We are now less than a week from the start of the 2016 NFL draft. On Thursday night, April 28, the first round of the draft will be held. The question for Packer Nation is, who will Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers select with pick No. 27?
That’s a good question. There are a number of possibilities. But if we just narrow it down to the position of linebacker, whether as an outside linebacker or an inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme that the Packers utilize, the list grows smaller.
The top two linebackers in the draft, Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame and Myles Jack of UCLA will most likely not be options for the Packers at that point.
Smith looks to be a second or third day selection, after it’s been determined that he will miss the entire 2016 season due to the devastating knee injury he suffered during the Fiesta Bowl.
There are all sorts of rumors flying around about the medical status of Jack, but according to scout scout Chris Landry, Jack is still expected to be a top 10 pick, and perhaps even a top five pick.
Speaking of Landry, he has done a horizontal draft board on his fine website, and in it he puts out the various grades he has done on the prospects in the first four rounds of the draft.
In this particular draft board, Landry gives only 19 players 1st round values. That includes Smith and Jack.
In the next round round however, Landry gives a whopping 62 players 2nd round values. Landry breaks it down further and gives 28 of those 62 players early 2nd round value. Included in this group are linebackers Leonard Floyd of Georgia, Darron Lee of Ohio State and Reggie Ragland of Alabama.
Landry also gives Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky that same rating, but he classifies Spence as a defensive end. But in Green Bay, Spence would be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
What that means is that some of the players who Landry gives early 2nd round values will be drafted in Round No. 1, especially with only 19 players getting a 1st round value from Landry. And Smith doesn’t look like he will be among that group because of his injury status.
So, if the Packers do decide to select a linebacker with pick No. 27, the choices would come down to Floyd, Lee, Ragland and Spence. All of those players could also be gone by pick No. 27, which would make the Packers look at a different position. Perhaps a defensive lineman.
The 6’6″, 244-pound Floyd projects to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme run by the Packers. Floyd was a three-year starter at Georgia, where he had 184 tackles, 28.5 tackles for losses and 17 sacks.
Floyd has excellent speed for his size, as he ran a 4.6 in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has used that speed, both in rushing the passer and also in coverage when he was asked to do so as a Bulldog. Floyd is also considered a good tackler.
The 6’1″, 232-pound Lee is athletic as any linebacker in this year’s draft. Lee could play any of the linebacker positions in the 3-4 scheme used by the Pack, but would most likely be used an inside linebacker.
Lee ran a 4.47 in the 40 at the combine and looked very good in the other drills as well. In the two years he started at Ohio State, Lee was very versatile in playing the run, rushing the passer and being used in coverage. He had 147 tackles, 27.5 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks and three interceptions in 2014 and 2015.
I had another opportunity to talk with Landry this week on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show. I wanted to get his take on both Floyd and Lee.
“Leonard Floyd to me is an intriguing guy,” Landry said. “He’s a little thin-waist. I think he’s really athletic. He reminds me a little of Kiki Mingo coming out of LSU. Maybe a little bit of Eli Harold.
“He’s got good edge rush speed at 6’6″, 244, and he can really run.”
Landry then turned his thoughts to Lee.
“Darron Lee, who I like an awful lot as well, is really explosive,” Landry said. “To me, he is like Kwon Alexander. He’s athletic. He’s got a little bit of Thomas Davis in him as well.
“He can play all the linebacker positions. He’s really, really athletic. He’s got the frame to get a little bit bigger. He shows some ability on the blitz. I think he’s a 4-3 Will, but he can play in a 3-4.
“He’s got great versatility, in that he can stay on the field for three downs. He can play in pursuit, cover and even rush the passer.”
So, when does Landry expect Floyd and Lee to be selected in the upcoming draft?
“I expect both of them to be off the board late in that first-round area,” Landry said. “With high second-round, 6.4 grades. Those guys are going to have to go, even with high second-round grades, just by the numbers.”