It happened right around the time Aaron Rodgers uttered the words, “run the table.”
The Green Bay Packers offense, stuck in neutral much of 2016, shifted into fifth gear.
Over the final nine games last season, Green Bay averaged 30.8 points per contest and went 8-1 overall. That was a 24.7% jump after the Packers scored 24.7 points in their first 10 games and went 4-6 overall.
Now, after adding tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks via free agency, it seems highly unlikely that Green Bay would use its first-round draft pick on an offensive player. But with general manager Ted Thompson, you’re never quite sure of anything.
Green Bay’s greatest offensive need is at guard, where Pro Bowler T.J. Lang left in free agency. The Packers also need to find another running back to pair with Ty Montgomery. And considering Thompson’s love for wide receivers (he’s taken seven in the first three rounds), it’s certainly possible he could add another wideout to the fray.
If Thompson makes the surprise decision to draft offense in the first round, here are several players who could be possibilities:
G, West. Kentucky (6-4, 309)
Lamp is widely regarded as the best guard in the draft and would likely step in for Lang from Day 1. Lamp was a four-year starter at left tackle at WKU, but projects to guard because of his height and arm length (321/4).
Lamp had an impressive 34 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL combine. He also showed his athleticism by running the 40-yard dash in 5.0 seconds.
If anyone had doubts about Lamp hailing from a smaller school, he erased them with a dominant performance against Alabama in 2016. Many scouts have compared Lamp to Dallas’ Zach Martin, who has been named to the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons.
“I don’t watch film on other offensive linemen (in this draft) so I don’t know if I am the best lineman, the 10th best offensive lineman,” Lamp said. “But I am here for a reason.”
RB, Florida State (5-10, 210)
In Thompson’s first 12 drafts, he’s never taken a running back before the second round. In 2013, Thompson took Eddie Lacy with the 61st overall pick, and in 2007, he took Brandon Jackson at No. 63.
So it would be unchartered territory for Thompson to go with a running back at pick No. 29. But Cook could be a difference maker and help lift Green Bay’s running game from below average to special.
Cook ran for 3,456 yards and 38 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Florida State. He can also catch the ball, as evidenced by his 57 receptions for 732 yards the last two seasons.
Cook has decent power (22 bench press reps) and speed (4.49) and is a home run hitter the Packers haven’t had from the backfield since Ahman Green. On the flip side, Cook has had a series of off-the-field incidents, problems with fumbles and two shoulder surgeries.
“Like I tell every team, I’m open and willing to answer every question,” Cook said. “I ain’t hiding nothing. If they ask I’m willing to answer. I’m willing to move forward to be a better person.”
G, Indiana (6-4, 305)
Feeney was a four-year starter at right guard at Indiana. And most scouts have him second behind Lamp in this year’s class of guards.
Feeney is quick off the ball, agile, and a quality zone blocker. Feeney has decent arm length (333/8) and did 26 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL combine.
The biggest questions are medical, as Feeney missed the 2013 season with a Lisfranc injury and four games in 2016 due to concussions.
Feeney also played three years with current Packers tackle Jason Spriggs.
“Took a lot from Jason Spriggs,” Feeney said. “He’s given me a lot of tips and tricks – just to kind of stay positive through this whole process. Just to keep consistent and be who you are. I got here for a reason, with a lot of help from teammates, coaches and family.”
G, Temple (6-4, 315)
Dawkins has a rare combination of size and athleticism. Dawkins has a huge upper body, enormous arms (35 inches) and big hands (97/8). Dawkins did 26 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.11 seconds.
Dawkins has the athleticism to play tackle. But strength might be Dawkins’ greatest attribute, making him likely to move inside to guard.
“It's basically getting two boxes of pizza for the price of one,” Dawkins said of his versatility. “It's a blessing that I have the opportunity to play multiple positions well. I'm planning on learning center, too.”
G, West. Michigan (6-5, 319)
Moton was a four-year starter at Western Michigan, and his best season came at guard in 2015. That’s where most scouts believe he’ll excel.
Moton has a massive frame, long arms (341/8) and enormous hands (105/8). Moton can dominate at the point of attack with sheer power, but his footwork needs work.
“Wherever they put me I’ll be ready,” Moton said. “I know I played tackle this past year, but I’ve been working guard as well, so wherever I go I’ll make sure I’m ready when they throw me in there.
“It is a challenge, but if you put the reps in and the time... I think then it becomes a lot easier the more and more you do. When I do pass-set to tackle and pass and pass-set to guard, then I feel comfortable at both. It’s a tough transition if you make it one. If you just keep at both of them, then you’ll be OK. That’s been my experience.”
RB, Stanford (5-11, 202)
There are some that believe McCaffrey will be a top-10 pick in the draft.
Others see him lasting until late in the first round.
It seems like a longshot that McCaffrey would be around at pick No. 29.
If McCaffrey is available, though, Thompson would be hard pressed to pass.
McCaffrey ran for more than 3,600 yards the last two years, caught 82 passes and had 29 total touchdowns.
McCaffrey has the versatility, shiftiness and athleticism that defenses can’t handle, and he could take Green Bay’s offense from good to great.
“I don't think there's anyone else that can do all the things I can as far as running between the tackles, outside pass protect, play X, Z, slot and do a lot of things in the return game as well,” McCaffrey said.
“I think that's what sets me apart.”
Packer Plus is published 40 times per year. To subscribe, call 1-844-900-7103