The Temptations: Four Players That Could Alter Packers First Round Plans

Green Bay Packers fans know that General Manager Ted Thompson espouses the use of the draft to build his football team. He also bases his draft decisions purely on “Best Player Available” regardless of position. Okay – some of the time.

The Packers need-areas are pretty straight-forward: corner back, inside linebacker, D-line and tight end come to mind first.

The draft is sure to yield a quality player as well as an area of need at their current draft position.

Nonetheless there are relatively few players who have true round-one grades and those players are surefire-goners before the Packers pick at #30. The names Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Leonard Williams and Donte Fowler are sure bets to be long-gone before draft-pick -thirty is announced in Chicago on April 30.

Yet for a variety of reasons there are four players who could slip to the Packers who would not represent a position of need but may be too good to pass-up. These are the ultimate ‘temptations’ for the Packers who might exemplify the “Best Player Available”.

Todd Gurley, RB Georgia

What he offers: Gurley is the complete back. Coming into the 2014 season he was the consensus number-one running back in the nation. Big, strong, great vision, quick, powerful, a good pass-catcher and blocker and highly productive. Name it and Gurley does it well.

Why he might slip to #30: Tore his ACL and missed nearly his entire senior season. Returning to what he once was is somewhat in question. There is quality and depth at a position which has not seen a running back taken in the first round since 2012.

Why Ted might pass: Eddie Lacy. Plus dividing playing time between two feature backs serves neither one well. With Aaron Rodgers leading the team, you want the ball in his hands more often than a running back. If Gurley were surprisingly available this late a running back needy team would surely offer “Trader Ted’ an opportunity to trade-down and accumulate valuable extra picks.

Why Ted Must Draft him: The ultimate insurance policy should Lacy be injured – plug him in and you don’t miss a beat. Gurley has more upside than Lacy so he might someday supplant Lacy. Comparisons to Marshawn Lynch are accurate and he could become the go-to guy in Green Bay for years to come. Add Gurley and Packers would be an offensive Juggernaut with youth and depth at all the skill positions. At the very least the competition for playing time with Lacy would be fun to watch.

DeVante Parker, WR Louisville

What he offers: A highly accomplished receiver generally projected as the third best receiver in the draft (Behind Amari Cooper and Kevin White). Makes great route adjustments and has the ability to get open and make plays. Tall with great hands credited with only three drops since 2012. More in Jordy Nelson mold that the Davante Adams mold.

Why he Might Slip to #30: A broken foot in 2014 cost him the first seven game of the season. He reminds me of Michael Crabtree in that he seems to lack consistency. Not yet a capable blocker and has so-so speed. Teams are divided if he will become the go-to guy at the next level. This is a very deep receiving class and behind Cooper and White are several similar talents who could be had in the later rounds.

Why Ted Might Pass: Wide-out is hardly an area of need and it might be tough to get him substantial playing time at the team’s strongest position. Any skill position player chosen in round-one such as WR or RB must include credentials as a proven return man, which Parker does not possess. Broken foot in 2014 may have affected his speed.

Why Ted Must Draft him: You can never have enough talented and accomplished receivers and Parker is a perfect fit for the West Coast offense. A master of making big plays catching the slant-and-go. Could coach him up and develop him over time and he could become the steal of the draft. Insurance against injuries and the Packers would field the best four-wide-out sets in league for MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Ereck Flowers, OT Miami

What he offers: A mauler with impressive athleticism. Great in a zone blocking scheme such as what the Packers run. Light on his feet he would be able to clear huge running-lanes for feature back Eddie Lacy. Features a nasty attitude along the lines of ultra-competitive Mike Daniels.

Why he Might Slip to #30: Had Surgery last year on his knee and there are those who believe that he is only a right tackle. Left tackles go high in the draft, right tackles don’t. Not an accomplished pass protector in a league that thrives on their quarterback staying upright.

Why Ted Might Pass: Suited to the right side and Ted just signed Bryan Bulaga to a long term contract. There are other needs more pressing.

Why Ted Must Draft him: A massive 6’ 6”, 329# offensive tackle who would push other players ahead of him as well as adding depth to a team thin at the position. He might be able to immediately take over at right tackle pushing Bulaga to the left side and relegating Bakhtiari to the prime back-up role. Last year’s backup situation at tackle was one injury away from disaster. With the addition of Flowers this very youthful O-line would immediately become the best in the NFL and could dominate for years to come.

