This is Part 4 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 a combination of player rankings at NFL Draft Scout and the opinions of two scouts.
In our mock, the Packers replaced T.J. Lang in the first round and filled critical needs at cornerback in the second round and outside linebacker in the third round. Now, we go back to the defense in the fourth round with the 134th overall selection.
At this pick, we considered a running back (Pittsburgh’s James Conner, BYU’s Jamaal Williams and Wyoming’s Brian Hill), a big receiver (Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds and Northern Illinois’ Kenny Golladay) or another pass rusher (Florida Atlantic’s Trey Hendrickson). Instead, we doubled down at cornerback with Colorado’s Ahkello Witherspoon.
Witherspoon is a freak. At the Scouting Combine, he measured 6-foot-2 3/4 and ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. With speed, length (33-inch arms) and explosion (40 1/2-inch vertical leap), Witherspoon has the physical skill-set to recover when beaten by a step.
That size-speed combo showed up with 22 pass breakups (a school record) and 23 passes defensed (tied for No. 1 in the nation). The coverage numbers at Pro Football Focus are ridiculous. As a senior, opposing quarterbacks completed 28-of-88 passes in his direction — a success rate of merely 31.8 percent. Even with only one interception, he yielded a passer rating of 50.9.
It was an incredible season, considering Witherspoon had four pass breakups while starting eight games as a junior. Witherspoon played only one year of high school football, focusing instead on basketball, baseball and soccer as a kid. “I had played soccer growing up, all my life,” Witherspoon said. “My senior year, I just wanted to play with some of my buddies, so I said, ‘Forget soccer for a semester and play football.’”
He was just 5-foot-8 as a high school senior. After one year at Sacramento City College, he was 6-foot-3. That was enough for the pre-med major to land at Colorado.
With height, speed, smarts and coverage skill, why on earth is Witherspoon considered a legit option toward the end of the fourth round? Because he’s got only 198 pounds on that frame. Tackling is, shall we say, an adventure. Pro Football Focus had him missing eight tackles. It’s that lack of physicality, coupled with a deep cornerback class, that could potentially make him available to the Packers at this spot.
"If he could tackle, he'd go in the second. Easy," a scout said. "Hell, he might go in the second but players who can't tackle will lose you games."
If our picks pan out, the Packers’ cornerback revamp would be complete. Along with the returning trio of Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter, the Packers would have free-agent pickup Davon House, second-round pick Sidney Jones and Witherspoon. In the short run, Witherspoon would provide an instant boost — remember, Jones tore his Achilles at Washington’s pro day earlier this month and might miss most, if not all, of his rookie season. In the long run, he’d provide critical insurance should Randall and/or Rollins wind up being busts. You can never have enough quality cornerbacks. Last year, the Packers really didn’t have any. And their season was doomed because of it.
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.