Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Take -> Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

The heart needs to relax. I sip a New Glarus Apple Ale that has been resting for roughly 10 months. It still has a tremendous fruit buzz, but some of the carbonation has settled down. This beer does not need to age. It's great at the time of purchasing, but sometimes it's fun to watch the way a beer evolves over time. I'm surprised that the fruitiness didn't diminish much. I love the New Glarus Brewery.

The heart also needs a fiery spirit. I listen to Michael Franti's "YELL FIRE" album. Franti is my musical guru. He guides me with passion. Over the last 15 years, our lives have seemed to have followed similar paths. I deeply connect with his music.

I went to Pittsburgh to see the Packers Week 2 preseason game. Here are some of my quick vibes:

* Had to love the way that the offense came shooting out of the gates. Quick precision. Rodgers using his tools. Starks and Lacy hitting holes on a mission. In true attack mode. Rodgers surveying the field with a run or pass option. And the MVP was seeing the field as though he was in mid-season form.

* John Kuhn is a lock to make this team. His blocking was exceptional. With the Nelson injury, we'll see more of Kuhn than we thought we'd see out of him in 2015. I expect to see a bunch of two-back sets. Might even see Kuhn catching the ball 15-20 times this year. By comparison, he caught 4 balls last year.

* I LOVE JORDY NELSON. After the Lacy TD, Nelson was the first player on the field to congratulate Lacy. I was certain that there was nothing wrong with him. What a crushing blow. But, more on this later.

* Richard Rodgers! Wrote last week that I thought he'd score 6-8 TD's this year. It might be 8-10. Love the way he sat down and used his wingspan. His diving 6-yard catch to start the final drive of the 2nd half was a thing of beauty. Great hands. Used his body well. Presented a wide target for Tolzien. We haven't seen that type of play out of a TE since Chmura's injury. True safety valve play by Rodgers. And, then, it was really nice to see him get loose for the 21 yard TD at the end of the half. I expect Rodgers to have a big year catching the football. The jury is still out on him as a blocker, but he's developing into a legitimate receiving threat.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

* The Kuhn block on the EDDIE TD was absolutely exceptional!

* Aaron Ripkowski can play special teams. Period.

* I like when Starks hits the hole with conviction!

* Alonzo Harris did himself no favors. Two horrible drops. The first one would have been a 41-yard TD. There was no one in front of him. Great play call. Great play design. Couldn't believe Harris dropped that pass.

* Rajion Neal showing decent burst. After the two Harris drops, I moved Neal above Harris on my depth chart.

* Crockett isn't making the 53-man team.

* Scott Tolzien. Solidifying himself - once again - as a legitimate #2 QB. Shows good command of the offense. Throws a decent ball. Stands with confidence.

* Brett Hundley will have days like that during his development. Especially if his OL fails him.

* Donny Barclay. Oh boy. Not his best performance. He's off to a terrible start to the preseason.

* Matt Rotheram showed good strength. Holds his point at the line really well. Needs to improve his footwork and can't transition to a RT at this stage, but it's possible that someday he'll be able to make that move.

* At this stage, Josh Walker is solely a Guard.

* Oh Heavenly Father, please ensure that our OL stays healthy this year. Get well, Sitton, Lang and Bakhtiari.

* Lane Taylor showed the same kind of fight that landed him on the roster the last two years.

* Great to see Randall Cobb operating out of the slot in wizardly fashion.

* Davante Adams looks fit. Slender. Strong. Athletic. Confident.

* Jeff Janis. It's time to RISE UP, young man. Janis looks like Nelson in his uniform. He runs in a similar fashion as well. He's our best option as a deep route runner. But, does the MVP trust him? They clearly aren't in lock-step like Nelson and Rodgers are. And, that won't be developed overnight. But, the Packers need to trust Janis early on. He's has all of the physical ability. It's in the Packers best interest to see what they have in him early and often.

* Rodgers seems to believe in Myles White. White has not done himself many favors over the first 2 preseason game. It'll be interesting to see if Rodgers' confidence in White earns him a roster spot.

* Wanted to see more out of Ty Montgomery. He wasn't open much. Runs decent routes. Gets low in his cuts. Didn't show much separation. Hence, I believe Janis is the best option as the #3 WR on the outside.

* Can Jared Abbrederis get healthy? If so, he's got a great opportunity in front of him.

* I'm impressed with Larry Pinkard. He'll be on someone's practice squad this year. And, it wouldn't shock me if he makes a 53-man roster somewhere. Runs solid routes. Catches with his hands. Has the physique.

* Kennard Backman. At this stage, I have him as the 3rd TE. Moves well. Clearly, he's the most athletic of the TE's competing for the #3 spot. And, he might be the most athletic TE on the roster. Without question, he's a developmental prospect. But, he has the most upside out of anyone that he's competing with for the #3 spot.

* The most concerning thing of the game was how slow the Packers looked off the snap. Outside of Gaston and Pennel, the Packers DL looked really slow off the snap. Seemed tired. Caught in the heat. Sure, it was a preseason game, but still cause for concern when considering that the Packers open at noon in Chicago. A game in which you can bet that the Bears will be looking to pound the ball at the heart of the Packers defense.

* Mike Pennel. Yes, Mike Pennel was the most impressive DL for the Packers. He really held the point of attack. Showed great push in the run game early on. Also, he collapsed the pocket on the Randall interception.

* As I write, Bruce Gaston is on my 53-man roster. He's been persistent. He's been aggressive. He's been a bruiser. 2 QB Hits. 1 Sack. 1 Tackle for Loss. He's been a great competitor.

* Datone Jones looked really good in limited reps. Looks like he's bigger than last year. Carrying more weight. And, he looks determined. Let's hope he's turned a corner.

* Christian Ringo is making the 53-man roster. Shows good effort. Has a decent push. Gets underneath his blocker. Moves his legs with persistency. Collapses the line.

* Jayrone Elliott didn't have the burst off the line of scrimmage that I wanted to see, but he gives effort. He's determined. And, he can turn the corner.

* Liked to see Adrian Hubbard fight for the loose ball on the fumble recovery. But, is he tough enough? I can't figure him out.

* Nate Palmer can't be an every down linebacker. Thought he showed OK at times, but then he was absolutely exposed.

* Carl Bradford. I'm really surprised that he didn't turn into a solid NFL player. It's year 2 and I've already given up. Man, I was high on him before he was drafted.

* Mike Neal. Moved backwards. Lost his fight. He'll show better as he gets into game shape.

* Tavarus Dantzler. Really liked watching him run down the field on special teams. Sought contact. Delivered punishment.

* Mentioned previously that James Vaughters was better suited for ILB in a 3-4 or OLB in a 4-3. Was happy to see that he was moved inside during practice this week.

* Jermauria Rasco. He's shown me enough to warrant a spot on the Practice Squad. Really good length. Shows flashes that make you yearn for more consistency.

* I get the feeling that the Packers organization is really pulling for Joe Thomas to do something special. He brings a physical mentality that this team needs.

* Sam Barrington looks so much more confident. He also looks comfortable. Loving the way he's wrapping up.

* LaDarius Gunter! []_[]! He looked like a total MAN out there. Covering the crossing routes. Jamming WR's at the line. Covering the deep route and getting his head turned to see the ball. He's a lock to make this roster.

* Quinten Rollins. Stay confident, young man. You'll have better days.

* Damarious Randall. Really, really impressive performance from the 1st round pick. Sure, the pick was phenomenal, but I was more excited about the open field tackle on Bell. Looked like a natural.

* HaHa Clinton Dix. Two games in a row that he's had himself in position. He's attacked like he was Brian Dawkins. And then he's whiffed. On multiple occasions.

* Sean Richardson will make the team because he signed a rich contract, but the Packers need more out of him if he's expected to see the field during the Regular Season. He looks slow and unaware.

* Tim Masthay. Disgusting. Mason Crosby. Brilliant!

* Man, Jordy Nelson. Ouch. The injury cannot be overstated. Not only is he the master of the "shot-play", but he's so in sync with the MVP. The back-shoulder play. He's a gamer. He's a big play constant. He's bailed Rodgers out on many 3rd downs. He's a top-5 WR in the NFL. Get healthy, Jordy. We'll miss you. Greatly.


* Look for McCarthy to design more formations to utilize 2 TE's. Look for more 2-back sets. I expect to see Janis get the first crack on the outside. Look for more formations in which Montgomery and/or Cobb are used in the backfield to confuse defensive coordinators. Look for Lacy to have an absolutely monster year.

It's the Week 3 preseason game. Against the Eagles. With all of the injuries on the OL, I wouldn't play Rodgers. I'd sit him. With Tolzien injured, I'd give the game to Hundley. Let him operate. Give him the reps. Let him play the first 3 Quarters. Hand the ball to Blanchard in the 4th Quarter. I'd also rest Bulaga and Linsley. I'd do the same with Cobb, Adams and Lacy. I'd consider doing the same with Starks. Let's keep our OL, Lacy, Cobb, Adams and the MVP at 100% entering into the Regular Season.

Be festive, Lambeau. Treat it as though it's a regular season game. Let's make it a special season. It starts on Saturday night. Kick it off with volume. Look for Hundley to settle in nicely and move the football. He hits Janis on a deep ball. He hits Pinkley on a deep out. He finds the dump down to Backman.

Elliott grabs a sack. YELLOW JAKE shows up like he did in the first preseason game. Rollins gets back on track and grabs a pick. The swagger is abundant at Lambeau!

Packers 20. Eagles 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com


Monday, August 17, 2015

My Take -> Preseason Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

I sit with excitement. A bold smile. The SOJA "Amid the Noise & Haste" vinyl spins softly in the background. Modern Reggae music that sets the head boppin' tempo to the night. A 2013 Russian River Consecration slowly opens in a snifter glass. After more than 2 years of age, this beer has lost a lot of its carbonation. It sips at a pleasantly powerful 10% punch. It's sour. It's sweet. It's a great sipper as the mind rejoices on a joyful exhibition opener.

I'm a Packers blogger. A Packers fan. A Packers loyalist. I have not researched this as I'm not a Packers historian nor a Packers journalist. I write with an attempt to offer a different perspective than what a reader would normally receive. With that, I ask: When's the last time you can recall the Packers looking so efficient throughout the duration of a 4 Quarter game in the exhibition opener? Also, when's the last time that the Packers rookies looked so dynamic in the exhibition opener? Personally, I can't recall a time. Ever. Thus, I'm walking with a genuine, newly found enthusiasm for the 2015 NFL Season. Trust me, I get it. It was only a preseason game. Week 1, at that. But, the signs were encouraging.