Randy Gregory, DE – OLB Nebraska

What he offers: Great burst, acceleration, speed and up-tempo play. A highly decorated pass rusher who excelled in the tough Big Ten Conference. Ranked as high as the number seven all-around athlete available in this draft. An accomplished edge-rusher at a position of high-demand.

Why he Might Slip to #30: Gregory tested positive for marijuana prior to the combine and his physical testing was not impressive. Teams looking him over at the combine found a kid with a slender frame and narrow base that might not take the pounding of a long NFL season. Playing his final college game The Holiday Bowl, with a lot on the line, he failed to impress.

Why Ted Might Pass: Weight at the combine was only 235 lbs. very slight for an edge rusher. Testing positive for marijuana put his character in question. Could be considered a boom-or-bust player and even late in the first round the risk may be too great. Might be considered too raw to contribute immediately.

Why Ted Must Draft him: A pass-rushing DE extraordinaire in college – projected as an outside linebacker for a 3-4 team. Freakishly athletic. The Packers must create quarterback pressure, especially in the 3-4 defense that they run, in order for their defensive backs to be able to cover deep routes. As a compliment to Clay Matthews the Packers might finally have the one-two punch that they thought they might have when they whiffed on Datone Jones and Nick Perry. His potential upside is unlimited.

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Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .

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  • Rossonero

    While tempting, I think TT is disciplined enough to pass on these guys. Gurley is the only one that is worth consideration, since Lacy has asthma and has had 2 concussions, Starks has had injury problems and will be a FA in 2016, and DuJuan Harris gone. Getting Gurley at #30 is great value.

    Otherwise, if TT did select any of these for some reason, he’d better trade up in the 2nd round to get an ILB. That position has been completely gutted. CB then in the 3rd round, DT in the 4th, etc.

    Personally though, I want an ILB on day 1. If they don’t take one, I’ll be on pins and needles until day 2. I really think Eric Kendricks will be there at #30 and want him taken by the Packers.

    • Brandon Piccione

      I would love any of these guys. Drafting bpa is the best strategy, provided the guys can get on the field in some capacity. Like Ted said injuries happen, and what u think you’re strong at, you might not be

      • Brandon Piccione

        A guy like Parker could make this offense really scary, and alleviate the need for a tight end.
        Gregory could be a top 10 pick, and has a ton of upside. If he hits you slide clay inside again, and have a much better linebacking crew than with Anthony, or kendricks in the middle, both of whom i like btw.

        • Rossonero

          Taking Parker would put Abbrederis and Janis on the bench again. Why would the Packers do that to them? I want to see those guys play this year and develop.
          Gregory is boom-or-bust. I can’t see TT saying “yeah, we know he’s a gamble, but let’s take him.”

          Packers are too conservative an organization to start gambling on a guy with multiple failed drug tests. I hope he straightens himself out, but after seeing how Justin Blackmon, Josh Gordon, Johnny Manziel and others have turned out, that erases any football upside for me. These guys need rehab first.

      • Rossonero

        I think BPA for your team’s positional need. Mike McCarthy already came out and said ILB is the same urgency of need as safety was last year. What do we think the Packers will do? Probably take the best available ILB is my guess.

        • Brandon Piccione

          Positional need will play a part, if there are a couple guys around the same grade, you should factor in need. Also Dix was the bpa last year as well as filling a need .
          If any of these guys fall, I would bet Thompson picks then, as he should. With the possible exception of Gurley, Thompson doesn’t seem to value rb.

  • I can’t agree with Rossonero. If the medicals check out, both Gregory or Gurley would be fine choices. Gregory would be a no-brainer, run to the podium pick. Gurley would be OK. I think there are questions about WR Parker, we don’t need a WR, and there is lots of lesser but still good WR prospects later. I don’t think OT Flowers is quite special (he’s a 1st/2nd rd. grade), but all the good OTs will be gone by around pick #50, so a guy like him won’t last. I’d trust TT if he took Parker or Flowers.

