in the fifth round.
Okay, it’s time for my post-combine 2016 NFL mock draft for the Pack.
Round 1: Linebacker Reggie Ragland (Alabama)
Weight: 247 pounds
The Packers will have a number of options in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL draft, but if linebacker Reggie Ragland of Alabama is still on the board at pick No. 27, the Packers should not hesitate to select him. Chris Landry sees him as the best inside linebacker in the draft.
“Well, I think Reggie Ragland is a better version of C.J. Mosley,” Landry told me last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “He’s got great range. I do think he’s a three-down linebacker. I think he can do a lot in blitz looks as well. He’s going to be an outstanding player.
“And with the linebackers coming up, I’ll give a sneak preview, he’s going to be first round-graded guy (6.5). I think he’ll be in the mid-first round area. I know what you want to know, and I can’t really say if he will or will not be available, as I think it’s going to be close, but I think he would be a great pick if he was there for the Packers.”
In the past two seasons with the Crimson Tide, Ragland had 197 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, 10 pass breakups, one interception, four sacks and three forced fumbles.
Ragland is a downhill, physical linebacker at the point of attack on the inside on running downs, plus can blitz well, both from the inside and outside on passing downs. He also had a good week at the Senior Bowl, as he also showed nice coverage skills.
At the combine, Ragland ran a 4.72 in the 40-yard dash.
Plus, adding to all that, Ragland thinks he will become a member of the Packers, per this story by Chase Goodbread of 24/7 Sports.
“I did meet with them, and they talked to me about that they needed a linebacker on the inside,” said Ragland. “And if they had the opportunity, I think they would. But I’m not sure. It all depends when draft day comes.”
Round 2: Offensive Tackle Willie Beavers (Western Michigan)
Weight: 324 pounds
When it comes to the top rated offensive tackles in the 2016 NFL draft, Chris Landry believes that four of them are sure-fire first round selections. Those players are Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss, Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame, Taylor Decker of Ohio State and Jack Conklin of Michigan State.
There is a good chance that all of them will be selected before the Packers get a chance to select with pick No. 27. But in the second round, the Packers still should be able to get a nice option at the offensive tackle position.
Landry has early second round grades on Jason Spriggs of Indiana and Shon Coleman of Auburn. He has also has mid-to-late second round grades on Willie Beavers of Western Michigan, Le’Raven Clark of Texas Tech and Germain Ifedi of Texas A&M. Looking at those three, Beavers looks to be the best option for the Pack in my opinion.
For one thing, besides having nice size, Beavers has the foot quickness which is needed to play left tackle. Beavers started 40 straight games for Western Michigan at left tackle and he showed that he can be very effective as a zone scheme blocker.
Beavers is also very tenacious and goes all out with both his pass blocking and run blocking. He also has the ability and skill to play other positions on the offensive line.
Beavers held up well playing against the likes of Ohio State and Michigan State in 2015, plus was solid at the Senior Bowl.
Round 3: Tight End Jerell Adams (South Carolina)
Weight: 247 pounds
Even if the Packers can’t snag either Hunter Henry of Arkansas or Austin Hooper of Stanford in the first couple of rounds in the upcoming draft, Green Bay should still have a couple of nice options at the tight end position in the third round.
Chris Landry has Henry (6.5) and Hooper (6.0) rated as his top two tight ends in the draft. He sees Hunter going mid-to-late in the first round and Hooper going mid-to-late in the second round.
Landry has two tight ends with a third round value (5.9). They are Jerell Adams of South Carolina and Nick Vannett of Ohio State.
Vannett is the better blocker of the two, while Adams has more ability to split the seam down the middle of the field. Adams sort of reminds me of Jermichael Finley, which is why the Packers might have some real interest in him.
At the combine, Adams ran a 4.64 in the 40, which is pretty good, considering his size. Adams is a long-strider, but he has the speed and quickness to make big plays in the middle of the field.
Adams also has the ability to break tackles, as he averaged 6.9 after the catch in 2015. In his career as a Gamecock, Adams had 66 receptions for 917 yards (16.3 average) and seven touchdowns.
Adams also works hard as a blocker.
Round 4: Defensive Tackle Hassan Ridgeway (Texas)
Weight: 303 pounds
A number of mock drafts have the Packers taking a defensive tackle in the first round. I could see that happening if the board fell right at pick No. 27, but I think the team has bigger needs depending on who might be available at that point of the first round.
Now I certainly see the Packers taking a defensive tackle in the draft. Green Bay has been busy making sure that they have kept some of their own defensive linemen, as they signed Mike Daniels to a four-year, $41 million deal in mid-December and then last month signed Letroy Guion to a three year deal worth $11.25 million.
The Packers also need to make a decision about B.J. Raji, who will be an unrestricted free agent when free agency starts a week from today. With the signings of Daniels and Guion, plus the nice development of Mike Pennel, not to mention the upside of Christian Ringo, who is currently on the practice squad, Raji has been put in a tough situation.
Pennel has been suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season due to a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Even with that, Raji is still in a difficult spot whether the Packers will re-sign him. Especially looking at the grades that Chris Landry put out for current defensive tackles in the NFL based on the 2015 season, Raji (5.4) was rated lower than both Guion (6.0) and Pennel (6.4).
Which takes me to a player who I believe would be a nice fit for the Packers in the 2016 NFL draft. That player is defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway of Texas. Landry gave Ridgeway (5.5) a fourth round value.
In his career as a Longhorn, Ridgeway had 96 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks. Ridgeway is quick, strong and powerful and can take on double teams.