Here were the quick vibes that hit me:

* Mike McCarthy wants a fast start. He wants to play with tempo to start the season. He's challenging his team and his staff to play with pace. To play with aggression. I was stunned that the NFL's MVP saw an entire Quarter of play. But, McCarthy wants this team in rhythm.

* Sure, it was only a preseason game, but it was nice to see that Tom Clements appeared to be keeping the majority of the formations and offensive concepts in the same fashion as we've seen in past years. Loved the 4th & 1 shot from Tolzien to Janis!

* Rodgers to Adams on the 10 yard slant. Rodgers to Nelson on the back shoulder. Rodgers to Cobb on the short slant. The MVP looks like he's ready.

* EDDIE! Loved seeing him step out of tackles. It's a joy to watch him run. Wish he'd have muscled thru Collins' tackle near the end zone as I thought he'd fight into the end zone, but Collins is a baller.

* JAYRONE ELLIOTT!!! I've said it before. I'll say it again. The Packers need Elliott to have a monster campaign in 2015. He showed KGB-like quickness off the snap. He found the edge and turned the corner with excellence. A very, very encouraging first preseason game from Elliott. I loved how he used his length coming around the edge to swipe at the football. I loved how he used his length to get his arms up when he couldn't get to the QB. I loved how he extended his arms in the run game to hold the point of attack. Big time performance from Jayrone!

* Linsley, Sitton and Lang looked great. Bulaga as well. Bakhtiari will have better games.

* AQ81! was my goat of the game. Dropped ball. Poor blocking. Runs the route a 1/2 yard short of the sticks on 3rd down. These are the basics, AQ81!. Get 'em down. We're a team on a mission. And, want you as a part of it.

* Wish Adams would've caught the ball in the corner of the end zone. Nonetheless, he looks like he's running with confidence. He looked fluid. He looks like he's ready to be a major target in the offense this year.

* James Starks. I'm forever grateful, man. But, dude. New year. Same bounce to the outside that nets nothing. James, plant your foot. Go. Lower the shoulder. Take what you can get. Understand down and distance. I don't get why you try to spring things to the outside so quickly when there's nothing there. Frustrating.

* It was comical to see John Kuhn on the FB Dive.

* Donny Barclay will have better days. I'm not worried.

* Thought Matt Rotheram and Josh Walker both had really solid games. If they continue to play with that toughness, they'll be tough cuts. They're making life difficult for Lane Taylor.

* Thought Tretter did a decent job getting a push and directing traffic.

* Great game, Scott Tolzien. It's a crucial preseason for Tolzien's career. He wasn't perfect, but he was confident. He was in command. He showed mobility. He showed field awareness. When given time, I thought he played really well.

* Brett Hundley. Wow. Couldn't ask for a better first performance. His only two incompletions were perfect balls in which Montgomery didn't get his feet inbounds. Hundley was athletic. He was mobile. He's gifted. He needs to get stronger, but an impressive performance from the youngster. Hundley's reaction after his TD was absolutely wonderful. Sheer joy. I'm animated to see more of him in the preseason!

* Was expecting to see Richard Rodgers as a Red Zone target. I'm looking for him to score 6-8 TD's this year.

* ALONZO HARRIS! Looked like Starks during the XLV year. Pushing forward. Seeking contact. Fighting forward. Taking what he could get. Good to see him catch the ball as well. He runs a little too upright for my preference, but he's looking to deliver punishment. Exciting debut!

* Rajion Neal. Nice to see him fully recovered from the injury. Showed a slash to him.

* John Crockett. Fun to see him get in the end zone. Thought Crockett left a lot of yards on the field. He lacks the speed to get the edge. He ran with nerves. He didn't trust his initial judgment. He's a one-cut back, but he spent too much time dancing in NE.

* Aaron Ripkowski looks as though he might be able to make an immediate impact on special teams.

* Prior to the concussion, Justin Perillo looked to be a dependable target.

* Need to see more of Mitchell Henry, Kennard Backman and Harold Spears. Not able to give much of an assessment.

* JEFF JANIS! Sure, the TD was EPIC. The speed off the line of scrimmage, you just cannot teach that. But, how about the grab on the crossing route when the ball was thrown behind him? That was special. I didn't know that was in his arsenal.

* Myles White had his chance. Two bad drops from White. Janis has to be far ahead of White on the depth chart and White didn't do himself any favors with respect to forcing the Packers to keep a 6th WR.

* Larry Pinkard. Kid looks the part in the uniform. Has some shake to him. Appears to be a prime target for the practice squad.

* Ty Montgomery showing an elusive step to him. He's confident. He looked tough running through the middle of the field. A fearless approach as he pursued extra yardage. He's a natural with the ball in his hands.

* Fabbians Ebbele held his own. He's a big dude. Used his frame well. Worth a look. He's squarely in position to make a run at the practice squad. And, with the injuries at OT, he'll get a heavy look this week.

* Datone Jones played way more snaps than I anticipated he would. He looks like he's put on some weight. He was dominant against the 2nd and 3rd teams. He was playing with purpose. Liked to see his push.

* Christian Ringo played well. Thought he had a great push. Understood leverage. Really encouraging debut from the rookie.

* Mike Pennel came to camp to win a job. Looks to be in excellent shape. He was active throughout.

* Good to see BJ Raji in uniform again. The FREEZER had a quick first step on a couple of plays.

* Bruce Gaston had great energy. He was forceful up front. Consistent in his pursuit. Played angry. He was disruptive.

* Khyri Thornton. All hope is not lost. He played with more desire than I recall him offering last year. He even offered a push. Played with a will to win his individual battle. He's still facing an up-hill climb to make the roster, but that was a positive step in the right direction.

* Andy Mulumba! Super fun to see him on the inside blitz. Strong game from Mulumba. Looked good on the outside as well.

* Really disappointing play by Nate Palmer on the outside. Didn't contain the play. Showed that he's still learning the position. The Packers cannot expect Palmer to be the #3 ILB this season.

* YELLOW JAKE! What a performance! 6 tackles. 2 Tackles for Loss. 1 Sack. 1 QB hit. If that's YELLOW JAKE, then we're in for an exciting season.

* Sam Barrington looked really comfortable. He carried himself as though he was a leader of the defense. He was in attack-mode.

* It brought a large smile to my face when Carl Bradford got home on the sack. But, man, seeing him trying to tackle James White in space was a sore sight for my eyes.

* Adrian Hubbard. Hope he's tough enough to play in the NFL. Gets nicked up often. I'm pulling for him. Really enjoy his style. 1 sack. 1 Tackle for Loss. 1 QB hit. Puts himself in position to make plays. But, need more from him.

* Really wanted to see Tavarus Dantzler. Nothing to note.

* Joe Thomas wants to be a punisher. He gets sideline-to-sideline. But, he looked lost, at times. Wasn't as confident in open space as I thought he'd be.

* Jermauria Rasco has the physique. Looked to have decent burst off the line of scrimmage. 1 sack. 1 tackle for loss. 1 QB hit. Liked what I saw. Has great reach. Practice squad target.

* QUINTEN ROLLINS! SPECTACULAR! I'm surprised that he was only credited with 2 passes defensed. I counted 4. He plants and he attacks the football. Wish he'd have grabbed the two balls that hit him in the hands. Nonetheless, an extremely exciting initial performance from the 2nd round pick.

* LaDarius Gunter! My boy! Da []_[]! He has to be a lock to make this team! He has to be. He was beat deep on two plays and will require over the top help, but he sure seems as though he's one of the top 53 players on the roster. Fantastic play on the interception. Willing tackler in the run game.

* Kyle Sebetic won't make the team, but he played well. Sure tackler. Assignment ready.

* Thought HaHa was out of position in the run game on a couple of plays. Especially on the long TD run. Between HaHa and Palmer that was a fully disheartening play. Both were in position to make play. Neither did. I expect better than that out of HaHa. The Packers need him to be a force in the secondary. He wasn't in the preseason opener.

* Jean Fanor won't make the team, but I like his athleticism. He was present on nearly all of the special teams throughout the game.

* Hey TT, time to wake up, man. Why would we only carry 87 players on the roster with all of the players that we have being nicked up? Doesn't make sense to me. It's time to bring in a couple of Tackles off of the street. Even if it's only from a numbers perspective.

This week - I'm headed to Pittsburgh for the preseason game. My wife's family lives in Wheeling, WV, which is about an hour from Heinz Field. I'm stoked to catch my first in-person glimpse of the 2015 Packers in an XLV exhibition rematch. Just like NE, Pittsburgh will offer a tough match-up for the Packers. I view the Steelers as the AFC favorite this year.

Look for Rodgers to play into the 2nd Quarter. Once again, he's in rhythm. He uses all of his targets. Then, he gives way to Tolzien who - once again - engineers a TD drive. Go get paid, Scott. Hundley comes in and continues the efficiency. He's in lock-step with Pinkard. Pinkard continues to make plays and scores on a deep ball from Hundley. Alonzo Harris bulls forward for big yardage. Jayrone Elliott notches another sack. YELLOW JAKE plugs more holes. This time - Rollins hangs onto the interception.

Packers 27. Steelers 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com










Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Take -> Preseason Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

Let the madness begin. Before it fully ensues, please allow me to indulge in a full-mouthed sip of a Laurelwood Workhorse IPA. I enjoy hitting up new breweries. Recently, my family went on a 10-day vacation through the state of Oregon. The vacation included stops at 15 different breweries. My favorite brewery stop was at Laurelwood. The Workhorse IPA has an epic citrus goodness to it. It's full of fruit aroma and settles with a grand hoppy bite that makes you want to savor each sip. It's a bold hop forward bottle of grandness. At 7.5%, it leaves you smiling. It's smooth. It's earthy. It's perfect. As I enjoy this bottle with pure delight, I listen to the Grateful Dead's "FARE THEE WELL" 7/3/15 show. This was one of the more magical nights of music I've ever experienced. The unity in the crowd that manifested as Trey belted out "As I was walking round Grosvenor Square" was one for the ages. Complete kindness. Sheer joy. Music, man. Music.

The Packers kickoff the exhibition season at the defending Super Bowl Champion, New England Patriots. That's certainly one way to ensure that we're reminded of the disastrous finish to the 2014 Season. I literally just gripped my head and tugged at my hair with two hands. Now that those thoughts are out of my system, I find the bright spot. The youth of the Packers roster will be tested. The depth of the Packers roster will be challenged. New England will be well prepared. The crowd will be animated. It'll be a festive crowd. The environment will offer ideal conditions to make certain that the Packers are getting ready for a tough opening month of the Regular Season schedule.

