This is Part 8 of our Green Bay Packers seven-round mock draft. Our picks for the first four rounds were vetted by three NFL scouts to make sure our selections have a good chance of being available. Picks in the final three rounds are being based on a combination of player rankings at NFL Draft Scout and Optimum Scouting 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, outside linebacker in the third round and cornerback again in the fourth round. In the fifth round, we drafted a running back with Green Bay's selection and added another pass rusher with a compensatory pick. Then, we followed one of GM Ted Thompson's trends in the sixth round.
Like our sixth-round pick, this is a Hail Mary, of sorts, used on a boom-or-bust prospect.
Two facts to set up this pick:
— One, the Packers lost starting guard T.J. Lang and versatile backup J.C. Tretter in free agency.
— Two, the Packers like to draft athletic offensive tackles.
That makes TCU’s Aviante Collins a great fit at this point in the draft.
Collins started 13 games as a true freshman — 10 at right tackle and three at left tackle. But his career really never took off. Collins started nine games in 2013 (three at left tackle, six at right tackle), only once in 2014 (at left tackle) and had his 2015 end after three games due to injury. He started 13 games at right tackle as a senior but didn’t receive any postseason honors.
While Collins was blessed with his size, his father was blessed with athleticism. Billy Collins qualified for the 1976 Olympics. At TCU, he was a three-time conference champion, breaking school records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. He broke or owns American or world records in those distances in four master’s age categories.
Not surprisingly, Collins was a standout at the Scouting Combine. At 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, Collins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds. That was the fastest among the offensive linemen at the Combine, and it wasn’t even close. The next-fastest was Utah’s Garett Boiles, who might be the first offensive lineman off the board, and only one other blocker was faster than 5 seconds. He’s got weight-room strength with 34 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
“I think one thing I have that a lot of them don't have is the foot speed," Collins said at the Scouting Combine. “I come from a track background. My whole family is fast. I'm very fast playing tackle or (in the) interior. I use my quickness to help me get the edge.”
That edge didn’t show up often enough on Saturdays. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed four sacks and 33 total pressures, giving him a pass-blocking efficiency rating that ranks in the bottom third of the draft class. With so-so play at tackle in college and 33 3/8-inch arms, his best fit is as a zone-scheme guard.
The lack of development throughout his college career figures to push Collins to the tail end of the draft. If he’s available, the Packers should pounce and hand him over to offensive line coach James Campen, who turned unheralded draft picks David Bakhtiari (2013) and Corey Linsley (2014) into rookie starter. Collins wouldn’t have to start as a rookie. Perhaps Campen’s magic touch could coax the growth out of Collins that didn’t show up at TCU.
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.