    Two other players that might slide include Dupree and Shane Ray. TT should run to the podium is Dupree is there. I’d say he should teleport to the podium if Ray is there, based on talent, but he might not have a position in the NFL and he makes me nervous. I’d have to think about Ray, but the talent is undeniable (much better talent than Shaq Thompson, but same issue). Personally, I think length might be a problem for the 6’2″ Ray at OLB. I love him as an ILB, but he’d have to buy into the idea. My order of preference would be Gregory, Dupree, Gurley, Flowers, Ray, Parker. Ray = boooom or bust!

    I only see about 20-22 first round talents in this draft. At #30, GB should expect a guy with a 1st/2nd rd. grade, unless someone slides or QBs push talent way down. Ray & Gregory are sliding in the media, but it only takes 1 team to think otherwise.

    • Rossonero

      I’m not high on these guys for two reasons: they either don’t address the team’s most urgent need (ILB), or come with too much risk. Like I mentioned earlier, Gurley fills a need, but the Flowers and Parker do not. I agree with you on Dupree and Ray though. They would help patch up our defense.

      The red flags are real with Gregory. The failed combine test only magnified his prior failed drug tests. For example a few years ago, everyone raved about Justin Blackmon. They dismissed his DUIs in 2010 and 2012 as hiccups and that he’d be a changed man.
      Here we are 3 years later, and he’s been suspended twice for violating the league’s Policy for Substance Abuse and missed the entire 2014 season. After getting indefinitely suspended in Nov. 2013, he got arrested for weed in July 2014. You can bet the Jaguars had the pick back.
      Like Josh Gordon, I have serious concerns about someone’s decision making when this keeps happening again, and again and again. Gregory knew he’d get tested at the combine, yet somehow he could not resist smoking again? He needs to go to rehab. I think he is the classic boom or bust pick, but do you think a conservative guy like TT would gamble on Gregory?

      • Excellent points! So good that I will moderate my opinion. As I just wrote elsewhere, now that I’ve looked harder at Gregory, Josh Gordon’s name leapt to my mind, too. I didn’t know about the college drug tests. I’ll trust in Ted’s judgment on Gregory. Better comparison than Mingo. Talent is undeniable, but it doesn’t do much if the guy is suspended, or is un-coachable.

        • Rossonero

          Thanks! I’m super wary of guys like Gregory given other NFL players struggles with drug abuse. You’re right, my Mingo comparison probably was a stretch. Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon have incredible talent, but like you said, its meaningless if they can’t get on the field.
          I have similar feelings about guys like Marcus Peters (kicked off his college team for clashing with coaches).

  • Gregory would be the only one I’d take, and even then, I’d be scared about the off the field stuff. That said, in theory, he’d fix our “What do we do when Peppers fades, Neal and Perry are gone, and if/when none of the young guys breaks out?”

    • Why? 3 of the 4 likely would be BPA by a decent margin based on talent (I exclude Flowers – players with an equal grade might also be available). I value your opinion, but this one is too pithy.

      • Why? Because there is no way in HELL we need a WR/OT/RB. We are close to the best in the league in both front line talent and depth at those spots. IF someone like Gurley drops, we trade back for a litany of picks.

        RE: Gregory – Because he would be BPA at #30. And at a position that is a sneaky need. Our OLBs look fine to very good for 2015, but what if Pep falls off in 16? What if Neal and Perry leave? What if Elliot or Hubbard don’t pan out?

        Then it’s back to the days of CM3 and a bag of balls. I know no one wants to go there….

    • Rossonero

      Randy Gregory has drawn comparisons to…..Barkevious Mingo. What has Mingo done in 2 years w/ the Browns?

      • Mingo: ’13 42 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 4 PD, 4 run stuffs;
        ’14: 42 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 4 Passes Defensed, 2 run stuffs.

        But, Mingo played 15 games in 2014 even though he had to wear a shoulder harness most of the season so that made it difficult to use both arms. You picked a bad example. Perry is a different type of player, but Perry’s best is 28 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 1 run stuff, and 1 pass defensed in any one year. Neal’s best: 47 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 5 stuffs, and he has 1 pass defensed in 5 freaking years. See the link to Mingo: http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2014/12/barkevious_mingo_browns.html

        Gregory has indeed been compared to Mingo, but also to: Von Miller (Walter) and to Aldon Smith (CBS). Gregory had a 6.80! 3-cone (pro day though). Failed drug tests at combine and in college. I do agree that he is a high risk, low floor guy. Wouldn’t take him high, but at #30, I’d trust TT’s judgment on the character issues.