Last year, I went on record before the season and said that the Packers would win the Super Bowl. This year, I'm feeling a 10-6 to 11-5 season. The schedule is really tough. The Packers could play really good football and finish 10-6. We have ALL of the tools on offense. We have a plethora of weapons at WR. We have the best OL in the NFL. We have the MVP throwing the ball. We have an elite RB. We have a TE who is budding into a reliable receiving target. The pieces are in place. But, our defense concerns me. The OLB and CB positions concern me. Do we have depth on the perimeter at CB? Do we have players that can turn and run with WR's along the sidelines? Do we have dependable pass rushers at OLB? At some point, you know that Perry and Neal will be nicked up and I think that Peppers will see key snaps at DT on passing downs. Obviously, Clay can easily slide outside on passing downs, but in order for that to be a best case scenario, someone needs to elevate at ILB.

Some argue that 4 preseason games are a waste of time. I argue that they're absolutely vital towards determining the best 53 men on the roster. Especially with the lack of contact that's allowed in practice in the modern day NFL. Often, players 45-53 on the roster are the guys that will determine Super Bowl winners and losers. The Packers have to take a deep look at the depth of the CB and LB positions in the preseason.

Here are some things to look for in the preseason opener at New England:

* Who is on the first team special teams units? That'll give a good look at how the Packers view the depth chart at this stage.

* As long as the starters don't get hurt, I'm not worried about how in sync they are at this stage of the preseason. I don't think I'd play Rodgers, Nelson, Cobb, Lacy, Matthews, or Peppers.

* Scott Tolzien. He signed a 1-year contract this offseason. He's playing for a contract next offseason. He's in his third year in the system. He has command of the offense. Expect him to manage the game in great fashion. With lethal talent at WR around him, look for Tolzien to have a monster game. Even though, at this stage, the defenses are normally way ahead of the offense.

* Brett Hundley. While the Packers say they want him to "manage the chaos", I'm looking for much more. It'll be business as usual for Hundley. He'll have nerves to start, but then, he'll get on the move. He'll pick up first downs with his legs. He'll attack the middle of the field to the TE. Let's hope he doesn't stare down a WR on the outside or else it could lead to a big play going the other way. Any way, expect Hundley to play well. To be poised. To be confident. To lead the Packers to points.

* Matt Blanchard. If he's as much of a prospect as some say he is, I hope that the Packers hide him, so that he can be tucked away on the practice squad. Plus, an emphasis of this preseason should be to get Hundley as many snaps as possible to see if they can potentially afford to let Tolzien in FA next year.

* Rajion Neal, John Crockett, and Alonzo Harris. Who gets the bulk of the carries? Neal offers quickness. Crockett brings consistency. Harris brings power. All different. All with capable qualities. How are the Packers looking to build the depth at RB? Or is it possible that the Packers keep 2 RB's and 2 FB's?

* Ty Montgomery. I'm overly curious to see how the Packers use him. I'm certain McCarthy will want to get the ball in his hands early and often. But, on what type of routes? I'm looking for some quick hits to the outside that have him moving up the field to help him generate momentum.

* Myles White. He's always been underrated. He's always shown reliable hands. He runs nice routes. He seems to understand down-and-distance football. I've always thought he's had the talent to play in the NFL. But, the Packers might have too much talent at WR to keep him around.

* Jeff Janis. Fully expect Janis to get an opportunity to use his speed to make a splash play. I'm hoping he's used as a gunner on special teams.

* While much has been made of the battle for the #3 TE spot, I'm most interested to watch Kennard Backman. TT clearly saw enough in him to use a Draft pick on him. I want to see Backman get an opportunity to make a play running down the seam or on a deep crossing route. Which of the TE's will the Packers look to spread out away from Tackle in a stand up position? And, in that scenario, who looks the most natural? Backman, Henry, Perillo or Spears?

* Josh Walker & Matt Rotheram at Guard. Walker's name has been consistently brought up in training camp this year. He's been a standout. I've never seen him play. I'm curious to see if his game translates well when the boys are really able to use their pads. Rotheram was a solid collegiate. His name has been fairly quiet in camp - with the exception of a minor ankle injury. If Walker & Rotheram can play well, the Packers will have a strong 2nd and 3rd string OL with Tretter and Barclay also being mixed in. Additionally, Lane Taylor has been on the Packers roster the last two years and he's likely to see 2nd string snaps.

* Jayrone Elliot. Catch this argument: the Packers value the jump from year 1 to year 2. That's a fact. The Packers need Clinton-Dix to make a big jump from year 1 to year 2. Adams is expected to make the same jump. Linsley should continue to grow into a potential Pro Bowl player. But, Elliot's jump could be crucial to the long-term success of the Packers. Elliot showed burst at OLB. He showed a natural gift to get to the QB against 2nd and 3rd string OL. Now, we need to see Elliot see success against 1st team units. Especially as Neal and Perry deal with injuries and the Claymaker transitions to ILB.

* Adrian Hubbard. Use your frame. Learn leverage. Burst off the ball. Make a play, young man. I'm pulling for you!

* Andy Mulumba. Per all reports, he appears to be fully back from injury. Looking forward to seeing him back in the line-up and dominating 2nd stringers.

* Jermauria Rasco. Anxious to see him move in space. Wonder if he could be a preseason darling? He has the talents. Let's see if he can put it all together.

* YELLOW JAKE! YELLOW JAKE! YELLOW JAKE! Play with fierce intensity. This stage is not new to you, rook. Go make a play. Show versatility. Tackle with confidence.

* Tavarus Dantzler. The Packers have struck gold with Bethune-Cookman talent previously. Chase 'em down, Tavarus.

* Joe Thomas. He showed so much promise early in camp last year. He brought brutality to the field. Forceful contact. Give it to them, Joe.

* Christian Ringo. I'm itching to see this guy. Smaller in height. Supposedly, he has a great work ethic. A motor. I want to see him throw his muscle around.

* Lavon Hooks and Bruce Gaston. Expect both of them to use muscle and toughness to move the Patriots OL backwards. Expect both to fight in the run game.

* Randall, Rollins and Gunter. If you've followed along, you know my stance here. Can Rollins and Randall play on the perimeter? Gunter uses his arms well. He can turn and run with excellence. But, will speed on the deep ball be an issue at this level?

I expect the Packers 2nd units to outperform the Patriots 2nd units. Look for Tolzien to use his weapons, especially if the OL performs as I anticipate that they will. Montgomery and White make plays. Tolzien engineers a TD drive. Elliot grabs a sack. Rollins grabs a pick. Ration Neal squirts forward for good yardage. The Packers take a 7-point lead into the half. Hundley gets over some early nerves. He settles in. He not only manages, but he performs. He shows great athleticism. He finds Backman for a TD.

Packers 23. Patriots 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Take -> Training Camp Edition

Greetings, G-Force.

I hope that you are enjoying the Summer as much as I am. There's a reason that this blog is tardy. It's because I've been living a fun-filled personal life. Nonetheless, I hope this blog is received as better late than never. The 2015 NFL Season is upon us. And, much to the joy of Packer Nation, the Packers enter the 2015 Season as the clear favorite to win the Super Bowl.

As I write, I sip a June 2015 version of Crooked Stave's Progenitor. It's a plush, dank sensed dry hopped golden ale. Slightly sour. Medium bodied. Citrus intense. There are no wrong turns in the way this beer opens up. Musically, I listen to Phish's 7/21/15 show from Bend, OR. It was my Son's first show and it coupled as a celebration of my wife & I. The following day, we enjoyed our 9th anniversary. The "Blaze On" from the show is one major reason that I love music. I'd never heard the song before and instantly, I was skipping with an Irish flair that leaves the soul sweating with goodness. The opening lyrics to the song are applicable to the current state of the Green Bay Packers. "Climb that hill. Stay on your feet. Scramble for your footing when it gets too steep." Yes, the journey to the Super Bowl 50 title will not be easy. There will be bumps along the way. The Packers will be tested. Their ability to persevere when dark clouds arise will determine the outcome of the 2015 Campaign.

You only get Aaron Rodgers for so many years. Super Bowl 50 better come home to Titletown, U.S.A. THE TIME IS NOW. Ted Thompson knows this. That's why he approached the Draft in the fashion in which he did. In 2014, the Packers special teams units were pathetic. A major aim of the 2015 Draft was to improve upon those special teams units. Ty Montgomery will instantly improve the Kickoff Return team, which was beyond poor last year. I expect Damarious Randall, Aaron Ripkowski and Jake Ryan to all make impacts on special teams this year. Additionally, Thompson had to bring depth to ILB and CB. Randall and Rollins should immediately contribute at CB. Jake Ryan will bring competition at ILB.

One of the things I miss most about not living in WI is going to Training Camp. I love going to Training Camp practices. You get an up-close and personal look at the way these extraordinary athletes move. If I were at Training Camp, this is what I'd be watching:

10.) OL. Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, Tretter, Lang, Bulaga, and Barclay are locks to make the team. I expect the Packers to keep 8 OL. Matt Rotheram is a name to keep an eye on. A versatile player who can play either Guard or Tackle.

9.) RB. We know that Eddie Lacy and James Starks are locks to make the roster. John Kuhn didn't get brought back to get cut. He'll be on the roster unless his play falls off of a cliff. Aaron Ripkowski was drafted as Kuhn's replacement. He'll make the team and see time on special teams when he's on the GameDay roster. While it wouldn't stun me to see the Packers only keep 4 RB's on the 53-man roster; John Crockett, Rajion Neal and Alonzo Harris will all push for a roster spot. Crockett is the fan favorite as he was the prized undrafted free agent. But, Crockett isn't littered with speed. He's a steady runner who runs with consistency. I'm high on Rajion Neal, but the speed I saw on him at the college level wasn't on display in limited action last preseason. While he did compile yards, he didn't wow you with his talents. I wonder if he's quick enough for the NFL game. Look for Alonzo Harris to turn some heads with his straight ahead power football mentality. He'll toss his weight around to pick up yards. He'll bulldoze forward. He'll bring a bit of a Eddie Lacy's physical mentality.

8.) WR. Nelson, Cobb, Montgomery, and Adams are locks to make this roster. I expect Janis to use his speed to nail down a roster spot as well. Janis will not only perform in the preseason at WR, but he'll also compete for a gunner role on special teams. Will a 6th player command a roster spot? There are a bunch of big bodies in camp. Ideal size. Solid college production. Names that I'm excited to watch: Ricky Collins, Adrian Coxson, and Larry Pinkard - if they can stay healthy.

7.) DL. It cannot be overstated. The Packers will be shorthanded to start the year at DL. They play at Chicago, Seattle and Kansas City to start the year. All 3 teams will jam the football at the Packers throats. They'll be without Datone Jones in Week 1. Guion will miss 3 weeks. I'm concerned. Big time.

