We are now just one night away from the 2018 NFL draft in Dallas. Every NFL team has it’s draft board set up now.
This is because of all the hard work that the scouts and those in the front office have done, as they have scouted the bowl games, the all-star games (the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl), the NFL Scouting Combine and finally the pro days.
Plus, each team has tried to utilize free agency to lessen the need at certain positions in the draft.
The Green Bay Packers under new general manager Brian Gutekunst certainly did, as he added players like tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Tramon Williams to the team.
The Packers also re-signed cornerback Davon House.
But with the good, comes the bad. The Packers also had to release wide receiver Jordy Nelson, which opens up a need at that position in the draft.
In this, my final mock draft, I am once again using the expertise of NFL scout Chris Landry. As I work through my thought process in selecting players for the Packers, I will utilize Landry’s horizontal draft board (best players regardless of position) and also his various positional draft boards.
Since my association with Landry began several years ago, I have had a decent track record in correctly picking some of the players who the Packers have picked. Yes, getting guidance from a very good NFL scout helps, but sometimes it’s a case of a blind squirrel finding an acorn.
No matter, the Packers have 12 picks in this draft. That includes their own in each of the seven rounds of the draft, plus four compensatory picks (one in fourth round, two in the fifth round and one in the sixth round) and another pick in the seventh round due to a trade with Buffalo.
Plus, because of a trade with the Cleveland Browns to acquire quarterback DeShone Kizer (for cornerback Damarious Randall), the Packers also switched picks with the Browns in the fourth and fifth rounds, which means that the Packers pick first in each round.
On Friday night, the second round pick of the Packers will be announced by Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Kramer.
In my last mock draft, I surmised that another trade might be forthcoming between the Packers and the Browns on draft day. I sincerely believe that is a very good possibility. It may not occur in the manner in which I think it might, but I see John Dorsey having more than one conversation with Gutekunst in the draft to talk about some maneuvering.
And it might not be the Packers trading up in that scenario, but instead trading back.
We shall see.
One of the other things that I see happening is the possibility of adding some former Wisconsin Badgers to the Packers this year.
And I’m not saying that because I’m a homer for the Badgers. It’s because of the relationship between new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine of the Packers and the defensive coordinator of the Badgers, Jim Leonhard.
I wrote about this possibility back in February. I said this in the piece:
Pettine was named head coach of the Browns because of his prowess as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. In five years at that position, four with the New York Jets under head coach Rex Ryan and one with the Buffalo Bills, Pettine always coordinated a top 10 defense.
From 2009 though 2012 with the Jets, his defenses were ranked first, third, fifth and eighth in the NFL in total defense, while in 2013 with the Bills, his defense was ranked 10th in that category.
There was one player who was a constant for Pettine, both as a coordinator and one year as a head coach. That player was safety Jim Leonhard, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Leonhard played under Pettine with the Jets from 2009 through 2011, then again with the Bills in 2013 and then finally with the Browns in 2014, which was Pettine’s first year as head coach.
Leonhard was basically the coach on the field as Pettine put out his defense. Not only that, but Leonhard put out one of the very best defenses in the FBS last season with the Badgers and a number of his former defensive players will be available in this upcoming draft.
Leonhard basically runs the same type of defensive schemes at Wisconsin that Pettine has used with his various teams in the NFL. That is why I believe you will see a Badger or two on the Packers next season. Maybe even more than that, as you will see in the draft below.
Okay, enough of the hot air, it’s time for my final mock draft.
Round 1: Outside Linebacker Marcus Davenport (University of Texas-San Antonio)
Weight: 264 pounds
I have had the Packers picking Marcus Davenport of UTSA with pick No. 14 for three consecutive mock drafts now. In my first mock draft, I had the Packers selecting Harold Landry, who is similar to Davenport in a number of ways, but is smaller.
On his horizontal draft board (best overall players), Landry ranks Davenport at No. 7, so if Davenport is still available at No. 14, the Packers would have to feel fortunate.
