Well the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books and the D-line and edge rushers stole the show. The Packers have a significant need for edge rushers even though defensive coordinator Mike Pettine did an admirable job with little sack production from Clay Matthews and an all but absent Nick Perry. Perry doesn’t seem likely to be back as Rob Demovsky Tweeted:
Source close to Packers OLB Nick Perry said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers declined to pay the $4.8 million roster bonus due on March 15. However, he wasn’t sure if the Packers would offer a restructure or just move on. https://t.co/QYExlwkdLB
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) March 1, 2019
So even if Clay Matthews swings back around on a team-friendly deal after test the Free Agent waters, the Packers have to seriously consider taking a pass rusher at pick 12. The problem is that what looked like a deep free agent class now looks like a frenzied log-jam early in the draft and begs the question, “Who will be left?”.
A couple of factors need to be taken into account. First, I think Kyler Murray possibly coming off the board first could cause quarterback needing teams like the Giants to panic. If one of the outlier teams like the Raiders who have been rumored to have some interest in moving on from Derek Carr grabs a qb early, a reach-fest for qb’s could ensue. The Broncos should be looking and if the over/under is at 3 quarterbacks off the board, the over could set the Packers up for a huge day, possibly even with a trade back.
But 3 quarterbacks takes the number down to eight that would be chosen at other positions. I think the hype on DK Metcalf will calm down a bit but I can’t see him sticking around at 12 with his size and speed combination. Greedy Williams’ blazing fast 4.37 40 time ensures he will get a strong look early even though the cornerback class is not strong though I see an either/or between a tight end taken or Williams and so I project TJ Hockenson to the Jags to pair with Nick Foles. Ed Oliver’s less than stellar Combine might make him actually available but Quinnen Williams will be out before 12. Up to two O linemen could go out in the top eleven…that leaves 3 picks that would likely be edge rushers. If Oliver gets picked where I think…that number would be two.
Let’s take a stab at it…
1. AZ Cardinals – Kyler Murray
Whether or not it is true (as many think) that the Cardinals are serious about drafting Kyler Murray number one overall, his measurables push him into the top ten if he doesn’t do anything to hurt himself at his pro day.
2. SF Forty-Niners – Nick Bosa
3. NY Jets – Quinnen Williams
Could the Jets take Josh Allen here…yes. But Williams killed his 40 and interior guys with that kind of athleticism are rare.
4. HL (Homeless) Raiders – Josh Allen
Two top talents off the board in the top five. Some mocks have the Raiders taking Haskins here but I can’t imagine they don’t see the chance to replace (hypothetically) Khalil Mack and take it.
5. TB Bucs – Ed Oliver
If Gerald McCoy is gone, the bucs need someone to add to Vita Vea. Not sure how Bruce Arians feels about Jameis Winston and it could get really interesting if the Bucs feel that they need a qb as Winston enters his final year. If the Cards (who don’t need a qb) take Murray, and the Raider are perhaps looking desperation could start setting in and frenetic trades ensue. The Giants need a replacement for Manning, and while the Jaguars are reportedly likely to sign Foles, the Broncos and even the Bengals may start getting desperate.
6. NY Giants – Dwayne Haskins
Charlie Campbell has the Giants picking Daniel Jones as the Manning replacement. You can see his full mock here. Seeing the Giants go this route would be a boon for the Packers. At 6’5″ and with time to develop better skills with his reads, this pick is not out of the question though many would say no chance. Haskins will presumably run a faster 40 at his pro day than he did a the Combine. But whichever qb the Giants choose…in this year’s draft if you need one, you’d better get him right away.
7. JAX Jaguars – TJ Hockenson
If Foles is in the fold, the Jags take an all-around TE in Hockenson who didn’t run as fast as Fant but can do more. Could they take a pass rusher here? Sure, but I believe the top tight ends will be a more precious commodity than in recent years, so they could also take Fant.
8. DET Lions – Montez Sweat
Matt Patricia would be salivating and Packer Nation pretty unhappy about this one. In a sub-package offense that Patricia runs, Sweat is too intriguing t pass up. I would be wishing that Matthew Stafford was a free agent before 2013 with Haskins and Lock still on the board but no such luck. For Stafford’s part, he would have to be pulling for Megatron 2.0 with DK Metcalf but in this scenario and very well might get his wish.
9. BUF Bills – DK Metcalf
DK cemented himself as a top ten pick with his blazing fast 40. Too tantalizing to pass on. Josh Allen…it’s Christmas in April.
10. DEN Broncos – Drew Lock
Everything I’ve read says that Elway loves this kid. Broncos need cornerback as well and could take this as their opportunity to grab a top one. That could be Greedy Williams.
11. CIN Bengals – Devin White
While I think Brian Burns or Jawaan Taylor could be picks here.
So in this scenario…no O-linemen come off before the Packers pick at 12 but if one of the teams picks Taylor instead of a quaterback after having brought in a FA or trading with the Cardinals for Josh Rosen another one could be gone. With Risner, Taylor, and Williams etc. available the first pick could be O-line but if several are left, the Packers could get their edge rusher at 12 and still be hopeful of a very good tackle to guard prospect at 30.
With Bosa, Allen and Sweat gone and Jachai Polite dropping, the Packers are still sitting pretty if they want an edge rusher. Even guys like Gary, if chosen, could push a guy like Sweat to the Packers if, as I believe, the hype will cool off with him too. Zach Allen, Brian Burns, Ferguson, Ferrell…the list goes on (also Devin Bush) and while I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these guys go, this scenario again doesn’t include any O-linemen and omits a cornerback coming off before 12.
Offensive players like DK Metcalf having showings like they did at the Scouting Combine could help the Packers by pushing an edge rusher that would otherwise be gone down, but regardless, the Packers should be sitting pretty should they want to take one with their first pick. Further, if the Packers get one of the last top tier pass rushers, there may be a run which causes a top tackle to be available at 30. It all remains to be seen but it seems the Packers are set for an exciting draft.