1st Round Pick 29: OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
The Packers need an edge rusher after the departure of Datone Jones, the team leader in pressures, and Julius Peppers who notched 7.5 sacks. Green Bay did sign Nick Perry to a five-year $59 million dollar deal but another player is needed to complement and compete with Perry.
The Packers should have a chance to address their edge rush needs in the first round. Takkarist McKinley of UCLA would fill the need and is projected to be attainable as a late first round pick. McKinley has been rising up draft boards after posting impressive sack and tackle for loss numbers. The 6’2” 250lbs outside linebacker/defensive end received first team All-Pac-12 honors after racking up 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and six pass breakups in his senior year. McKinley projects best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense and has the talent to be a day one starter for the Packers.
2nd Round Pick 29 61st Overall: OG Dion Dawkins, Temple
Aaron Rodgers is without question the most valuable player on Green Bay’s roster. One of the best quarterbacks in the game, Rodgers is the life blood of the offense. With so much riding on one player the Packers need to keep Rodgers healthy. This is why T.J. Lang’s departure is so potentially dangerous. The presumptive starter, if the Packers do not make an outside move, is the underwhelming Don Barclay. To protect Rodgers the Packers need to draft a quality guard to replace Lang. Enter Dion Dawkins.
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The biggest question about Dawkins is not about his talent, only where he will play. Most draft analysts project Dawkins as a guard believing he might be better in short areas than in open space as a tackle. A full time three-year starter at Temple, Dion Dawkins has experience in zone and gap running schemes. Dawkins earned second-team All-American Athletic Conference honors in 2015 and first-team accolades in 2016. At 6’4″ 314lbs Dawkins would likely start and will certainly compete for the right guard position in the wake of T.J. Lang.
3rd Round Pick 29 93rd Overall: CB Sidney Jones, Washington
The Packers need help in the secondary. To address this the Packers added 27 year old Davon House. In addition to House, Green Bay still believes in former first and second round picks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. Despite the slew of mediocre talent that the Packers already have, they would be greatly helped by adding another corner. Seemingly in response to their need, this year’s cornerback class is exceptionally deep. The Packers would be wise to cover themselves if and when Randall and Rollins struggle and draft a talented corner.
This is where Sidney Jones comes in. Jones was viewed as one of the best cornerbacks in the class when the draft process started, after leading the Husky defense to the college football playoff. Then Jones tore his Achilles at his pro day. The injury is expected to sideline him for four to six months and could put him in danger of not being ready for training camp. It is possible that Jones could miss a couple games or his entire rookie season. With the depth at corner in the first three rounds, teams could end up erring on the side of caution and taking healthy players with less upside. If all goes well the Packers would get one of the best corners in the late third round. Even if all does not go well then Jones would likely only miss his rookie season and will bolster the 2018 Packers squad. If Jones had stayed healthy he would have been a first-round pick. In the wake of his injury however, the Packers have a chance at a huge steal.
— Patrick Backlas covers the Green Bay Packers as a columnist for cover32 Packers. Connect and follow on Twitter @PatrickBacklas