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.——————
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 .