Here are some considerations other than CB for the top 3 picks, taking a 2 year view in the draft/develop/system acclimation/cap/2018 FA equation (a pretty complicated equation, right?).
The best case for a #1 pick at CB is if the Packers decide to make the plausible (if unlikely) move of Randall to FS where he belongs. See my comments on the safety position below, particularly with regard to McCarthy's stated plan to play Burnett more at ILB.
Otherwise, the author's channeling of the mind of Thompson is a little hard to argue. He does stick with his high picks past the point of pain when injury impairments are factored in. Randall and Rollins would qualify on that score. Also see Perry and Adams as recent examples. I highlight "injury impairments" for a reason; sticking with upper round picks past the point of pain is not some universal Thompson principle. Worthy, a #2 pick, was marginalized in year 2 and then gone. Thornton, a third rounder, was IRed with a hammy out of preseason in what looked like a red shirt move, then gone in final cuts the following year.
I can't say I agree with the thinking as it applies to the perimeter corner position as currently constituted, but there is a pattern of Thompson behavior to be observed.
The need is obvious and does not require much comment. Montgomery is not a 15-20 carry guy; you like him best motioning to the slot or catching out of the backfield. Once defenses adjusted focus, his limitations emerged. While spending a 1st. rounder on that position is implausible, 2nd. round, and certainly by the 3rd. round, should be a strong consideration.
McCarthy has stated he wants to use Burnett more at ILB, presumably to bring more coverage speed to the position. The fact Burnett is the best all-around player and most football-smart in the back 7, it also gives him more play making opportunities. This plan largely depends on Brice's development, a guy with a flash here and there but a lot of cluelessness as well last season.
Taking a 2 year view, both starting safeties are free agents after 2017. As evidenced in this off season, it's not just a matter of prioritizing who you want to keep; it's also a matter of what Thompson has designated as his max price. Clinton-Dix got a Pro Bowl nod on the strength of iffy QBs airmailing several balls into his breadbasket. He's decent, but really not that level of player. He could be priced out of the equation by somebody who's got safety as a high priority.
From the day Randall was drafted my view has been he belongs at FS. My comment at the time went something along the lines of, "What? They're going to move Dix to the perimeter?" Well, Randall-to-safety does not appear to be on the radar even if it should be. Maybe that changes in 2018.
Don't be shocked if there is a safety in the top three picks.
While Matthews/Perry is set, these guys are injury prone and there's nobody behind them you'd want to see taking 40 or 50 snaps per game. Matthews is not getting any younger; his cap number for 2018 is $11.4 mil while his dead cap drops to zero. If Matthews goes through yet another season where he's out or physically impaired for half the games, a decision will need to be made.
Depth, injury history, age are all factors at this high value position.
At the same time, except for the elite draft prospects out of reach at the Packers #1 draft position, you're not likely to find an immediate 3-down player. These guys, drafted first and foremost for athleticism and pass rush ability, typically rotate to pass rush as rookies and build toward a 3-down skill set.
There's an argument here to go first or second round.
Not slot, wideout. Though surprising, don't be shocked if there's a WR is in the top 2 picks if they have a guy on the board with a higher grade falling to that slot. 3rd. round earns a higher probability
Why? In short, the 2 year outlook at the position is sketchy and we know that getting into the Rodgers mind meld is at least a 2 year project. Here's the long story:
This offense is first and foremost a wideout centric passing game. You see what happens when Nelson is out of the lineup or when he's sluggish, limping around and dropping balls as in the early games last season. He's not getting any younger. While his long speed started to recover as the season went along, in the final analysis he's lost a step in his 5th. gear. In year 2 after an ACL we could see a return to "nobody catches him from behind", but at age 32 I would not count on it. In 2018 there's a $12.6 cap number against $2.3 mil dead cap.
Adams is a #2 possession-type receiver. That's not a bad thing, though not optimal if you find yourself missing the #1. He's awfully handy when the Packers go into their highly effective short-pass ball control offense, but they inexplicably abandon it at the first opportunity. Adams is super quick out of his breaks; it shows up most in his money catches on the short slant, but he's pretty ordinary on the downfield ball. He also happens to be a FA after this season.
Cobb has under-performed his contract. Yes, injuries have played a big factor. But when the offense has a couple of good-better-best wideouts (a James Jones redux does not qualify, Nelson and Adams do) and a pass catching TE (the preferred combination), his opportunities are more limited and the position is marginalized. Signing Bennett to a 3 year deal might be telling us something. For 2018, Cobb's cap hit is $12.8 mil, dead cap $3.3 mil,
9 7 years of high contact mileage, with his replacement on the roster in Montgomery for the preferred offense where the slot is the 3rd. or 4th. option.
McCarthy has stated he sees Spriggs as an OT and does not contemplate moving Bulaga to OG.
With 4 positions set on the OL with decent or better players, it would not be a radical thought to go with Barclay at OG. While Barclay might be no better than serviceable, OL is an ensemble effort more than any other position group where one weaker link might be tolerated. I wouldn't recommend it at OT, but the interior line is another matter.
With Barclay at OG, there's still a missing piece in the interior bench. Barclay would be the presumptive backup at C, but that still leaves the OG back up spot as a vulnerability. Can they count on one of these PS-and-Arena-League guys (Flores, McCray, Lucas) to emerge? Anything's possible, but the default assumption is they are camp bodies who would need to surprise.
That leaves a move of Murphy to OG. He doesn't look quick enough for OT, so that's a possibility, though it's still even questionable whether he's a bona fide NFL player.
Perhaps the bigger issue is Linsley and Taylor both being FAs after 2017. So, that together with needed depth would argue for an OL pick. But in the first 3 picks? I'd say unlikely. Thompson hasn't drafted an interior OL above the 4th. round. since Colledge in 2006. And with 4 of 5 positions set, I see it as more likely he goes for a numbers game: a pick or two from the 4th. round down and a few UDFAs to go with the PS/Arena guys noted above hoping to get one or two out of the bunch. I'd expect they will try to extend either Taylor or Linsley or both before the year is out.