Aaron Rodgers has been the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers for seven full seasons now, and is about to begin his eighth. In that stretch, the Packers have made the playoffs six times (every year but the first, 2008), and Rodgers has established himself as arguably the best quarterback alive at the moment. He has won a Super Bowl ring, as well.
But more rings are the expectation. Take away Green Bay's Super Bowl run in 2010, and they've won just two other playoff games in their other five playoff seasons with Rodgers under center. The team is completely home-grown, and they use the NFL Draft for nearly all talent acquisition. How will Tex Western of Acme Packing Company go about improving the team around Rodgers to make another Super Bowl run in 2015? He explains below.
30. Packers: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Western: The Packers have an ideal opportunity to marry positional need and the best players available with the remaining draft board, and it's exactly that situation that makes Ted Thompson smile. While a few talented cornerbacks remain, we feel the best value lies in the interior of the defense. The Packers are on the clock with every inside linebacker still available to help improve a position that was notoriously bad in 2014. Ultimately, Shaq Thompson is not only the most versatile of the bunch, but we believe he will be the best player of all of them, and he is therefore our pick.
Fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks and cornerback Jalen Collins garnered some consideration, as well, but Thompson's ability to contribute in coverage from the weak-side inside linebacker position is a crucial factor in his favor. His presence there, paired with a more traditional run-stopper in Sam Barrington at the Mike, would allow Clay Matthews to return to his normal outside linebacker role and should give the Packers an ideal player to match up against tight ends and running backs in pass coverage. Dom Capers had great success with the versatile Matthews both inside and out in the second half of the 2014 season, and Thompson's skill set will be something Capers will be able to leverage in a variety of formations and alignments.
Dan Kadar, SBNation.com: Of the three players mentioned -- Thompson, Kendricks and Collins -- the versatile Huskies player would have been my last choice. Now, that’s not completely torpedoing the choice. I have Thompson rated fairly high. But Kendricks is a better linebacker at this point, and his instincts are more advanced. Kendricks' first step to the ball is faster, and that gets him in a position to stop a play faster than Thompson does. He’s just a notch below Thompson in coverage, but that’s like saying Sam Dekker has been a notch below Frank Kaminski for Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament. What, a guy can’t make a bad college basketball analogy in a football mock draft?
Dan's Top 5 players remaining
- 17. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
- 19. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
- 28. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
- 29. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
- 30. Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
- 1-30: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
- 2-62: (coming April 20)
That's a wrap on our picks this week. On Monday, we'll finish up the first round and soldier right on into the second round, with picks from the New Orleans Saints (via Seattle), New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans being made. Have a great weekend!
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