The 2018 NFL draft will take place in about five weeks, as it starts April 26 and will last through April 28. This year the location is AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
This year’s draft process has already taken us through the bowl games, plus the all-star games (the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl) and finally the NFL Scouting Combine.
We are now in the various pro days that the prospects are having.
The Green Bay Packers go into this draft knowing that they will have 12 picks, which 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.
New general manager Brian Gutekunst will be running his first draft with the Packers. He’s already been quite busy, as earlier this month he traded cornerback Damarious Randall for quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Cleveland Browns, plus the teams swapped picks in both the fourth and fifth rounds.
That trade means that the Packers will have the first pick in both the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2018 NFL draft and that the Packers will most likely not select a quarterback in the draft.
Then a few days after that, the Packers released wide receiver Jordy Nelson and then signed tight end Jimmy Graham, as well as defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in free agency.
The deal for Graham is a three-year pact worth $30 million, while Wilkerson signed a one-year deal worth $5 million, plus $3 million in incentives.
Nelson landed on hist feet in Oakland, where he signed a two-year contract worth $15 million.
The Packers had another departure, as safety Morgan Burnett signed a three-year deal worth reportedly $14.5 million with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.
I did my first mock draft for the Packers a couple weeks ago just as the NFL combine was ending. In this mock draft, I will not be selecting any of the players I selected in the first mock draft.
As usual, I will utilize the expertise and knowledge of NFL scout Chris Landry. I will use his horizontal draft board to guide me through much of this draft, plus I will use the draft boards he has put together for the various positions.
Also, like in the first mock draft, I’m going to emphasize the connection between new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Jim Leonhard of the Wisconsin Badgers.
I believe that the history between the two men, plus knowing Wisconsin had a number of talented players who played under Leonhard and are now eligible for this draft, could mean that the Packers might add a Badger or two in this draft.
While Pettine was the defensive coordinator for both the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, plus when he was in his first year as head coach of the Browns, Leonhard played safety for him for five of those six years. Leonhard was like a coach on the field for Pettine.
All that being said, without further adieu, here is my second mock draft for the Pack.
Round 1: Outside Linebacker Marcus Davenport (University of Texas-San Antonio)
Weight: 264 pounds
The Packers would have to feel very fortunate if Marcus Davenport is still on the board with pick No. 14 of the first round. On his horizontal draft board (best overall players), Landry ranks Davenport at No. 7.
Landry also has Davenport ranked No. 2 on his defensive end draft board, behind only Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State.
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 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 Isaiah Oliver (Colorado)
Weight: 201 pounds
Landry gave Isaiah Oliver of Colorado a mid-to-late second round grade on his horizontal draft board.
Overall, Landry has Oliver ranked No. 5 on his cornerback draft board, behind only Denzel Ward of Ohio State, Mike Hughes of Central Florida, Josh Jackson of Iowa and Jaire Alexander of Louisville.
The Packers really need to add to the quality depth of the cornerback position in this draft, plus get an immediate starter if at all possible. Oliver could be that type of player for Green Bay, plus he could pair up with Kevin King (6’3″, 200 pounds) to give the Packers two of the bigger CB duos in the NFL.
The former Buffalo was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2017, as he had 27 tackles, two interceptions, and 13 pass breakups.
At the combine, Oliver ran a 4.50 40.
This is what Landry said about Oliver after his performance at his pro day:
Isaiah Oliver performed well during the drills on his pro day on Wednesday.
Oliver didn’t have an outstanding combine, but he wasn’t a disaster. It’ll be more about game tape anyways for the 6-foot, 201-pound cornerback, but it was a quality showing for Oliver on Wednesday in Boulder. Oliver posted 35.5 inches in the vertical jump, 10-foot-6 in the broad jump, 3.94 in the short shuttle and 6.85 in the three-cone.
Round 3: Wide Receiver Deon Cain (Clemson)
Weight: 202 pounds
Landry gave Deon Cain of Clemson a third-round value on his horizontal draft board, plus was ranked No. 9 on Landry’s wide receiver board.