      • I didn’t look hard at Gregory until now, figuring he won’t last to #30. The more I look, the more scared he makes me. Not ability wise, but character and tweener-wise.

  • Brandon Piccione

    The times that I recall yes realm stretching for need have backfired.Revis was the bpa the year they reached for Harrell. The draft that they went all defense and traded up for worthy, had a ton of misses, and didn’t fix the defense. On the opposite side Rodgers wasn’t a glaring need, but has been the best pick of Teds tenure
    If you get quality guys, they will improve the team. These picks are not foolproof, so you have to take the prospect that offers the best return, as far as potential, and NFL readiness, regardless of position.

  • billy

    gregory tested positive but if anyone thinks he is the only player coming out of college who puffed, they got their head in the sand…he got caught thats his dumb mistake.

    • Yes, but he also went to the combine knowing that he would be tested, knowing that THC can take 3 weeks to dissipate, and knowing that the NFL would frown mightily on it, and teams would think about possible future suspensions. It would be like me knowing I had a drug test the next day and deciding to go binge drinking the night before. I would not be concerned if he got caught in a random test.

      • billy

        never said he was smart.

    • Rossonero

      I agree that he’s not the only one, but Gregory already had multiple failed drug tests in college, too. Is that someone a conservative organization like the Packers would draft? Too much risk for me, but I hope Gregory proves me wrong if the Packers do take him.

      • billy

        conservative but does anyone remember Colt L from last year…no one else would take a chance on this guy, the Packers did and he crapped on them for it but still they took the chance..

        • AgrippaLII

          Where did they get him in the draft ? Seventh round ? I’d take a chance with a seventh round pick.

  • GBPDAN

    Id be nervous about TT drafting Gregory in the first round. TT has a horrible track record drafting front 7 D players in Rd 1-2.
    he hit on CM3 and got failed returns on just about every one else based on their draft position. I think he’s batting around 10% with high round front 7 players. If TT thinks the front 7 D player is worth it, the player is probably not.

    • That’s cold.

      • GBPDAN

        I know

    • billy

      true that…seems like an after thought to TT…the D line guys..

  • Maia Donohue

    “As a compliment to Clay Matthews…”

    Dude, you’re a reporter! “Complement”, not “compliment”.

    • Steve Cheez

      Hey, when did my Mom start following this site?

      • Savage57

        She’s trying to make amends.

  • SchenySchen

    No thanks to all of them. I would rather they trade back if possible than select any of these players.

  • Archie

    Gurley, Gregory and Flowers are reasonable “slide” projections but this is the first I’ve heard anyone express the opinion that Parker would slide outside of top 15. Nonetheless, I’d take any of the three although for the reasons outlined, I’d be least inclined to go with Flowers. Gurley is a grand slam waiting to happen. Break him in easy the next two years. MM would probably have him return kicks because MM is an idiot. Once you have a QB you have to protect him and GB is set in that department for teh next couple of years barring injury. Next up is pass rush. W/o CMIII our defense falls to the bottom of the league. Gregory would be perfect. Spot him in his rookie year while he bulks up and then turn him loose in year 2.

  • Archie

    MM says he would start Gurley as kick returner if GB drafts him. Right on Mike, only a caveman would think like you.

  • holmesmmd

    A bit premature to say we “whiffed”on Jones & Perry. I also wouldn’t consider keeping any of these guys except possibly Fowler. I think he’s going to be a phenomenal OL.

    • Savage57

      As 1’s, they were whiffs – 3rd or 4th round, not so much, as you expect the development time going in. Based on what we’ve seen from Perry, if he can someday stay healthy, we might see him raise his status to solid starter. Datone Jones is the Packers Casper the Friendly Ghost – you know he’s out there, but you can never see him.

      • holmesmmd

        I get your point but lets see what they do this season. PFF had Jones in the middle of the NFL for 3-4 DE for the snaps he played. Perry played some pretty good situational football at times but certainly has had his share of injuries. It would be nice to see both players break out in 2015! These guys must be coming up on the last year of their rookie contracts this year or next so they better start turning heads if they want to remain in GB. Go Pack.