Mike Daniels is a beast.

The last time we saw Raji on the field, he was mediocre at best.

Josh Boyd needs to take the next step in his career.

Khyri Thornton looks like a bust.

Mike Pennel has the height and weight, but he looked stiff in limited action last year.

Christian Ringo really interests me. In face, I'm flat-out stoked to see him play. Ringo is an undersized pass rusher. A bulldozer. Much in the mold of Mike Daniels. Look for him to get every opportunity to make a quick push for playing time early in the year. I wish I had the opportunity to see him at practice. I hope he can match Daniels' intensity.

Bruce Gaston was a workhorse - at times - at the college level. He didn't catch up on with Arizona last year, but he has a mean streak to him and could turn some heads at camp this year. Gaston is definitely a prospect for the practice squad.

Lavon Hooks has a great opportunity in front of him. He's an athletic big body. A sound run stopper. He could fill a major need for the Packers who are craving someone with his talents. At the college level, his activity was inconsistent. He flashed. But, he needs to ensure that his battery is charged. He's a personality that would be fun to have around. I am pulling for him.

6.) OLB. CM3 should see the majority of his snaps at ILB. I believe that we'll see a lot of Julius Peppers at DT on passing downs during the season. Mike Neal and Nick Perry are oft-injured. So, the Packers need someone else to elevate. Jayrone Elliot was terrific in the preseason last year. He has the length to make an impact as a pass rusher. Adrian Hubbard was kept around last year on the practice squad. He has the physique. But, can he put it all together? Jermauria Rasco got caught up in a numbers game at LSU, but he has ideal size. He's likely a practice squad candidate. Andy Mulumba did some nice things in his rookie year. He's limited from a speed and quickness perspective, but he fights with tenacity. I'll be surprised if James Vaughters makes the roster. The Packers need someone to elevate. Who will it be?

5.) It's an important preseason for Brett Huntley and Scott Tolzien. Ted Thompson plays for draft picks. Tolzien is on a 1-year deal. If he plays well, he'll be an unrestricted Free Agent next year and he could attract some interest around the league. Well, the Packers might be willing to let him go if Huntley lives up to his potential. At one point, Huntley was viewed as a potential 1st round pick. Possibly even a target to be the top overall pick. He had a below average Junior Year. He came out. The Packers might have scored BIG with the selection of Huntley. Not only might he merit a compensatory pick by allowing the Packers to let Tolzien sign elsewhere next year, but it's possible that Huntley might someday net the Packers a compensatory pick as well. Matt Blanchard could earn himself a spot on the practice squad with a solid preseason.

4.) ILB. Yes, CM3 can solve all problems at one of the ILB positions, but depth and the starter opposite CM3 are question marks. Barrington did some nice things last year. But, he's limited. He lacks speed. He gets exposed in space. He has limitations.

Before the draft, I wrote this about Jake Ryan: "A football player. Smart. Savvy. Finds the football. Wants to succeed. A natural. Awesome hustle. But, somewhat limited athletically. After his ACL tear, he didn’t develop as fast or as much as I thought he might. Plays a little like AJ Hawk." Prior to his knee surgery, I was a big fan of Jake Ryan. I thought he had a really bright future. He was never the same player after the injury. Still, I'm excited about the pick. He's a smart player. A natural, knowledgeable football player. After the Packers picked him, I jumped from my chair with excitement. My Son, Dylan, came running over and said, "What happened, Daddy?" I said, "The Packers selected Jake!" Dylan's favorite TV show is "Jake and the Neverland Pirates." Dylan replied with, "Daddy, pick me up." I did. Soon, Dylan referred to Jake as "YELLOW JAKE" due to Michigan's uniforms. So, from now on, in this blog, Jake Ryan is YELLOW JAKE. I'm excited to see how he's utilized. He and CM3 on passing downs could be a fun tandem. YELLOW JAKE does have experience rushing from the edge. He'd be a natural at coming on the blitz.

Joe Thomas intrigued in the preseason last year. He was a thumper. He was active. I want to see more of him early this year.

I don't believe in Nate Palmer.

I can't believe that Carl Bradford didn't translate to the NFL. He was a Tasmanian Devil at the college level. Undersized, but the ultimate fighter. I hope he can make a push at ILB, but I just don't see it.

Tavarus Dantzler intrigues. He looks the part in his uniform. I want to see him move.

3.) Kennard Backman v Justin Perillo v Mitchell Henry. Three TE's with ideal size. Without question, one of them will make the roster. Backman is both the favorite and the draft pick. Perillo is the incumbent. Henry is a reliable target who will push to make this roster. Don't discount Henry. All 3 will receive opportunities. One will make the roster. One will likely be a practice squad player. And, with AQ81!'s suspension, it's possible that 2 of them are on the Week 1 roster. As the season wore on last year, the Packers TE's became utilized more and more. By the end of the year, they were a major threat on 3rd downs. Often times, they were Rodgers' initial target. Richard Rodgers seems ready to have a great year catching the football. But, can he block? AQ81! is coming off a disastrous offseason in which he was suspended for firing a gun into the air and then he lost his daughter during birth. For good reason, he's going to be in a rough mental state. Backman, Perillo, and Henry. It'll be an interesting position battle. The lights are on young men. Rise up!

2.) Ty Montgomery. If you've followed my blog long enough, you've known that I've been a major fan of Montgomery's for a long time. Before the draft I wrote: "I’m higher on him than most are. He reminds me of a poor man’s Anquan Boldin. Tough, physical receiver who can also move into the backfield. Solid in the return game as well. Would instantly help on kick-off returns. Get the ball in his hands and he’ll find space. At this stage, he might be best used in the slot. He’s a classic Ted Thompson “football player.”" Early in the college football season, I had him ranked as a 1st round prospect. He had issues with catching the ball, at times, last year. But, he'll add versatility to an already dynamic offense. He and Cobb will be interchanged. We'll see a lot of 5 WR formations with either Cobb or Montgomery ending up in the backfield. We'll see Montgomery on the quick hitch or on the swing pass. We may see him on the wheel route out of the backfield. He'll be a major weapon for this offense. After the catch, he's forceful. He's powerful. He's tough to bring down. I'm really excited to see how he's utilized. I can't wait to see Montgomery on Kickoff Returns!

1.) The youth at the CB position. Sammy Swagga will start at one CB. SHOWCASE Hayward will play at either the other CB or he'll win the slot role. But, the Packers have to replace T-Mon. In desperate fashion. With Randall, Rollins, and Gunter; the Packers added three players that I targeted prior to the Draft. All three will immediately have the opportunity to contribute at CB. Of the three, it's possible that Gunter translates best to the perimeter of the field.

Before the draft, I had this to say about Randall: "Hard hitter who finds the football. Great in the run game. Plays with passion. He can also step into the slot and cover a receiver. Gets his hands on the receiver and does a good job directing routes." I stand by that statement. I hope he can adjust to the outside.

Before the draft, I had this to say about Rollins: "Plays like a middleweight boxer. He’s a feisty fighter. Quick on his feet. Utilizing his basketball skills to steal the ball, he displays great coordination. Both hand-eye coordination and foot-eye coordination. But, I see him solely as a slot CB." I stand by that. I question whether he has the speed to turn and run with top-shelf WR's on the outside.

Before the draft, I had this to say about Gunter: "Gunter can turn and run with the best of them. He’s a little soft, but he’s willing. He might translate best to FS, but he has a future in the league. High points the ball. Made some big plays when the lights were on. Some might have him as an undrafted prospect. I think he has a bright future." He doesn't have great track speed, but he uses his length in a fashion that makes him play faster than he times.

Randall. Rollins. Gunter. We need one of the three to be ready for Prime Time. To be playing at a high level for most of this year. The NFL is a passing league. In order to defend in the modern era, you have to be strong on the perimeter. The key to the Packers success might be directly correlated to the progress of Randall, Rollins and Gunter. Thankfully, Joe Whitt is the Packers best positional coach. He'll be getting the kids ready.

Training camp is in full swing. The pads are on. While I don't want summer to end, I'm anxious to hear helmets collide.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com




Monday, April 27, 2015

My Take -> Sublimely Crafted Mock Draft

Greetings, G-Force.

I’ve pieced this together over 6 crazy weeks. A lot of short notes on scrap paper, on the back of used envelopes and on the iPad that have been compiled together. It’s all Packers-centric. If I didn’t see the player as potentially being a Packer, I didn’t include him. Additionally, there are a number of players that I didn’t give a brief comment on as I simply ran out of time. After the Draft, I’ll have a much more thorough analysis on the individual players that have been added to the team. Nonetheless, all of my favorite players in the Draft are listed below. I hope that this take can be a small guide on Draft Weekend; one of my favorite football weekends of the year.

Music is the weapon of the future. As I write, the Jimmy Cliff "Oh Jamaica" vinyl spins in the background. It's been a minute since I gave this LP a healthy listen. It's gorgeous music. I am accompanied with a Serenata Notturna from Crooked Stave. It's a Belgian Strong Golden Ale. At 12%, it's bold in ABV. Uber smooth for its potency. I like how it opens up with a funky sour goodness after it breathes for a bit. True palate delight!

It's that time of year. The time of year in which Ted Thompson outshines everyone. Unlike last year, Ted Thompson has multiple holes to fill heading into the Draft. Last year, outside of Safety and Center, the depth of Thompson's roster seemed rich heading into the Draft. This year, not so much. Purely from a numbers standpoint, the roster is thin.

Thus far, Thompson has had a brilliant offseason. He's kept Cobb, Bulaga, Guion, Barclay, Banjo, Kuhn, Richardson, and Raji. I hated losing T-Mon, but he was overpaid. Ras Davon was also overpaid and should net the Packers a 4th round pick next year. Thompson rid himself of some under performers in Brad Jones, AJ Hawk, Brandon Bostick, and Lattimore. He's put himself in position to win the offseason, once again. But, he needs to be a winner in the Draft and in undrafted Free Agency.

On offense, with Starks in the final year of his contract, another RB is needed via the Draft or via UDFA. I'm expecting Rajion Neal to have a decent preseason, but a RB needs to be added at some point. The same applies at QB. Thompson is sure to add a WR at some point. An addition at TE is mandatory. The OL is locked up for 2 years, so he doesn't need to target a big body on the offensive side of the ball. An addition at TE is mandatory.

