We’re back with the second entry in our series on Packers Mock Drafts, where we only draft from one Power Five conference per draft. Yesterday we covered the ACC & Notre Dame, and today we are covering the PAC-12. We can’t begin to know the true rankings of the draft prospects this early in the process but hopefully this article will serve to begin familiarization with players and prospects that the Packers front office and fan base will be invested in and want on the team.
In the ACC’s breakdown we saw that of the nine selections I made, four were defensive linemen and four were pass catchers (though technically one of them was listed twice). Today we see a bit more diversity coming out of the PAC-12 with one defensive lineman and three pass catchers – two of which are tight ends and not wide receivers.
I will be selecting one player, one alternate player, and one dream scenario for every pick the Packers have in the first three rounds. For the Big Board, I used a combination of several I found across the internet to get an idea of where players are going in the minds of most; for the pro comparisons I used mostly thedraftnetwork.com and their comparisons but I also subbed many of my own if I found if they were more to my liking. Today we start off with the ACC and Notre Dame.
Let’s breakdown the PAC-12’s offerings!
- Round 1, Pick 15
- THE PICK: Jordan Addison, WR, USC / 6’0”-175lbs / Pro Comp: DeVonta Smith
- Despite putting limitations on which schools I can draft from, this is a pick that you will see often in mock drafts this season. Jordan Addison is possibly the most refined player (not receiver, player) in the whole draft class. He can run any route and get consistent separation from any defense. His release and body control are second to none in this class, and he’s a proven high-volume target. His only negatives are lack of premier size and speed (he probably runs a high 4.4~ or low 4.5~ 40 yard dash) but it hasn’t stopped him from being insanely productive. He helped Caleb Williams win the Heisman, and he should be an instant impact player for the Packers who will probably thrive the most as a short-to-mid range target from the slot, X, or Z.
- ALTERNATE PICK: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah / 5’10”-185lbs / Pro Comp: Denzel Ward
- The reigning PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year is projected to go in the second half of the first round, so this might be considered an overdraft by some, but I think Phillips’ tape speaks for itself. His biggest negatives are being slightly small for a CB and playing in a lesser conference. His biggest positives are his abilities to generate turnovers, great lower body control, a bulldog mentality, no major injury history, and natural instincts in coverage (especially man coverage). Cornerback isn’t a huge need for the Packers but Phillips is the kind of player any team could use. Find a receiver or running back who doesn’t have an insane size advantage, put Phillips on him, and forget about it.
- DREAM PICK: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon / 6’2”-200lbs / Pro Comp: Patrick Surtain
- There is an argument to be made that Addison is the dream pick so I should just copy-paste that blurb, but I think Gonzalez is the real dream. Yes, I know, the Packers don’t need CBs and Gonzalez probably won’t make it out of the top 10 because he’s the best cornerback in this draft but this is a dream pick so I’m dreaming. Gonzalez’s list of weaknesses is short . . . because there really isn’t anything worth putting on there. His list of strengths, by comparison, is quite long: length, strength, athleticism, instincts, ball skills, contested catch coverage, zone coverage, man coverage, tackling, open field tackling, speed, awareness, instincts, and the list goes on. Gonzalez, by my estimation, is a future All-Pro at the position. Every team could use one of those.
- Round 2, Pick 45
- THE PICK: Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC / 6’4”-290lbs / Pro Comp: Cameron Jordan
- Tuipuloto has developed nicely and improved every single year at USC. He comes from NFL bloodlines as well; his brother Marlon plays for the Eagles and he’s cousins with Talanoa Hufanga, who just made first team All-Pro as a safety for the 49ers. Tuipulotu has shown a willingness to shift his weight around to change positions, so he’s versatile when it comes to position. He’s a high motor, high production player with incredible versatility. He could player anywhere from DT to stand-up OLB but I think his best position is somewhere in the middle as a 280lb 3-4 DE. His only negatives are technical for the most part, so with solid coaching he could turn into a three-down player with pass rushing upside who is a stone-wall against the run. Tuipulotu’s versatility and production would be welcome in a Packers room that needs more pass rushing with Rashan Gary injured.
