Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Take -> Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

In a year of dangled possibilities and Super aspirations, our dreams won't be roasted. Trinity Brewing confirmed such beliefs. If you're a beer connoisseur and you aren't familiar with Trinity, you're missing out. I've thoroughly watched the Packers v Rams preseason game. As I've indulged in the game, I've enjoyed a fine selection of Trinity's flavors. Old Growth is beyond spectacular. Red Swingline is a life changer for beer lovers. The Trinity Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta is tremendous. Combining Trinity Brewing with Green Bay Packers football leads to elite smiles. Vibe On.

Here are my small takes for the week:

* I'm on record. The Packers are winning the Super Bowl this year. The no-huddle brilliance was on display. When in rhythm, it's unstoppable. The OL is mature with the exception of Tretter. Tretter is an Ivy League mind. He's grasped the offense. When Lacy & Rodgers are in lock-step, this offense is scintillating. I'm yearning for a healthy 2014 Season.

* 3rd & 5. Rodgers to Boykin for 8 on a quick out. That's trust.

* Eddie Lacy. The Green & Yellow Bumblebee. The key to the NFC.

* Casey Hayward playing as an aggressive tackler.

* With Ha Ha & Micah on the field, the Packers will get off the field on the 3rd down more often than not. Think back to all of the missed tackles on 3rd down that led to 1st downs. Ha Ha & Micah won't miss those tackles.

* Mike Pennel is a LOCK to make the 53-man roster. Great find, TT. Interesting tidbit, I met one of his acquaintances at the grocery store on Tuesday. His acquaintance was my cashier at the grocery store. His name was Javon. He is going to Colorado State-Pueblo this year to play basketball. Met Pennel on a recruiting visit. Javon's best buddy is named AJ. AJ is a freshman QB for Colorado State-Pueblo this year. They visited the school together, which is what led to his introduction. Javon said that Pennel was a "solid brother. Really welcoming." Javon was soft spoken. Couldn't get much else out of him. But, the thought of Pennel's name elicited positive energy out of Javon. He was stoked when I told him that I thought Pennel was a lock to make the team.

* Jeff Janis is also a lock to make the 53-man roster. You can't teach speed. Sure, Janis might still struggle with route running. And, I love reading about Rodgers' demands to push Janis to master his routes. You can teach route running. Janis is raw. And, his upside is high. V-12, he is.

* The Claymaker with a spin and a burst! Also, enjoyed seeing him use his smarts and show great recognition on the screen.

* I really want to like Bostick. But, man, he's soft. You can't trust him. He's too fragile.

* Don't dance, James Starks. Bruise your way forward. Lower the shoulder. Get after it. Oh, and catch the ball.

* Rodgers' pump fake is a thing of beauty.

* Ryan Taylor, Chris Banjo, Nate Palmer and Kevin Dorsey might be seen on the 1st team special teams units, but none of them are elite enough on special teams to warrant a roster spot because of it.

* Mike Daniels has Pro Bowl potential.

* BJ Raji looks like THE FREEZER. He's off to an active start.

* Nice to see Peppers get the edge!

* Well played, Brad Jones. You, too, AJ Hawk.

* I like DuJuan Harris as the kickoff returner. Want to see more of Janis as the punt returner.

* Not what I wanted to see out of Sherrod.

* Terrific work, Lane Taylor.

* Didn't like Ha Ha overrunning the crossing route, but I was happy that he was trusting his instincts. Showed poor depth perception though. Looked like he thought the ball would be overthrown.

* Davante Adams is going to be a stallion. Makes catches in traffic. Off the back hip? It's no problem. Back shoulder? It's all good. He has mad game.

* Randall Cobb should take a 2-year contract. At a discount. If not, it might be wise to consider keeping Myles White on the 53-man roster. White has solid potential and runs nice routes out of the slot.

* Love Datone Jones' effort. We need to see enhanced production. If he can become a consistent difference maker, this defense will be dominant.

* Mike Neal looks like he's ready to have a big year.

* Good hustle, Josh Boyd.

* Richard Rodgers clearly is a quick study. But, man, his effort as a blocker v Chris Long was dismal.

* Mulumba showed that he belongs in the NFL. But, his upside is lighter than Elliot and Hubbard.

* Barrington on an inside blitz!

* Wrap up, Lattimore. Like the aggression, but finish the play.

* The Barrington and Lattimore combination brings great intensity. An attitude that isn't seen with Hawk & Jones at ILB.

* Wish we'd see Fullington at Tackle. Looks like they're saving him for the Practice Squad.

* Kevin Dorsey reminds me of Tori Gurley. Has the physique. He can run. But, he's inconsistent and seems to have mental blocks, at times. Had he hauled in the over-the-shoulder fly route, it'd have been a TD.

* Myles White might not make the Packers roster, but he'll be catching passes in the NFL this year. If I were an NFL GM who was in need of WR depth, I'd trade a 7th round pick for him. If the Packers try to keep on the Practice Squad, he'll be grabbed by another team.

* Don't ever need to see the corner fade to AQ81 again.

* Jayrone Elliot! Before camp, I mentioned that he'd be a tough cut. Especially if he figured out his alligator arms when making a tackle. Now? How do you keep him off the roster?

* Good to see Carl Bradford with a pressure on the QB.

* Adrian Hubbard showing burst off the snap! Love his length. He looks like a top-53 player.

* Jumal Rolle v Demetri Goodson. At best, there's one spot. Rolle looks more naturally gifted at CB. Goodson has showed promise as a gunner. Goodson is a TT draft pick. Still, at this point, I give the edge to Rolle.

* Seems to me like Rajion Neal is destined for the IR.

* LaDarius Perkins is worthy of the Practice Squad.

* Happy that Colt Lyerla will get another crack next year.

* I really thought Letroy Guion would make an impact this year, but if he doesn't play, how can you keep him?

* I'm SO ANXIOUS to see more of Joe Thomas.

* Janis, the V-12! Lacy, the Green & Yellow Bumblebee! Adams, the Stallion! I'm stoked!

This week - the Raiders come to town. That means Sir Charles is coming to town! Sir Charles is my favorite football player. Ever. I'm super excited that he's coming back to Lambeau. It'll be great for him to get a warm welcome. Rise Up for Sir Charles, Lambeau! Sir Charles is one sack away from becoming the first player in the history of the NFL with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks. He's also 4 interceptions from 60 career interceptions. Further, I don't believe any other player has ever had 40 interceptions and 20 sacks. Please Sir Charles, grab 1 sack this year! Sir Charles' career stats with the Packers: 7 years. 11.5 sacks. 38 interceptions. 10 TD's. One Defensive MVP. One Super Bowl ring. Pure pimp, he is.

Also returning to Titletown, U.S.A. are two players whose stats that I'll be writing about all year: James Jones & CJ Wilson. Both players production could lead to compensatory picks for the Packers. Dear Jones & Wilson, thanks for the memories. XLV for Life!

The Raiders are improved, but they can't run with the Packers. Look for the defense to generate pressure, once again. Additionally, look for a few forced turnovers as well.

Packers 30. Raiders 16.

At this stage, if I were responsible for selecting the 53-man roster, here would be my Week 1 team:

QB: Rodgers, Tolzien, Flynn

RB: Lacy, Harris, Starks, Kuhn

WR: Nelson, Cobb, Boykin, Adams, Janis

TE: Rodgers, AQ81, Bostick

OL: Bakhtiari, Sitton, Tretter, Lang, Bulaga, Taylor, Sherrod, Linsley

DL: Raji, Daniels, Jones, Boyd, Pennel, Thornton

OLB: CM3, Peppers, Neal, Perry, Hubbard, Elliot, Bradford (17)

ILB: Jones, Hawk, Barrington, Lattimore (13)

CB: T-Mon, Sammy Swagga, J-Bush, Ras-House, Rolle, Hayward

S: Ha Ha, Micah, Burnett, Richardson

K: Crosby

P: Masthay

LS: Goode

Practice Squad: Stoneburner, Perkins, Goodson, Fullington, Mulumba, Palmer, Myles White, Harper, Banjo, Luther Robinson. Note: I don't fully understand the new Practice Squad rules. So, if someone on this list isn't eligible, I'd add either Luther Robinson or Kevin Dorsey (depending on who was not eligible for the Practice Squad).

