This could be one of the single-most important drafts in Green Bay Packers history, so I expect GM Brian Gutekunst has been doing his homework and reading my blogs.
If the Packers don’t take my advice and draft both Iowa Tight Ends with their 2 first round picks, then they better have their sights set on an interior linebacker.
There’s actually a decent crop of talent this year at ILB, despite being overshadowed by all the “EDGE” rushers projected to be taken in the first round.
First up is Devin White from LSU.
If you caught any LSU games in 2018, you probably saw Devin White flying around making play after play for the Tigers. I’d love to tell you I was watching LSU games because I wanted to scout White and see how he’d fit in our Defense, but truthfully I’m just a big Coach O fan. Luckily, I got to see White make some huge plays. Those huge plays definitely weren’t few and far between- he put up monster numbers:
123 total tackles, including 12 for loss and he defended 6 passes. Putting up those numbers came easy for White thanks in large part to his speed (4.42 40) and his aggressive playing style. White also won the 2018 Butkus Award; which is awarded to the Best Linebackers in college football.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had high praises for White when speaking with the New Orleans Advocate’s Brooks Kubena, “He’s going to be a Rookie of the Year candidate who’s going to record a ridiculous number of tackles and explosive plays.”
One thing to keep in mind about Devin White, he’s going to come off the board early. There’s a good chance he could land in the Top 10 and there’s no chance he’s there when we pick at 30.
The next interior linebacker prospect is Devin Bush from Michigan.
Bush is slightly on the small side at 5-11 and 243 lbs, but he makes up for it with speed (4.43 40) and athleticism. He’s coming into the draft with positive momentum and may not be on the board at 30, but he’s much more likely to be than Devin White.
Like White, Bush has no problem covering sideline-to-sideline, but what separates him from other LB’s in the draft is his ability to drop into coverage in passing situations.
2018 wasn’t Bush’s best statistical year as he posted 101 tackles and 5 sacks in 2017 compared to his 78 tackles and 5 sacks this past season. There’s no doubt in my mind he could step up as an instant leader for our locker room and he’s shown he has a high football IQ during his time in Ann Arbor.
Bush was a major part of the Wolverines shutting my Badgers down this past year and quite frankly, I’d forgive Gutekunst if he chose Bush at 30 over Noah Fant.
Mack Wilson from Alabama is the 3rd and final interior linebacker I would deem worthy of the Packers first round picks.
(I am not including Tre Lamar from Clemson because I see him being an NFL EDGE rusher)
Wilson is strong in pass coverage and you know who could really benefit from a linebacker who’s comfortable defending the pass? The Green Bay Packers!
Wilson put up solid numbers in 2018, 71 tackles and 5 passes defended to go with 2 interceptions, but keep in mind many Alabama starters didn’t play 2nd half football last year due to blowing out their opponents early.
I foresee the Packers being patient with Wilson and letting him fall into their lap in the 2nd round at 44; which would allow the 2 first round picks to be used the way they ought to be on Iowa Tight Ends.
A physical linebacker who can defend the pass, with acceptable speed (4.79 40) and average size (6-1, 240 lbs) would be a welcomed addition to the interior of Green Bay’s linebacker core.
Many surrounding Wilson called his 2018 campaign an underwhelming performance. If a “poor” final year at Alabama is what’s motivating Wilson to exceed expectations of all the experts, then I can’t wait to see what he does in the NFL.
If/when Gutekunst calls me and asks me which one makes the most sense- I’m telling him that the 12th pick is off limits, that’s reserved for a Tight End. If by an act of God, Devin White is on the board at 24 or lower, he has to trade up and get him. Otherwise, Devin Bush at 30 makes a lot of sense unless he’s confident Mack Wilson will slip to him at 44.
And after I tell him all of that, I’m going to remind him that the 2 Iowa Tight Ends should be his #1 priority along with Alec Ingold in the later rounds.
Have thoughts on what the Packers should do in the Draft? Let me know!