This is Part 1 of our Green Bay Packers seven-round mock draft. Our selections for the first four rounds have been vetted by three NFL scouts to make sure our selections have a good chance of being available. Picks in the final three rounds will be based on the overall rankings at CBSSports.com/NFL Draft Scout.
The Green Bay Packers need a guard.
They also like to draft left tackles.
That makes Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp, in the view of one scout, the “logical choice” for Green Bay in the first round of next month’s draft.
“I feel like I am one of the top guys here or I wouldn’t be here,” Lamp said at the Scouting Combine. “My ability is what has gotten me here. I don’t watch film on other offensive linemen (in this draft) so I don’t know I am the best lineman, the 10th-best offensive lineman. But I am here for a reason.”
He’d come to Green Bay for a reason, too, which is why we are going offense rather than using the top selection to help fix a porous defense. For quarterback Aaron Rodgers to work his extended-play magic, he needs to be able to step up in the pocket before he can get out of the pocket. T.J. Lang was a brilliant pass protector for the Packers. His loss can’t be understated.
“It’s like I told you when you cut (guard Josh) Sitton,” a scout said. “If you’re designing a game plan to stop Aaron or, really, any quarterback, you’ve got to get pressure up the middle. They got away with it with Sitton because Lane (Taylor) is better than I thought. I don’t know about those other guys. If they’re not any good, then Rodgers won’t be as good.”
Those “other guys” are Don Barclay and Jason Spriggs. Can they provide that firm pocket? The scout didn’t seem encouraged. General manager Ted Thompson has a great record with midround offensive line draft picks — Lang, Sitton and David Bakhtiari were fourth-round picks and Corey Linsley was a fifth-round pick — but this is not a deep class of offensive linemen and whoever is picked might have to be a Day 1 starter. Protecting Rodgers is paramount and shouldn’t be left to chance.
Lamp’s path to the NFL started when he traded a basketball for a fork. That’s how you go from an undersized and underrecruited high school offensive lineman to a likely first-round draft pick.
Lamp played football and basketball at Venice (Fla.) High School. At the end of his junior year of football, he weighed 210 pounds. Recruiters weren’t exactly knocking down Lamp’s door to get him to come their school. But Lamp’s coaches at Venice saw the big picture. And that required Lamp to get bigger.
“I had to quit basketball just because I had lost so much weight playing basketball,” Lamp said.
That hatched the delectable plan.
“I ate six, seven times a day. It was a ton,” Lamp recalled.
“My high school staff was unbelievable. They sat down with me at the end of my sophomore year — what I had to eat, when I had to eat it. ... It included everything my family would cook, those three meals a day. But in between that, eating a peanut butter and jelly every hour. Muscle Milk. I would go to the weight room and the coach would have a fridge full of Muscle Milk for me. I’d have one of those between classes. The teachers would let me leave real quick for five minutes.”
Those 7,000 calories per day paid off. At the Combine, Lamp measured in at 6-foot-3 5/8 and 309 pounds.
While he packed on the pounds, Lamp kept that basketball-based athleticism. He was timed in 5.00 seconds in his 40-yard dash, a time beaten by only two of the 47 offensive linemen at the Combine. And he’s strong, too, with his 34 reps on the 225-pound bench press eclipsed by just one of the linemen.
That combination of strength and athleticism allowed Lamp to excel, with 53 of his 56 career starts coming at left tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed zero sacks, three quarterback hits and two hurries for a combined total of five pressures as a senior. That made him, statistically, the best pass-protecting offensive tackle in this draft. He didn’t play against great competition at Western Kentucky but he certainly proved his worth against Alabama (2016) and LSU (2015).
“Everybody says the Alabama front, all three of those guys, are going to get drafted in the first round,” Lamp said. “If I can block those guys, why couldn’t I block anybody?”
However, with 32 1/4-inch arms, Lamp’s best spot will be at guard. That’s just fine for the Packers, who love college left tackles. Of the nine linemen on last year’s roster, seven of them played left tackle in college. That includes the man Lamp could ultimately replace in Green Bay, Lang.
“I like to watch (Tampa Bay’s) Ali Marpet, (Chicago’s) Cody Whitehair (and Dallas’) Zach Martin,” Lamp said. “Those guys were all left tackles in school who got bumped inside — similar to what I’ve been hearing — so I watched them all last year.”
There are four potential plug-and-play zone-scheme guard prospects in this draft, according to scouts, with Lamp, Indiana’s Ben Feeney, Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson and Temple’s Dion Dawkins. There’s no guarantee any of them get to Green Bay’s spot in the second round. Meanwhile, this is an incredibly deep draft of cornerbacks and outside linebackers.
Thompson’s best hopes of retooling this team, therefore, are to get Lamp first and then draft a bunch of cornerbacks and pass rushers the next two days.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.