Defensively, he needs depth at nearly every position. While there's depth on the DL; Raji, Daniels, and Guion are all in the final year of contracts. At OLB, Peppers, Neal and Perry are all possibly in their final year in Green Bay. Without Hawk, Jones, and Lattimore at ILB, the Packers are thin at ILB. For the record, I'm expecting BIG things out of Joe Thomas this year at ILB. It wouldn't shock me if he puts himself in position to see fairly significant playing time this year. Still, the Packers need another playmaker at ILB. CB is the thinnest position on the roster. With Banjo and Richardson entering the final year of contracts, the Packers could use another body.

I would like a trade up for someone like Trae Waynes or Danny Shelton, but that's unlikely. I would also like a trade down to ensure 4 of the top 100 picks. I'd like to see Thompson put himself in position to win multiple rounds. With three picks in round 6, he's already in position to win the round. With multiple picks in either round 2 or 3, he could do the same. Ideally, it'd happen in round 2.

Nonetheless, I anticipate that Ted Thompson stays put at #30. The wise man builds his franchise with youth. He constructs his team through the Draft. He's salivating at the notion of adding 27 players via the Draft and UDFA. Ted Thompson is salivating at the mouth right now.

As it stands today, Thompson has 9 picks. If he sticks with 9 picks, I hope he drafts 8 defenders and a TE. There are pressing needs to add to the depth of the defense via the Draft.

My Packers mock draft:

1.) Jalen Collins, CB, LSU. With the loss of T-Mon & Ras House, CB has become the #1 need for the Green Bay Packers. Collins is a physical CB. Somewhat green as he's seen limited playing time. But, Collins is a fearless tackler. He fills an immense need as he can play on the outside. He turns and runs like a natural in man-to-man coverage. He jams at the line of scrimmage. He's tough in run support. He's intelligent on the field and excels in zone coverage. He rocks dreads. He's bounces with Rasta style. He plays with a feel that his roots are Reggae. He fits.

2.) Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU. With a better combine, Dawson would've been a top 20 picks. Instead, he flopped in his 40. Regardless, when you watch Dawson play, he's fast. He plays with speed. The Big 12 is a spread 'em out Conference. Dawson excelled. He was a turnover forcing machine. He fits in the middle of the Packers defense. Right next to the Claymaker.

3.) Marcus Hardison, DL, Arizona State. He's a versatile defender who can get pressure from the inside in a 4-man front or he can attack in Cullen Jenkins fashion on the outside in a 3-man front. He's quick off the snap and has the strength to bring disruption with muscle. Hardison makes plays.

4.) Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State. A playmaking safety that provides great insurance for when Sean Richardson departs next year. Drummond breaks on the ball with pizzazz. He can cover in the slot with similar style as Micah Hyde. He displays on-field leadership qualities.

5.) Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State. Harper has shake. He shows strong hands on jump balls. He runs a great sideline routes and projects higher to me than most draft boards suggests. He plays with a similar movement as Davante Adams. He's confident. He's great after the catch much like Adams was in the Dallas and Miami games this year.

6.) Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware. A great blocking TE who'll help the Packers as what'll act like an extra OL. He possesses great hands, an ability to find the holes in the zone of a defense. He sits down well. He bounces off of tacklers with physical style.

6.) Joey Mbu, DL, Houston. A quick, high energy player in the mold of Josh Boyd. He plays smart and tracks down plays from behind. A smart on-the-field player who is quick to congratulate teammates after a big play. He's active. He's aggressive and moves up and down the line of scrimmage while holding the point of attack in the run game. Huge upside.

6.) Justin Coleman, CB,Tennessee. Quick in and out of his breaks. He jumps routes and tackles with aggression for an undersized CB. Great first step. A burst that excites. Not sure his game translates in great fashion to playing on the outside, but he has slot corner ability.

7.) Junior Sylvestre, ILB, Toledo. You can't teach speed. Sylvestre flies. And, he hustles. He can get sideline to sideline and can chase down anyone from behind. He finds the ball and plugs holes in a much bigger form than his size would suggest.

Here are my top 10 wishes for the 1st round:

1.) Randy Gregory, EDGE, Nebraska. He'd have been a top 5-7 pick had he not been busted for herb. Now I hear he's off of some draft boards. Gregory can get to the QB and, at times, he reminds of a young Julius Peppers. The Packers locker room would clean him up. And, as fans, he'll make us say EVERYONE'S GOTTA PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! EVERYBODY IS GONNA PARTY!

2.) Shane Ray, EDGE, Mizzou. It's been disclosed that he has a toe injury that'll keep him out for the next 5 months. Without the toe injury, he'd have been a top 7 pick. With the injury, he could drop. Far. If he's around when the Packers are on the clock, it'd be a no brainer that the Packers should draft this rock star pass rusher who has the ability to drop in coverage.

3.) Marcus Peters, CB, Washington. Top 10 on field player with massive personality issues. He was kicked off the team at Washington. He has swagger and elite skill. He's physical at the line and will jam you at the line of scrimmage. He has on field confidence. Although he has locker room issues, the Packers locker room cohesion wouldn't allow for conflict. He'd check his ego at the door. Titletown, U.S.A. is an easy place to fit in. It's a welcoming environment. A respected, unflappable community. The players are in lockstep with one another. Peters would find a home in Green Bay.

4.) Jalen Collins, CB, LSU. See above.

5.) Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson. A physical specimen who can do it all. He can come on the blitz and get to the QB. He can chase down ball carriers with first class speed. He can drop into coverage. He can cover the TE down the seam or RB's out of the backfield. He'd fill a major need in the middle of the Packers defense.

6.) Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota. When you watch Williams in college, you see a player who has played TE in a similar fashion as he would in Green Bay's system. He's a monster. A great Red Zone target. He can drop into the backfield and provide a seal for a RB. He can stretch the defense. He grabs yards after contact. He will come in motion and hold the edge to create a lane in run blocking.

7.) Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA. Kendricks is a high character leader on the inside of the defense. Arguably the best ILB in pass coverage. A solid run stopping ILB who doesn't shy from contact. He finds the pigskin. He'd bring a combination of high athleticism and awareness that the Packers haven't seen at ILB since Desmond Bishop's injury.

8.) Carl Davis, DL, Iowa. At times, he was absolutely dominant and played as though he was a sure fire top-20 pick. But, he was inconsistent. However, had DL been a top priority, I'd move him to #6 on this list. Instead, ILB is a bigger need and Maxx is far superior to any other TE in the Draft, so they skip Davis. Davis is quick off the snap. He moves well. He finds the backfield in the run game and he's absolutely disruptive as a pass rusher.

9.) Byron Jones, CB, UCONN. He's been as impressive as anyone since the end of the college season. A hero at the combine. Ideal size speed combination. A Workout Warrior. In the gym, he's the best one out there. Looks the part. Seems as though he could step into a nickel role on the outside, which would fill a need. Great length. Not sure how well he turns and runs. I wonder how well his gym speed will translate to the Pro game, but I'm confident Joe Whitt could turn him into a gem.

10.) Malcom Brown, DL, TX. Amazingly quick running straight ahead. Plays with brute force. Sniffs out plays as if he was in the offensive huddle. Can beat Guards and Centers with both his strength and his feet. Limited side to side range. Doesn't move well along the line, but he'll punish you as he's moving straight ahead. He'd be terrific insurance after the season when Daniels, Raji, and Guion all become FA's.

If Gregory, Ray or Peters falls to the Packers, I'll be wearing their jersey in Week 1 at Soldier Field. THE BEARS STILL SUCK!

Here are my rankings of positional targets that I project as fits for the Packers roster. As always, I don't comment on the player if I didn't watch them. I have little-to-no thoughts on the OL. If I believe there is no chance that they'll be available when the Packers select in Round 1, I've left them off my rankings.

QB:

I do not see the Packers drafting a QB in the first 5 rounds.

Cody Fajardo, Nevada. Round 6-7. Great mobility. Can throw on the run. Solid athlete. The type of project that might tickle McCarthy's fancy. Has upside and a true developmental project.

Jake Waters, Kansas State. Round 7-UDFA. Earlier in the year, I saw him as a 5-6 round pick. He has a good arm, he's mobile and he plays with a moxie that reminds me of Matt Flynn. He knows the game and finds the 1st down marker.

Taylor Kelly, Arizona State. Round 7-UDFA. Has good size. Looks the part. Good leadership skills. A tough player who will rally the troops in the huddle. He wants the ball. Total developmental project.

RB:

With Starks’ contract expiring at the end of the year, it wouldn’t stun me if the Packers drafted a RB. I’m all but positive that Gurley and Gordon will be off the board by #30. If David Johnson is around in Round 3, he’d be a great addition.

David Johnson, Northern Iowa. Round 2-4. He's my #3 back in the Draft. He's a sublime one cut runner who sees the hole. He catches the ball with elite style. He runs with elegance. He lowers his shoulder with desire. He reminds me of Matt Forte.

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State. Round 3-4. He plays like Carlos Hyde who I loved entering the Draft last year. A big game player who guts out tough yards. Good hands. A mudder. A smart football player who has a pension for busting games open.

David Cobb, Minnesota. Round 3-4. A gamer. Runs tough. A quick, one cut runner who display patience. Has solid burst. Finds the hole and goes. Grabs yards in chunks. Likes contact. Plays hurt. A player for teammates to rally around.

Karlos Williams, Florida State. Round 5-7. He plays fast. Really fast. Always a threat. He hits the hole with a vengeance and a strut.

Terrell Watson, Azusa Pacific. Round 7-UDFA. Think James Starks. Taller back who runs high, but hard. Decent in the screen game. Gets better as the game goes along. Doesn't have breakaway speed, but will get to the second level. I have a feeling he might end up in GB as an UDFA.

TE:

At some point, there will be a huge run at TE. My guess is that there will be 6-7 TE's selected between picks 80-125. The Packers need a TE in this draft.

Maxx Williams, Minnesota. See above.

Clive Walford, []_[]. Round 2. For someone, Walford will make a great target. He can stretch the field. He's undoubtedly the 2nd best TE in the Draft. He can run. He's a willing blocker who'll use his massive frame to move defenders. Huge upside. Has the ability to do it all. He also finds the holes well in the defense and sits down like a veteran. I expect him to have a really solid career.

Devin Funchess, Michigan. Round 3-4. Most classify him as a WR. Possibly in the mold of Kelvin Benjamin. In my opinion, if he’s going to make it in the NFL, he’s going to have to play a role similar to J-Mike. A tweener. A big WR or a small TE? Don’t think he could create separation on the outside. But, as an in-line TE, he could be an absolutely dangerous weapon.

Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State. Round 3-4. He has all of the tools. Great strength. Tremendous blocker who was under utilized as a receiving TE in college. Statistically, he'll likely have a better career in the NFL than he did in college. He's a physical fist fighter at the line of scrimmage and a tough runner with the ball in his hands.

