Who the Packers Will Pick: NFL Draft Experts Have Their Say
If you’re a fan of the NFL, you immediately turn into a draft expert for your team once the season comes to an end. The Green Bay Packers and their fanbase are no different.
It’s a part of what makes the draft process great—everyone has their own opinion on who to pick and why. And surely, a few mock drafts you’ll read from fans will get a number of picks right.
Yet contrary to popular belief, actual “experts” on the draft are typically more informed and in-tune with who each team might pick than the common fan.
They’re paid to know (or sound like they know) and their connections to the football world give them an obvious step up.
Here are the most recent mock picks to the Green Bay Packers from several of the most well-known experts and draft websites.
With nearly constant comparisons to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, Reed has shot up many draft boards.
Both ESPN whiz-kids (or whatever other adjective you use for them) have the Packers taking Reed to be the playmaker opposite Matthews for the Packers defense.
If his story continues to follow in the footsteps of Matthews, it’d be hard to argue with the pick.
Reed is one of the more explosive short-area players in the draft (1.59 10-yard split), and he’s going to give you the non-stop motor that has endeared Matthews to so many of the Packers fans.
National Football Post (Wes Bunting): Ben Ijalana, G, Villanova
With the likely departure of starting left guard Daryn Colledge whenever free agency starts, Ijalana could immediately fill the hole.
He’s super-athletic for his big frame (6’4″, 320 lbs), and there’s also a chance Ijalana could play tackle once he adjusts and gets comfortable with the NFL game.
The Packers like T.J. Lang as the replacement at either guard or tackle long-term, but there’s never anything wrong with adding talent and versatility to an offensive line, and Ijalana does that.
Sporting News (Russ Lande): Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Cullen Jenkins is more than likely on his way out of Green Bay, and the Packers could potentially add more depth to the defensive end position.
At the end of the first round, Wilkerson would be an attractive option. He’s tall (6’5″) and athletic enough to be a difference maker at end in the Packers 3-4.
Mike Neal and Ryan Pickett would be the probable starters if Jenkins leaves, but bringing aboard Wilkerson would add quality depth to the Packers defensive line rotation. He’d also project to be the starter down the road as Pickett ages.
Yahoo! Sports (Doug Farrar): Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
NFL.com (Pat Kirwan): Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The thought process behind the selections of both Heyward and Clayborn follow the same thinking for taking Wilkerson.
Jenkins will need to be replaced, and Heyward and Clayborn will give you consistent play from the defensive end position. Packers GM Ted Thompson is also a firm believer in building the defensive line.
Neither are flashy players, but both Heyward and Clayborn are safe picks at the end of the first round at a position that can never have enough solid players.
CBS Sports (Rob Rang): Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
Of all the players the experts had Green Bay taking, Wilson might have been the most surprising.
The Packers currently have a logjam at middle linebacker, and that’s where Wilson primarily played at Illinois.
However, he’s better suited to be an outside linebacker in the NFL. In fact, if you look again at the 10-yard splits, Wilson is the top defensive player and could be a disruptive athlete on the outside.
Depending on your draft philosophy, Ayers represents the opposite of Wilson. On tape, Ayers looks like a top 15 pick for a team in need of a rush linebacker.
However, with slow times at the combine, Ayers has seen his stock fall and he’s been slipping down boards ever since.
So, do you take the player who shows up on tape or the guy who impresses with numbers at the combine? Either way, the Packers would be addressing their pass rusher opposite Matthews.
Walterfootball.com: Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Some of the hype has died recently, but there was a period where several mock drafts had Baldwin going to the Packers.
The obvious reasons for that include the possible departure of James Jones for a chance to start, and the career progression of 36-year-old Donald Driver.
In addition, Baldwin is a terrific athlete for his size (6’5″, 230 lbs) and could potentially give the Packers a nightmare threesome with Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley in the passing game.
NewNFLDraft.com: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
To many, drafting a running back in the first round when you have two potential starters (Ryan Grant and James Starks) already on the roster is a difficult thing to comprehend.
However, Grant has just one year left on his contract, and you can’t discount the injury history of Starks.
Leshoure could fill in immediately on third downs if Brandon Jackson leaves, and he’d be a more attractive option than re-signing Grant after 2011.
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