IR: Barclay, Abbrederis, Neal, Lyerla

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Take -> Preseason Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

I didn't get to MY TAKE last week. Over the last two weeks, I've been in 4 different Hotel rooms in Chicago's Loop, I've stayed 2 nights in a hotel in Steamboat and I spent two nights in Albuquerque celebrating my Brother's 40th Birthday. Time flies. Embrace today.

Dewar's. Ice. Makes me think of my Grandpa McKenna. Thanks for Shining From Heaven, Grandpa!

Here are some quick hits from the Packers v Titans game and other vibes that have occurred since I last wrote:

* Props to my Dad! He's celebrating 25 years as the DJ at Lambeau Field! #Mac #PackersHOF

* Stoked that TT is locked up!

* I need a signed Jordy photo for my Packers Wall of Fame! LOCKED HIM UP!

* Brett Favre. The Football Jesus. Green & Gold. #4 is back! Epic! For those, that are still full o' hate, I remind you that in Brett Favre's last season in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. Bless up, Brett!

* Sad to lose Donny Barclay for the season. Jared Abbrederis as well. And, Colt Lyerla's injury smells like he's destined for IR.

* James Starks looked to be in mid season form. If he's healthy, he'll team with Eddie Lacy to be a lethal 1-2 Combo.

* Welcome back, DuJuan Harris! Another weapon in the arsenal. Hoping he wins the Kickoff Returner role. He's a big play waiting to happen.

* If Rajion Neal stays healthy, he emerge as a fan favorite.

* Hope the last three offensive plays are not a sign of play calling to come. 2nd & 1. Shotgun. Draw. No gain. 3rd & 1. Shotgun. Draw. No gain. 4th & 1. Deep ball. Incomplete.

* AQ81 has to catch the ball. Rain or not.

* Richard Rodgers looks good in #89. A willing downfield blocker. Wasn't punishing, but he was sufficient.

* Good run after the catch, Brandon Bostick. But, the holding penalty? There was no reason to hold.

* Knock off the rust, Bryan Bulaga. Good to see you again!

* Derek Sherrod looked better than he ever has in a Packers uniform. A definite bright spot!

* John Fullington looked good at RG. Better than Lane Taylor. Would be excited to see Fullington play Tackle this week.

* Sitton, Tretter, Lang doing a solid job of opening rush lanes.

* After the botched snap, I thought Corey Linsley looked really good.

* Don't reflect on Davante Adams as a Punt Returner. That's not his game. He's a crisp route runner. He's deceptively quick. Great hip movements. Gets in and out of his breaks. Next time, I hope he reaches for a first down.

* Chris Harper. He reminds me a lot of James Jones. Strong. Inconsistent hands. Not overly fast, but somehow, he gets open. Often. But, will he hang on?

* Couldn't be more excited to see Jeff Janis in action. I'm curious to see if he can be a gunner on special teams.

* BJ Raji. Quick off the snap. Rumbling forward. Boogie On, BJ!

* Mike Daniels. Brute. The master of leverage.

* I'm worried that Datone Jones will be a bust. While Daniels is small in height and plays big, Jones has great length but plays small. He tries to get underneath a blocker, but when he gets stood up at the line, he fails to get his arms up.

* Khyri Thornton giving effort!

* Josh Boyd will be instrumental this year.

* Mike Pennel will be in the mix for a roster spot. Really impressive preseason debut.

* Get healthy, Letroy Guion. I expect you to make your presence felt this year.

* New Year. Same Brad Jones. One play, he is laying a nice hit. Soon after, he shows that he still lacks instincts. He's chasing down ball carriers, while stumbling over his own feet. I really want to be a fan of Jones. At best, he's a mediocre ILB.

* #56. Intimidating. I'd like to see him with his hand in the turf.

* Nick Perry on the right side. Exclusively. I like it.

* Joe Thomas looked really quick. Instinctive. Attacks the football. I want to see more. Immediately.

* Sam Barrington was active. One big missed tackle, but other than that, he looked like he belonged.

* The penalty on Casey Hayward was absurd. No way that's defensive holding.

* Really pleased with my first glimpse of Ha Ha. He brings a presence. Was surprised to see Ha Ha attacking the box, while Hyde was roaming deep. Thought those roles would be reversed.

* Crosby swinging with confidence!

* J-Bush playing with a fierce intensity.

* Jumal Rolle makin' plays! Play On, Playa!

* Sean Richardson looks the part. He has the physique. He was assignment sure. If he can finish plays, he might push for playing time in the regular season.

* Carl Bradford was swallowed. Keep fighting, man. Your motor is your best attribute.

* Nate Palmer. I've seen enough.

* I knew Jake Doughty was small, but man, he looked tiny. And, he was slow to react. That surprised me.

* Andy Mulumba gave a ton of effort, but he's limited in potential.

* I'd like to see more of Jayrone Elliot & Adrian Hubbard. Both have a significantly higher upside than Mulumba & Palmer.

* Demetri Goodson might be having a rough camp, but I liked his desire as a gunner on special teams.

* Kevin Dorsey is being given every opportunity to make the roster. Seems like a coaches favorite.

* I write it every year: How is LeRoy Butler not in the NFL Hall of Fame? He was on the team of the decade in the 90's. He invented the Lambeau Leap. He was nearly the first player to 40 interceptions and 20 sacks. He won a Super Bowl. He was a great Leader in the locker room and in the community. I can't figure it out.

* The Jerel Worthy story is disappointing. I thought he had the potential to be an elite NFL player. Instead, he was a Wounded Warrior. Hurt more often than not. I'll remember him for his sack of Ray Nutler. I wish him well in NE. He wasn't a fit for the 3-4. I'm happy that TT got a pick for him because he was unlikely to make the team this year.

This week - it's the Rams. In StL. The Rams are legit. Defensively, they come with conviction. Littered with weapons who passionately pursue. On a fast surface. That's a tough combination to compete against. It's too bad that the Rams play in the NFC West. If they played in the NFC East or the NFC South, they'd compete for the Division title. It'll be a tough challenge for the Packers to protect the QB.

I'm excited to see Aaron Rodgers. The Packers Spiritual Gangster is sure to lead the Packers on a scoring drive. I fully anticipate Lacy to get a series or two. Nothing more. Look for Kuhn and Rodgers to be lined up in front of Lacy. Wishbone form. Watch for play-action. Nelson. 20 yards. Packers 1st down. Beautiful imagery!

Look for Peppers to be more aggressive. And comfortable. Watch Daniels & Raji punch OL in the mouth. The Packers defensive front has great rotational depth. I expect to see fresh legs and consistent push.

Flynn & Tolzien will also engineer scoring drives. The Packers depth is fully on display. Myles White is catching balls on short out routes from the slot. Flynn hits Adams for a first down. Justin Perillo catches a Tolzien pass for a TD.

Defensively, once again, it's Mike Pennel who impresses. He has size. He has surprising quickness of the ball. He gobbles ball carriers. Barrington & Lattimore each play sideline-to-sideline. They show burst as attacking ILB.

Packers 27. Rams 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

If I were at camp this summer, I'd watch this

Greetings, G-Force.

Sometimes, when you merge Three Floyds & Stone hops with New Glarus fruit, your buzz accentuates to joyful places.

Last year, I caught great flak for saying that the Packers would finish '9-7, 10-6 at best.' I felt the team lacked depth. We weren't braced to cope with injury. This year, my views couldn't be more different. I believe that the Green Bay Packers will be the 2014 Super Bowl Champions.