- ALTERNATE PICK: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah / 6’4”-242lbs / Pro Comp: Greg Olsen
- Kincaid is the modern tight end: excellent ball catcher, terrible blocker. It’s truly not his fault that he doesn’t block well, he’s showing a lot of effort, but he’s undersized to deal with most edge rushers. He’s best when blocking DBs or helping a tackle with an assignment. His receiving skills are off the charts, and he might be the best pure pass catcher in the draft. His body control, hands, and ability to run different routes are all incredibly impressive. If he was an inch taller and ten pounds heavier he would be a solid analog for his Pro Comp (Greg Olsen) but because he isn’t he will probably fall to the second round where the Packers can add to him a TE room that is losing Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan to free agency.
- DREAM PICK: Andrew Vorhees, IOL, USC / 6’6”-320lbs / Pro Comp: Robert Hunt
- I know it isn’t sexy or fun to project trench players as dream picks, but Vorhees would be that guy. He’s currently projected by most pundits to go in the late first round so snagging him in the second certainly counts as a dream to me! Vorhees isn’t a perfect interior prospect, his two biggest negatives are high pad level (due to his prototypical height), and he slightly struggles with faster interior defenders. Luckily there aren’t a lot of fast interior defenders, and he’s excellent at everything else. Vorhees could play almost anywhere on the line, but I see him as a potential Pro-Bowler on the inside with swing-tackle potential as a rotational guy.
- Round 3, Pick 78
- THE PICK: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State / 6’6”-250lbs / Pro Comp: Noah Fant
- The 3rd Round has been a waste land in recent years for the Packers, but this year could be the year that changes. Musgrave has elite physical abilities yearn to be developed into a top tier receiving threat. He’s big enough to deal with linebackers and large safeties in coverage, and he’s fast enough to compete with cornerbacks. He doesn’t necessarily explode, but his loping stride deceives defenders into thinking he’s slower than he really is (almost like prime Jordy Nelson who never really looked fast but was, in fact, fast). He needs to work on his blocking, but if any player was going to receive the highly specific (and not at all made-up) “Travis Kelce Award for tight end prospect most likely to become elite after being drafted in the third round” it would be Musgrave.
- ALTERNATE PICK: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon / 6’3”-250lbs / Pro Comp: Don’t’a Hightower
- Before you ask, yes, Noah is the brother to Penei Sewell, the stud right tackle and former 7th overall pick for the Detroit Lions. Like his brother, Noah is an excellent height/weight prospect with excellent strength and a non-stop motor. Despite playing as a middle linebacker, he has shown stellar blitzing and pass rush skills that could definitely get him a starting job in the NFL when combined with his strong run defending. The only thing preventing that from happening is a lack of range and quickness to deal with coverage plays, meaning he’s not a true three down player. He doesn’t read plays very fast, but when he does recognize what’s happening, he’s always around the ball, shedding blockers and making plays. Sewell would be an excellent special team’s player and a rotational linebacker joining Quay Walker and/or De’Vondre Campbell to create a trio of linebackers who could blitz and cause nightmares for offensive lines.
- DREAM PICK: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA / 6’1”-220lbs / Pro Comp: LeVeon Bell
- I know the Packers already have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the roster, but Dillon hasn’t developed into the Marshawn Lynch style player we wanted him to be and Aaron Jones turns 29 next season which means he’s already on borrowed time in Running Back Years (not to mention the Packers could save $10.4m if they cut him this offseason or next). Charbonnet doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he does have great size, wonderful contact balance, and tackle breaking power. He’s also patient and excels at letting his blocks develop. While not his greatest strength, his pass catching skills are more than modest and his size also allows him to block as a true three-down running back. Charbonnet and Dillon could combine for a thunder-and-thunder style backfield that wears defenses down with brute force and surprising playmaking and allow the Packers to save a boatload of cash in trading or releasing Aaron Jones.
If the Packers somehow got all of the selected Dream Picks, I can sense that a lot of people would be upset with the front office (and potentially me for writing this article). Yes, adding a cornerback, an o-lineman, and a running back probably won’t excite Packers fans but drafting the best player available is never a bad idea.