Landry also has Davenport ranked No. 2 on his defensive end draft board, behind only Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State.
The only way I could see the Packers not taking Davenport if he still was on the board, is if someone like defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama or guard Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame fell to that point of the draft.
In Green Bay, Davenport would be a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end, similar to the role Julius Peppers had when he was a Packer. The Packers desperately need to invigorate their pass rush, which will undoubtedly help the secondary have more success. Davenport would make a big impact in that regard.
In four years at UTSA, Davenport improved over each of those seasons and had 185 total tackles, 37.5 tackles for a loss, 21.5 sacks, eight passes defended, two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and six forced fumbles.
At the Senior Bowl practices, Davenport struggled at times, but he played well in the game itself, with a sack and a scoop-and-score fumble recovery.
At the combine, Davenport put on quite a show, when he ran a 4.58 40, which is remarkable for a man his size.
This is the scouting report Landry put out on Davenport:
Very raw but an explosive and long pass rusher who can play in a two or three point stance. Love his first step quickness and shows an ability to transfer speed to power. At this point is a first move pass rusher only but will technique development should be a force as a pass rusher in the league. I like his effort and play strength against the run but will need to improve his upper body strength for that to translate as well to the NFL level. He will also have to transition to playing more effectively from a 3-point stance as he loses leverage getting too high. I love his length and body frame. Built like a player I drafted years back in Jevon Kearse but long levered like Jadeveon Clowney. Has the quickness to drop but lacks coverage understanding and instincts. Love his edge and closing speed along with his motor. Best edge speed rusher in this draft with lots of upside.
Round 2: Cornerback Anthony Averett (Alabama)
Weight: 183 pounds
Landry has Anthony Averett of Alabama listed eighth on his cornerback draft board, but gives him the same grade as Isaiah Oliver of Colorado (fifth), Donte’ Jackson of LSU (sixth) and Carlton Davis of Auburn (seventh).
Averett of started 27 games in his junior and senior seasons with the Crimson Tide. In those two seasons, he had 96 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two sacks, one interception, 16 passes defended and two forced fumbles.
In his junior year, Averett was named the team’s defensive MVP in their national semifinal win over Washington (eight tackles, one sack and one forced fumble).
Averett has been part of a very talented and deep Alabama defensive backfield in his years in Tuscaloosa.
One of the things that stands out among a number of the defensive backs at Alabama is the great speed that some of them have. Averett is no different, as he ran a 4.36 in the 40 at the combine.
In high school in New Jersey, Averett won state titles in the 55-meter dash and the high jump.
The Packers need to get faster at cornerback. Not only that, but they need to be more physical when they take on opposing wide receivers and running backs. Averett can help out in both cases.
Here is Landry’s scouting report on Averett:
Excellent coverage technique with speed and agility. He does a nice job in press and nice job in “off”. I like his skill set once he improves his strength. Quick burst out of his pedal combined with good long speed. Effective re-routing receivers off the line of scrimmage and plays the ball well in the air. He is quick to fill vs the run and is an outstanding special teams player.
Round 3: Wide Receiver Dante Pettis (Washington)
Weight: 192 pounds
The Packers would love to see a talent like Dante Pettis of Washington available in the third round when it is their time to pick. Landry has Pettis rated No. 46 on his horizontal draft board and No. 4 on his wide receiver draft boards. Other scouts do not have Pettis rated this high.
Pettis is a multi-talented player, who is not only an excellent receiver, but also a very good punt returner.
In four years as a Husky, Pettis had 163 receptions for 2,256 yards and 24 touchdowns. In addition to that, Pettis returned 90 punts for 1,274 yards and had a whopping nine touchdowns.
During a pro day-style workout, Pettis ran a 4.45 in the 40, had a 36-inch vertical jump, had a 127-inch broad jump and did a 6.72-second run through the three-cone drill.