Heading into Training Camp, the 2014 Packers roster looks to have a plethora of depth. Outside of the 1996 Packers roster, I'd stack the 90-man 2014 Training Camp roster against any Packers team in my life.

From 1993-1999, I might've attended more Training Camp practices than I missed. In 2003, the same applied. I paid attention to the lesser known stories. If I were in Titletown, U.S.A. for the 2014 Camp, I'd be less concerned about how Peppers was used and what was the status of Rodgers' fitness level. I'd be more concerned about how the 53-man roster rounded out. With that said, here are 10 things I'd be studying if I were a Railbird this summer:

10.) Jayrone Elliot & Adrian Hubbard. Both UDFA's. Both are more natural 3-4 OLB's than Nate Palmer & Andy Mulumba. Both have rushed the pass rusher with success at the college level. Both have played in space. Both are comfortable dropping into zone coverage. If Elliot can learn to use his length (he often short arms tackles), he could push for a spot. If Hubbard can consistently play with a mean, tough, pursuant mind; it'll be tough to leave him off the roster. I've said it before and I'll say it again: 'Bama players have found great success in Green Bay previously. It's in the water.

9.) Demetri Goodson. Dude is unsalted. Fully raw. Sublimely athletic. Ready to be coached up. With gifts that cannot be taught. In a similar fashion to Sammy Swagga prior to the 2010 season, he's still learning the position. Goodson has the natural talents that could allow him to blossom into a legitimate NFL starter.

8.) Khyri Thornton & Letroy Guion. In past years, we'd be jonesin' for Jerel Worthy to find his college form. This year, he appears to be abandoned from the plans. The depth is too grand. I believe Thornton will show the "juice" that we thought we'd see out of Worthy off the snap. I also believe Guion will show the toughness in the run game that we were yearning for Worthy to provide.

7.) Carl Bradford. From a talent perspective, Bradford was one of the more intriguing players in the Draft. The biggest question: where do you play him? The Packers have to find a spot. Will it be as an OLB? Will it be at ILB? Will he be a situational pass rusher? Or will he simply be used as a mentally tough attitude-induced injection into what's been a fairly soft special teams core?

6.) LaDarius Perkins & Rajion Neal. In the past, Lacy, Starks & Harris have all battled injuries. Therefore, I expect all three to receive extended rest in the early part of camp. Enter Perkins & Neal. While it'll be thrilling to see how Harris' role evolves in the offense, it'll be equally exciting in the early portions of camp to track how Perkins & Neal make the most of their opportunities. In 2012, Perkins rushed for 1,000 yards in the SEC. In 2013, Neal rushed for 1,000 yards in the SEC. Neal & Perkins' presence in camp tells me that the Packers have known that Franklin's future was in doubt. It wouldn't shock me if either Perkins or Neal were to make the team. It might come down to the Kick Return job. Both will likely get an opportunity to compete for the job. In college, I thought Neal was a better player than Perkins and based on from what I've seen from there games, Neal seems to fit the Packers spread offense to perfection. The Kick Return job will be interesting to follow. Neal & Perkins will be in the thick of the mix. Will one of them seize the job?

5.) Jake Doughty. Most die-hard fans are concerned with the depth at ILB. Last season, prior to Camp, Andy Mulumba was my preseason undrafted darling that I thought would make the team. This year, I'm really hoping Doughty becomes that man. In college, Doughty was a tackling machine. In a similar fashion as Chris Borland. For years, I've heard that Ryan Taylor was a special teams guru. I never saw it. With increased competition at TE, I wonder if Doughty might evolve into a special teams beast and take a roster spot from Taylor and Stoneburner. In some ways, Doughty reminds me of Larry Izzo. Undersized. Not necessarily fleet of foot. But, he plays with conviction and he understands the game. Doughty finds the football. Also, if Doughty performs and Lattimore outplays Jones, does Jones become expendable? If so, it'd free up much needed cap room.

4.) John Fullington. I'd argue that the depth of the 2014 OL is greater than any in my life. The top 6 in 2003 might have been better, but they couldn't get 4th & 1 when it mattered most. The 2014 team will get that 1st down. While most will pay deep attention to the Linsley v Tretter battle for the starting C spot, I'd be watching Fullington. With Bulaga in a contract year, I envision Fullington as a similar player as Barclay. He can play 4 positions. I wonder if his feet could be become a hot topic in camp. Look for Fullington to make a strong push for a roster spot.

3.) Colt Lyerla & Richard Rodgers. There's great promise with both players. Lyerla is rich in talent. He's going to have an environment that'll put him in position to succeed in his personal life. I wholeheartedly feel that Lyerla will be a stud for the Packers for the foreseeable future. He is going to offer the Packers a physical dimension after the catch that hasn't been seen since Chmura left. Couple Lyerla with Rodgers and there's great cause for optimism with respect to the future at the TE position. It's noteworthy that Aaron Rodgers highlighted Richard Rodgers' performance in minicamp. Maybe it's because they share the same last name and both wore #11 at Cal, but probably not. There's reason to be stoked!

2.) WR. Yes, I'm keeping this broad. We're stacked at WR. Rich with goodness. A group that's been thoroughly compiled. Do not be surprised if the Packers keep 7 WR's. We have kept 5 TE's previously. We've kept 3 FB's before. It is in the realm of possibility to keep 7 WR's. Nelson is a Superstar. Cobb is a star. Boykin is among the fastest ascending WR's in the game. Adams is a 2nd round pick who is poised to prosper. Jared Abbrederis is a 5th round pick this year. Jeff Janis is a 7th rounder. Chris Harper was a 4th round pick by the Seahawks last year. The Packers selected Kevin Dorsey in the 7th last year. Myles White looked like he had potential with limited repetitions last year. Could Abbrederis, Janis and Harper all be included on the 53-man roster? I think so. Especially if Abbrederis wins the kick returning gig.

1.) Micah Hyde & HaHa. Thus far, Morgan Burnett has yet to show us that he can play in the NFL. I still cannot get the Vernon Davis TD in the playoffs out of my head. Just as it is tough to forget Hyde's drop. Sorry for the bad buzz. What I'm saying is this: Micah Hyde is a better compliment to HaHa than Burnett. He's better in the box. He can cover the slot better than Burnett. He's a better zone blitzer than Burnett. If HaHa is going to play deep, it's logical to think that Hyde might get an opportunity to line up next to HaHa. Further, he's significantly less expensive. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

It all begins today. Vibe On. With excitement. Let's enjoy this journey.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Take -> Draft Review

Greetings, G-Force.

I relax. I casually sip a 3 Floyd's Dreadnaught, a purposeful beer selection as I reflect on the Packers 2014 NFL Draft. Fittingly, as I excitingly ponder on my writing approach, my headphones echo with Bunny Wailer's "Retrospective" album. Got Roots? Got Radics? If so, find the ROCKER in you. I'm about to Rebel Rock my way thru my NFL Draft thoughts. Vibe On, Packers fans! Also, give the Tribal Seeds "The Harvest" album a listen. I promise you'll enjoy, especially the introduction to the song "Away", which I promise will get you bouncing.

Over the last couple of years, much has been made about issues surrounding the Packers team speed. In the 2014 NFL Draft, Ted Thompson didn't draft mudders from the Midwest who are accustomed to plowing thru the November-January. Largely, he selected players who have rarely, if ever, seen slow snow ridden turf. He targeted players who have played in warm climates. While his draft picks didn't run in cheetah like fashion when they were timed in the 40, Thompson's draft choices excelled in football competition on a fast track. Additionally, in UDFA, he grabbed a number of warm weather prospects. Further, they brought a fun swag to the field. A genuine confidence that should freshly penetrate the Packers locker room.

