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NFL Draft Day 2: Best Available Packers Prospects on Defense

The defensive line group is intact, the edge rushers and linebackers remain strong, and there are several high-quality options for the slot.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have two picks on Friday – No. 62 overall in the second round and No. 92 overall in the third round – and holes on the offensive line, receiver, defensive line and more that demand attention.

Here are the best available players on defense at positions of need. Click here for the best available on offense.

Best Available Defensive Linemen

How bad is this defensive line class? Not a one was selected in the first round on Thursday. That means there are some quality Day 2 options. A scout rightly predicted Alabama’s Christian Barmore would drop out of the first round. How far will the best pass rusher of the group tumble? Milton Williams and UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa are undersized and not for everybody. The most intriguing might be Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon, a Kenosha native, and Odeyingbo, who is coming off a torn ACL and has interior/edge versatility.

  • Christian Barmore, Alabama
  • Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
  • Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
  • Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech
  • Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA
  • Marlon Tuipulotu, USC
  • Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt

Click here for our full rundown of the defensive tackles.


Best Available Outside Linebackers

The Packers selected cornerback Eric Stokes with the 29th pick. Edge rushers closed out the first round, with Gregory Rousseau to Buffalo, Jayson Oweh to Baltimore and Joe Tryon to Tampa Bay. Still, there’s plenty of depth at a low-key position of need. Green Bay is already over next year’s salary cap. It could create $28 million in cap savings by releasing the Smith Bros.

  • Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
  • Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
  • Joseph Ossai, Texas
  • Rashard Weaver, Pittsburgh
  • Quincy Roche, Miami
  • Patrick Jones, Pittsburgh

Click here for our full rundown of the edge rushers/outside linebackers.

Best Available Linebackers

A scout called this the best group of off-the-ball linebackers that he’s every seen, perhaps short of top-level talent but filled with starting possibilities. Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah fell through the first round because he’s a bit of a tweener. There isn’t a bigger contrast in prospects than between Missouri’s Nick Bolton, a phenomenal player with below-average height and athleticism, and Ohio State’s Baron Browning, an incredible athlete who started only nine games in four seasons.

  • Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
  • Jabril Cox, LSU
  • Pete Werner, Ohio State
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  • Nick Bolton, Missouri
  • Baron Browning, Ohio State
  • Chazz Surratt, North Carolina

Click here for our full rundown of the linebackers.

Best Available Cornerbacks

Having used their first-round pick on Stokes, could the Packers double-dip? If so, chances are they’d be looking for more of a slot defender. Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. had four interceptions and 24 passes defensed in 20 games the past two seasons and Central Florida’s Aaron Robinson had three interceptions and 20 passes defensed in 19 games the past two seasons. McPhearson’s family received an unfair number of athletic genes.

  • Asante Samuel, Florida State
  • Aaron Robinson, Central Florida
  • Zech McPhearson, Texas Tech

Click here for our full rundown of the cornerbacks.

Best Available Safeties

(Our plan was to do our giant safeties preview on Thursday but the Aaron Rodgers news intervened. So, we’ll take a bit of a deeper look here.

Trevon Moehrig, TCU (6-0 5/8, 202 pounds; 9 3/4 hands; 4.50 40; 4.19 shuttle; 33 vertical): Moehrig won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and was selected to seven All-American teams during a banner 2020 season. The team captain has a nose for the football. In 2020, he ranked among the national leaders with 1.1 passes defensed per game. He had a hand in nine takeaways over the last two seasons, tied for second-most in the nation.

Versatility is his calling card. According to Pro Football Focus, Moehrig’s snaps were split between slot (313), box (198) and safety (172) in 2020. In two years as a starter, Moehrig had six interceptions and 26 passes defensed. According to Sports Info Solutions, he allowed a catch rate of 50 percent in 2020 and 45 percent in three seasons.

“I definitely feel comfortable and confident playing in the slot,” he said. “Being at TCU, they put me in a lot of positions, coming down in the slot and covering man. They’ve shown me a lot with technique. And then just eye discipline – trusting what you’ve been practicing, trusting what you see on film, trusting your leverage. A lot of things go into it, so going into each day, there’s something to improve on in practice.”

Jevon Holland, Oregon (6-0 5/8, 207; 9 1/8 hands; 4.46 40; 4.16 shuttle; 35.5 vertical): Holland had five interceptions and 11 passes defensed playing mostly off the bench in 2018 and added four interceptions and eight passes defensed in 14 starts in 2019. He opted out of 2020, meaning he had nine interceptions and 16 career starts. His tackling must improve, with a career missed-tackle rate of 15 percent, according to SIS.

He spent 591 snaps in the slot, 179 in the box and just 24 as a traditional safety in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. That should appeal to GM Brian Gutekunst, who attended the Ducks’ pro day.

“I feel I am a versatile player. You can kind of put me into any system and I'm going to thrive,” he said at pro day. “I want to be somebody that coaches and my teammates can rely on and understand I'm somebody that's going to make a play when I'm put out there. I'm going to do my job and help my team win.”

Holland was born in Coquitlam, British Columbia because of his father, Robert Holland, who was a standout in the Canadian Football League. They are part of an athletic family. “I never, never actually stopped to think or to contemplate whether or not there was a difference (between coach and father),” Robert Holland told The Province. “Sometimes it worked out with my relationship with my children and sometimes it didn’t. But I’m only good at being me, and I just really wasn’t interested in trying to figure out what someone else was doing. I was only focused on finding all the positives that I could find to deliver to them, to motivate, encourage, support and move them forward.”

Richie Grant, Central Florida (5-11 5/8, 197; 9 3/8 hands; 4.54 40; 4.27 shuttle; 34.5 vertical): Grant was a three-time all-conference selection with a big-time nose for the football. In 33 starts during those seasons, he had 10 interceptions, 27 passes defensed and seven forced fumbles. He’s a ball magnet.

“[I’ve] got it written down in my notebook,” Grant told The Orlando Sentinel. “I want a turnover every game. I need to do that for my team and also, selfishly, a little bit for myself. But I want a turnover every game. I don’t care if it’s a pick. I don’t care if it’s a forced fumble. It doesn’t matter to me. I just want to create turnovers for my team.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, he allowed a 48 percent catch rate. A bad tackler at the start of his career, he cleaned that up in 2020. As is the case with Moehrig, he lined up everywhere: 145 snaps in the slot, 236 in the box and 225 as a traditional safety, according to PFF.

Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State (6-3 1/4, 215; 9 3/4 hands; DNP 40; 4.27 shuttle: 32 vertical): If the Packers can’t get a linebacker like Owusu-Koramoah, how about a safety like Nasirildeen? In 24 games (15 starts) in 2018 and 2019, he piled up 192 tackles, three interceptions, eight passes defensed and three forced fumbles. He suffered a torn ACL in the final game of the 2019 season and missed all but the final two games of 2020.

"Definitely (emotional), just because when you playing football, doing something your whole life, and it is taken away from you, it is kind of like you don't have it no more," Nasirildeen told the Tallahassee Democrat. "So being able to come back and play, just be on the grass, and practice, do drills, just move around and get to play football, it is a blessing."

In 2019, he played 297 snaps at safety, 239 in the box and 124 in the slot. He is a physical player and good tackler (10 percent missed-tackle rate). Gutekunst was at FSU’s pro day.

“It’s a dream come true,” Nasirildeen told his hometown newspaper. “That’s all I can really say about it: It’s just a dream come true. For something you’ve been working for for a long time, something that seemed impossible, for it to be so close, it’s just a dream come true.”