Monday, April 23, 2018

My Take -> Sublimely Crafted Packers Centric Mock Draft

Greetings, G-Force.

I sit. I wonder. How do we get the positive buzz back within the Green Bay Packers organization? I want to feel that vibrant rush as I look in the mirror after putting a "G" hat on my head. Somewhere, there needs to be a promotion of positivity that bleeds through the fandom of the marveled Packers franchise. I miss that sensation. I'm going to attempt to invigorate a spirit back into my readers. As I write, I listen to Greensky Bluegrass' album "Shouted, Written Down & Quoted." I figured that was an apt title for what I'm going to try to throw into this blog. Yes, I'm shouting with exclamation. I'm going to write it down. And, you can quote me. How will it be received? That - I'm not sure. So, I'm going to "Hold On and Hope for the Best." Thanks for the guidance, PHoff.

The Green Bay Packers enter the 2018 NFL Draft with a new youthfully wrinkle-free faced GM, a new punch-you-in-the-nose old school defensive coordinator, a potential HOF Head Coach, a healthy 2-time MVP at QB, a reunion with a high-profile offensive coordinator and 12 heavily allotted picks. Those 12 anxiously awaited selections are more ammunition than any other team in the NFL.

Since I’ve last penned thoughts, Brian Gutekunst was handed the keys to the Packers Kingdom. He’s a good looking face of the franchise. He has a sharp smile. He’s a smooth communicator. He has a well spoken, engaging personality. And, after his release of Jordy Nelson, we saw that he’s not afraid to expose himself to criticism.

Gutekunst has added Jimmy Graham in hopes that Graham can be the player that he was three years ago. He also signed some much needed attitude when he sternly negotiated Mo Wilkerson down on a 1-year deal for basement worthy coin.

While I’m not going to be overly critical of his decision to move on from Nelson, I’d have done things differently. I’d have negotiated with Nelson and locked him down on something in the range of 2-years and a 10-12 million dollar contract. I’d have moved on from Cobb. By all accounts, it appears as though Nelson would’ve signed for something in that range to remain in Green Bay. Gutekunst could’ve saved himself roughly $6 million. He’d have kept the unique mental connection between Rodgers and Nelson. He’d have been able to have Montgomery step into Cobb’s move-him-all-over-the-Field role. He’d have been able to throw more money at Allen Robinson to help lure him into Titletown, U.S.A.

In riveting fashion, Gutekunst brought back one of my all-time favorite Packers. Once again, T-Mon will man the perimeter of the left side of the Packers defense. Gutekunst also reluctantly brought back Davon House on a 1-year deal in an effort to add more leadership to the CB position.

It could be argued that Gutekunst’s most impressive trait, thus far, is that he has rid the roster of some of the fodder that has been crippling the team. If player performance wasn’t satisfactory in the prior year, he’s been swift to move on instead of hopelessly dreaming for unrealistic advanced development. Richard Rodgers will always be remembered for his sublimely concocted Hail Mary catch. I deeply cherish that moment, but man, he is a significantly below average blocker who struggles to get separation as a receiver. It appears as though Gutekunst had little to no interest in resigning Richard Rodgers. And now, rightfully, Rodgers is gone. Gutekunst unloaded Damarious Randall to his old buddies, Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf. In the trade, Gutekunst masterfully negotiated up to the 1st pick of the 4th and 5th rounds. I like having the first pick on the third day because you’ve got a full night to reset the Draft board and to negotiate trade options. Gutekunst also let Wolf and Highsmith grab Janis. Hopefully, The Browns also have interest in Jake Ryan and Kyler Fackrell. I kid, I kid.

As Gutekunst stares Draft weekend in the face, he knows that he needs impact players at CB and at OLB. He has to acquire much needed depth at WR, TE, OT, OG, C, ILB, and he might not feel comfortable at S. I anticipate that he will likely draft at least 2 CB’s. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Gutekunst drafting three CB’s. Presently, it feels dire at CB. And, because of the way we are currently built on defense it is foolish to think that the Packers could compete for a title in 2018. Gutekunst must strike it richly on Draft weekend. He has the picks. His picks are well positioned. He has to deliver with his selections. If he can succeed on Draft weekend, Gutekunst could quickly return the Packers to prominence in the NFC.