It was clear that Ted Thompson targeted team needs over the Best Player Available. He had to fill holes on the roster. He also loaded the WR position as leverage in the upcoming contract negotiations with Nelson, Cobb & Boykin. Thompson protected himself at the position.

From top-to-bottom, this feels like a 90-man roster that is going to breed intense competition from Day 1 in Training Camp. On paper, from top-to-bottom, this roster is loaded. I can't find 25 players on the roster that I think are an absolute long shot to make the roster. Last year, I said early on that the Packers would finish 9-7, 10-6 at best. They didn't have depth. This year - the roster looks to have talent all across the board.

The Packers and the Alabama Crimson Tide have a long history together. Don Hutson & Bart Starr are legends. Eddie Lacy is the reigning Rookie of the Year. With HaHa Clinton-Dix & Adrian Hubbard the Packers have added two more Alabama ballers.

Here's a quick outlook on each draft choice:

Round 1: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. If you have followed along, you know that I wanted Deone Bucannon with this pick. I embrace HaHa. I'll also forever compare Bucannon & Clinton-Dix. I was really hoping HaHa would be given #36. #36 was becoming an honor to wear for a Safety in GB. With HaHa wearing #6 in college, I thought it was a natural transition.

HaHa didn't fly at the Combine. But, put on the film. The dude can move. He has football speed. He can get sideline-to-sideline. He roams. While he isn't always successful, he's a willing tackler. He'll be an enormous upgrade over the Safety play that we saw in Titletown, U.S.A. last year. He brings swag. He brings flavor. He brings confidence. He brings attitude. For the record, when the Packers were on the clock I ranked my top 3 as Deone Bucannon, Darqueze Dennard, HaHa Clinton-Dix.

Round 2: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State. Comes across as a blend of James Jones & Greg Jennings. He speaks with confidence. Adams catches the ball at the high point similar to the way Jones did. He has wiggle like Jennings did in the open field. He doesn't run away from you, but he plays at a speed similar to Jones. He's smart. He's elusive. He's well spoken. Oh, and he wore #15 in college like Jennings. It's exciting to have him as a target for Rodgers!

Round 3: Khyri Thornton, DL, Southern Miss Explosive. Solid speed/power combo who excels with a tug & pull move on the interior. Shifts well to his right off the snap. Intriguing 1st step. He does lose the leverage battle - on occasion - as he finds himself playing too tall. With that said, he looks like a natural getting his paws in the air in an attempt to swat passes. Thornton was undoubtedly the best player at the NFLPA Bowl. He showed off a variety of moves. He was quick off the ball. He had a high motor. He extended his arms and used his hands well. He consistently finished plays. He fought thru double teams with aggressive pursuit and showed excellent hustle. He got solid penetration with a quick burst off the ball. When he was stood up at the line, he chased after ball carriers and played until the whistle. If he learns from Mike Daniels and masters the leverage piece, look out!

Round 3: Richard Rodgers, TE, CAL. Playfully, I say this: The last time the Packers drafted a #11 from CAL with the name Rodgers, it worked out in MVP form. The Rodgers pick surprised me. I don't know a ton about him, but from what I've seen, he hasn't been an overpowering blocker nor elite after the catch. But, the situation he was put in throughout his college career was less than ideal. He was asked to drastically fluctuate in weight and to change positions. He's been around the game. He knows the game. He's well spoken and he's loaded with upside. Since he will be exclusively playing TE in GB, I'm excited to see how he grows in the role.

Round 4: Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State. In March, I wrote this: "Prior to the Peppers signing, my pick was Carl Bradford, OLB, ASU. Shows up down the stretch. Good hustle. Sometimes inconsistent, but his good buzz is awfully positive. Can stand up or plant his hand in the dirt. Have not seen him drop into coverage much." Bradford may have small hands. He may have short arms. But, Bradford has heart. He has fight. He has tools that cannot be coached. He can beat you on a spin to the inside, with speed to the outside or on a stunt. On 3rd downs in college, he was occasionally used as an ILB in which he'd come on blitzes up the gut. He shows good recognition and a never say die attitude. He'll chase down plays. And when he hits you, he's looking to make a play. Also, late in games, Bradford makes plays. He'll make an impact this year. I'm certain of it.

Round 5: Corey Linsley, C, Ohio State. Kudos to Ted Thompson. With the addition of Linsley, the Packers OL is littered with competition and depth at each position. Linsley is pro ready. A stout bull that is a willing distributor of punishment. He's a mudder. Full of guts. And, a lifelong Packer fan.

Round 5: Jared Abbrederis, WR, WI. Have to be excited about this one. He's a WI boy. Staying home. Late in the 5th, he's great value. He's a student of the game. With the game on the line, he's a gamer. He'll fearlessly go up and get it. I do have concerns about his concussion history, but he was too good to pass up this late in the Draft.

Round 6: Demetrius Goodson, CB, Baylor. He's an athlete. Booming with confidence. He possesses the mindset required to succeed in Dom Capers island style defense. He's not afraid to take chances. He can turn and run. But, he's also mistake prone. He's not overly physical. But, he's still evolving as a football player. He's unprocessed. If he ripens in the proper light, Goodson could bloom into a solid NFL player.

Round 7: Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley. My only exposure of Janis came at the Senior Bowl. Admittedly, I've yet to review his film from his practices. I plan on doing that next week. During the game, he was slow off the snap. Often, he was the last of the 22 players to move post snap. But, when he released, he can fly. He looks the part in his uniform. He's a big target who can move. He dropped a pass in the game on a short route. Looked like he might have been afraid of contact on the play. He's a raw, developmental prospect. A good project.

Ted Thompson luxuriates in the oxygen offered by undrafted Free Agency. When he walked into the undrafted free agency light, his eyes were opened widely. Basking in this limelight, once again, it appears he was stepping with grace and ready to attack. He added a dozen rookie free agents. I have a take on a few of them. Here goes:

With Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama, I fancy that he nabbed a motivated Defensive Predator who is destined to be Thompson's next elite UDFA catch. With the ball as his prey, at times, Hubbard flashed 2nd round potential. He's massive. He moves well. He's comfortable as a 3-4 OLB. He's successfully dropped in coverage. He's played the run. He's pursued QB's. He has phenomenal length. Frankly, I had assumed he was drafted. I was stoked he ended up in Green Bay. It sounds like an irregular heart size hurt his draft stock. His Senior Bowl performance didn't help either.

It's noteworthy that the last time the Packers added a #42 from Alabama, he won the Rookie of the Year. Eddie Lacy made an enormous impact in his Rookie Year. It's heavy to expect Hubbard to make a similar impact, but I feel confident in saying that I believe Hubbard will be on the 2014 roster. I struck out - in Rob Deer fashion - on my Chase Thomas prediction. The same won't be true with Hubbard. He has too much upside. And while Hubbard isn't littered with elite pass rushing skills and he's been somewhat inconsistent, I will be surprised if he doesn't make the 53-man roster.

Colt Lyerla! Be excited! Yes, he has a questionable past. But, if the Lambeau Faithful embraces him in the fashion that they should, Lyerla might be doing Lambeau Leaps for the next decade. He has the potential to evolve into a premier Red Zone target. He's tough to bring down. He understands the game. He's a solid route runner. He's leaping ability is second-to-none at the TE position. He'll be a legitimate threat down the seam. Think about this: he's 6-4 with a 39 inch vertical. The 2nd best vertical at the combine was 35 inches. In essence, consider him a 6-8 TE with a 35 inch vertical. Unbelievable. Deep down - Rodgers is salivating at the thought of the Packers going 5-wide. Boykin, Adams, Nelson and Cobb as the WR's with Lyerla at TE. Rodgers out of shotgun. Lyerla comes in motion. He lines up next to Rodgers. A previously viewed passing formation is now potentially a run formation. Lyerla offers that versatility.

