Six Pack: some options for the 27th pick tonight
The Green Bay Packers have the 27th selection in Thursday night's NFL draft. Here are six possible options on the Pack's radar, with expert commentary on each:
Andrew Billings, defensive tackle, Baylor – A 2015 first-team All-American, Billings helped the Baylor Bears achieve the most successful three-year span in school history, which included 32 wins and two conference championships. Insight from Todd McShay of ESPN: “Billings has an outstanding combination of quickness, athleticism and power, which helps him wreak havoc on the interior. He'd be a plug-and-play starter for the Packers, who are looking to find a difference-maker on the interior after B.J. Raji announced he's taking a hiatus from football.”
Reggie Ragland, linebacker, Alabama – hailed as the top inside linebacker in this year’s draft. Rated by cbssports.com as the 15th best overall prospect in this draft. Some teams have “flagged” Ragland, or moved him down their draft boards, because of an enlarged aorta that requires yearly monitoring. Fellow Packers Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and Eddie Lacy were also high draft picks out of the University of Alabama. Charles Davis from NFL.com: "The Packers get their inside, downhill thumper, and Clay Matthews gets to move back to outside linebacker on a permanent basis. The Pack's overall defense gets better."
A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle, Alabama – a consensus All-American and a finalist for the Outland Trophy in 2015, Robinson was a key cog in the third ranked defense in the country for an Alabama team that won the national championship. With B.J. Raji on hiatus, Robinson can fill an immediate need. Jonathan Valencia of BreakingFootball.com: “The Packers really could use some help on the defensive line alongside Mike Daniels. While they have solid players in Boyd, Jones etc. a guy like A'Shawn Robinson immediately improves that unit. Robinson has a tremendous combination of size, strength and athleticism. He finds himself in a great fit with the Packers."
Vernon Butler, defensive tackle, Louisiana Tech – a bit of an “underdog” from a small school who flew under the radar until his strong showing in the months leading up to draft day. He would be the first defensive player from his school ever selected in the first round of a draft. Dan Kadar of SBNation: "The Packers need some talent up front, and Butler is a player who could line up in a number of different positions. That versatility, coupled with no off-field concerns, pushes him ahead of Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss."
Jarran Reed, defensive tackle, Alabama – spent his first few years at East Mississippi Community College before transferring to Alabama in 2014. He was part of the Crimson Tide defensive line that held Wisconsin to just 40 rushing yards in their matchup last fall. Scouts praise his ability to stop the run, and believe he’ll be ready to start in the NFL immediately. Pete Fituak of collegefootballnews.com: "Defensive tackle is the desperate need pick for the Packers, and several are going to be on the board… Reed might be the massive B.J. Raji-type of anchor, but he's an active prospect for the interior."
Darron Lee, linebacker, Ohio State – second team AP All-American in 2015 who was a freshman All-American the year before. An all-around athlete who played quarterback, wide receiver, safety and returned punts and kickoffs in high school. His mom Candice is a news anchor for a TV station in Columbus, where Lee starred with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Matt Miller from the Bleacher report: “Darron Lee is the best linebacker in the 2016 draft class without a knee issue. As it stands, he's a legitimate top-20 prospect and one of the best playmakers in the defensive class.”