Ridgeway has flashed some real talent at times and some compare his ability to Kawaan Short of the Carolina Panthers. But for Ridgeway to become the same type of player Short has become, he has to work on his conditioning and become more consistent.
Round 4 (compensatory): Offensive Tackle Joe Haeg (North Dakota State)
Weight: 304 pounds
Even though the Packers drafted an offensive tackle earlier in this mock draft, it would be wise to add even more depth at the position. All one has to do is remember the late-season game against the Arizona Cardinals, when quarterback Aaron Rodgers was hit 12 times, sacked eight times and fumbled three times (two of which were returned for touchdowns). The backup to Rodgers, Scott Tolzien, was also sacked.
The main reason for all the mayhem that day was the shoddy play by the backup offensive tackles. Add to that, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is very solid when he’s available, has now missed 38 games due to injury in his six-year career.
Plus, left tackle David Bakhtiari played on a bad knee almost all of the 2015 season, plus had an ankle injury late in the year.
One offensive tackle who the Packers might be able to scoop up in the fourth round is Joe Haeg of North Dakota State. Chris Landry has Haeg (5.5) rated with a fourth round value.
Like Beavers, Haeg is very athletic and moves his feet well. Haeg can play both tackle positions, as he played 29 games at right tackle and 32 at left tackle. He fits in well in the zone blocking scheme.
Even though Haeg went to a non-FBS school, he was named as an All-American both in his junior and senior years, plus was named the Top Collegiate Offensive Lineman award from the FCS Athletic Directors Association in 2015.
Haeg has the frame to add more bulk, plus he will need some time in the weight room to add more strength as he grows into the pro game.
Round 5: Running Back Daniel Lasco (Cal)
Weight: 209 pounds
If he is deemed healthy, Daniel Lasco of Cal could be a perfect fit for the Packers at running back in the upcoming draft. To me, Lasco is sort of a poor man’s Matt Forte.
Speaking of Forte, I would not be surprised to see the Packers go after him in free agency, as I wrote in a recent article.
Chris Landry has Lasco (5.5) rated with a fourth round value. The main reason why Lasco may last until the fifth round or later is his injury history. When healthy, Lasco is an outstanding running back, both in toting the rock and also catching the ball.
Lasco ran a 40 time of 4.46 at the combine, plus led everyone with a 41.5 inch vertical jump. He is a classic zone scheme runner. who plants a foot in the ground and heads up field quickly. His best year at Cal was his junior year, when he rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns, plus he had 33 receptions for 356 more yards and two more scores.
Lasco had ankle and hip issues as a senior, which hampered his production. Still, Lasco has shown that he can be very effective when healthy, plus can really help in the passing game.
In addition to that, Lasco would be an asset to special teams, as he led Cal in tackles on that unit as a true freshman.
Round 5 (compensatory): Quarterback Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
Weight: 218 pounds
It’s expected that backup quarterback Scott Tolzien will be leaving the Packers this offseason, as he will be an unrestricted free agent when free agency starts next week.
Tolzien should be able to get an opportunity as a starter with another NFL team in 2016, as the quarterback play was absolutely brutal at times for a number of teams last season.
Third string quarterback Brett Hundley was brilliant in his chance to shine in the 2015 preseason for the Packers. All told, Hundley posted a passer rating of 129.7 based on 45 completions on 65 attempts for 630 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception last summer.
If Tolzien leaves, Hundley will become the main backup to Aaron Rodgers. That means the Packers will be looking to develop another young quarterback on their roster.
The quarterback who the Packers might just draft could be Kevin Hogan of Stanford. Could you imagine the quarterback room for the Packers if that happened. Green Bay would have three Pac-12 quarterbacks on their roster, as Rodgers went to Cal, while Hundley went to UCLA.
Besides being a Pac-12 quarterback, Hogan shares many of the same traits that both Rodgers and Hundley have. Hogan has a strong arm, plus has excellent mobility.
In four seasons with the Cardinal, Hogan threw 75 touchdown passes versus just 29 picks for 10,091 yards. Hogan also rushed for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Chris Landry has Hogan (5.4) rated with a fifth to sixth round value.
Round 6: Outside Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (Minnesota)
Weight: 232 pounds
One of the players who stood out at the combine was linebacker De’Vondre Campbell of Minnesota, as he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash.
That speed, along with Campbell’s size, look to be a great combination to become an effective rush linebacker in the 3-4 defensive scheme.
Up to this point, Campbell has just scratched the surface with his ability. In three seasons as a Golden Gopher, Campbell had 208 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Campbell was at the East-West Shrine Game and his speed around the edge stood out while rushing the passer during practices. Chris Landry has Campbell (5.4) rated with a fifth to sixth round value.
Campbell is a high character guy who can add his athleticism to the special teams units, while he learns the nuances about being a successful 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Round 7: Safety Deon Bush (Miami of FL)
Weight: 199 pounds
There is something about defensive backs who have played for the Miami Hurricanes that Ted Thompson likes. Just ask Sam Shields and LaDarius Gunter. Both were undrafted rookies who still made the roster of the Packers in their first season in the NFL.
There is another Miami player who may make the roster of the Packers in a similar fashion. That player is Deon Bush, although he plays safety, while Shields and Gunter are cornerbacks.
Chris Landry has Bush (5.0) rated with a seventh round to priority free agent value. Bush has good size and ran a 4.64 40 at the combine. Bush also is a very intimidating hitter.
Bush had an up and down senior season at Miami, but he had a very good week at the East-West Shrine Game practices. He looked very good in covering the tight ends, plus was the most consistent safety at the practices in various drills.
In four years as a Hurricane, Bush had 168 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, five sacks, nine forced fumbles, 13 passes broken up and 4 interceptions.