Yes, I realize that it's still a long shot for Lyerla to make the roster. But, he couldn't have landed in a better spot. The locker room will embrace him. Plus, it's tough to get in trouble in Green Bay. You have to work at it. I fully anticipate Lyerla to make an impact this year. Be excited, Packers fans!

Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee. The only time I watched him play, I was sitting with my brother sipping on some of the best hops in America. At the La Cumbre Brewery. Tennessee was hosting Georgia. Neal was an absolute beast. A one-cut runner who excelled when the defense was spread out. He hit the hole. Neal has good hands and is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield. If what I saw on that day is the real Neal, he's going to make it tough for Franklin, Starks and Harris in the competition for the rotational role behind the Green & Yellow Bumblebee.

LaDarius Perkins, RB, Mississippi State. He's an undersized back who had a great Junior year. He was less productive in his Senior year. He's a solid kickoff returner as well. He'll bring a new dimension to the crop of backs. Against LSU, Perkins was able to get loose to the tone of 8.1 yards per carry. He has big play potential. It'll be interesting to see how McCarthy uses him in the preseason.

Jayrone Elliot, OLB, Toledo. Elliot is a prime example of why I believe the Packers 90-man roster is way better than it was in previous years. He's a natural 3-4 OLB. He fits. He's active. As a tackler, he'll often come with short arms. Regardless, he attacks the football. He's around the football and has ideal length to play in a Dom Capers system. He was dominant in the MAC. Against Northern Illinois, he was a difference maker. I don't see him on the 53-man roster, but he should compete for a Practice Squad role.

Joe Thomas, ILB, South Carolina State. I've never seen him play an entire game. I have watched his highlights. He dominated FBS football. Without a doubt, he intrigues. Looks a little like DJ Smith coming out of college. I'm interested to learn more about him early in camp.

Jake Doughty, ILB, Utah State. I DVR'd the Northern Illinois v Utah State Bowl game. I watched it to see how I viewed Jimmie Ward. I had mild interest in Utah State CB, Nevin Lawson. I watched 2 drives when Utah State was on defense. I deemed Lawson was too small. Early in the game, Doughty was aggressively pursuing ball carriers. For whatever reason, I stopped watching Utah State play defense and then deleted the game. Afterwards, I find out that Doughty dominated and was named the Defensive MVP of the game. I'm bummed I don't have the game on my DVR any more. Doughty puts his helmet into your chest when he's making a tackle. He's coming after you with intent.

The preseason games should provide high intrigue this year. For 4 Quarters. With Flynn & Tolzien leading the way in a big battle for the back-up QB role. With the Packers having strong depth on the OL, Flynn & Tolzien should get protection. At RB & WR, the Packers have more depth than I can ever recall. The Packers have 7 TE's on the roster. Defensively, we'll likely be watching players like Jerel Worthy battling in the 4th Quarter. Playing for a roster spot.

Summer is here. Training camp is around the corner. Until then, be blessed.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Take -> Final Mock Draft Thoughts

Greetings, G-Force.

It's that time. We've waited. It's here. Sit back. Trust Ted Thompson. Watch. Not assuming trades, hope that this happens:

Round 1: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 2: Troy Niklas, TE, ND
Round 3: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Round 3: Paul Richardson, WR, CO
Round 4: Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 5: Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida
Round 5: Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
Round 6: Jay Bromley, DL Syracuse
Round 7: Beau Allen, DT, WI

Give me Nickoe Whitley, Alex Neutz, Bene Benwikere, Devekeyan Lattimore as undrafted FA's.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Take -> Sublimely Crafted Packers Mock Draft

Greetings, G-Force.

It's always a joy to wear Packers gear with purpose. It's unique to do so in early May. But, when I sit down to write about the NFL Draft, I 'm stoked. Joining me is a Batch 60, which was hand crafted by the good folk at Crooked Stave. This American Wild Ale is brewed masterfully. A true gem. After the Batch 60, I have a Rufus Corvus Barrel-Aged Sour Ale from Avery waiting for me. My music choice is Black Uhuru's Bubbin' It Live with Sly & Robbie Album.

It's a long ride to the top of the NFL mountain. We've been there twice in my life. Blissful moments. If we're going to make it to that elevation again, the Packers have to find talent in the Draft this year. When your philosophy is founded on a Draft & develop approach, you can't afford multiple misses. Depth has to be replenished. Further, as the Matthews and Rodgers contracts steepen, the Packers have to find inexpensive gems via the Draft. Here's a quick projection of drafted players that will be on their first contract next year:

2010 - Bryan Bulaga.
2011 - Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Ryan Taylor, Davon House.
2012 - Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels.
2013 - Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter, Johnathan Franklin, Micah Hyde, Josh Boyd, Sam Barrington.

For the record, I didn't include Nate Palmer or Kevin Dorsey from the 2013 class. I believe that Chris Harper will beat out Dorsey and that the Packers will draft a WR this year. I also feel that Chase Thomas will take Palmer's spot on the roster. Further, I view Derek Sherrod, Ryan Taylor, Davon House, and Jerel Worthy as "on the bubble" with respect to making the 2014 roster. It's also very possible that Cobb signs an extension before the season. In my mind, the 2014 NFL Draft is absolutely vital to the future of the Green Bay Packers.

Thompson looks like he had a really solid 2013 Draft. He must duplicate those efforts this year. There's power in numbers. Heading into the Draft, he has 4 of the first 100 picks. Currently, he has 9 selections. I fully expect him to draft 11 players this year. I hope he can add a 5th selection in the first 100 picks. As I've mentioned earlier, the 49ers are a likely trading partner. With Denver's offseason strategy, it wouldn't shock me if they were a trading partner either. There's a draft-day trade history between those two teams.

I'd like to remind you of a few important guidelines to follow in my Packers Mock Draft: First, I'm not a "draftnik." I'm a fan. Secondly, unless an OL absolutely jumps off the charts at me, I normally don't comment. And, most importantly, I'm exclusively sharing my thoughts. Therefore, if I didn't watch the player play, I'm not commenting. Sadly, this year, I've watched much less college football than I have in past years. With that said, let's go!

On Fanspeak, I ran computer simulations with 4 different Draft Boards that allowed me to play the role of GM for the Green Bay Packers. Here were my results:

With the DraftTV Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) Marcus Martin, C, USC
Round 3b.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Round 4.) Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Round 5.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Round 5b.) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
Round 6.) Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State
Round 7.) Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt

With the Fanspeak Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) Marcus Martin, C, USC
Round 3b.) DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
Round 4.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Round 5.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5b.) Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State
Round 6.) Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State

With the Walter Football Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Round 3b.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Round 4.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5.) Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 5b.) Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
Round 6.) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State

With the Ourlads Big Board:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
Round 3.) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Round 3b) Chris Borland, ILB, WI
Round 4.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5.) Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
Round 5b.) DeAndre Coleman, DT, CAL
Round 6.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Round 7.) Jay Bromley, S, Syracuse

I also jumped on the website to run a simulation. They allow for trades. I traded down in the third round and the fourth round and I picked up two extra 6th round picks and an extra 7th. Here's what I came away with:

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Round 3.) DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
Round 3b.) CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Round 4.) Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 5.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Round 5b.) Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida
Round 6.) Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Round 6b.) Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
Round 6c.) Shamar Stephen, DT, UCONN
Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State
Round 7b.) Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt

There you have it. It's unanimous. In every mock draft simulator that I ran, my first round pick was CJ Mosley.

