Question: I'll ask the most obvious. Who should the Packers take at No. 9 and why? Then who should they follow up with their second-round pick?
Chris: The Packers should take the best available defensive player on the board at No. 9. There will be some quality talent for them to choose from, but I think the pick will come down to either Ohio State CB Malcolm Jenkins or Florida State DE Everette Brown. Either one of those players would fit well in their new defensive scheme. Applying pressure on the quarterback is a concern, but drafting a versatile defensive back like Jenkins gives the Packers flexibility, and it will allow them to creatively use veterans Charles Woodson and Al Harris. In the second round, they will get their pass rusher. Again, there will be talent available. Cincinnati's Connor Barwin, Utah's Paul Kruger and possibly Tennessee's Robert Ayers could be available. Barwin's versatility is also intriguing, and he would be a solid choice in the second frame. They could also go for a NT in the second round, and Boston College's Ron Brace is an option.
Question: What do you think the chance is that B.J. Raji will be available at No. 9? I always never fall in love with a prospect at the Combine but this guy has Green Bay written all over him. Perfect fit as nose tackle under Dom Capers and very athletic for his size. What do you think?
Chris: I think there's a chance, but it's slim. B.J. Raji and Robert Ayers have enjoyed an ascension like no other prospects in this draft. When Boston College's season ended and the offseason began, Raji was viewed as a second or third round prospect with good upside. And now, he's a legitimate top-five selection who can alter a game with his explosive play inside. I agree, he's a perfect fit for the Packers, but the Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals could also use his ability to dominate on the defensive line.
Question: It looks like there is a lot of second- and third-round talent on defense in this year's draft. With that said, is there any chance the Packers take a RB with the No. 9 pick overall like Moreno from Georgia or Wells from Ohio State?
Chris: I doubt it. The Packers have much more pressing needs than a running back. If the Packers are to use their first-round pick on offense, it will likely be one of the top tackles. Alabama's Andre Smith and Ole Miss' Michael Oher will be available.
Question: Is there any realistic scenario in which the Packers would go offense in the first round, and if so, who would the player or players expected to be available at that point in the draft worthy of being selected?
Chris: Like I just stated, if the Packers draft an offensive player, it will most likely be an offensive tackle, probably Andre Smith or Michael Oher.
Question: Is this the type of deep draft that the Packers could trade back in to accumulate extra picks and still find great value?
Chris: Yes, the Packers need help on defense, and luckily for them, the draft is loaded with hybrid defenders who can rush the passer. If they don't see anything too intriguing at No. 9, and they feel they can move back, acquire extra picks and get similar quality — they should do it.
Question: If Ted Thompson can't resist pulling the trigger on one of the four offensive tackles that are ready to start, what are the odds that he can get some quality 3-4 depth in the later rounds, and more specifically, can he get a starter in those later rounds?
Chris: As I mentioned, this draft is loaded with hybrid defenders. There will be quality players available from Round 2 to Round 5. A guy that I have my eye on is Hawaii DE David Veikune. He was a standout during Senior Bowl week and had his way with everyone that lined up in front of him. He does everything at 100 mph and has great strength and balance. At the Combine, he had a great performance with a 4.79 in the 40, a 33-inch vertical and completed 35 reps in the bench press.
Question: We hear a lot about B.J. Raji, but what if he's gone before No. 9? Can you tell me about Ron Brace, and are there any other decent 3-4 nose tackles?
Chris: At 6-foot-3, 330 pounds, Brace is a massive interior lineman who controls the middle. He has a quick first step, uses his hands effectively and is able to take on double teams. He uses his size to his advantage to gain the upper hand against the opposition and collapses the pocket. He's strong against the run and flashes the ability to penetrate, disrupting the quarterback. He's solid upfront, but won't apply pressure on the quarterback. Durability is a concern.
The problem with this year's DT class, outside of Raji and Brace, there aren't many NTs available — at least not in the early rounds. In the later rounds, remember these three names: Sammie Lee Hill (Stillman), Chris Baker (Hampton) and Terrence Knighton (Temple).
Question: The Packers have a couple of third-round picks. Who might be available? Any chance, with all of the talent at tweener outside linebackers and defensive ends, that someone pretty good slips that far?
Chris: There will be some quality hybrids available in the third round: Richmond's Lawrence Sidbury, Hawaii's David Veikune and Connecticut's Cody Brown. The Packers have an opportunity in this draft to help themselves now and in the future.
Question: Are there any punters worth using a seventh-round pick on?
Chris: The top punter in the draft is Cincinnati's Kevin Huber, and he will be a fifth round pick. But, Ball State's Chris Miller and SMU's Thomas Morstead will get late-round consideration and should be available in the sixth or seventh round.
Question: Bill has mentioned that you had the best mock draft last year among the experts. How did you do it? How much of it is knowledge and how much is just pure luck in trying to predict the unpredictable?
Chris: Over the last five years, my mock draft has been one of the most accurate around, and I expect that trend to continue. There's a little luck involved, because you have to hope that no trades occur. A trade can be devastating to a mock draft and the order in which the players are selected. But overall, my success has been a natural blend of instinct combined with great knowledge.
Question: Beyond just talent, who are your favorite players in this draft? In other words, who would you love to go have a beer with?
Chris: There are a lot of great guys in this year's draft, and I have solid relationships with many of the prospects. But the two guys that I enjoy talking with are Baylor OT Jason Smith and Missouri S William Moore. They're great guys who're passionate about the game. Jason is a fun, outgoing guy, who knows when to have fun and when to get down to business. He's also a cowboy. He grew up in Texas and has a lot of stories to share. Willy-Mo is a fun guy; he has a great personality and is easy to get along with. He has a great attitude and is always out to prove his doubters wrong. He's not only an outstanding player and leader, but a quality person all-around and someone you root for.
Question: If you were a GM, what projected high first-round picks would you stay away from because you think they'll be busts? And what off-the-radar players do you think are going to be real surprises?
Chris: I'm going to aim straight for the top and say Matthew Stafford. I've watched plenty of film on him and every time I finish watching him play, I'm aggravated. He has a strong arm, but he's so inconsistent. When he drops back, I don't see a confident quarterback. I see a guy who knows he has a strong arm, and he tries to show it to everyone who wants to see it. He makes bad decisions and lacks accuracy. Everything has to be a 95 mph fastball with him, he doesn't have a changeup. If he ends up in a situation like Detroit and is forced to play right away, you're looking at another David Carr; a guy who gets served up to the wolves, throws many interceptions and gets booed out of the job.
I would also stay away from Andre Smith and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Smith's problems have been well documented; his conditioning and commitment to the game will always be a problem. Heyward-Bey is the next Troy Williamson; I've been saying that for two years. He's a track guy, and the Scouting Combine was his venue to shine, and that's what he did with his 4.3 in the 40. NFL teams love speed, and if you want a speedster who can stretch the field and open up space for other players — Heyward-Bey is your guy. But if you're counting on him to flash that speed and actually run crisp routes and catch the ball, you're sorely mistaken. He has talent, but he's far from being a finished product.
Question: As a former Division III player, I'd like to know if there are any D-III prospects. I know Mount Union's Pierre Garcon is the Colts and UW-Whitewater's Derek Stanley is with the Rams.
The best Division III prospect this year is Hartwick QB Jason Boltus. He was invited to the Scouting Combine, but didn't impress scouts. There's no Division III prospect that will be drafted this year, but Boltus will end up in someone's camp. Mount Union has another player this year, QB Greg Micheli. He's not the prospect Pierre Garcon was, but he will also end up in someone's training camp.