Pettis comes from a very athletic family, as his father is Gary Pettis, a five-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder, when he played major league baseball.
The Packers need to add another threat at wide receiver after losing Nelson, plus they would be able to add a very dangerous put returner as well.
Here is Landry’s scouting report on Pettis:
Shows explosive acceleration to separate from zone or man. Smooth releasing off line of scrimmage and possesses outstanding run after catch skills. Has elite return skills that will get him on the field early while he learns the nuances of route tree. His hands and catching radius are good, quickness exceptional and plays with good instincts. Lean frame that needs to add bulk and will need to improve his fight for ball in traffic.
Round 4: Cornerback Tony Brown (Alabama)
Weight: 198 pounds
Landry has Tony Brown rated at No. 9 on his cornerback draft board and No. 94 on his horizontal draft board, which is essentially a late third-round grade. Other scouts have Brown rated in the same approximate area, while others have Brown rated lower.
When you look at the statistics, Brown of doesn’t stick out to you, sort of like his teammate Averett. One reason was because he was part of a very talented defensive backfield. Plus, he was a part-time starter and who also filled the role of the nickelback.
In his career with the Crimson Tide, Brown had 86 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, three interceptions (including one in the 2018 CFP National Championship Game), five passes defended and one forced fumble.
But there is a lot more to like about Brown. For one, he is very fast, again just like Averett. Brown ran a 4.35 at the combine, plus he earned first team All-America honors in track and field in the spring of 2015 in the 4×400 meter relay .
Brown is also a stalwart on special teams and is a very good tackler in run support.
Bad tackling and a lack of speed have become issues in the Green Bay secondary, plus it’s always a plus to improve special teams, which is why Brown would be a great value here.
This is what Landry said about Brown in his scouting report:
A one-year starter at Alabama, Brown was featured at the “Star” position on the Alabama depth chart as a nickel defender and the first defensive back off the bench. He lined up primarily inside when the Tide had three cornerbacks on the field, occasionally moving outside, playing both press and zone coverages. Brown has blur speed and adequate size/length to match up with any type of receiver and make plays on special teams coverages. While he has the wheels for a starting cornerback, he often plays out of control and his inefficient lower body mechanics are an issue mid-transition. His poor ball production (eight passes defended, three interceptions) shows on tape, lacking the instincts to turn, locate and make plays on the football downfield. Overall, Brown has the body type and raw speed that belong in the NFL, but he has relied on his natural gifts to get the job done much of his life and needs to buy into honing his technique (and adapting a professional approach) if he has any chance in the NFL.
Round 4 (compensatory): Offensive Tackle Jamarco Jones (Ohio State)
Weight: 299 pounds
Landry has offensive tackle Jamarco Jones of Ohio State ranked No. 125 on his horizontal draft board and No. 12 on his offensive tackle board.
Jones learned behind Taylor Decker his first two years as a Buckeye. Jones still played in 23 games though and was used quite a bit as the sixth offensive lineman for the team.
But once he became a starter, Jones earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as the starting left tackle for the Bucks in 2016.
Then in 2017, Jones was named first-team all-conference honors as a senior, starting all 14 games at left tackle for the Big Ten Champion Buckeyes.
The Packers need to add solid depth at offensive tackle, mostly due to all the injuries the team has had at that position. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga has certainly had his share of injuries (hip, knee and ankle) over the years. When healthy, No. 75 is one of the best right tackles in the NFL, but once again in 2017, the injury curse struck, as Bulaga tore his ACL in Week 5, which cost him the rest of the season.
Bulaga has missed 43 games due to injury in his eight years with the Packers.
The backups to Bulaga and left tackle David Bahktiaria (one of the best in the NFL) didn’t fare much better. Jason Spriggs (knee) and Kyle Murphy (left foot) only played in 10 games combined in 2017 due to injuries.