For the purpose of my official Packers Mock Draft, I turn to the CBS NFL DRAFT SCOUT rankings to guide me. But, before I dive into the Mock Draft, I had to re-emphasize three Draft thoughts that I've previously written:

a.) The NFL Draft has to be viewed differently that it previously had been. For the most part, it's difficult to draft the Best Player Available. Free Agency ruined that philosophy. Instead, teams have to patch holes during the early portions of the Draft. They have to find talent that can make an impact their rookie year. It's more important to fill needs that it was in prior needs.

b.) I said it earlier. I'm saying it again. It's that important. Ted Thompson is armored with four of the top 100 picks. Last year, the Packers and 49ers traded twice together. The 49ers have two picks in the 2nd round and 2 picks in the third round. Could the Packers trade down in the first round and pick up the 49ers third and fourth round picks? The Draft Trade Value Chart says it's fair. If so, Thompson would have a first, a second, three thirds, two fourths, two fifths, a sixth and a seventh. He'd be in position to litter his roster with youthful exuberance.

c.) It really feels as though the Packers need to draft an ILB & a S in the first two rounds. The depth at ILB is light. If they don't attack the position early, the options are limited. Additionally, in 2005, Ted Thompson drafted two safeties in the first 4 rounds, I wouldn't be disappointed if he did so again in 2014.

Let's get to the action.

Round 1.) CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama. Mosley will hit you in the mouth. He's played big boy football. He takes on blockers. He stacks those blockers, sheds those blockers and finds the ball carrier. He doesn't have elite football speed. But, he's instinctive. He's able to cover the TE. Last year, the Packers hit it big with Eddie Lacy - a player with injury concerns. Might lightning strike twice? Sure feels like a possibility. Others to consider:

a.) Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State. Doesn't take on blockers well. Explosive, so he'd need to be covered up. Didn't play exceptionally well against Clemson, WI, Michigan State last year. He loaded box scores against lesser competition. Compare these stats with Mosley: Shazier had 8 Forced Fumbles in 3 years, while Mosley had 2 in 4 years. Shazier had 44.5 tackles for loss, while Mosley had 23. Shazier had 24 sacks, while Mosley had 6.5. Shazier racked up stats. I'm not positive that he's physical enough to play 3-4 ILB.

c.) Contradicting my earlier point about drafting the best player available; if Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA falls to the Packers (there's rumors that he's dropping), he should be the pick. He's an ideal 3-4 OLB and a future stud across from CM3.

d.) If Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State is on the board, he's the selection. I believe he'll be gone.

e.) If Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU is on the board, he's an ideal fit. He can return kicks. He's lethal after the catch. He reminds me of a young Greg Jennings.

f.) HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. He recently posted a picture of himself wearing a Packers t-shirt on Instagram. Beneath it, he wrote, "Only God can judge me". Clinton-Dix is a Free Safety. If Morgan Burnett is going to play exclusively in the box, Clinton-Dix fits. He has good range. He plays the ball. But, he isn't overly intimidating and he isn't the surest of tacklers.

g.) Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. He hits you with a vengeance. He has the range. He can cover in the slot. He's a little short for the position, but he plays with great athleticism on the field. He plays with great confidence and his physical is infectious.

h.) Two WR's that fit in Green Bay: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt and Marqise Lee, WR, USC. Matthews is a do-it-all WR. He's tough-minded. He's a gamer. A Ted Thompson "Football Player' who'd fit into the Green Bay locker room. He'd make an instant impact. Lee is a hit-or-miss player. He has elite skills. Could be among the best players to come out of the Draft, but he comes across as aloof. He seems playful and well engaged with his teammates. When the ball is in his hands, look out.

i.) I want to love Eric Ebron, TE, UNC. He's an elite athlete. He makes great plays in traffic. He has a number of J-Mike similarities. He has questionable hands. He's a soft blocker.

j.) Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. If he's on the board, it'll be tough to say no. He plays possessed. Leave him alone and let him do his thing. He can man-up with most. He's confident. He's not afraid to tackle. He's a can't miss prospect.

Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. Some people play well, they look good in pads and then they go to the Combine and they're top of the table at their position. That's Deone Bucannon. Bucannon is my unquestioned favorite player in the Draft. I consider Bucannon a top 15 player in the Draft. He'd instantly change the attitude of the defense. The vibe in the huddle would be different. He brings physicality. He slaps wrists when he tackles. He also lowers the shoulder with a boom. He intimidates. He plays fast. He's solid in zone coverage. He can play deep down the middle of the field. He can cover a TE. He makes plays on the ball. He's intelligent. His one negative that I see: he can't cover a WR out of the slot. But, really, who cares? The Packers have Hyde and Hayward to handle those duties. The Packers need to have Bucannon. For the record, even though nearly every Draft Simulator shows Bucannon lasting to this pick in the Draft...and even though CBS DRAFT SCOUT has Bucannon as the 65th ranked player in the Draft...Deone Bucannon will NOT last until the 53rd pick. It won't happen. I would be stoked if Bucannon was pick #21 for the Packers. There's no one like him in the Draft. He's a Brian Dawkins clone. Others to consider:

a.) Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State. He has the swagga. He has the speed to get sideline-to-sideline. He has great range. He can cover in the slot. He is a sure tackler. He has attitude. He's not a massive presence, but you'll know he's around.

b.) Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois. A terrific slot cover S. Great in coverage. While he doesn't look physical, he's a sure tackler. Plays with cat-like quickness.

c.) The 2nd round will have an abundance of TE talent. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Troy Niklas, ND can all play. They'll all make an impact as a rookie. Niklas has grown on me mightily. He seems to have Mark Chmura tendencies. I'd be excited if he were in Green Bay. Amaro might have the best hands of all of the TE's in the Draft. Seferian-Jenkins, if healthy, is probably the best all-around TE in the Draft. He's massive. He has soft hands.

d.) If the Elephant position is here to stay, Kareem Martin, DE/OLB, UNC has to be considered as a developmental prospect behind Julius Peppers.

e.) Stephon Tuitt, DL, ND. Tuitt has the ideal size to be a 3-4 DE. He was a productive player at ND. He isn't overly quick off the ball, but he plays with solid effort. When he hits you, he punishes.

f.) Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice. Dude has the length to play CB. He runs well. He turns and sees the ball. He can play both zone and man. He fits the Packers style of defense as he can be left on an island. I like his smarts. But, I feel like the 2nd round is early for him.

g.) Keith McGill, CB, Utah. He has the Richard Sherman length. He can run. He moves well. He doesn't have first-class hands, but he plays the ball well and has the ability to make an immediate impact in the league.

h.) DaQuan Jones, DL, Penn State. He's more attractive in the third round, but I like his game. He plugs holes. He gets off the ball well. He fights and finds the ball carrier. He plays with good energy.

i.) Chris Borland, ILB, WI. While many think he'll be an early 3rd round pick, if the Packers don't draft an ILB in the 1st round, he has to be considered in the 2nd round. When he hits you, you better hold on tight. He's coming with purpose. I'd love him in Green Bay.

j.) Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State; Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson; Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU are three different styles of WR's and all would bring a fun dimension to the offense. Robinson is the best all-around WR of the bunch. He catches the ball at it's highest point. He's stellar in traffic. He sells out to find the ball. Bryant is a tall, athletic WR who is dangerous after the catch. Benjamin is the best jump ball WR in the Draft.

k.) Don't be shocked if the 2nd Round pick is either Marcus Martin, C, USC or Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State. Both would come in and immediately compete for the starting C role.

l.) Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State. I really like his game. Love the way he chases ball carriers from behind. Can shed blockers and extend to make the tackle. A big time player late in the game. Often either disrupted the play or grabbed a sack with the game on the line. Will take plays off, but when he's on, he's on.

Round 3.) Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU. If Jarvis Landry is available in the 3rd round, this should be a no-brainer. Landry was a terrific 3rd down WR at LSU. He was elusive after the catch. He wasn't afraid to run across the middle. He can play in the slot or on the outside.