Throughout his Draft preparation, Gutekunst was methodical with maximizing his time. He’s understaffed and he knows that he needs to identify at least two year one performers on the defensive side of the ball. Excitingly, Gutekunst was personally in attendance for the Georgia, Ohio State and Florida State Pro Days. Therefore, I have to imagine Derwin James, Denzel Ward and Roquan Smith are directly in his sights for a first round pick. It’s noteworthy that he’d likely have to trade up in order to draft any of them. With 12 selections in his arsenal, Gutekunst has the ammunition to aggressively move into the top 11 picks. If he secures a top 11 pick, I would think that one of the three would still be available. After that, there are no guarantees.

Gutekunst’s presence at the Florida State and Georgia Pro Days lead me to also assume that Josh Sweat and Lorenzo Carter are in play as second day selections to help solve the glaring hole on the EDGE of the Packers defense. It’s no secret that Gutekunst wants to play faster on defense. Sweat and Carter are both known for their burst off of the ball and their straight-line speed.

In 1992, Ron Wolf selected the 5 foot 9 inch Terrell Buckley with his first ever draft pick as GM of the Green Bay Packers. After watching Buckley perform, Wolf deemed it necessary for a CB to be at least 5-10 1/2 in order to play in the NFL. Since Wolf implemented the 5-10 1/2 inch rule in Green Bay, the Packers have only selected one CB who stood shorter. His name was Ahmad Carroll. Carroll measured in at 5/9 1/2 and was an absolute bust. Gutekunst is so animated to identify top tier CB talent in the 2018 NFL Draft that he’s considering the possibility of bucking the Green Bay CB height trend. Gutekunst has had a pre-draft visit with Central Florida’s CB dynamo, Mike Hughes. Hughes stands 5-10. He has the quickest feet of the CB’s in the Draft. He’s on his toes and he has a quick twitch to his movement. He plays a lot bigger than he stands. He’s tough. He’s aggressive. He’s a fearless tackler. He pursues the football with a mean intensity.

Hughes’ visit also signals that Gutekunst is going to be prepared for any and all early round scenarios. He wants a first-hand look at anyone that could potentially be his first selection. What’s interesting is that Hughes is a major reach at #14 and it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to be around at #45. So, for my buzz, this signals that Gutekunst is either pondering a trade down in round 1 or he’s considering a trade back into the end of Round 1 to grab Hughes. Either way, Gutekunst is undoubtedly entertaining all possibilities on Day 1 of the Draft.

Gutekunst is also not going to waste his scouts time. The Packers were the only team to skip Maryland’s Pro Day. Maryland has two key prospects in this years draft: JC Jackson and DJ Moore. Jackson is a 5-10 Quick-footed, bubble butt, slot CB who clearly hasn’t piqued Gutekunst’s interest. Moore is arguably the top WR on the board and likely a 1st round target. The Packers aren’t drafting a WR in round 1. Instead of visiting Maryland, Gutekunst sent a scout to Jacksonville to keep an eye on potential undrafted prospects like RB’s, Pernel Rattray and Jake Brito, ILB, Harrison Rodormer, QB, Rylan Wells, and S, Griffin Garland. Rattray is an elusive, scat style back. Brito is a between the tackles runner who lacks NFL power. Rodormer is an intensely determined overachiever who played on the outside in college, but likely translates to ILB, if given the opportunity to compete in the NFL. Garland is an attacking Safety with a fiery tackling spirit. Wells is a mobile QB with limited collegiate statistical passing accomplishments. My gut says that the Packers went to watch Griffin. Regardless, none of the prospects appear to warrant significant NFL interest as only 3 teams were in attendance at their Pro Days. Though his roots stem from Wolf, this is a definite sign that Gutekunst is a branch of the Ted Thompson tree. Thompson never missed a chance to catch a glimpse of a small school prospect. Clearly, Gutekunst sees value in the same philosophy.

Much has been made of the devastating performance of the Packers defense. Changes were made in abundance in an attempt to bring a feisty approach to the defensive unit. It all starts with Mike Pettine. Pettine will bring a nasty scowl to the sidelines. His approach will be unfamiliar - yet fully welcomed - to the carryovers from past teams. Pettine will bring an aggressive intensity. He will demand effort. He will demand a tenacious mentality. His demeanor should help inspire players to play with maximum vigor.