Here is Landry’s scouting report on Jones:
Athletic feet in pass pro to reset and react to movement…wide base with efficient pace to his slide…rarely beaten by edge speed alone…quick to answer counter moves…looks comfortable at the second level and sustains in space…drops his hips and runs his feet to create movement in the run game…
Ties up defenders, but doesn’t overwhelm anyone…core strength issues at the point of attack…doesn’t have pop in his punch to shock or redirect rushers…long legs, high cut and locked hips…rushers take advantage of his leaning and overeager pass-sets…hard outside shuffle and late to protect vs. inside moves…struggles to retrace his steps…late cutting off the linebacker at the second level…inconsistent angles on reach blocks…hand placement is improved, but he is more novice than expert in this area…defaults to grabbing once rushers gain an inch. Jones isn’t a dominating blocker, but he gets in the way and finds ways to keep his man occupied, projecting as a down-the-road starter once his technique and functional strength improve.
Round 5: Center/Guard Will Clapp (LSU)
Weight: 314 pounds
Landry gave Will Clapp of LSU a late fourth-round grade, which mean the Packers would have a nice opportunity to grab him with the first pick of the fifth round.
Clapp is also ranked No. 5 on Landry’s center draft board. The former Tiger can also play guard, which is a big plus. That means he can be the backup center to Corey Linsley in Green Bay, plus can possibly start right away at right guard.
In three years at LSU, Clapp shined at both center and guard. He started all 13 games at center in 2017, which got him first-team All-SEC notice. In 2016, Clapp was named first-team all-conference at left guard in 11 games. As a redshirt freshman, Clapp started all 12 games (11 at right guard, one at left guard) for the Tigers. The New Orleans native received multiple freshman All-American accolades honors from various outlets.
At the combine, Clapp had 25 reps in the bench press drill.
Living in the Baton Rouge area, Landry knows all about the LSU players. Here is his scouting report on the former Tiger, in which he pulls no punches about Clapp:
Tough, smart kid who’s limited skill set shows up on tape repeatedly. He is a below average athlete lacking upper body strength, limiting his ability at the point of attack. He doesn’t see or feel defensive pressure often losing leverage. He has some versatility but does nothing consistently well. His overall lack of balance and body control limits him.
Even with that somewhat scathing report by Landry, Clapp has earned first-team All-SEC honors for two years in a row at both center and guard. The kid must be doing something right.
Round 5 (compensatory): Tight End Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin)
Weight: 248 pounds
Landry has Troy Fumagalli of Wisconsin rated at No. 154 on his horizontal draft board (late fourth round) and No. 6 on his tight end draft board.
In four years as a Badger, Fumagalli had 135 receptions for 1,627 yards and seven touchdowns. After the 2017 season, in which he had 38 receptions for 478 yards and four touchdowns, No. 81 was named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and second-team All-Big Ten by the media. In addition to that, Fumagalli won the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award in the Big Ten.
In 2016, Fumagalli was named second-team All-Big Ten, plus was named Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP, as he caught six throws for 83 yards and a touchdown in the 24-16 victory over Western Michigan.
It’s important to note that Fumagalli has only nine fingers, as he lost the index finger on his left hand at birth. Still, Fumagalli estimated that he dropped only one pass per season as a Badger.
Right now, the Packers only have two tight ends on their roster with NFL experience. Graham and Lance Kendricks (another former Badger).
This is Landry’s scouting report on Fumagalli:
Productive player. Like his release and route running skills. Good hands. Adjusts well to ball and will compete in crowd. Works to block and decent RAC skills. Frame needs development. Narrow based as blocker. One speed runner lacking burst and vertical speed. Nifty H back type who needs to develop strength to play effectively as Y. Like his ability in short passing game and as receiver but not an explosive flex player.
Round 5 (compensatory): Wide Receiver Daurice Fountain (Iowa)
Weight: 210 pounds
Daurice Fountain’s hometown is Madison, Wisconsin, where he went to James Madison Memorial High School, where he was named first-team All-State at wide receiver.
