I‘ve never been a big fan of mock drafts, but people seem to love them. So here’s my first effort at predicting what will happen next week. The Packers pick 29th, and while GM Brian Gutekunst will talk about taking the best player available, the reality is he’s going to try to fill a need – just like every GM does every year. That means expect a really big guy or a really fast guy to be the choice when Roger Goodell steps to the podium in Cleveland.
The following are the 28 players I project to be off the board when the Packers finally get around to picking at No. 29 – assuming, of course, that Gutekunst doesn’t make a trade in the opening round for the fourth consecutive April:
|QB||Justin Fields||Ohio St.|
|QB||Trey Lance||North Dakota St.|
|OT||Christian Darrisaw||Virginia Tech|
|OT||Teven Jenkins||Oklahoma St.|
|OT||Alijah Vera Tucker||USC|
|LB||J. Owusu-Koramoah||Notre Dame|
|LB||Micah Parsons||Penn St.|
|CB||Caleb Farley||Virginia Tech|
|CB||Jaycee Horn||South Carolina|
Assuming the above 28 players are no longer options for the Packers at 29, here are 13 more players who would be:
|WR||Elijah Moore||Ole Miss|
|OT||Liam Eichenberg||Notre Dame|
|DE||Jayson Oweh||Penn St.|
|CB||Asante Samuel||Florida St.|
Gutekunst is unpredictable, but there’s no chance he’s taking a running back at No. 29 after re-signing Aaron Jones for $48 million and drafting A.J. Dillon in the second round last year. So forget about Harris. And while the Packers could definitely use help at wide receiver and inside linebacker, the last time either of those positions went in round 1, George W. Bush was in his first term as president. So remove Marshall, both Moores, Toney, and Davis from consideration. It’s never easy to pass up an explosive edge rusher, but Gutekunst spent nearly $120 million and a No. 1 pick (12th overall) on Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary in the past 24 months. Oweh might be very tempting, but it feels like overkill. That leaves, quite conveniently, the three positions that appear to be the Packers’ biggest needs heading into the 2021 season – offensive line, defensive line, and cornerback.
Dickerson is a terrific player, and he’d be an ideal replacement for Corey Linsley, but I just don’t see Gutekunst taking a center this early. Recent Pro Bowlers Linsley and Scott Wells were late-round picks. As for Cosmi and Eichenberg, there could be comparable tackles available when the Packers pick next at 62. And then there were three.
Samuel is a better corner than Campbell, but his lack of size makes me question whether Gutekunst would take him at this point in the draft. And while it’s true he chose another small corner in round 1 two years ago, Jaire Alexander was a special talent who also weighed about 15 pounds more than Samuel. Size isn’t an issue with Campbell (6-2, 190), but he lacks twitch, and that’s a big reason why Josh Jackson has been a disappointment. The memory of that mistake still has to be pretty fresh in Gutekunst’s mind. Barmore is blessed with the talent to be a top-10 pick in most any draft, so the fact that he’s even in the discussion at the end of the first round says a lot.
While I still think it’s more likely that Gutekunst moves up for a corner (Newsome or Farley) that slides into the low to mid-20s, if he stays put at 29, Barmore would seem to make the most sense. Sure he’s a boom or bust player, but a team coming off consecutive trips to the NFC title game can afford to roll the dice late in the first round.
Barmore is more talented than Montravius Adams, but his college tape reminded me of what I thought while watching the former Auburn star prior to the 2017 draft – why isn’t this player better? I saw flashes of greatness from both – more from Barmore – but neither dominated inferior opponents on a consistent basis. Adams, who was drafted late in the third round, went on to play four uninspiring seasons for the Packers before signing a modest one-year contract with the New England Patriots last month. Barmore will almost certainly be more successful than Adams at the next level, and that’s why he’ll be selected a lot earlier. How much more is the question?