Round 3b.) Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech. Admittedly, I've struggled with this pick, but from what I've seen on Ellis, he's potentially the player to replace Ryan Pickett. He plugs holes. He's quick enough to slide off blocks and grab RB's. He's aggressive. I like his hustle. He seems to be a high-effort player. Others:

a.) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton. He was big time in the Senior Bowl. But, I haven't seen enough of him to commit to making him a 3rd round pick. I heard him in an interview and I was impressed with the way he communicates.

b.) CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa. He has the size you desire in a TE. He's a big target who plays with confidence. He enjoys blocking. He finds gaps in the zone. He'd fit in Green Bay.

c.) Christian Jones, LB, FSU. Jones is versatile. While he can play both ILB or OLB, I think he projects well as a 3-4 ILB. High impact player who was a leader in the middle of the 'Noles defense. Knows the game. Great instincts.

d.) Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU. He'll likely be gone before our 3rd round pick, but if he's there, he has to be considered. Top flight athlete who can get to the QB or drop in coverage. Would be a great long-term 3-4 OLB across from the Claymaker. I see him as a 2nd round pick, but if he's around in round 3, he's a target. If he'd have come out of college last year, he'd have been a sure-fire 1st round pick.

e.) Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado. I wish he was thicker because this dude can play. He has shake to him with the ball in his hands. He's smooth. Gets behind coverage. Solid double-move sideline route runner.

Round 4.) Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State. I respect my brother, Chad's, opinion more than anyone I know when it comes to judging TE's. We watched him together. We both fell in love. Gillmore was sure handed. He caught the ball in traffic. He had a nose for the end zone. He was a willing blocker. He looks like he's still developing as well. He showed no fear going up for the ball in a crowd down the middle of the field. Others:

a.) Walt Aiken, CB, Liberty. He showed he belonged with the big boys when he performed at the All-Star games. He's not sitting next to Zyr Vodka on the top-shelf when it comes to playing the ball in the air, but he uses his hands well and is physical enough to play on Sunday.

b.) Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia. Another big target TE. Not overly fast, but he's committed to the game. Runs solid routes. High effort player. Never takes a down off. Not going to out run anyone, but finds a way to get open.

c.) Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State. If the Packers are going to invest a mid-round pick on a Tackle for the future, Mewhort is an option. Reminds me of Bakhtiari. He's going to fight on every play. He can be beat with speed, but he's not going down without a battle. Plays with passion.

d.) James Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech. Looks the part in his uniform. Pursues with desire. Somewhat slow off the ball, but he can stand up or put his hand in the dirt. Has the tools to be a 3-4 OLB.

e.) Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers. Huge WR. Can beat you deep. Not afraid to run across the middle. Fights for yards. Runs a solid out route. Inconsistent hands might prevent him from being drafted higher. Huge upside.

f.) Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama. The captain at Alabama. True leader. Plays with will. Good hands. Understands route running. Squeezes himself to be his best.

Round 5.) Aaron Lynch, OLB/DE, South Florida. If the Packers are moving to less of a commitment to the 3-4, Lynch is perfect. While he is an ideal size for the 3-4 OLB role, he doesn't have significant exposure to dropping into coverage. But, Lynch is as naturally gifted as you'll find from an athletic perspective. If he puts it all together, he could be a steal in the Draft.

Round 5b.) Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech. Exum needs to stay healthy. He has everything else in his game. He'll get in your face at the line of scrimmage with confidence. He'll jam you off your route. He'll step up and make a play in the run game. If he had been healthy throughout, he'd be ranked significantly higher. Others:

a.) At one point, I was interested in two ILB's that seem to be suited for the 5th round: Max Bullough,Michigan State and Yawin Smallwood, UCONN. Bullough seemed destined for the Packers. And, then, he bailed on his team prior to the Rose Bowl for unspecified reasons. I always viewed him as a leader, a stand-up guy. His suspension and lack of desire to discuss his actions are disturbing. When Smallwood flashes, it's brilliance. But, he disappears too much. He has the talent. He needs the consistency.

b.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy. Prior to see him compete at the Senior Bowl, I was certain that I wanted him on the Packers. He was in ink on my Mock Draft. Thankfully, 'white-out' exists. He'll be a nice mid-to-late round pick, but he looked slow at the Senior Bowl and it showed up again at the Combine.

c.) David Yankey, G, Stanford. Love his grit. Gets in your head. Has good size. Gets underneath you. Intelligent baller. I'll say it again, "Football Player" in the words of Ted Thompson.

d.) Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal. Long, big bodied player. Lacks consistency, which knocks him down. A guy I want to love as he fits the 3-4 from a length perspective. But, he doesn't get up and down the line. Fills his gap with goodness. Often required a double-team on run plays.

Round 6.) Jay Bromley, DL, Syracuse. Gets up and down the line of scrimmage. At times, he's uber disruptive. He can rush the passer. He can play the run. Potentially, a great bargain this late in the Draft. If he's motivated, he's a must at this spot. Great insurance in case Raji doesn't have a long-term future in Green Bay. Others:

a.) Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky. Williamson is a tackling machine. I'd be really excited if the Packers invested a mid-to-late round pick on him. Simply put, he finds the football. In a lot of ways, Williamson reminds me of Desmond Bishop. He's a grinder. When he hits you, you'll know it.

b.) Three CB's to keep an eye on in the 5th-7th rounds: Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State; Andre Hal, CB, Vandy; Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona. All play the ball in the air. All get their heads turned. All fight with conviction. Johnson has great versatility and might end up playing Safety. Hal isn't the tallest CB, but he plays the ball extremely well. Richardson isn't afraid to gamble and jump a route.

c.) Prince Shembo, LB, ND. While he played on the outside at ND, I believe he has the football know-how to play ILB. He might be too short to play OLB in a 3-4. He's ripped. His muscles blaze. Great football IQ. Finds the ball.

d.) Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina. Hazel has the size-speed combo that you seek in a late round WR. Has good hands. Solid route runner. Catches the ball at it's highest point. Will go up and get it. Dominated small school competition.

e.) Shamar Stephen, DL, UCONN. Has the length and height that Capers is looking to build. Looks like a beast, but doesn't always play like one. Inconsistent jump off the ball. Can dominate. Also disappears.

Round 7.) Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State. There's a good chance that he's going to be undrafted. Regardless, I want him. He brings attitude. He brings pizazz. He's looking to make a big play on each down. Others:

a.) James Morris, ILB, Iowa. Don't be surprised if Morris is in Green Bay. Ted Thompson loves his Iowa players. And, Morris fits the "Football Player" analogy that Thompson often drops. The Packers need to improve at ILB. If they don't draft an ILB early, Morris is among the best you'll find late in the Draft.

b.) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU. Hoffman dominates. He doesn't have great speed. He doesn't get in and out of his breaks like you'd like him to, but the guy makes plays. Against almost everyone he plays against. Oh, and he finds the end zone. He scored 33 TD's in his career. Against Wisconsin, he caught 7 balls for 113 yards and 2 TD's.

c.) Two TE's interest me here for different reasons: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon; Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor. Lyerla has the potential to be the best TE to come out of this Draft. But, his attitude, commitment and personal life are a major distraction. I believe in 2nd chances. Thus, I'd like Lyerla late. Najvar interests me because he was underused. He could have a better pro career than he did in college. He is a solid blocker. He has good hands. He's an intriguing developmental prospect.

d.) Bruce Gaston, DL, Purdue. Gives it everything he has on all downs. An overachiever. The type of player you want in your locker room. Puts his hand in the dirt and pushes with a vengeance. Seeks contact.

Random Draft Thoughts:

a.) I like the Packers depth at QB. I'd prefer that the Packers don't draft a QB. If the Packers are to draft a QB, I hope it's David Fales, QB, San Jose State. I'm a fan of Fales. He's a developmental prospect who throws a nice ball and who keeps his vision downfield while he rolls out. He has the tools to play at the next level. I really like Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia, but I hope they don't draft a QB before Round 5, if at all.

b.) I didn't list RB's as the Packers are littered with depth. But, I believe Charles Sims, WR, WVU, would be a great fit in the Packers offense. He has great hands. He's versatile. He'd be a great compliment to Lacy. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State is a mudder. When the ground is tough, he excels. Also, Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State is an interesting prospect. He had personal issues that ended his run at Georgia. He transferred to Alabama State. He's a big time talent. Worth a risk for someone.

c.) I love the depth at TE in this Draft class. I wouldn't have a problem with the Packers drafting two TE's this year. Really good value at TE this year.

d.) Players I'd like to see in camp as undrafted Free Agents: Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo; Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State; Devekeyan Lattimore, ILB, South Florida; James Wilder, Jr., RB, FSU; Jerry Gates, S, Bowling Green; Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford; Chandler Jones, WR, San Jose State; Kenny Bell, WR, Alabama; L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri.