Nick O'Leary, FSU. Round 4. Under appreciated. Limited athleticism, but he always shows up. Clutch player who can play FB. He is an aggressive blocker who plays with heart. First class hands. Gets open. Tough to cover. Finds the end zone. A smart football player.

Ben Koyack, Notre Dame. Round 4. A steady blocker who plays with intelligence. Hard worker. Not an overwhelming receiving threat, but he can get it done in a similar manner that Tom Crabtree impacted the Packers offense. A move the chains player on 2nd down who'll grab yards after contact.

Jesse James, Penn State. Round 4. He’s a massive presence with solid hands. Underutilized in the college game, he, too, projects to have a better NFL career than he did in the NFL. Not an elite blocker, but has the frame to grow into a top-shelf blocker. He moves well. He presents a mismatch to most defenders as he can step outside and jump over defenders along the sidelines as well.

Nick Boyle, Delaware. Round 4-6. See above.

Gerald Christian, Louisville. Round 6-UDFA. Athletic player. Big frame. Decent, willing blocker. Not afraid to run across the middle. Solid hands. Red zone target. In many ways, he reminds me of Andrew Quarless. Looks the part, has the tools, but will likely never be a top-flight player.

WR:

Ted Thompson loves to draft WR’s. It’s a great year for depth at WR in the Draft. There’s strong value in the middle rounds. There will be double digit WR’s selected in the first 3 rounds.

Jaelen Strong, Arizona State. Round 1-2. Robustly confident WR, who can beat you with both speed, strength and toughness. Gets over the top. Catches with his hands. Runs a solid post. Lethal Red Zone threat. Bold in the mind.

Nelson Agholor, USC. Round 1-2. He’s absolutely in the mold of WR’s that Ted Thompson has drafted previously. Quick in-and-out of his breaks. Wicked after the catch. Graceful movements. A high-end athlete. If the Packers weren’t on the brink of a Super Bowl, it’d wouldn’t stun me if he were the pick.

Devin Smith, Ohio State. Round 2-3. Has Pro Bowl potential. High points the ball. Can flat out fly. Showed up in big games. When the lights are on, Smith is at his best. If he’s around in Round 2, he might qualify as the Best Player Available. And, we all know Thompson loves his WR’s.

Sammie Coates, Auburn. Round 2-3. All the potential in the world. Great physique. Tremendous deep threat. Inconsistency prevents him from being a top 20 pick. Looks the part in his uniform.

Tre McBride, William & Mary. Round 3. Had he played in the SEC, he’d be a 1st round pick. But, he didn’t get a chance to consistently perform against high level competition. Has all of the tools. Tough to find a weakness in his game and he’s still raw. Could develop into a truly special player.

Rashad Greene, FSU. Round 3. Reminds me of Antonio Freeman. Great in the slot. Plays faster than he times. On the field, no one catches him. Terrific 3rd down receiver. When the game is on the line, he’s getting open.

Justin Hardy, East Carolina. Round 3. Not overly fast. Not overwhelmingly powerful. But, he’s always making plays. Plays smart. Runs his routes past the marker. Efficient receiver. A tough cover who uses his body really well.

Josh Harper, Fresno State. Round 4-5. See above.

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State. Round 4-5. Special teams guru. Great slot receiver. Super quick. Tough cover. Seems as though he’s the ultimate team guy. Lethal with the ball in his hands.

Kenny Bell, Nebraska. Round 4-5. Big receiver who uses his height well. Good body control. But, his hands are inconsistent. Great punt return skills. Should make an impact this year as a receiver and on special teams. Like his size/speed combo.

Ty Montgomery, Stanford. Round 4-6. I’m higher on him than most are. He reminds me of a poor man’s Anquan Boldin. Tough, physical receiver who can also move into the backfield. Solid in the return game as well. Would instantly help on kick-off returns. Get the ball in his hands and he’ll find space. At this stage, he might be best used in the slot. He’s a classic Ted Thompson “football player.”

Chris Conley, Georgia. Round 4-6. His production warrants a lower round grade. But, his performances after the season ended give hope for a bright future. Conley is an athletic freak. He can jump. He has great size. He has solid body control. And, he can flat-out FLY!

Levi Norwood, Baylor. Round 7-UDFA. High statistical player. Works well in the slot. Dangerous after the catch. Plays with consistency and good energy.

Ricky Collins, Texas A&M-Commerce. Round 7-UDFA. I’ve watched every ounce of video that I can find on him online. Quit football to spend time with an ill family member. But, when he came back to football, he was the most dominant player on the field against his level of competition. He’s the type of player who you want to succeed. Seems grounded. Wants to win!

DL:

With Daniels, Raji, and Guion having contracts that expire at the end of the year, I fully anticipate the Packers to grab 1-2 DL in this years Draft. Potentially early.

Arik Armstead, Oregon. Round 1. In his uniform, he reminds me of Julius Peppers. An absolute monster of a man. He shows flashes of blinding brilliance. He looks as though he should be a top-5 pick. And, then, he disappears. Extremely inconsistent. I’d be surprised if he were around at #30. If he is, Thompson will think long and hard.

Carl Davis, Iowa. Round 1-2. See above.

Malcom Brown, Texas. Round 1-2. See above.

Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma. Round 1-2. Phillips is 6-5, 329. A mammoth man. He moves surprisingly well straight ahead. But, he’s slow as can be when he’s moving laterally. A classic run-stuffing DL. Would fill the role that was vacated when Ryan Pickett left. No real pass rush skills, but he’d be great in short-yardage situations and he’s a solid 1st and 2nd down player on run downs.

Eddie Goldman, FSU. Round 1-2. When he’s on, he’s as good as it gets. But, he tires and is inconsistent. Top 20 talent who shines with grand flavor, but he doesn’t always show up. He’s tough to move. Reminds of BJ Raji coming out of college. Shows good quickness and strength.

Xavier Cooper, Washington State. Round 2. I wish he’d become a Packer. Laser quick off the snap. Can beat you with speed, quickness and strength. Has great length. Could play on the edge and get around a Tackle. Could also push a Guard/Center back and/or beat the Guard/Center with quickness on the Inside. Tremendous versatility. Quick twitch player. Relentless effort.

Marcus Hardison, Arizona State. Round 2-3. See above.

Grady Jarrett, Clemson. Round 2-3. He’s slow off the snap, but when he gets going, he’s ultra quick. Can get sideline-to-sideline. Sniffs out plays. Has a good read on the game. High effort, high intensity. Been seems to take plays off.

Trey Flowers, Arkansas. Round 2-3. He’s a top-5 pass rusher in the Draft. Would fit the role of an elephant role. Comes off the left edge with greatness. Limited in the run game, but put him on the field on 3rd down and he’s getting home. EVERY GAME. A tweener in the 3-4. Might be best in a 4-3. Can’t drop in coverage. One trick pony, largely. He’s a pass rusher. And, he gets to the QB in consistent fashion. Wins with speed around the corner. Uses his arms well to create separation.

Preston Smith, Mississippi State. Round 2-3. Like Flowers, he’d fit the Elephant role. Less of a pass rusher than Flowers, but his effort is as robust as anyone’s. Consistent player who excels as a pass rusher. Quick off the ball and plays with more strength than his weight might seem he’d offer. Reminds me of Justin Tuck.

Michael Bennett, Ohio State. Round 2-3. High energy player. Makes flash plays, but disappears too often. Statistically, he makes a number of plays because he simply out-works his opponent.

Tyeler Davison, Fresno State. Round 3-4. Tremendous work ethic. Plays with pizzazz. Gets a good push on the inside. Uses his feet well. 3-down player. Shifty for his size. Impressive interior pass rusher. Also shows up well in short-yardage situations. I’d really like him in the middle rounds.

Anthony Chickillo, []_[]. Round 3-4. Another one of those EDGE players, who’d fit into an Elephant role. Tweener. But, high pursuit player. Great size. Good athlete who plays with intensity and attitude. Talents didn’t translate to statistical dominance, but his performance on the field was more impressive than the numbers suggest.

Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky. Round 4. Playing across Bud Dupree, Smith wasn’t the focal point of attention for opposing offenses. Again, a tweener. An elephant. He made a bunch of plays and was relentless in pursuit even when Kentucky was not competitive. He’s limited athletically, but he’s a high effort player.

Joey Mbu, Houston. Round 5-6. See above.

Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa. Round 5-6. Gives great effort. Plays with intensity. While he’s limited athletically, his effort makes him uniquely dynamic. He has average quickness, size and strength, but his desire makes him an attractive player. I’d gladly take him in Green & Gold as a late round pick.

Olsen Pierre, []_[]. Round 7-UDFA. Great ability. All of the talent is there. But, the effort has not been there. There were times earlier in his career that I thought he looked like a 3rd to 4th round pick. But, he never developed into the player that I thought he’d become. Still, the talent is there. I’d take a chance.

Cameron Botticelli, Minnesota. Round 7-UDFA. Hard working WI boy! Milwaukee roots. Can play inside on passing downs and can hold the edge on run downs. Active, tireless performer.

Ellis McCarthy, UCLA. Round 7-UCLA. Big body, highly athletic underachiever. Has some pass rushing ability from the inside. But, largely, best suited to be a rotational run stopping defender.

OLB:

Neal and Perry have contracts that expire at the end of the year. Clay has to continue to play some at ILB. And, Peppers is 35 years old.

Randy Gregory, Nebraska. Round 1. See above.

Shane Ray, Missouri. Round 1. See above.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA. Round 1-2. Could be an Elephant in the Packers defense. Has the physical tools. Found himself in the offense’s backfield a lot in his Senior year. But, he’s a tweener in a 3-4 defense. Might be best suited for a 4-3 defense.

Nate Orchard, Utah. Round 1-2. Elite pass rushing skills who flashed good lateral quickness at the Combine and showed that he might be able to drop into coverage in a 3-4. But, there’s not significant tape to show the same. Has the makings as a prime-time pass rusher on 3rd down. Could be a target for the Packers at #30.

Eli Harold, Virginia. Round 2. Showed really solid pass rushing skills in college. Did a decent job of holding the point in the run game, but his ability to drop in coverage is a huge question mark. Wouldn’t be stoked with him at #30. If he falls to the late 2nd, which I doubt he does, he has to be considered.

Hau’oli Kikaha. Round 2-3. Take away the knee injuries and he could be a 1st round pick. A little smaller than an ideal 3-4 OLB. He’s 6-2, but he looks smaller than that against bigger OT as he gets swallowed, on occasion. But, Kikaha is fun. He has a great burst off the edge. Elite speed rusher. Fun attitude. A true teammate. He can drop in coverage. He wins around the corner in the pass rush game. Until the Senior Bowl, I was absolutely positive that I wanted him in Titletown, U.S.A., but he was swallowed for most of the Senior Bowl game. That said, leading up to the game, Kikaha was a stud as a pass rusher in the Senior Bowl practices.

