Predictions: Which player will Packers target in first round of NFL draft?
Our Packers reporters predict which player the Packers will draft Thursday in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft:
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: There’s almost no chance that Ward will drop to the Packers at No. 14, so GM Brian Gutekunst will have to package some picks in a trade to move up. If Oakland (No. 10) won’t trade (and takes safety Minkah Fitzpatrick), Miami (No. 11) or Buffalo (or whoever owns No. 12) would be candidates to trade. If the Packers stay put, it’s between edge rusher Marcus Davenport and wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
DRAFT PREVIEW:Cornerbacks and safeties who might fit Packers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, S-CB, Alabama: Of the top seven defensive prospects in this draft, he has the best chance of making it through to No. 14. He’s a versatile player who probably will end up at safety but early in his career should be able to fill the Packers’ opening at starting nickel cornerback.
Derwin James, S, Florida State: In a draft with seven or eight elite players — not counting quarterbacks — the Packers are in a tricky spot at No. 14. Given his stockpile of draft picks, it makes sense for GM Brian Gutekunst to trade up toward the fringe of the top 10. At that point, James should be available after Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds and Denzel Ward are likely gone.
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: If top-tier prospects are off the board, the Packers perhaps could be persuaded to trade back with a Patriots team hoping to move up for a quarterback, gaining the 23rd and 43rd picks for their 14th. Such a scenario would allow the Packers to target their three biggest needs – edge rusher, cornerback and receiver – in the top 45 picks. But the Packers, knowing they might not pick this high again in Aaron Rodgers’ career, covet an elite prospect. Indications are the Packers prefer Ward, who could go as high as No. 5 to Denver. If Ward falls out of the top 10, the Packers could pounce. The guess here is GM Brian Gutekunst trades up with the Dolphins, relinquishing the Packers’ 14th pick along with Nos. 101 and 138 (first picks in the fourth and fifth round) to get his guy at No. 11 overall.
Derwin James, S, Florida State: The Packers have plenty of perimeter cornerbacks but are definitely missing a presence inside. Enter James, who can not only cover but can bring some much-needed juice to the Packers' pass rush.