Well, the day is finally here. We'll find out tonight who the Packers' next first round pick will be...maybe. It's possible that they'll trade their first round pick, dropping down into the second round in hopes of accumulating more picks over the long run. In fact, that may be the most likely option for the Packers, although standing pat at the 26th selection might not be the worst thing in the world either.
But if they do stay at 26, who will they pick? Obviously, that depends on a lot of things, and a lot of time and effort goes into predicting who a team will take and where. Fortunately, we've been doing leg work on the Packers' potential draft pick for over two months now, and hopefully the insights below will be of some use.
As I'm sure you remember, the last 10 weeks we've posted a "Draft Digest" every Tuesday, analyzing who the Internet thinks the Packers will pick. Overall, we ended up analyzing 109 different mock drafts, and Tyler Eifert was predicted as the first man off the board for the Packers in 19 of those 109, or 16.7%, as reflected in the pie chart below.
For sake of comparison, you can see who else was predicted the most frequently in this chart: [googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="key=0AjibD3xw4_9IdEUzQ0VQWFM4VmxnTDBSYUgzNWxwYnc&output=html&widget=true" width="525" height="325" /]
Although it's fun to predict a specific player, it might be more effective to predict a position the Packers will choose to target. For one thing, there are fewer positions to choose from. For another, I think a team is more likely to say "we need a defensive lineman" more than "we need Datone Jones." With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the 109 mock drafts, grouped by positions.
Considering the Packers' needs, this might be a more realistic breakdown. But again, who will the Packers actually pick?
Although I don't like making mock draft style predictions, I'll go out on a limb and make one here. Are you ready? Here is my OFFICIAL 2013 NFL DRAFT PREDICTION:
If they don't trade down, the Packers will draft Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, UCLA defensive end Datone Jones, or another lineman.
Yeah, I know, it's a cop out. I qualified the prediction first, then I added a second prediction, and then I couched it by adding a position group. And yes, there's a good chance both those players will be off the board by the time the Packers pick. Deal with it.
But you know what? I had fun making that one prediction, so I'll make a few more. Here they are.
1. At least two quarterbacks will be selected in the first round. - Yes, it's a weak year for quarterbacks. Yes, some analysts are saying that no quarterbacks will be taken in the first round. I know these things. But I also know that quarterback is the most overvalued position in the draft, and no team wants to feel like they're not working to improve the game's most important position. So with that in mind, I don't think the first round passes without at least two quarterbacks going off the board.
2. The Packers will trade down at some point. - If it doesn't happen in the first round, Ted Thompson will make work of acquiring more picks in a later round. Entering the draft holding just eight selections has to gall Thompson, and I can't imagine he won't try to find more.
3. The Packers will draft a wide receiver. - Ted Thompson has had great success drafting receivers, and he's coming up on a situation where he'll need more soon, with both James Jones and Jermichael Finley possibly heading to free agency next year. It's almost a given that one of the two will be headed somewhere else next year, and the Packers need to maintain their stable of pass catchers.
4. The Packers won't draft a running back before the fourth round. - Yes, the Packers probably do need one, but I don't know if they need to take one early. They need help on the offensive and defensive lines before they think running back, and although this year's crop of ball carriers isn't outstanding, there are options available late.