Super Bowl LII is right around the corner, but for most fans, draft season has begun. While Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin plan on revamping the offense, it feels likely that the Packers will favor defense in the draft once again. Here are four prospects the Packers might have their eyes on to help Mike Pettine turn around the defense.
Josh Jackson: Cornerback – Iowa
The Big Ten Defensive Back Of The Year (2017) is only getting started after his fantastic 2017 season at Iowa where he led the nation in interceptions (8), tying former Hawkeye Desmond King for most in school history. Jackson would be a great edition to this Pettine defense as he’s able to perform man-to-man effectively and has the right amount of speed to keep up with the very best the NFL has to offer.
Marcus Davenport: EDGE – Texas-San Antonio
Like Jackson, Davenport’s speed on the edge is exactly what the Packers are looking for to help repair a struggling defense. Davenport was the 2017 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. He also recorded 21.5 sacks and 185 tackles in his tenure with UTSA (2014-2017). Davenport is exactly what the Packers look for in a 3-4 outside linebacker due to his ability to rush the passer and step back in coverage when needed.
Armani Watts: Safety – Texas A&M:
In 2017 Watts was named to the ALL-SEC first-team with 87 total tackles and 4 interceptions. Watts might not be on the level of Jackson or Davenport but he is very precise in his play style and you honestly never know how anyone will translate into the NFL until game day. Watts would be a great addition to the team and he could really bring a unique element to this Pettine led defense. With Haha Clinton-Dix coming off his worst season yet (2017) it would be the smart move to start possibly building off a new core of safeties in case Clinton-Dix continues to perform the way he did in 2017.
Darius Leonard: Linebacker – South Carolina
The Packers have been lacking pass rush in recent seasons and Leonard seems like the guy that could help change that. In 2017 Leonard led South Carolina with 113 tackles and is 2nd in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in total tackles. He leads the Bulldogs in sacks (8) and is only four sacks behind Stefen Banks who led the conference in total sacks. Leonard’s ability to blitz through the middle could go a long way in turning around this defense, and with Clay Matthews entering the final year of his contract at age 31, the Packers need to start thinking about the next generation of Packers Linebackers. Leonard would look good alongside Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan when Matthews eventually retires.
These four players have a lot of potential and, if drafted by the Packers, could be key parts to a much better defensive unit, especially with Mike Pettine as Defensive Coordinator. Pettine is known as a teacher and motivator, so if anyone can get the best out of them, I would bet on him. These obviously aren’t the only candidates to consider, but I narrowed it down to these four because I believe they would be a good fit in Green Bay and they have what it takes to help turn the Packers defense around.
What names are you hoping to hear the Packers call on draft day?