Danielle Hunter, LSU. Round 2-3. Absolutely ideal size for an OLB in a 3-4. Moves well. Looks the part. Intimidates at the line of scrimmage. Can drop in space. In his pads, he looks like a 1st round pick. But, his performance is lacking. He struggled to get home as a pass rusher. And, at times, he was knocked backwards as a run stopper. Still, his physique and athleticism warrants a look. And, if it all comes together, the sky is the limit.

Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville. Round 2-3. Looks like an OLB. Moves a little stiff for a 3-4 OLB, but that’s likely where he’ll get his crack. Not great at any one trait, but can drop in space, can hold the point and will apply pressure to the QB. Has the chance to develop into a solid starter.

Tony Washington, Oregion. Round 4-5. Washington excites. He loves football. A week after the BCS Championship, he was heading to participate in College All-Star Games. And, he was making plays. He can rush the QB. He can drop in coverage. But, he struggles at holding the point in the run game. He has the makings of having a solid NFL career. Should be able to jump in and instantly help on special teams as well. For most of the year, I saw him as a 3rd round pick. He has the physique that teams crave at OLB in a 3-4 defense.

Markus Golden, Missouri. Round 4-5. A tough minded stats machine. He’ll fill up the box score, but there’s no middle ground with him. He’ll either make a big play or he’ll get blown up. Early in his career, his best attribute might be his ability to make plays on special teams. Going to be a high intensity performer. Was a playmaker at the college level.

Deiontrez Mount, Louisville. Round 5-6. Breakout year in 2014. Showed pass rush skills as well as an ability to hold the point and play the run. He’s long and lanky, which might prevent him from winning the leverage battle at the next level, but he has the athletic traits that are required and he looks like a highly coachable talent.

Junior Sylvestre, Toledo. Round 6-7. See above.

Zack Wagenmann, Montana. Round 6-7. A try hard player that will get a crack somewhere as a 3-4 OLB. Reminds of Frank Zombo. Not going to win plays because of his athleticism. Rather, he’ll win because he out works the opposition. He has a good jump off the ball and fights on every play. Seeks the pigskin with desire. He never gives up on a play. Would fit into the culture of Green Bay nicely.

Andrew Hudson, Washington. Round 7-UDFA. Underappreciated player. He got the QB with sound intent. Played well against the run. Somewhat limited athletically, but a really high intensity player who flat-out wins plays. Had great success getting after the QB in big situations.

ILB:

I love CM3 at ILB. I believe in Joe Thomas. I think he has an opportunity to play in the NFL. Barrington will never be a star, but he’s good enough to start in the league. I’m excited to see Bradford brings to the ILB position. Still, the Packers need another BALLER at ILB. And, someone with speed!

Stephone Anthony, Clemson. Round 1-2. See above.

Eric Kendricks, UCLA. Round 1-2. See above.

Paul Dawson, TCU. Round 2-3. See above.

Shaq Thompson, Washington. Round 2-3. Love him as a football player. As a RB, when he hit you, you went backgrounds and he fell forward. As an ILB, when he hit you, you hit the ground and often, you lost the ball. Great instincts.

Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State. Round 2-3. Work hard ILB. Active in the middle of the defense. Directs traffic. A leader. Long defender with great reach. He glides as he runs. But, isn’t a punisher.

Denzel Perryman, []_[]. Round 2-3. The fiercest of the hitters at ILB in the Draft. I first saw him when he was a Senior in High School. If the Packers draft him, I’ll share a story. It was awesome.

Jake Ryan, Michigan. Round 4-5. A football player. Smart. Savvy. Finds the football. Wants to succeed. A natural. Awesome hustle. But, somewhat limited athletically. After his ACL tear, he didn’t develop as fast or as much as I thought he might. Plays a little like AJ Hawk.

Ramik Wilson, Georgia. Round 4-5. His best is elite. His worst is undraftable. And, he offers both. Often. Lots of wasted steps. He trusts his instincts. He’s often wrong. But, when he’s right, he makes an immense impact. Great athlete. Can’t tell if some of his shortcomings were because the Georgia defense was so bad. It’s possible that he might elevate into a star if he were surrounded with great talent. High ceiling. Boom or bust player.

Ben Heeney, Kansas. Round 4-5. Classic Midwestern mindset. Hard worker. Tough. Smart. Leader. Limited athleticism.

Bryce Hager, Baylor. Round 5-6. Tenacious defender. Brings labor to each play with a blue collar approach. Excelled in a conference which really spread him out and limited his strengths. Still, he persevered and made plays. Seems like a fit for the NFC NORTH.

Martrell Spaight, Arkansas. Round 5-6. Good inside blitz. Recognizes and reads plays with excellence. Solid leader. Decent athleticism. But, has a tough time getting off of blockers. Solid player with limited upside.

Jeff Luc, Cincinnati. Round 5-6. A bully in the middle. Short, stout, and robust in his approach. Doesn’t look like an ideal ILB, but then you see him move and you’re shocked. Moves very well. And, he’ll pop you. Second hardest hitting ILB in the Draft, behind Perryman. Great football player.

Zach Vigil, Utah State. Round 5-6. A little undersized, but an overachiever. Would instantly make plays on special teams coverage units. He gets off blocks well. He shoots gaps with firmness. He comes on the blitz with committed intent. He can drop in coverage. Might be underrated and overlooked.

John Timu, Washington. Round 7-UDFA. Timu was underappreciated due to the other stars on the Washington defense. But, Timu keeps things together in the middle of the field. A leader. He sees things before they occur. He’s great in coverage. A little stiff, but capable as a run defender. He’s a fighter.

Quayshawn Nealy, Georgia Tech. Round 7-UDFA. If Nealy were 2 inches taller, he’d be a mid-round pick. He was the heart and soul of the Georgia Tech defense. He can come on the blitz. He’s gritty. A max effort performer.

Derrick Malone, Jr., Oregon. Round 7-UDFA. Exciting athlete who played a lot of OLB. Can drop with excellence. Loses the point of attack, but would benefit from hiding behind the DL on the inside of a defense. He has quickness. Solid role player potential who could aid on special teams.

Karl Mickelsen, Fresno State. Round 7-UDFA. Plays a lot bigger than he lists. A huge heart. A nose for the ball. A great competitor. Likely undrafted, I’d love to see him in Green Bay’s Training Camp.

CB:

The greatest need on the roster. Without a doubt. It’s too bad that there’s almost no chance Waynes is in Titletown, U.S.A. For the record, I don’t want PJ Williams or Ronald Darby.

Marcus Peters, Washington. Round 1-2. See above.

Jalen Collins, LSU. Round 1-2. See above.

Byron Jones, UCONN. Round 1-2. See above.

Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest. Round 1-2. Plays faster than he times and bigger than he checks in at the weigh in. Has a great break on the ball. Really quick. Should be able to play on the outside as well as in the slot. Jumps routes with confidence. But, not sure how tough he is.

Eric Rowe, Utah. Round 2-3. Is he a Safety or is he a CB? He’s fast enough to play CB, but he seems to me as though he doesn’t play with the speed that he times at. Looks like he might be a better Cover-2 CB. Or a zone CB. Not sure that he can turn and run. He’ll hit you. Plays with power. If he’s there in the 3rd round, he’s a no brainer.

Quinten Rollins, Miami of Ohio. Round 2-3. Plays like a middleweight boxer. He’s a feisty fighter. Quick on his feet. Utilizing his basketball skills to steal the ball, he displays great coordination. Both hand-eye coordination and foot-eye coordination. But, I see him solely as a slot CB.

Steven Nelson, Oregon State. Round 3. If he were 2 inches taller, he’d be a sure fire 1st round pick. He has great playmaking skills. A tough-minded CB who’ll get in your face and can offer a variety of talents. He’ll come on the blitz. Though he doesn’t have great speed, he’ll turn and run with a WR. He’ll help out in the run game as a sound tackler.

Josh Shaw, USC. Round 3. He runs with a confident swagger. He turns and runs with goodness. He sees the football. But, toughness might be an issue.

Alex Carter, Stanford. Round 4. While Carter isn’t littered with stats, he does get his hands on a fair amount of balls. He is aggressive and sees the ball; he just didn’t finish the play. He’s not afraid to step up in run support. Plays with resolve. Should have a future in the league as a 3rd or 4th CB.

Justin Coleman, Tennessee. Round 6. See above.

Ladarius Gunter, []_[]. Round 6-7. Gunter can turn and run with the best of them. He’s a little soft, but he’s willing. He might translate best to FS, but he has a future in the league. High points the ball. Made some big plays when the lights were on. Some might have him as an undrafted prospect. I think he has a bright future.

Justin Cox, Mississippi State. Round 6-7. YOU CANNOT TEACH SPEED! Cox has it. He might have character issues, but that shouldn’t be an issue inside the Packers locker room. Get Joe Whitt’s hands on him and great things might follow. Has starters tools, but the film shows significant limitations. As a rookie, he’s likely to solely be a gunner on special teams. Truly, a developmental prospect.

Curtis Riley, Fresno State. Round 7-UDFA. Every time I watched Riley, he was making a play. Granted, he didn’t pick off passes, but he was doing everything else. He was fighting WR’s to break up passes. He was jumping routes. He was helping out in the run game. He’s a little stiff, but he has decent speed and could develop into a solid man-to-man cover corner. Raw player. Hope he gets a shot as he has upside.

Bernard Blake, Colorado State. Round 7-UDFA. Looks like he could step into the slot and play right away. Not afraid to get his hands on you, but he’s undersized. He high points the ball, so if he can add weight/strength, he might be able to develop into a player that can play on the outside.

S

The starters are set for the next couple of years, but the depth is a concern as Sean Richardson is likely gone after this year. Landon Collins is the only high-end prospect and he’ll be gone before the Packers select at #30.

Damarious Randall, Arizona State. Round 2-3. Hard hitter who finds the football. Great in the run game. Plays with passion. He can also step into the slot and cover a receiver. Gets his hands on the receiver and does a good job directing rounds.

Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State. Round 3-4. See above.

Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss. Round 3-4. An intimidator. Physical, middle-of-the field presence. Brings an attitude. Also, a playmaker who reads the QB and grabs picks. Good leadership qualities. Struggles in coverage, but if the balls in front of him, he’s going to make a play that’ll excite.

