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Mocking the Draft: Who the Draftniks Are Picking for the Green Bay Packers in the First Round

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COMMENTARY | Mock draft season is appropriately named because, for the most part, it's a silly exercise in guessing. It just happens to be the most entertaining way to spend the offseason and I, myself, am guilty of having a minor obsession with all things draft-related.

As such, I cannot mock the mockers.

One of the ways I analyze the draft is to aggregate information and opinions on players from around the league, including some of those (most trusted) media player evaluators. Guys like Gil Brandt and Daniel Jeremiah who actually used to scout for a living, tend to carry more weight in terms of the evaluators you want to be paying attention to if you're scouring the net for the best information.

Mocking is also something NFL teams actually do, at least to some degree. They keep their eyes and ears open and tend to have a pretty good idea, at least in the first round, who is going to be available when they're picking.

Because the evaluation process for this draft class is far from over with a host of additional offseason poking and prodding still to come, it's early in the game to really be trying to mock for accuracy.

Furthermore, free agency will throw a whole new kink into the plans of teams with major needs. Whomever nabs Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings is suddenly much less likely to be targeting a receiver in the first round.

With the draft still two months away, the best thing to do for fans is to take a look at the different mocks and look for two things: the positions you see most often associated with your teams, and any players who consistently come up.

You do this for a number of reasons, but the most important is that when you understand what the needs of your team are, it's easier to predict how the team will draft. Second, if you see a particular name consistently linked with a team, it's not that its any more likely the team will pick that player, but there tends be a somewhat obvious fit.

With the Green Bay Packers, it gets a little more complicated because Ted Thompson is something of a wild card. He could draft Matt Barkley in the first round and no one would be particularly shocked.

For the Packers, I've done the work for you when it comes to searching the net for the best mock drafts from the most trusted and respected NFL evaluators. It will give you an initial idea of Green Bay's needs and the types of players the Packers could be targeting.

Remember though, these are mostly based on the bias and personnel evaluation of the writer himself, not on any intel from the team. It's just too early for that kind of work.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN - Eddie Lacy RB Alabama

Tod McShay, ESPN - Johnathan Jenkins DT Georgia

Josh Norris, RotoWorld/NFL.com - Johnathan Cyprien S Florida International University

Todd Wright, NFL Draft Countdown - Zach Ertz TE Stanford

Optimum Scouting - Corey Lemonier OLB/DE Auburn

Draft Breakdown - Dallas Thomas G/T Tennessee

Tony Pauline, USA Today/Sports Illustrated - Eddie Lacy RB Alabama

Rob Rang, CBS Sports - D.J. Fluker OT Alabama

Dane Brugler CBS Sports - Alec Ogletree LB Georgia

SB Nation - Kevin Minter LB LSU

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com - Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame

Charles Davis, NFL.com - Barrett Jones G/C Alabama

Gil Brandt NFL.com - Travis Frederick C Wisconsin

Albert Breer NFL.com - Zach Ertz TE Stanford

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com - Xavier Rhodes CB Florida State

There are certainly others out there worth noting, but this list has a few obvious trends. Of the 15 mocks listed above, eight of them had the Packers taking either a linebacker or an offensive linemen. Two each had Eddie Lacy and Zach Ertz. Two more had defensive backs with the outlier being Jenkins at nose tackle.

Ted Thompson has, with the exception of Aaron Rodgers, used his first round pick on a defensive front seven player or offensive linemen every season since he took over. Linebacker and offensive line are two of Green Bay's biggest needs and it makes sense to believe that Thompson will want to bring some added physicality to this team. If history is any indication, this is the best place to start.

It's worth noting that a month ago I named Kevin Minter, Dallas Thomas and Travis Frederick as potential targets for the Packers. Since then, not much has changed significantly and I think all three will be on Green Bay's radar, although whether or not they have first round value is a significant question. To me, Minter is the only first round talent in that group.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that Jermichael Finley was about 50/50 to return to the Packers, which does leave the door open for a player like Zach Ertz, although Thompson tends to view tight ends as middle round commodities.

Eddie Lacy is an intriguing player who catupulted himself into the first round discussion with an outstanding BCS Title Game. The Packers were rumored to be interested in Alabama running back Mark Ingram when he came out, but New Orleans traded up to nab him.

Does Lacy have first round value given the Packers' scheme? It seems unlikely. Green Bay can and should draft a running back in this year's deep class though.

Norris' take for RotoWorld is an interesting one. Johnathan Cyprien is a little-known safety from a little-known school, but when you watch him on film, he looks like an NFL safety. I think that in a pretty good safety class the Packers will nab one, but there is likely more value in the second or third round.

Could it be Cyprien in the first? It's hard to know, but it does seem like a very "Ted Thompsony" thing to do. An enforcer in the back end would make Morgan Burnett's job as a center fielder - where he has shown considerable improvement and talent - a lot easier.

My best guess as of right now is that if one of the top left tackles were to fall to 26 where Green Bay picks, they won't let him pass by. Otherwise, the top defensive player on the board will be the pick. For what it's worth, I had the Packers taking Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams in the mock I did for NEPatriotsDraft.com earlier this week, based on Green Bay's desire to find a more suitable 3-4 defensive end. Williams has the versatility to play inside on the nickel as well, offering added versatility.

It will take some time before we figure out the range of players that might be available, but this is a good place to start. Once the boards are a little more organized and free agency has hit full swing, I will profile the players most likely on Green Bay's radar in more depth.

Until then, happy mocking.

Peter Bukowski lives in New York and has been covering sports since 2007. He is an award-winning television and newspaper reporter. Follow him on Twitter @BukoTime

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