This shouldn’t come as much a surprise to die-hard cheese heads because General Manager Ted Thompson and the Packers have always banked their future on the NFL Draft and the ensuing development of young talent.
Green Bay snatched up it’s best two players in QB Aaron Rodgers (’05 draft) and LB Clay Matthews (’09) via the annual selection of college players and they haven’t turned back since while finding countless value-picks in the Thompson era.
There are really only two ways to guess what player a team will draft in the first round. They will either go with one of their primary positional needs or they will pick the best player available (BPA). For this preview’s purpose, we will lean towards the positional needs theory because the Packers have a few pressing needs at key positions.
Top Candidate: UCLA DE Datone Jones
Last year’s second round pick Jerel Worthy tore his ACL late last season which leaves only three legitimate starters (Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji and C.J. Wilson) on a line that was a bit inconsistent at pressuring an opposing quarterback in 2012. The Packers went with defensive end Nick Perry with their first pick last year, but Perry has appeared to be a better fit at linebacker than as a true edge-rusher. Jones has exceptional burst and would be a contributor right away in a very young Green Bay defense.
Top Candidate: Florida State OT Menelik Watson
Rodgers is about to become the highest paid man in NFL history and the Packers would be downright stupid not to protect an investment like that. Watson doesn’t rate as a first-round pick, but considering the Green Bay Packers spot at 26th overall, it wouldn’t be a bad pick at all. Marshall Newhouse showed improvement at the left tackle position last year, but Derek Sherrod’s return from a broken leg makes you wonder about the right tackle spot. There’s no doubt that the Packers will pick an offensive lineman or two in the 2013 NFL Draft and Watson could be the first one right away in the first round.
Top Candidate: Florida S Matt Elam
Elam is the kind of player who the Packers really need on defense. He’s an absolute ball-hawk and he would receive playing time right away while complementing starter Morgan Burnett. 2012 rookie Jerron McMillian is a solid player, but not necessarily an every-down player just yet. Moreover, Elam flashed his hard-hitting mentality at Florida and at best could have Packers Nation conjuring up memories of Nick Collins.
Based on the Packers current needs, these are the three guys that fans should root for tonight in the opening round of the 2013 NFL Draft. As I mentioned above, Thompson could decide to go BPA and completely wipe out any of the above mentioned candidates.
Paul Banks of The Sports Bank has the Green Bay Packers picking safety Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas in his final mock draft.
The Green Bay Packers entire draft history can be found here at Pro Football Reference.com
Who do you think the Green Bay Packers will pick with their first overall pick? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at email@example.com.
Pictures obtained from jerseyal.com and xfinity.comcast.com.