In four seasons at Northern Iowa, Fountain caught 150 passes for 2,077 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Landry said this about Fountain after he was named Offensive MVP in the East-West Shrine Game, as he had three receptions for 61 yards (20.3 average).
Speed was not an issue for Fountain, and neither was catching the ball. Fountain caught the ball very well, except he was doing it at full speed, down the field and running past defenders. I was also impressed by his feistiness and willingness to compete. He leaves Shrine week with a draft grade a full round higher than the one he arrived with in St. Petersburg.
Landry also said this about Fountain in his scouting report:
Good length and leaping skills who can adjust to ball with good ball tracking skills. strong acceleration out of his plant. gains proper route depth. lacks strength–struggles vs jam. Doesn’t know how to properly stem his routes. Although he is far from a finished product, Fountain has an intriguing blend of play speed, body control and quick hands to pluck the ball away from his body. To survive in the NFL, he needs to be more physical to the football and improve his play strength.
Round 6: Linebacker Jack Cichy (Wisconsin)
Weight: 234 pounds
Landry has Jack Cichy of Wisconsin ranked No. 32 on his linebacker draft board and has given him a seventh-round to priority free agent grade.
This grade has everything to do with Cichy’s injury history and not his playing ability.
In 2016, Cichy was playing at a very high level when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle which ended his season. Up until that point, Landry called Cichy the best player on the Badgers that season, even though the Badgers also had a player by the name of T.J. Watt on their defense.
Cichy couldn’t play in 2017 because of a torn ACL.
In 19 games as a sophomore and junior, Cichy had 120 total tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, six passes defended and two forced fumbles.
“Three-Sack Jack” made a name for himself in the 2015 Holiday Bowl, when he had consecutive sacks on three straight plays, as Wisconsin beat USC 23-21.
Cichy can play inside or outside in the 3-4 scheme, but has been more effective inside.
If healthy, Cichy would be an outstanding partner at inside linebacker with Blake Martinez, who had an outstanding 2017 season for the Packers.
Cichy only did the bench press drill (18 reps) at the combine, but looked very good at the Wisconsin pro day, as he ran a 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle, which would have placed him fourth among linebackers at the combine. Plus, Cichy ran 6.88-second three-cone drill, which would have placed him fifth among linebackers.
Although Landry graded Cichy low because of his medical issues, you can see in his scouting report that he feels “Three-Sack Jack” can be special when healthy:
A two-year starter at Wisconsin, Cichy moved from outside to inside linebacker as a sophomore and was a budding star in the Badgers’ 3-4 scheme before two devastating injuries. Over the last two seasons (28 games), Cichy has appeared in only seven games and hasn’t played a snap since October 2016. When healthy, Cichy competes with a quick trigger and shows off his impressive blend of athleticism and smarts. He fits all the stereotypes of a former walk-on with his non-stop hustle and enormous chip on his shoulder and his football character will instantly endear him to NFL teams. Overall, Cichy is a loose athlete with outstanding instincts, toughness and finishing skills to be a starting NFL linebacker, but his draft projection will be reliant on the medical examinations.
Round 6 (compensatory): Running Back Justin Jackson (Northwestern)
Weight: 193 pounds
In four seasons at Northwestern, Jackson rushed for 5,440 yards and 41 touchdowns, plus caught 122 passes for 858 yards and another score.
Jackson was named honorable mention All-Big Ten his freshman year as a Wildcat, plus was named second-team All-Big Ten in his three remaining years at Northwestern.
Jackson also played in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game, where he rushed for 39 yards in just seven carries. Jackson also caught five passes for 17 yards.
Jackson ran a 4.52 in the 40 at the combine, plus did 13 reps on the bench press, jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical jump, leaped 122 inches in the broad jump, ran 6.81 seconds in the 3 cone drill, ran 4.07 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and ran 11.06 in the 60-yard shuttle.
