This is Part 2 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.
With the T.J. Lang-sized hole at guard filled with first-round pick Forrest Lamp, it’s time to turn our attention to the defense. The two big voids are at outside linebacker, where the Packers must bolster their pass rush and replace Julius Peppers and Datone Jones, and at cornerback, where nothing should be left to chance for a team that finished 25th in opponent passer rating.
Both positions are incredibly strong, though the well of edge-rushing prospects runs deeper than the group of cover guys. With that in mind, we’ll go cornerback at No. 61 overall.
There is no consensus on which corners might be available at this point in the draft. That point was driven home by the opinions of two scouts. Asked who could be around at the end of the second round, one scout mentioned Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie, Washington’s Kevin King, Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley and Florida’s Quincy Wilson, and that “probably” a couple of them would be available. Another scout said those four would “probably” be off the board.
Why the divergent opinions? One reason are the pro day injuries by Washington’s Sidney Jones and UCLA’s Fabian Moreau. Jones suffered a torn Achilles, which could sideline him for most, if not all, of his rookie season. Moreau sustained a torn pectoral and is hopeful he’ll be ready for training camp. (“What else would he say?” ‘I’ll be ready for Week 4?’” a scout said.) Where do those two fit now on draft boards, and will those injuries force lesser players up boards?
A second reason is cornerback is such an eye-of-the-beholder position. For instance, USC’s Adoree Jackson will be coveted by many teams because of his playmaking ability. At exactly 5-foot-10, however, the Packers likely won’t have any interest at all. Why? Damarious Randall, at 5-foot-10 7/8, is the shortest cornerback drafted by Ted Thompson. That history likely rules out two other Day 2 options, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis (5-10 1/4) and Iowa’s Desmond King (5-10).
Let’s take them one at a time, in alphabetical order:
Awuzie (5-11 7/8, 202; 4.43): The Packers loved Micah Hyde’s versatility. That’s Awuzie’s calling card with playing time at corner, nickel, safety and even linebacker — with the major bonus of much better speed (Hyde ran in 4.56 at the 2013 Combine). He’s always around the ball — ranking fifth in school history with pass deflections (35) and first among defensive backs with nine sacks and 26 tackles for losses. As a senior, he had one interception, 13 pass breakups, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Working extensively in the slot, Awuzie yielded a passer rating of 84.3, according to Pro Football Focus. The Packers covet playmakers in the secondary. With three career interceptions, he might not fit the bill.
King (6-3, 200; 4.43): King would add a new dynamic to Green Bay’s defense with his towering 6-foot-3 frame. He’s not just a big guy, though: He’s a big guy who can move, as evidenced by his blazing 20-yard shuttle time of 3.89 seconds that was the fastest among the defensive backs at the Combine. And if that height isn’t enough, he also had a 39 1/2-inch vertical jump. In two years at corner after moving from safety, he tallied five interceptions and a total of 29 passes defensed. As a senior, he gave up a passer rating of 55.6, according to PFF.
Jones (6-0, 186; 4.47): Jones started all three seasons, including Academic All-American as a sophomore and All-American as a junior. In 2016, Jones intercepted three passes, broke up six others, forced two fumbles and gave up a passer rating of just 42.1, according to PFF. In 2015, Jones was first in the Pac-12 with 14 pass breakups, fourth with four interceptions and tied for second with three forced fumbles. His three-year totals were eight interceptions, 21 additional breakups and six forced fumbles. Jones likely was a top-20 pick before the injury. How far will he fall if essentially one-fourth of his rookie contract will get little or no return on investment?
Moreau (6-0 1/2, 206; 4.35): Moreau started 40 games over the past four seasons. As a senior, he intercepted two passes, finished sixth in the conference with 10 passes defensed and yielded a passer rating of 67.4, according to PFF. Moreau has great size and athleticism but a Lisfranc foot injury, which cost him most of 2015, and now the torn pectoral raise questions about durability. Plus, his three career interceptions don’t exactly scream playmaker.
Tankersley (6-1 1/4, 199; 4.40): Tankersley had four interceptions, 11 additional breakups and six tackles for losses as a senior, with a passer rating against of 40.6, according to PFF. He had nine picks in his final two years. Tankersley might have the best combination of physicality and speed in the cornerback class, though his 29.5-inch vertical is alarming. The Packers have two physical corners with Davon House and LaDarius Gunter. Might they want a different style? Or is better, well, better, regardless of style similarities?
Wilson (6-1 1/2, 211; 4.54): Wilson notched three interceptions and six additional pass breakups as a junior in 2016, with a passer rating against of only 29.9, according to PFF. He tallied six picks in three seasons. He could offer Hyde-like versatility with his ability to play corner, slot and safety. Because of his 40 time and lack of a vertical leap (32 inches), scouts are particularly divided on Wilson. One said “yes” to being available at No. 61, another said “no way” he gets past No. 40.
Who would the Packers take? Do Awuzie and Moreau have the playmaking skill? Does Wilson have enough speed for a defense that needs to get faster? Thompson’s never taken an exceptionally tall corner, so would he take a shot at King? Does it matter that Tankersley might be the same type of player — albeit with more athleticism — as Gunter and House? Would Thompson take a shot on Jones, knowing there might be little or no return on investment as a rookie?
If I were calling the shots, I’d take Jones. Remember, the Packers got to the NFC Championship Game with a bad cornerback corps. So why not take a first-round talent in the second round, with the hope being that he could return in time to get the Packers over that last hurdle and into the Super Bowl? And if he’s off the board, Tankersley, King, Awuzie, Wilson and Moreau would be my pecking order in a deep and diverse group.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.