The Green Bay Packers are a team in a state of upheaval. After 13 seasons, Mike McCarthy is out as head coach and in is Matt LaFleur. Gone is longtime pass pusher Clay Matthews, replaced by a couple of free agents. There’s very public drama with Aaron Rodgers. General manager Brian Gutekunst, in just his second year in charge, is still unproven.
The Packers might not be a team on the brink, but after two consecutive losing seasons, things in Green Bay are a little off.
For now, at least. The Packers are one of three teams going into the 2019 NFL Draft with multiple picks in the first round. How should they best use them? Evan Western of Acme Packing Company is here to make his first of two picks in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft.
12. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Western: The Packers would be ecstatic to find one of the pass rushers in the draft’s top tiers available with the 12th pick in this scenario and, given the other players who have come off the board, they should sprint to the podium faster than Montez Sweat’s 4.41-second 40-yard dash. Yes, the team bolstered its pass rush in free agency with the additions of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, drastically lessening the need to land one of the top edge rushers in the draft. In fact, these signings plus the addition of safety Adrian Amos and guard Billy Turner free up the Packers to truly stick to their best value available strategy.
However, on this board, Sweat is absolutely that guy — plus, you can never have too many pass rushers. Adding a tremendous athlete like Sweat to this rotation will allow all of these players to stay a bit more fresh as a long season wears on, while hopefully sacrificing little, if anything, in terms of talent when one of the Smiths needs a breather. Sweat has experience rushing both standing up and with a hand in the dirt, and he may well be asked to do both in Green Bay. Plus, Za’Darius Smith is already expected to rush from the interior on passing downs, so that provides a great pathway to getting all three acquisitions on the field at once. Sweat’s ridiculous athletic ability and production just make him too good to pass up here.
Green Bay still has needs on offense and at safety, but the board — and the fact the Packers have an extra first-round pick at No. 30 — set up to to fill those holes later on. When you can draft a true impact player who can make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, you do it.
Analysis: If Sweat is available, it’s true, he would be hard to pass up. While Za’Darius Smith had 8.5 sacks last season, in three previous years combined he had just 10 total. Preston Smith has been inconsistent as a sack presence. He had eight sacks in both 2015 and 2017. But he had 4.5 and 4 in 2016 and 2018, respectively. While on the surface it looks like the Packers fixed their pass rush, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add to it.
The issue, however, is still with a tight end. T.J. Hockenson may have been gone in this mock draft, but his Iowa teammate Noah Fant is still available.
Top five remaining players:
- 8. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
- 10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
- 12. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
- 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
- 16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Coming at 11 a.m. ET tomorrow is pick No. 13, with the great Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider making the selection for the Miami Dolphins.
What grade do you give the Green Bay Packers selection of Montez Sweat?
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