Titletown is once again without a title. Aaron Rodgers has taken the Green Bay Packers to four NFC Championship Games since their last Super Bowl success. However, they fell at the final hurdle again this year. Presuming Rodgers doesn’t walk away this spring, how can they improve his surrounding cast for another run next season through the NFL Draft? This Packers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft attempts to answer that very question.
Packers Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round Mock Draft
- Round 1, Pick 29: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
- Round 2, Pick 60: Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
- Round 3, Pick 92: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
- Round 4, Pick 128: Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
- Round 5, Pick 159: Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC
- Round 6, Pick 191: Quinn Meinerz, OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater
- Round 7, Pick 221: Pooka Williams, RB, Kansas
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Packers 2021 NFL Mock Draft pick-by-pick analysis
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The old saying goes, “offense wins games, defense wins championships.” Nowhere will that phrase ring more true on Super Bowl Sunday than in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers had arguably one of the best offenses in football in the 2020 regular season. Despite this, they were undone by defensive ineptitude multiple times this season.
There are multiple areas of defensive need. However, the opportunity to address a major one comes early in this Packers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft. Green Bay attempted to resolve the need at linebacker last season when they acquired Christian Kirksey in free agency.
In addition, the Packers added Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes to the fold through the NFL Draft. However, it still feels like they need improvement in that area of the field.
What better way to improve your defense than with the best defensive player in college football? Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins won the Bronko Nagurski Award after a breakout campaign for the Golden Hurricane. Collins showed ability as a pass-rushing, run-stuffing, pass-covering linebacker in a season that saw him rack up some gaudy statistics in just eight games.
At 6’4″ and 260 pounds, Collins is a similar build to current outside linebacker Preston Smith. As such, there are concerns that he could be purely a pass-rushing linebacker. However, Collins has shown he has enough speed and athleticism in pursuit to make an impact from anywhere in the middle of the field.
Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
Anyone who witnessed the NFC Championship loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be acutely aware of the need here. Even prior to Kevin King’s abysmal performance, there was plenty of doubt over his Packers’ future. Out of contract and underwhelming, King figures to be out of the door before Roger Goodell puts Green Bay on the clock.
King isn’t the only cornerback with an expiring contract either. Both Chandon Sullivan and Parry Nickerson are due to be free agents. There is the depth with the likes of Stanford Samuels III and Josh Jackson. However, it won’t be a surprise to see the Packers use an early-round selection on the position in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In this Packers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, they strike in the second round for Washington cornerback Elijah Molden. Given his height — listed as 5’10” — Molden is considered by many to project as a slot cornerback. Despite this, he has the football intelligence and processing speed to impact the game anywhere in the secondary.
A productive player during his four seasons in Washington, Molden has shown the requisite ball skills to succeed in the NFL. Although he can’t be considered an “elite athlete,” he has enough fluidity and explosiveness to maintain close coverage down the field.
Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Within the first weeks of the 2021 NFL season, David Bakhtiari will turn 30 years old. Although that may not feel old, the Packers need to start planning for life after their All-Pro left tackle. His loss after suffering a season-ending knee injury was felt particularly heavily in the loss to the Buccaneers.
Rodgers was sacked five times on Sunday night. Considering that the offensive line had allowed just 21 sacks all season (third-fewest in the NFL), it puts into context how important Bakhtiari has been in Green Bay.
In the third round of this Packers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, they secure his long-term replacement. Dillon Radunz has garnered attention as the blindside protector for highly-touted quarterback Trey Lance. Radunz’s abilities as a pass protector and run blocker make him a valuable commodity for any NFL team.
Measuring in at 6’5″ and 304 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Radunz certainly has the requisite size to play left tackle in the NFL. His proficiency in the run game is one of the attributes that make him exciting in the Matt LaFleur offense.
Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
Prior to Sunday’s aerial capitulation against the Buccaneers, the weakness of the Packers’ defense was against the run. Green Bay had allowed an average of 112.8 rushing yards per game and 16 rushing touchdowns in the 2020 regular season. They ranked 14th in the league in both metrics compared to seventh and 11th, respectively, for the comparable passing metric.
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman in the fourth round of this Packers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft helps them in multiple ways. Twyman was a productive run stuffer in high school. Despite appearing to lose some of that production in college, he still tallied 13.5 tackles for loss in just two seasons.
Twyman’s best attributes as a sub-300-pound defensive tackle are his ability to pass rush both inside and out. For a Packers defense that ranked just 24th in quarterback pressures in 2020, his ability to impact the game in multiple ways would be huge.
Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC
Many Packers mock drafts treat the wide receiver position as an early-round priority. Given that Davante Adams had double the production of every other pass catcher in the offense, you can see why that might be considered a need.
However, the Packers ranked first in offensive points, fifth in offensive yards, ninth in passing yards per game, and scored a passing touchdown on 9.1 percent of their passing plays. The offense isn’t the reason why Rodgers and the Packers aren’t playing in the Super Bowl.
That said, a later round pick is a perfect time to add some complementary pieces to the wide receiver room. USC receiver Tyler Vaughns offers intriguing versatility for the Packers. He lined up both in the slot and as a wideout for the Trojans. At 6’2″, he has the length to win in contested-catch situations as well as the hand skills to pluck the ball out of the air securely.
Quinn Meinerz, OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater
The Packers’ moves on the interior of the offensive line this season will revolve around one man. Center Corey Linsley has had an All-Pro season and is one reason the Packers have been so successful offensively. He is a free agent this spring. Although he seems likely to return, if he doesn’t, then center will be the biggest need.
For this Packers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, let’s presume he does return. There is still a need to improve the offensive line’s depth, particularly at the guard position. Quinn Meinerz from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater would be an intriguing developmental prospect in the sixth round.
At 6’3″ and 320 pounds, he is every bit the build of an NFL offensive lineman. Meinerz excels in run blocking, which would make him a good fit in Green Bay. His evaluation will be a lot clearer following the Senior Bowl, where he is expected to be one of the top small-school prospects on show.
Pooka Williams, RB, Kansas
With nearly 450 rushing attempts in the regular season, it’s clear that the ground game is a key part of the Packers’ offense under LaFleur. The selection of A.J. Dillon in the second round of last year’s draft made that perfectly clear. With Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams out of contract, it would appear at least one will leave Green Bay.
That leaves a gap in the Packers’ running back rotation. With their last pick of this 7-round NFL Mock Draft, the Packers fill that hole with Kansas running back Pooka Williams.
Highly productive through his first two seasons at Kansas — 1,000+ rushing yards in each — Williams also provides a passing threat out of the backfield. Williams is short, shifty, and explosive with the ball in the open field. He would make a good gadget player in the Packers’ offense.
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