Green Bay Packers: The Wild Card Position Pick at No. 21 in Round 1
Yes, it's true. We are now officially just a week away from the beginning of the 2014 NFL draft.
Packer Nation is pondering what general manager Ted Thompson will do when it's time for the Green Bay Packers to select a player at pick No. 21 in Round 1.
I am of the belief that whoever Thompson selects with the 21st pick of the draft, that is if he doesn't trade up or trade down, will mostly likely be a defensive player.
That's what happens when you have the 25th-ranked defense in the NFL.
Yes, the offense could use some help too, but even with quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing almost half a season last year with a fractured clavicle, the Packers still finished third in the league in total offense.
If I had to rank my top four defensive players who I think would be excellent fits for Green Bay and might be available when the Packers pick, they would be these prospects:
- Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama
- Linebacker C.J. Mosley from Alabama
- Safety Calvin Pryor from Louisville
- Linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State
However, there is always the chance that all four of these players may be off the board when it's time for the Packers to pick.
If that's the case, Thompson may perhaps look at a defensive lineman like Ra'Shede Hageman from Minnesota.
But there is another defensive position which may be in play here. That would be cornerback.
The Packers are pretty deep at cornerback, but veteran Tramon Williams will be playing in the final year of his contract in 2014, plus it appears that Micah Hyde will be moving over to play safety in 2014.
There is still a lot of depth at the position with Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House and Jarrett Bush all available, but the NFL has become a pass-happy league and one can never have enough quality cornerbacks.
Bottom line, you might just see Thompson select one of the top three cornerbacks if they are available at pick No. 21, depending on the board at the time.
I'm listing the top three corners in this slideshow.
Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State)
Weight: 202 pounds
To me, Justin Gilbert is the best cornerback in the draft. He has it all, as he has nice size and exceptional speed. Gilbert's play on the field isn't too bad either.
In his career at Oklahoma State, Gilbert had 182 tackles, 12 interceptions (two for touchdowns), 32 passes defended and two forced fumbles.
Besides being a natural with his cover skills, Gilbert is also a very dangerous return man. He returned six kickoffs for touchdowns in his collegiate career.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Gilbert ran a blazing 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and also showed pretty good strength for a corner with 20 reps in the bench press.
Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)
Weight: 199 pounds
Darqueze Dennard played on one of the better defensive units in the country the past couple of years at Michigan State. He was a big reason why because of his excellent ability in pass coverage.
In 2013, Dennard was a First-Team All-American and won the Jim Thorpe Award.
In his career as a Spartan, Dennard had 167 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, one sack, 10 interceptions (one for a touchdown), 26 passes defended and three forced fumbles.
Dennard plays very quick and physical if you watch him on tape, but at the combine he didn't fare that well compared to Justin Gilbert in both the 40-yard dash and the bench press.
Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
Weight: 190 pounds
Kyle Fuller is a very physical corner who is good in coverage but also plays the run very well. The Packers definitely need better tackling in their secondary.
In his career at Virginia Tech, Fuller had 173 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, six interceptions, 32 passes defended and four forced fumbles.
Fuller also was team captain and a four-year starter in college, plus played very well on special teams as a gunner and a jammer.
At the combine, Fuller was adequate in his drills, but he definitely needs to get stronger, especially because of his style of play.
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