In three years with the Tigers, Cain had 130 receptions for 2,040 yards (15.7 average) and 20 touchdowns.
Cain ran a 4.43 in the 40 at the combine.
With the loss of Nelson, the Packers need to add a receiver or two in this draft, as the future of Randall Cobb is also somewhat cloudy after the 2018 season. Cain would give the Packers a big, fast receiver who can add to the weaponry that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will definitely utilize.
This is what Landry said about Cain at the combine:
Clemson WR Deon Cain ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder possesses an ideal combination of size, speed and route-running, but has struggled with mental mistakes such as drops and false starts over the past two seasons.
David Raih, the wide receivers coach of the Packers, will need to work with Cain on the cognitive part of the game.
Round 4: Running Back Royce Freeman (Oregon)
Weight: 234 pounds
Landry gave running back Royce Freeman of Oregon a third-round grade on his horizontal draft board, but there is a chance he could slip a bit and with the Packers having the first pick of the fourth round, he would definitely be a player the team would consider.
Landry has Freeman ranked No. 8 on his running back draft board.
In four years with the Ducks, Freeman rushed for 5,641 yards (5.9 average) and 60 touchdowns. Freeman also caught 79 passes for 814 yards and four more scores.
As a freshman at Oregon, he was named the Pac-12 Offensive Rookie of the Year and a Freshman All-American with 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground plus added 16 receptions for 158 yards and one touchdown.
Freeman was also first-team All-Pac-12 as a sophomore and second-team All-Pac-12 as a senior.
The Packers were very pleased with the production they received from both Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones as rookies last year at running back. But you can never have enough running backs in the NFL, especially if one is as talented and as versatile as Freeman is, as he has the ability to be a three-down back.
At the combine, Freeman ran 4.54 40 at the combine.
Landry said this about Freeman in February:
Oregon RB Royce Freeman’s draft slot will be heavily dependent on his work at the NFL Scouting Combine. Freeman gets dinged for having a lot of wear on his tires and for accruing his stats in Oregon’s wide-open offense against thin boxes, but the skill set is extremely intriguing. With a strong showing at the combine, Freeman’s stock will soar.
Round 4 (compensatory): Cornerback Nick Nelson (Wisconsin)
Weight: 208 pounds
Landry gave Nick Nelson of Wisconsin a fourth-round value on his horizontal draft board and has him ranked No. 17 on his cornerback draft board.
Nelson played two years for Hawaii before transferring to Wisconsin. In three years combined at both schools, Nelson had 122 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. Nelson did not have any picks, but he did have 41 passes defended.
With the Badgers in 2017, he was named first-team All-Big Ten after after having 35 tackles, 21 passes defended and a blocked kick. Nelson was also the team’s punt returner, as he had 24 returns for 206 yards and one touchdown.
Nelson ran a 4.52 in the 40 at the combine.
Nelson adds to the quality depth at cornerback, plus has the skills to be a future starter. The Packers also need to add a veteran to their young cornerback corp, which also has fourth-year CB Quinten Rollins, who is coming off an Achilles injury. Adding Tramon Williams via free agency would definitely help, as although he is 35, he is still playing well in the secondary (like he did with Arizona last season), plus he has played in the Pettine defensive system in Cleveland.
Landry said this about Nelson recently:
Nelson is not often mentioned among the top corners, but reportedly received a second-round grade from the NFL so evaluators in the league certainly like his game. At 5-foot-11 and 200-pounds, Nelson can likely hang on the outside.
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.
Landry gave Clapp a RED grade, which according to Landry, it means that RED players win for you. They have starter type production at the top level programs. REDS are usually BLUE (top line) in either the running or passing game but fall short in the other. RED players are impact players on top teams.
