The 2011 NFL Draft is quickly approaching.
After all the speculation surrounding the draft process, the actual event will finally take place from Thursday night to Saturday.
So, before the draft, I tried my hand at playing Ted Thompson and put together a seven round mock draft for the Packers. Complete with trades and analysis, I think this mock draft gives the Packers several key pieces for 2011 and beyond.
TRADE: Packers send pick No. 32 to Cincinnati Bengals for picks No. 35, 134 and 207
There will be a team in the early second round that gives the Packers a call about trading back into the first round. When that call comes, Packers GM Ted Thompson quickly accepts.
Even without a pick on day one, the Packers find an immediate starter on the offensive line in Watkins. When Daryn Colledge leaves in free agency, Watkins will step right in at left guard and likely improves the unit overall.
TRADE: Packers send picks No. 64, 96 and 207 to Denver Broncos for pick No. 46
With more extra picks in their draft queue, the Packers can afford to trade up from No. 64 and get Cobb—a versatile and physical receiver who makes his living after the catch.
He can contribute right away on both punt and kick returns, and Cobb could help replace the likely loss of James Jones in the passing game.
Fourth round (No. 129): CB Cortez Allen, Citadel
If the Packers draft a cornerback, he won’t be expected to contribute right away.
That gives Thompson the luxury of taking Allen, a raw but talented player who could develop into a starting NFL cornerback if given time. With Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields the top three on the depth chart, Allen would have plenty of time to learn before taking over a bigger role.
Fourth round (No. 131): DE Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas
Cullen Jenkins is on his way out of Green Bay, and relying on Mike Neal to completely fill his shoes would be a big risk.
Thornton’s skill set compares favorably with Jenkins’, giving the Packers more flexibility and talent on the defensive line. A trio of Neal, Thornton and C.J. Wilson would suffice in filling the perceived need.
Fifth round (No. 134, from Cincinnati): OLB Steven Friday, Virginia Tech
Friday isn’t much of an upgrade (or any) over Frank Zombo or Erik Walden, but there’s never anything wrong with adding competition.
Friday was a guy who slowly developed into a feared pass rusher while waiting his turn behind talented upperclassmen at VT. The Packers struck gold with in 2009 with a player that shares that kind of college story.
Fifth round (No. 163): OT Derek Newton, Arkansas State
Do the Packers have a successor for LT Chad Clifton on the roster? That’s debatable, but adding more talent at the position would be a wise idea.
Newton isn’t ready to take over a tackle spot right away, but he has the tools to develop into a starter down the road.
Sixth round (No. 197): DT Anthony Gray, Southern Miss
The Packers like using wide bodies to take up blockers up front (B.J. Raji, Howard Green, Ryan Pickett, etc.), and Gray fits that mold.
With the ability to play defensive end and a 335-pound frame, Gray could potentially replace either Green or Pickett in a few years.
Seventh round (No. 204): S Mark LeGree, Appalachian State
The Packers’ safety position has either lost or will lose much its depth this offseason.
LeGree has size (6-0, 210 pounds) and ball skills, and could help improve the special teams unit.
If the Packers have gotten any indications that Brandon Jackson might leave, taking Cooper in the seventh round could be a solid security blanket.
While he lacks top-end speed, Cooper can see holes well and has the ability to catch the ball and block in pass protection.
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2