The Packers invigorated their running attack last season, as two rookies (Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones) stood out. The other rookie who was drafted last season, Devante Mays, did not fare well when given limited opportunities (two fumbles).
Ty Montgomery has been too injury prone, both at running back and wide receiver. I see Montgomery being used primarily as a receiver in 2018.
Adding a back like Jackson make sense, because he not only adds to the depth at RB, but also because he is made for the type of offense that the Packers run.
Here is Landry’s scouting report on Jackson:
Lacks the size for a power back and the speed of a smaller back. I do like his run skills—vision, patience, anticipation and short area quickness. He is a very durable player but needs to improve his skills in the passing game. Back end roster guys who can stick due to toughness and run skills but limited athletically to be anything more.
Round 7: Safety Natrell Jamerson (Wisconsin)
Weight: 198 pounds
I know what some of you are thinking. Another Badger? But what is there not to like about a player like Natrell Jamerson late in the draft?
Jamerson really helped himself with a solid senior season at Wisconsin, as the safety had 51 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions (one for a touchdown) and 10 passes defended.
Jamerson also has experience at cornerback as well, as he played there as a sophomore and as a junior.
The secondary of the Packers was a mess in 2017. The safeties did not exactly stand out either. Morgan Burnett left via free agency. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix took a definite step back with his play last season and rookie Josh Jones missed way too many assignments. Kentrell Brice has not exactly shined when given the opportunity to play either.
Landry said this about Jamerson after the opening day of practice at the East-West Shrine Game:
Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson had an impressive opening day. In the team scrimmage, he flew across the field to track down an interception in front of a receiver and cornerback. It was a very nice play as Jamerson showed speed and an ability to track the ball. Jamerson (6-0, 198) is a versatile athlete who could end up really helping himself this week.
Jamerson was named Defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, as he scooped up a fumble and ran it back 68 yards for a touchdown.
At the combine, Jamerson ran a 4.40 in the 40 and had 25 reps in the bench press.
Here is Landry’s scouting report on Jamerson:
A one-year starter at Wisconsin, Jamerson moved from wideout to cornerback early in 2015 and made a seamless transition to free safety in 2017, handling centerfield duties as the last line of defense. He wasn’t a playmaker who leaped off the film, but he wasn’t out of position either with the speed and want-to for the safety position. Jamerson is comfortable covering slot receivers with the coordinated lower body to stay on top of routes. There are no questions about his weight room strength, but his lack of size shows up on tape vs. both the run and pass. Overall, Jamerson has the secondary versatility to earn a spot at the back-end of a NFL roster, especially with his presence as a gunner on special teams.
Round 7 (compensatory): Outside Linebacker Darius Jackson (Jacksonville State)
Weight: 242 pounds
Landry ranked Darius Jackson of Jacksonville State 35th on his linebacker draft board and like Cichy, gave him a seventh-round to priority free agent value.
No matter the grade, the talent is definitely there. Jackson won the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.
In those two seasons combined, Jackson had 103 tackles, 36 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks.
Jackson only ran a 4.87 40 at the combine. But at his pro day, Jackson was better in almost all of the drills he did at the combine, including the 40, as he ran a 4.76.
Still, Jackson is another player who can certainly rush the passer and if nothing else would be a dynamic addition to special teams.
Here is the scouting report on Jackson by Landry:
A three-year starter at Jacksonville State, Jackson was an ideal fit as the hybrid “Bandit” pass rusher in the Gamecocks versatile front, rushing standing up and with his hand on the ground. He (and his classic neckroll) lived in the opponent’s backfield and is the school’s all-time leader in sacks, tackles for loss and negative yardage, earning OVC Defensive Player of the Year honors his junior and senior seasons. He is a quick player in everything he does, but is more of a face-up rusher than natural bender, which will limit the ways he can attack the pocket in the NFL. Overall, Jackson is a fierce competitor and relies on his relentless energy, but his hand placement and timing are the keys to unlocking his pass rush skills in the NFL – late-round developmental prospect.