Photo: Getty Images
By Jimmie Kaska
On day one of the NFL Draft in 2017, the Green Bay Packers select... nobody.
It was a prevailing thought heading into the NFL Draft this year that the Packers would be in a position to trade back and pick up extra picks, given that the first round provides teams with a fifth-year option to retain any breakout players an extra year on the cheap. The fifth-year option gives teams picking at the end of round one, like Green Bay, some leverage as they look to move down to get players they're targeting.
In this case, the Packers found a great dance partner in the Cleveland Browns, who gave up their second- and fourth-round picks to Green Bay. The Packers will now pick first on day two and on day three, holding the first pick in each round.
However, the move was not without some controversy. That's because just one pick after Green Bay would have selected at #29, the Pittsburgh Steelers added former Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt, a player many fans clamored for leading up to the NFL Draft. Instead, Watt will head to the AFC North and join one of the league's traditionally great linebacking corps.
Just two picks later, another former Badger went to the New Orleans Saints. Offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk was selected at #32, the final pick of the first round. It's the fifth time multiple Badgers have gone in round one.
Now that the first round has come and gone, here are some of the best remaining players in the NFL Draft, as the Packers are on the clock and will have seven minutes to make their selection at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Chidobe Awuzie. Photo: Getty Images
Some very talented corners and safeties went off the board, including a pair I thought could've added a huge dimension to their return game: Adoree' Jackson and Tre'Davious White. But, my two favorites for the defensive backfield still remain.
Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie (above), who some mock drafters had going in the early 20's, is still available. He recorded 265 tackles in college, had 25 pass deflections, 9 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, and 3 interceptions as well, and played safety and corner.
Washington's 6'3" Kevin King is also on the board, someone that may not get past Seattle in their new slot near the top of round two. King's 4.43 40 time is often cited in reports, but a big, physical corner who can run is intriguing. He's been linked to the Packers in some pre-draft mocks.
Other prospects to watch: Florida's Quincy Wilson, Marcus Maye, and Teez Tabor, Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, Washington's Budda Baker and Sidney Jones, Utah's Marcus Williams, North Carolina State's Josh Jones, Texas A&M's Justin Evans, Colorado's Tedric Thompson, Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu, Iowa's Desmond King. Most of this group has safety ability or experience, and plenty have starting-level grades by most NFL teams. If the Green Bay Packers pick up pretty much any one of these guys, they'll have a potential starter from the get-go.
Dalvin Cook. Photo: Getty Images
No sense in burying the issue here: the Packers still need a running back from this draft, and outside of two top-eight picks, they'll have a ton of productive, talented running backs to pick from.
The first name that pops up, partially owing to his off-the-field issues, is Oklahoma's Joe Mixon. While his talent is first round-caliber, his judgement is in obvious question after "the video" surfaced. Would the Packers be as bold as taking Mixon to lead day two, especially after passing on T.J. Watt late on day one?
The other name that could provide an immediate jolt to the backfield is Florida State's Dalvin Cook (above), who was graded as a first round talent but was also predicted to dip into the second round if he got by the Packers. Now with Green Bay and Seattle picking high in round two, he may not be on the board long.
Other prospects to watch: Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, Texas' D'Onta Foreman, Ohio State's Curtis Samuel, Tennessee's Alvin Kamara, Pittsburgh's James Connor. These players and several more have experience and success, like San Diego's Donnel Pumphrey, and there will be good running backs littered throughout the middle rounds of this year's class.
Pat Elflein. Photo: Getty Images
Offensive Line: Alabama's Cam Robinson and Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp are still on the board, and the meat of this year's class hits its stride in late round two, when the Packers will pick again with players like Ohio State's Pat Elflein will start to go. Probably not a question of if, but when, Green Bay will start adding pieces to help the depth of their front line.
Wide Receiver: The receivers left are considered good but flawed in some way. USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster, Penn State's Chris Godwin, and Tennessee's Josh Malone are usually in the second round grades for most sites. There are literally a dozen plus guys rated in the second to fourth round, all of whom have equal parts strengths and flaws. The Packers may add a receiver in the middle or late rounds who can also help in the return game and play special teams, but it's an uphill battle to make the roster.
Edge Rusher/Linebacker/Defensive End: In the 3-4 scheme, the need for edge pieces never diminishes. Even with Nick Perry and Clay Matthews in the fold, Green Bay could be looking for help here. This is one deep position that saw many of the top prospects go in the first round. Obviously, the Packers passed on T.J. Watt, so either they have their eye on someone else at the position, or someone else period. Auburn's Carl Lawson, Kansas State's all-time sack leader Jordan Willis, Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham, and Houston's Tyus Bowser are a few of the prospects who should go on day two, but it's a deep position and a prime position, so expect another dozen of these guys to go off the board.
Quarterback, Tight End/Fullback, and Special Teams: It's a particularly deep tight end class, so it wouldn't be shocking to see one go Green Bay's way (maybe not with the first pick they have of course). At quarterback, they appear to have a solid backup in Brett Hundley, but there are some interesting prospects still available should they want to, although it's probably not likely. Special teamers are usually picked up more on day 3, where the Packers will kick off festivities with the first pick of the fourth round. Long snapper may be the only position in need of any attention (as well as a kick return specialist, but that may be a duty shared by several players), and those are typically rookie free agent signings.
Most of what applied to their first pick applies here as well: their first pick will shape the day. The difference is that they won't have an entire day to evaluate where they are after making the first pick, although they do have that day to decide on what they will do with it.
The other key difference is that they no longer have the benefit of the fifth-year option attached to a first round pick to offer... but they DO have the benefit of owning the first pick on the board for Friday, which means they can evaluate all trade offers thoroughly and decide if moving down again helps them out. In a deep draft, they could try to add another mid-round pick, but there's a ton of value in the spot they are picking too.
One thing's for sure... the Packers will (probably) pick somebody on day two!
Tune in to The Big 1070 and The Big 920 for live coverage of the first pick of the second round at 6 p.m. Friday night!