By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The safest NFL Draft prediction is that the Packers will be deeper and more talented by next week.
Green Bay has ammunition to manipulate NFL Draft depending on who’s available
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The question is how much deeper and more talented?
Will it be enough to help Packers coach Mike McCarthy stay ahead of Chicago and leapfrog Minnesota and Detroit? Will it be enough to resuscitate a dormant defense? Will it be enough to replenish a once-prolific offense?
The first step to making that happen is the Packers’ draft board. If the personnel and coaching staffs have done their job, the Packers will be able to select an impact player with the 14th pick.
In today’s Internet-driven world, the plethora of mock drafts generally agree on the top 15-to-20 players available when the NFL Draft kicks off its first round Thursday at 7 p.m.
The trick is to select the best player when you’re on the clock.
Here are the Packers’ best, worst and likely scenarios …
** WORST SCENARIO: It begins with the Packers’ brain trust being merely lukewarm on players at the greatest positions of need. Let’s say Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry and UT-San Antonio linebacker Marcus Davenport are on the board when the Packers are on the clock. Green Bay likes them, but doesn’t love them, and certainly not with the 14th pick.
Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, whom I believe they would draft in a heartbeat at 14, is already gone.
Tick, tick, tick …
In addition, they’re not in the market for a safety, and there aren’t any cornerbacks they have a high-to-mid first-round grade on besides Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, who will be long gone.
Tick, tick, tick …
No other teams have called to inquire about a trade, or at least, to inquire with a worthy offer.
Tick, tick, tick …
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the podium.
He reads the card and says, “With the 14th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select (drum roll) Mike McGlinchey, tackle, Notre Dame.”
If you don’t think it can happen think again.
Defending the selection of a starting right tackle is actually easy.
Bryan Bulaga, who is tough as they come, is rehabilitating a season-ending knee injury. He won’t be available at the outset of training camp. His likely replacements include Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy and perhaps Justin McCray.
Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger, or more mobile, in the coming seasons. His health is of the utmost importance. Frankly he’s been running for his life far too long. With 30-plus sack seasons continuing at an alarming rate, the line needs help.
McGlinchey is a safe pick. He is the second-best lineman in the draft behind Quenton Nelson, a guard from Notre Dame. He also should be the season-opening starter at right tackle.
McGlinchey (6-8, 312) did 24 reps at 220 pounds and posted a 28 ½ inch vertical leap at the NFL’s scouting combine. He is a former tight end whose natural athleticism enables him to execute “move” blocks with control and balance.
His technique is strong, his strength is OK but will improve, and his leadership as a two-time captain is unquestioned.
Nevertheless, if the Packers take McGlinchey – and it may be the correct decision – many fans are going to be disappointed.
The reason is they have more faith in Rodgers’ ability to escape, and offensive line coach James Campen’s ability to coach them up, that they feel like Spriggs, Murphy or someone will emerge.
That’s all good until no one emerges and Rodgers gets blasted.
As a “worst-case scenario” goes, a starting-caliber tackle at 14 isn’t all bad.
** BEST SCENARIO: Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds is there, or either Landry or Davenport is available and the Packers have correctly judged their impact as a pass rusher.
If the Packers believe Landry or Davenport can bring juice to the pass rush right away – and they’re right – it’s a no-brainer.
There are too many really good, very similar cornerbacks available in the late-first to mid-second round range to reach on one at 14.
That’s why this best scenario also includes trading back into the first round or up into the early second to select Iowa’s Josh Jackson, UCF’s Mike Hughes or Louisville’s Jaire Alexander.
If the Packers get a pass rusher (Landry, Davenport) and a cornerback (Jackson, Hughes) they will have had a very productive and promising draft.
** MOST LIKELY SCENARIO: The Packers will stay put at 14 and select the top player on their board.
That means either Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick or Florida State’s Derwin James will be taken by Green Bay.
The good news is that neither is a converted point guard, centerfielder or goalie.
If it’s either defensive back I won’t be surprised, but I will be intrigued by how new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine plans to employ a high-talent safety in the Packers’ secondary.
My advice: Start him. If he’s worthy of the 14th overall pick, he’s certainly good enough to start on Green Bay’s defense.
After that, I would implement Phase II: Drafting a pass rusher, a cornerback, a receiver and a tackle with my next four selections.
I will be posting a “first-round reaction” column in this space on Friday morning, as well as a “draft recap” column on Monday.