Print and Go Back NFL Nation [Print without images]

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Packers

By Rob Demovsky

The Green Bay Packers began the process of rebuilding their defense by adding free-agent pass rusher Julius Peppers and re-signing several of their own key players -- B.J. Raji, Sam Shields and Mike Neal among them -- but there's still much to do in next month's draft.

Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today, and his projected first-round pick for the Packers at No. 21 overall should help in that process.

The ESPN draft expert has the Packers selecting Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier.

That's a change from his previous mock draft, in which he pegged Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley for the Packers at that spot.

It's not that he has changed his mind about whether the Packers would take Mosley; he still believes they would. However, now it looks as if Mosley may be off the board before the Packers are on the clock. In fact, he has Mosley going two spots earlier to the Miami Dolphins.

With either Mosley or Shazier, the Packers would have a chance to upgrade their linebacker group. Shazier is a tad on the small side (6-foot-1, 237 pounds) but, like Mosley, he can run. While Shazier is listed as an outside linebacker, he likely would play the weak-side inside spot in a 3-4 defense like the Packers run.

In that spot, he could challenge Brad Jones for a starting job.

"Watch Ohio State tape of the last two seasons, and you see Shazier consistently playing faster than everyone else," Kiper said. “He'll line up next to A.J. Hawk and solidify a need spot for the Packers."

Speaking of needs, Kiper sees the Packers filling another one in the second round, where he projects they will take Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro. He would give the Packers an athletic, pass-catching tight end like they had in Jermichael Finley, whose status remains unclear following last season's neck injury and subsequent surgery.