With the hopes of a Super Bowl repeat now miles behind us all, the attention now reverts to what exactly the Green Bay Packers are going to do in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Packers have some very pressing needs—particularly on defense—and today we're going to attempt to go inside the "Packers war room" with our own 2012 Green Bay Packers Mock Draft.
Despite the obvious needs of the Green and Gold, however, there are a few other positions that the Packers could entertain, so let's take a look.
Round 1: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
6'2", 265 pounds
Number one priority for the Green Bay Packers has to be a quality outside pass rusher, and considering their scheme, they have a few options they can explore in an effort to help them with their requisite.
Courtney Upshaw could certainly be available once Green Bay's 28th pick comes rolling around, and if he is, the Packers would be hard pressed to pass up on one of the best edge pass rushers in the draft. Upshaw recorded 52 tackles and led the Crimson Tide defense in both tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (7).
While Upshaw could probably fit in both 3 and 4-man defensive fronts, his best case scenario would be teams running 3-man fronts—ya know, like Green Bay.
Other possibilities could also include OLB/DE Nick Perry from USC or even DE Andre Branch from Clemson.
Round 2: Kelechi Osemele, OG/LT, Iowa State
6'5", 347 pounds:
There is a growing sentiment that LT Chad Clifton will not return next year, and even if he does, his best days are so far behind him they aren't even in the rear view mirror anymore.
To worsen this scenario, the Packers have little to speak in Marshall Newhouse and Herb Taylor, making the need for a top notch LT absolutely paramount.
Kelechi Osemele is the type of player who could conceivably come right in and take over as Aaron Rodgers' primary defender. Osemele started his career at Iowa State at guard, but moved over to left tackle in his junior year and finished there.
Osemele is a solid "stationary" defender who isn't easily bulled over thanks to his size and strength, and it's that size and strength that also helps him to be a solid run defender as well—a true dual-talent that the Packers are in the market for.
Other possibilities could also include OT Mike Adams (Ohio State),
Round 3: Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State
5'10", 198 pounds:
Do not let the size specification fool you into thinking a 5'10" corner has no business being inside a demanding Packers defense because it just so happens that Johnson was State's shut-down corner which is the very type of player the Packers need on D.
Dom Capers is probably going to move CB Charles Woodson over to safety this off-season out of necessity, which leaves a gaping hole at CB, and I do not believe Sam Shields—the next player in line for the job at CB—is the long-term answer.
Johnson is the type of player who could be an immediate impact player for the Packers, and with the stellar play of fellow corner Tramon Williams, and Woodson at safety (likely with Morgan Burnett), the porous Packers secondary can easily get a lot better with just the right addition, like Johnson.
Remember, this is the same kid who held Oklahoma State wide-out Justin Blackmon to under a 100 yards during the regular season while also holding Rutgers All-Big East first team wide-out Mohamed Sanu to 62 receiving yards in the Pinstripe Bowl, despite the losing effort.
Other possibilities could be SS Harrison Smith of Notre Dame if Woodson stays at corner.
Round 4: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
5'11", 200 pounds:
A few fans may not consider a RB as part of the targeted positions within the Packers' draft, but the fact of the matter is they really do need to scoop one up for several reasons.
First and foremost, no-one really knows whether or not RB Ryan Grant will return, and even if he does, how effective he will be. Counter back James Starks is showing himself to be a growing health liability, and 3rd RB Brandon Saine cannot fully be trusted.
Secondly, the Packers need to find a RB that can not only provide insurance on the depth chart, but also provide them a flashy kick returner much in the same mold as Saints RB/KR Darren Sproles, so they can move Randall Cobb to a full-time gig as a receiver while preserving a potent return threat.
Cyrus Gray provides all of this.
To sweeten the deal even more is the fact that the kid was a star quarterback in high school and a competent slot receiver as a true Freshman. Gray rushed for a total of 3,298 yards on 632 attempts (19.1 average) with 30 rushing TDs, while adding 776 receiving yards on 103 catches (13.2 average) with six touchdowns.
What I would LOVE to see happen here is the Packers strike gold and wind up with Temple's super-back Bernard Pierce (6'0", 218), but I admit it is more wishful thinking than anything else.
Round 5: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
5'11", 210 pounds:
At some point the Packers are gonna need to grab themselves a quarterback, especially if backup Matt Flynn leaves for greener pastures, which is expected.
I don't see the Packers wasting a higher pick on this position, and by the time the fifth round comes traipsing along, Wilson should be the best available option on the board.
Wilson was the nation's most efficient quarterback in 2011 with his 191.78 QB rating which was roughly 22 points higher than the next highest rated QB from a pro-style offense...hmmm, what's his name? Oh yeah, Andrew Luck.
Wilson finished his college career completing 888 passes out of 1,464 attempts (61.0%) for 11,424 yards and a 107:29 TD:INT ratio.
Round 6: George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State
6'5", 265 pounds
Don't think the Packers are in the market for a TE? Well there is good reason to believe that they very well could be come time draft day.
Green Bay could do themselves a favor by grabbing another true pass-catching TE for scheme and depth purposes. Current backup Tom Crabtree is not the awnser since he is primarily used as a blocking TE, Andrew Quarless is sure to start the 2012 season on the PUP list with his blownout knee, and forget about D. J. Williams as a viable option as he is clearly still in his developmental stage.
It isn't set in stone that Packers will even target a TE, however, and another consideration could wind up being another developmental corner such as Penn State's D'Anton Lynn (6'0", 208 pounds) which would also be a solid selection.
Round 7: Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
6'0", 280 pounds
At this point in the draft, the Packers should be targeting depth and development which could lead them to grabbing a defensive tackle.
Daniels is a great back-end prospect who was also invited to the Senior Bowl which is sort of a big deal, especially for a guy project as a late round selection.
Daniels got his start as a junior registering 40 tackles—11.0 for a loss—and 4.0 sacks while also earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
In his senior year Daniels finished with 67 tackles and a team-best 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors...not a bad selection at all!
Got a player on your mind you think the Packers should target? Leave your nomination below and get the debate going!