James Sample, Louisville. Round 4. Limited sample size, but what’s out there is a lot to like. 4 interceptions. Active around the line of scrimmage as he came up in run support. Great tackler. Put him in the box and he’ll be an additional LB.


Derron Smith, Fresno State. Round 4. A little undersized, but an absolutely confident football player. Carries himself with pride. Plays bigger than his height would suggest. High points the ball. Mentally, he’s robustly physical. Gets sideline to sideline in the secondary.

Gerod Holliman, Louisville. Round 5. Leader in the heart of the secondary. Bounce to his step. Plays with big time awareness and reads plays well. 14 interceptions last year. But, he misses a ton of tackles.

Chris Hackett, TCU. Round 6. A big time playmaker. 7 picks on the year. Plays the ball in the air. Not afraid to stick his nose in the box and make a tackle. If not for major speed concerns, he’d have all of the tools to be a starter in the NFL.

Jordan Richards, Stanford. Round 6. Razor sharp in the mind. He was the captain, the unquestioned leader. It was clear on the field and on the sideline. Richards was in charge. Highly productive on the field as a tackler. Not fleet of foot, so he’s best used just outside the 7-man box. Solid tackler who attacks with a vengeance in run support. Huge liability over the top, but should make for a solid special teams performer.

Nick Perry, Alabama. Round 7. There are times in which he flashes and shows mid-round potential. But, he’s still a developmental player who has not seen enough playing time. One-year starter. Made some key plays in the passing game, but also overran a number of plays in the run game. Was learning on the fly last year and improved as the year went along.

Yes, it’s Draft Weekend. Where Ted Thompson goes back to his Roots. And builds his team through the draft. This year – we’ll also see extremely heightened activity in UDFA. I’m anticipating Ted will trade down at some point to draft 11 players. He’ll add 15-16 via UDFA. There’s no one I’d prefer over Ted Thompson this weekend.

In Ted, I trust.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.
Talkins-mac.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Take -> Free Agency Happenings

Greetings, G-Force.

The 2015 NFL Season has kicked off. I celebrate. I sip a Crooked Stave Surette Cassis. It's highly carbonated. Potentially too much. I'm excited to let a couple of these age for a bit. Let the carbonation die down. It has a heavy Brett and Lacto funky feel. As it ages, I fancy the yeast bacteria will work wonders as becomes less carbonated. It's stunningly tart. Robustly currant in flavor. It's alive! A true winner! Much like Ted Thompson over the first week of Free Agency.

I casually jam Honey Boy, a slow low-key 1970's Reggae vibe. I imagine Ted Thompson is in chilled out mode after dropping the hammer as he locked down Bryan Bulaga and Randall Cobb. Honey Boy's "Guitar Man" is a terrific beat when you're looking to slow down your speed after a busy week.

Ted Thompson. Victorious. He needed to lock down Bulaga and Cobb. He did so. He still has more than $20 million to make magic happen. He's going to sign Raji. He's going to sign Guion for a great bargain. Barclay is going to be back. Sean Richardson will be signed. Now, we wait for phase 2 of Free Agency.

At present, there are zero CB's on an NFL Roster that are over the age of 31. Tramon Williams is a 32-year old CB. He's without a contract. His market value is not in high demand as most CB vacancies have been satisfied. He needs to be brought back to GB. I'm sure Thompson is trying to sign him. It's tine for TMon to oblige. Two years. $9 million. Make it happen. We need him. He needs us. It'd fill a huge hole for the Packers. TMon can MAN UP on the outside. He still has legs. He'd allow Casey SHOWCASE Hayward to stay inside. He'd solidify the depth in the secondary.

Bradley Fletcher is also an intriguing talent on a short term deal at a reasonable price. He can play on the outside. He's the type of player that might overachieve in Titletown, similar to Guion. At times, Fletcher has been exposed on double moves and on the deep ball. He cannot be left alone on an island. Nonetheless, he would offer depth and an attractive size/speed combo. Plus, Ted Thompson has been fortunate with Iowa graduates.

Ted Thompson has a trick up his sleeve. Often, he adds a player that was cut, which wouldn't impact the compensatory pick that he will gain from the loss of Ras Davon House. This year, It might be Percy Harvin. Harvin would be the ideal player to fill the role that I presume the Packers wanted DuJuan Harris to play last year. Harvin could likely come on a 1-year deal. He'd be lethal on special teams in the return game. He could slide into the backfield. He'd be sensational in the screen game. Opposite Cobb, he would cause havoc in the slot. He'd be tremendous on the wheel route out of the backfield. He'd be an ideal player to sign to a 1-year "prove-it" deal. My Brother Bob compared it to a Desmond Howard type signing in 1996. I'm on board with that thought. Except he'd have a bigger role on the offense. He'd also be insurance at WR in case injuries occurred. There'd be less dependency on with Abbrederis or Janis having to potentially make a big impact in 2015. They'd be able to continue to ease them into the offense.

Further, there aren't many locker rooms that would be able to tolerate Harvin's antics. Mike McCarthy has the leadership skills to make Harvin feel welcomed. The camaraderie on this roster is special. There is strong continuity. Harvin would be embraced.

Harvin is unlikely to be offered more than $4-5 million. Even that might be rich. The Packers have the money to spend. Ted Thompson is playing to win a Super Bowl this year. Harvin might be a missing piece. One thing is for sure: he'd be extra motivated to pick up a crucial 4th Quarter 1st down in Seattle.

It feels as though Thompson has a trick up his sleeve to close Free Agency. Harvin fits! And, after he's signed, the draft is all about the defensive side of the ball and a TE addition.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
Talkins-Mac.blogspot.com

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Take -> Offseason Rumblings

Greetings, G-Force.

I'm still sulking. It was the worst playoff collapse since the New York Giants melted down and gave up 25 unanswered points against San Francisco in January of 2003. Brandon Bostick is the biggest Green Bay Packers failure in the Super Bowl era. All because of one play. He was mentally, emotionally, and physically incapable of making a play in the biggest situation of his career.

There - I've said it again. I'll try not to mention it again for a long while.

As I move forward, I sip on a New Glarus Enigma. Sour cherry bliss with grand carbonation. If you haven't tasted it, make it a point to get your hands on a bottle. As I enjoy an Enigma, I spin the Hard Working Americans self-titled album. The B-side of this vinyl is pure musical magic. The Mountain Song --> Stomp and Holler --> Straight to Hell. Give it a listen.

It is early, so I'll call it my offseason meandering, but the Packers have an intriguing offseason ahead of them. Sure, Cobb & Bulaga are must signs. Let's hope that both want to return as badly as the Packers want them back. I'd be shocked if both don't rock a 'G' on their helmet next year.

Frankly, I'm concerned about the CB position. We have tough decisions ahead. T-Mon is soon to be 32 years old. While he's still incredibly athletic, he's nearing an age in which CB's have historically declined at a rapid rate. I hope he comes back on a cap-friendly 3-year deal. With guaranteed money up front and an out in year 3. T-Mon will forever be a favorite of mine. I want him to retire in Green Bay.

It'd be great to have Ras Davon back. I don't think we can afford him. He'll get starters salary somewhere and he'll likely net the Packers a 4th round compensatory pick. I'll always wonder 'what could've been' with regards to House. He is a physical CB who matches up well with bigger WR's. He's tough in the run game. But, he was never able to stay healthy. Bummer.

J-Bush has been a mainstay on the Packers roster for nearly a decade. He's likely to have his gunner role on special teams replaced by Demetri Goodson. Thanks for the Super Bowl interception, J-Bush! That was a monstrous play!

I'd ask Peppers to say "no mas" to his big contract. I want him back. In a largely reduced role. Mostly as an interior pass rusher, but also on the outside on a limited basis. It'd be great to get his salary reduced by $3-4 million. If we were able to free up money from
Peppers, we might be in a space to land another big time free agent.

I'd attempt to bring Raji back on a discounted deal.

And, on Draft weekend, I'd get aggressive at LB. Big, athletic, versatile players that can come from the inside and get around the edge on the outside. Here's my late February mock draft and to remind you, this is what I'd do, not what I think Ted Thompson will do.

Round 1. Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson. It's potentially a little early for him, but we are desperate for ILB help. Anthony can rush the passer. He can drop in coverage. He's experienced. He fits our most pressing defensive need. Others: Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU; Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA; Marcus Peters, CB, WASHINGTON.

Round 2. Hau'oli Kikaha, OLB, WASHINGTON. A gifted athlete. Without the knee injuries, he'd be a lick for my 1st round pick. He can drop in coverage. He has elite pass rushing skills. He has great burst off the ball. Occasionally, he's gets swallowed by bigger tackles. Wins with quickness.

Round 3. Marcus Hardison, DL, Arizona State. Good speed off the snap. Quick first step. Slippery. Has 3-down potential. Tireless in his pursuit. Other: Ramik Wilson, ILB, GEORGIA. He might be undervalued due to the inadequacy of the Georgia defense, but he has shown inconsistent football instincts. He has quickness towards the ball. He's feisty in the interior of the defense. But, occasionally, he gets gobbled up on the inside. He is a battler, but does have trouble releasing from blocks.

Round 4. Kenny Bell, WR, NEBRASKA. Great height. Blazing speed. Strong return skills. He can get over the top on the outside and isn't afraid to run across the middle. Occasional drops, but still consider his hands to be above average.

Round 5. Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware. Big, solid blocker. Underrated athleticism. Good glands. Fits the Green Bay scheme as he could also line-up as a lead blocker.

Round 5 (compensatory for James Jones). Jeff Luc, ILB, Cincinnati. Almost looks awkward due to his large size, but he plays with speed and when he hits you, he means business. Great at going for the ball. Forces turnovers. Has decent coverage skills. Reminds me of Vontaze Burfict. Other: LaDarius Gunter, CB, []_[]. Long, lanky player. In the mold of Davon House. Solid open field tackler. Had a big Senior Bowl. Has played vs big time competition. Might need a year to fully develop.

Round 5 (compensatory for EDS). Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State. He can cover in the slot. He has a nose for the football. A leader. Smart player. Plays with great recognition. A potential mid-round gem.

Round 6. Tyeler Davison, DL, Fresno State. Hole plugger in the middle who can add a pass rushing push. Quick. Uses his weight well. Has the makings of a player with a nice career ahead of him. Other: Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville. At some point, the Packers will draft a TE this year. Christian provides a target that can get down the seam. He moves well. He's a willing blocker. He's a threat in the Red Zone.

Round 7. Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee. Top flight athlete. Great upside. Quick out of his break. Aggressive. Other: Curtis Riley, CB, Fresno State. Good length. NFL stature. Plays the ball. Solid late round prospect.

More to come in the near future.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
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