GREEN BAY, Wis. – At least for now, the NFL Draft is six weeks away. By now, you know the Green Bay Packers’ primary needs: linebacker, receiver and defensive line top the list. Offensive tackle could join the list, pending free agency and the future of Bryan Bulaga.
This is my sixth mock draft. As always, I played the role of general manager Brian Gutekunst and the Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine handled the rest. (Here is the full mock draft to see who went where and who was on the board.)
First round – Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray. I’ve picked Murray in four of my six mocks. For the first six, I didn’t think Murray (or LSU’s Patrick Queen) would be available at No. 30. Talking to a couple scouts last week, I do think there’s a chance Murray falls into Green Bay’s hands. Murray would bring speed, production and maturity to the middle of Green Bay’s defense. He’d be a work in the progress in coverage – he generally was put in attack mode at Oklahoma – but there’s no reason that can’t become a strength. Also considered: Nobody.
Second round – Connecticut OT Matthew Peart. In past mocks, I’ve gone with the belief that Bulaga would be back. However, with a report that Bulaga might fetch $12 million per season, I’d guess that door is closed. Re-signing Jared Veldheer would be an excellent stopgap. But, even with that, there is long-term uncertainty with left tackle David Bakhtiari entering his final season under contract. Peart, a native of Jamaica, was a four-year starter for the Huskies. Pro Football Focus charged him with two sacks and seven total pressures last year. Also considered: OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State; S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne.
Third round – Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool. Gutekunst loves big receivers. What’s better than a big receiver? How about big and fast. At 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, scouts wanted Claypool to work out at tight end at the Scouting Combine. Instead, he ran his 40 in 4.42 seconds to put an end to that. A native of British Columbia, he caught 66 passes for 1,037 yards (15.7 average) and 13 touchdowns during a monster senior season. According to PFF, he was third in the nation with 16 deep receptions. His size and blocking skill would make him an excellent fit. Also considered: Nobody.
Fourth round – Missouri DL Jordan Elliott. In two years at Mizzou, Elliott recorded 5.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for losses. In 2019, he had 2.5 sacks and career highs of 44 tackles and 8.5 tackles for losses to earn second-team All-American. At this point, he’s better vs. the run than the pass – which is just fine for what Green Bay needs. Also considered: Nobody.
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Fifth round – Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden. In 2010, the Packers used a second-round pick on Randall Cobb, a receiver who moonlighted at quarterback at Kentucky. It’s the same story for Bowden, an electric playmaker who wound up at quarterback in 2019. He rushed for 1,468 yards, led the nation with 7.9 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns. In 2018, he played receiver and caught 67 passes for 745 yards and five touchdowns. According to Sports Info Solutions, he averaged 7.9 YAC in 2018. Also considered: Florida Atlantic TE Harrison Bryant.
Sixth round – Mississippi State OL Darryl Williams. The Packers hit a home run in the second round last year with Elgton Jenkins, who went from guard to center at Mississippi State. Williams took the same guard-to-center path. In three seasons as a starter, he allowed just two sacks, according to PFF. His skill-set is right out of zone-scheme central casting. Also considered: UCLA RB Joshua Kelley.
Sixth round – Clemson S Tanner Muse. Muse was a third-team All-American and team captain as a senior, when he recorded a career-high four interceptions along with 73 tackles, six tackles for losses and seven total passes defensed. He closed his career with seven picks and 237 tackles. Who cares about that, though? At 6-foot-2 and 227 pounds, he ran his 40 in 4.41 seconds. With that, he’d fit perfectly as a dime linebacker. Also considered: Nobody. (Note, Colorado LB Davion Taylor was still available but I’m relatively certain he won’t last past Day 2 so I intentionally skipped him.)
Sixth round – South Carolina State OT Alex Taylor. At Moncks Corner (S.C.) High School, Taylor was a basketball player. He didn’t play football until his junior year at Moncks Corner. In 2015, he redshirted at Appalachian State. When his position coach left, Taylor left, too. He went to South Carolina State – and returned to basketball for the 2017-18 season. In 2018, he became a full-time football player. According to PFF, he allowed two sacks last year. He has as much upside as any lineman in the draft. Also considered: Utah QB Tyler Huntley, Oregon TE Jacob Breeland, Tulsa OLB Trevis Gipson, Wyoming LB Logan Wilson.
Seventh round – Wyoming LB Logan Wilson. Wilson earned All-American honors and was one of six finalists for the Butkus Award as a senior. Among active players, the three-year team captain ranked No. 1 in career defensive touchdowns (4), No. 1 in solo tackles (253), No. 2 in total tackles (421) and No. 6 in interceptions (10). At 6-foot-2 and 241 pounds, he has size and above-average athleticism (4.63 in the 40). Also considered: Nobody, since I considered Wilson in the sixth.
Seventh round – Virginia WR Joe Reed. Reed caught 52 passes in his first three seasons but 77 passes for 679 yards (8.8 average) and seven touchdowns as a senior. Don’t let that meager average suggest he’s not explosive. He was a huge threat on kickoff returns with career marks of 28.7 yards per runback and five touchdowns. As a senior, he was a first-team All-American with a 33.2-yard average and a pair of scores. At 6-foot and 224 pounds, he ran his 40 in 4.47. Also considered: Other WRs, such as SMU’s James Proche.