Round 5 (compensatory): Wide Receiver Allen Lazard (Iowa State)
Weight: 227 pounds
Landry gave Allen Lazard of Iowa State a fourth-round grade on his horizontal draft board. But because the wide receiver class is so deep, there is a real possibility that Lazard will last to the fifth round.
Landry has Lazard ranked No. 20 on his wide receiver draft board.
Lazard had a very productive career with the Cyclones. In four years, he had a whopping 241 receptions for 3,360 yards and 26 touchdowns. Lazard was a four-year starter and was named second-team All-Big 12 as a sophomore and first-team All-Big 12 as a junior and senior (coaches).
And even as big as he is, Lazard averaged 19.5 yards returning punts his sophomore year at Iowa State.
Lazard has great hands and would be a big weapon in the red zone for the Packers, plus has the frame to become a pass-catching tight end if he added some weight.
Lazard surprised some at the combine when he ran a 4.55 in the 40.
Landry said this about Lazard at the combine:
Iowa State WR Allen Lazard ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Lazard (6’5″/225) has plenty of size, but there was some question about his foot speed.
Round 5 (compensatory): Tight End Dalton Schultz (Stanford)
Weight: 242 pounds
Landry did not have Dalton Schultz of Stanford ranked on his horizontal draft board, which is only for fourth round or higher grade players at this point. Schultz is ranked No. 8 on Landry’s tight end draft board and was given a fifth to sixth round value.
Schultz does not have the type of speed (4.75 in the 40 at the combine) to be a threat down the seam, but he does have nice hands and is a very good blocker.
In three years as a member of the Cardinal, Schultz had 55 catches for 555 yards and five touchdowns. Schultz was honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2016 and was named first-team All-Pac-12 in 2017.
The Packers need a tight end who can block and Schultz provides that, plus is a very capable receiver.
Landry said this about Schultz at the combine:
Stanford TE Dalton Schultz ran the 40 yard dash in 4.75 seconds on Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. It ranks around the middle of the pack of the other tight ends, which isn’t a surprise since Schultz (6’5″/244) ranks near the middle of the pack among the position to most analysts.
Round 6: Guard/Tackle Cole Madison (Washington State)
Weight: 313 pounds
Landry has given Cole Madison of Washington State a fourth-round grade, but he could possibly last further into the draft based on other grades he has been given (like NFL.com).
Landry also has Madison ranked No. 9 on his guard draft board, although Madison played right tackle throughout his career at Washington State.
Madison started 47 games at right tackle for the Cougars, as he was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a sophomore and junior at right tackle and then second-team All-Pac-12 at right tackle as a senior.
Madison can add some depth at the right tackle spot behind an injury prone Bryan Bulaga, plus can compete for the starting job at right guard.
Madison had 26 reps in the bench press drill at the combine.
Landry said this about Madison at the Senior Bowl:
Gets the most from his ability. Quick, explosive and fundamentally sound. Blocks with good lean, effectively gets his hands into opponents and controls them at the point. Has not played like a powerhouse or great athlete but gets the job done.
Round 6 (compensatory) Safety Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama)
Weight: 190 pounds
Landry has Jeremy Reaves of South Alabama ranked No. 20 on his safety draft board and with a fifth to sixth round value.
In his career at Alabama State, in which he played both cornerback and safety, Reaves had 301 total tackles, 20.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, eight interceptions, 22 passes defended, two fumble recoveries and eight forced fumbles.
The stats of Reaves tells you exactly what he is, a hitter. A solid tackler as well. Reaves was named first-team All-Sun Belt pick and also the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. Reaves was also first-team All-Sun Belt as a junior and second-team All-Sun Belt as a sophomore.
Reaves adds some needed depth at the safety position, especially in light of the loss of Burnett. The two players in line to replace Burnett as a starter opposite Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice.
Reaves did not run at the combine and will do so at his pro day on April 6.
Round 7: 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.
Round 7 (via trade): 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, which certainly had something to do with his grade.
Still, Jackson is another player who can certainly rush the passer and if nothing else would be a dynamic addition to special teams.