        • Rossonero

          Perry is entering the final year of his rookie contract. For a first round pick, it’s safe to say he’s been a disappointment. 0 INTs and 9 sacks in 3 years is not an impact player.

          He’s only started 15 of a possible 48 games. I get that injuries are part of the game, but we’re past the point of “wait and see” in my opinion.

          He’s had 3 years to show us something, and usually by then you have enough film to figure out the player. Perry’s OK, but he’ll never be a Pro Bowler and doesn’t scare other teams.

        • billy

          as pro’s they are taking way too much time to take the proverbial “next step”…come on man, how long do we wait?? They are what they are…mediocre talent at this level.

          • holmesmmd

            I’ll give up on them when the coaches do. I think they know a bit more than you and I do. Just sayin…

        • As to the PFF grade on Jones being middle of the pack, that’s true but GB tried to play Jones (314 snaps) in passing situations and played Boyd (386 snaps) in running situations. That’s good coaching (putting players in a position to succeed), but one would hope that a 1st rounder like Jones would be a 3 down guy by now. That said, I still think Jones could blossom. Similar situation with Hayward: his PFF grade while playing in the slot -zone is fabulous, but we will find out if his PFF grade holds up when he is the starting boundary CB this year, since I expect him to earn that job. My guess is that he will be okay but his grade will be lower, just don’t know how much lower.

  • billy

    next year two of the three will still be here and we’ll be saying the same thing…

    • holmesmmd

      You make it sound like we have total garbage at LB?! They were all playing pretty damn good the last half of the season if you ask me. I think your expectation to have pro bowlers at every position is a bit unrealistic. A solid rotation on the DL this year will improve everyone’s production. You’ll see.

  • Rossonero

    Neal is in a contract year, but Jones is under contract until 2017.

    Moving Neal to OLB and trimming down gave the Packers’ coaches some confidence obviously. Trouble is, will there be enough money to pay Neal in 2016? The Packers are gonna pay Mike Daniels and Casey Heyward, and potentially Raji and Guion if they have good seasons this year.

    Jones…I think he’s close to breaking out, but I’m losing patience after 2 years of waiting. He came close to a lot of sacks last year, but coming close isn’t good enough. He needs to finish plays better, maybe learn some tricks from Julius Peppers. It’ll be interesting to see how much $$ Jones wants in 2017. TJ Lang, Josh Sitton, David Bakhtiari, Eddie Lacy and Micah Hyde are all FAs that year. That’s a LOT of $$$.

    • Neal is making $4.25 million this year. I see no reason why his salary would increase unless his play greatly improves, which would be a good problem to have!

  • Peter Maiz

    TT should not leave gaping holes in certain areas of play. That’s why we had the worst safety tandem in 2013 and no powerful, talented ILB last year, for most of the season. When he does well in the draft, the coaches make them into darned good players and after their rookie contracts are up, many go whoof, disappear into other teams that offer more money in free agency. With all due respect, it makes more since to develop your weaknesses. That’s called being well rounded, right. Besides, without A. Rodgers at the helm, MM and TT would possibly not even be working at Green Bay.

  • AgrippaLII

    Ted probably hasn’t given any running back a first round grade on his board…he’s also been very successful at finding WR’s in the middle rounds so why change that approach now? He’d probably take a LOT in a heartbeat if he was able to beat out the tackles the Packers have now…but Flowers ain’t that guy. Thompson has taken chances on players with substance abuse in the past but only after they’ve dropped considerably in the draft. I’m not saying he won’t take any of these players just not in the first or even second round.

  • shavager

    Todd Gurley is Eddie Lacy with SPEED, Gurley can run over defenders, around them and away from them as well as return kickoffs. For those who’ve never seen him play in SEC for Georgia, Gurley was ALWAYS one carry away from the long TD run. Packers couldn’t go wrong with this pick, it would give them the option to let Starks walk at year’s end. IF Gurley had been available BEFORE Lacy, my money would be on Gurley as THE man behind Rodgers.

  • VinceR

    I think the List should be more like:
    Shane Ray OLB/DE
    Marcus Peters CB
    Cameron Erving OL
    Jaelen Strong WR