In Ted I Trust.

Go Pack Go,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Offseason Thoughts

Greetings, G-Force.

Dewar's. Ice. The Gladiators "Father & Sons" album in the speakers. Packers football. Who's with me?

There's a human element to Football. Often, we forget. We imagine the players as robots. They're expected to be perfect. When they do not perform with excellence, fans can often move into attack mode.

There's also a human side to playing GM. Sometimes you're the aggressor. Other times, you are reactionary. In his previous 9 years as GM, Ted Thompson showed very little emotion. Then, he met 2014.

To review the recent past, in 2010, the Packers hosted the Giants & the Bears in Weeks 16 & 17. Must win contests. We won. They went to Philly. Left victorious. We headed to Atlanta. We won convincingly. We went to Soldier and left with Trump Card Forever. After the game, Bears fans were burning Ray Nutler jerseys in the parking lot. We were World Champions after a hard found battle against Pittsburgh. 2011 was a high-flying year. 15-1. Division champs. An offensive explosion. But, due to injury, there were severe scars placed on the Packers defense. Nintendo Nick was gone forever. As was Desmond Bishop. Both were pillars during the title run. DJ Smith was a promising back-up. He, too, was lost to injury. The defense still hasn't recovered from these losses. In 2012, the Packers were, once again, Division Champs. Once again, winning a title in Chicago. The 2012 Packers were more gutty than pretty or forceful. 2013 was a struggle. It had tons of drama, but significant frustrations as well. Still, the Packers prevailed and won the Division title. Notably, the title was won in Chicago. Yes, that's three titles won at Soldier Field in 3 calendar years.

Over the last 4 seasons, the Packers have won a Super Bowl & three consecutive NFC North crowns. Yet, suddenly, on paper, the Division seems to have tightened. The Bears, Viqueens and Lions all were aggressive in Free Agency and added key elements. Packers fans bit nails. So, I assume, did Ted Thompson. After all, he's human.

In nearly merciful fashion, against his character, Thompson has reacted in grand fashion. JULIUS PEPPERS! Ryan Clark posted a telling tweet: BEWARE: NFC North QB's.

Here are a few other rumblings that have flowed thru my mind recently:

* The Letroy Guion signing hasn't made much noise. He'll make an impact this year. He'll be disruptive. He'll be complimentary to those around him.

* I never like to see a piece of the XLV leave via Free Agency. James Jones was a fun Packer. I loved the bright yellow wrist bands or yellow tape along with the yellow gloves. Due to cap restrictions, it was time for a change. Hard as it may be, at times.

* Initially, I thought Chris Harper would play a role similar to what the Packers tried to do with DJ Williams. Not really a blocking TE, but a player that roamed in a variety of spots on the field. Sometimes in the slot. Sometimes in motion. Sometimes in the backfield. But, he is not tall enough. Coming out of college, I saw Harper as a steady, consistent player. I was convinced that he'd come to have a solid 7-10 year career as a possession WR. With James Jones gone, I'd give Harper #89. They're similar players. Both professionals with natural leadership skills. Both are largely possession WRs with an ability to occasionally win a deep ball. Both will fight for jump balls. Both will show bicep-infused emotion. While I believe the Packers will draft a WR, Harper will be given an opportunity to win the job as the #4 WR. And, I'm really excited about it. It's also noteworthy that Harper went to Kansas State, which is Jordy Nelson's alma mater. Nelson is a proud alum. Harper was a vital payer during Kansas State's exciting 2012 season.

* Speaking of Nelson, can we please sign him to a lifetime contract? I want an autographed Nelson photo in my basement. I'm holding out until he signs.

* Chase Thomas is on the 2014 roster. I might be crazy, but I'm calling it. He knows the 3-4 OLB spot. He knows zone coverages. He can drop in coverage. He can compete at the point of contact. He is a try hard man. He is more athletic than Frank Zombo. He is a competitor. He's a natural leader who can also play the role of follower. He is respected by past teammates. He loaded box scores at Stanford. He's a classic Ted Thompson "football player."

* The Eddie Lacy & James Starks Love Fest on twitter was epic. So was Mike Daniels kindness towards Julius Peppers.

* Compensatory picks are a part of the TT puzzle. James Jones & EDS should net the Packers draft picks. Marshall Newhouse signs with Cincy! Let's hope that he's active for 16 games. Hopefully, he'll play on special teams. CJ Wilson's future could net the Packers compensation as well. Wilson can play the run. He might fit in nicely in Oakland. With that said, I'd love 11 picks heading into the 2015 Draft.

* Owen Daniels was crazy to sign anywhere other than Green Bay.

Dear Owen, you should have done as Martellus Bennett did. Sign a 1-year deal in a super friendly TE environment. Stay healthy. Play as you do. Get rich somewhere else. But, first, prove yourself again. Show you can stay healthy. While Baltimore is TE friendly, they also have good depth. If the Packers were not aggressive in their approach, please ignore this message. Cheers, the BuzzBoy.

On a side note, Daniels is a Midwest man. From the 'burbs of Chicago. Went to school in Madison. He should've come home. He was a perfect Red Zone target for Rodgers. He would have instantly improved our TD efficiency. But, who knows, maybe the Packers weren't interested after visiting with him.

* I really hope Jerel Worthy can find his form. He was so good at Michigan State.

* If, in the future, I'm partial to the PAC-12, I'm sorry. I'm not really sorry, but I thought I'd apologize anyways. As people, we are a product of our environment and my life is committed to PAC-12 land for the foreseeable future. They play fun football out here. I promise to still keep up with the SEC, ACC, and Big 10. I know my roots and I'm proud of them.

* One of my favorite tweets ever comes from Lil Wayne: @LilTunechi: Eddie Lacy rookie of the year! Well deserved The green & yellow bumble bee bekuz if he hit ya it's gon sting!Green Bay all ****ing day!

* There you have it. Eddie Lacy = The Green & Yellow Bumblebee!

* Welcome back, Matt Flynn.

* I'm beginning to wonder if Free Agency has eliminated the notion of drafting the Best Player Available. The window for winning a Super Bowl is smaller than ever. GM's are forced to plug holes on the roster early in the Draft rather than taking the highest player on their draft board.

Heavy draft vibes are coming soon. But, to close, here's where I'm at in my Mock Draft. Admittedly, I'm unlikely to get any picks right this year, but if I were in charge I'd go heavy on players who force turnovers early in the Draft. I'd target the Forced Fumbles category.

One noteworthy item: Last year, the Packers traded down twice as the 49ers wanted to move up. Once again, the 49ers are littered with picks. They have two picks in the 2nd & 3rd rounds and 3 picks in the 7th round. A trade I could see happening: The Packers trade a #1 and a #5 for a #1, a #2 and a #7. The deal works with the draft chart and the Packers would have 5 of the first 100 picks. Thompson would be stoked!

As always, I use the CBS DRAFT SCOUT as my guide for which round to pick a player unless I want to draft higher than he is rated. And I only comment if I have watched him play. Further, it is rare for me to draft an OL as I do not follow the position as heavily at the college level. My mock:

Round 1: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State.
Round 2: Troy Niklas, TE, ND.
Round 3: Chris Borland, ILB, WI.
Round 3b: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU.
Round 4: Christian Jones, ILB, FSU.
Round 5: Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy
Round 5: Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal
Round 6: Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida
Round 7: Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.