Before I dive into my Draft thoughts, I want to remind you that I’m not a journalist. I’m a blogger, a Packers fan. My sole focus of my Draft preparation is Packers centric. If I don’t think someone will be available nor a target of the Packers, I won’t cover him. Additionally, at some point, I have to cut it off. I also only write about a player if I was able to study him. I don’t form opinions on what I read from others. I form my opinion by watching way too much college football and YouTube videos. I spend significant time scouring the Internet to find any semblance of film to help form an opinion. I love the NFL Draft. And, I love the Green Bay Packers.

QB: Aaron Rodgers returns. Full of health. One would have to believe that he’s more determined than ever before after having his 2017 stripped away from him at a time when it appeared as though the Packers were poised to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. With Kizer, Hundley and Callahan in the saddle, I’d be surprised if the Packers drafted a QB.

1.) Tim Boyle, Eastern Kentucky. Round 5-6. Moves well in the pocket. Throws with precision on the run. Low, funky release point on the ball is concerning. Fluid in his drop. Light on his feet. Natural athleticism. Good touch. Reads through his progressions well.

2.) Kurt Benkert, Virginia. Round 6. Great arm strength. Mobility, too. Huge upside. Like his ability to throw on the run. He's turnover prone, but with seasoning, I think he can improve that facet of his game.

3.) Luke Falk, Washington State. Round 6-7. NFL size. Was given the ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage and whip the ball around the park. Like the way he moves in the pocket. He's tough, almost to a fault. Highly productive in the Red Zone. Oft injured, which is worrisome.

4.) Riley Ferguson, Memphis. Round 7-UDFA. Sees the field the well. Not as mobile as I'd prefer, but he does have a sneaky ability to escape pressure in the pocket. Decent accuracy on the move, too. Touch passer.

5.) Chase Litton, Marshall. Round 7-UDFA. By definition, he's a developmental QB. Has all of the intangibles, but hasn't put it together. Has NFL size and quickness. He's inconsistent, but when he's on, he's lethal. Strong arm. Off-field decision making has been problematic.

6.) Tanner Lee, Nebraska. Round 7-UDFA. Had the beginning of Lee's college career not been injury riddled. He has the arm strength and the size that you target. He's athletic, too. But, Lee lacks accuracy and he struggles to see the field. For his career, he completed 55% of his passes.

7.) Logan Woodside, Toledo. Round 7-UDFA. Undersized, but gritty. Tough minded. Quick in the pocket. Forces throws and gets in trouble as he lacks arm strength. If he can't elude pressure with his legs, he's in trouble as that's when he makes bad decisions. But, if he's given the time to scan the field, he has the traits you look for in a back-up QB.

8.) Brandon Silvers, Troy. Round 7-UDFA. An accurate passer who is quick to get rid of the ball. Sound decision making. Lacks arm strength. Not going to escape pressure either.

RB: Last year, the Packers drafted three RB’s. When healthy, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both looked like they were going to have promising NFL careers. Devante Mays looked like a bum. Ty Montgomery returns. RIP and Kerridge are also back. RB is not a position of need early in this Draft. But, I wouldn’t be opposed to the Packers adding one RB in the later rounds. So, I'm going to only offer limited thoughts on RB prospects.

1.) Rashaad Penny, San Diego State. Round 2-3. If he's available in Round 3, I'd strongly consider him. He's a perfect fit in Green Bay. He's lethal in the passing game. Put the ball in his hands and good things happen. He has speed. He's shifty. He's a one-catch runner. I love the way he hits the hole and goes. He does not get caught from behind. I'd be stoked to see him in a no-huddle offense with Rodgers. His lone weakness, like Aaron Jones', is his pass blocking.

2.) Josh Adams, Notre Dame. Round 3-4. He hits the hole with a vengeance. A one-cut runner with excellent vision. He finds his way to the 2nd level and powers through defensive backs. Has his eyes on the goal line every time he touches the ball. Solid receiver as well. Runs tall like Ryan Grant did. But, way more powerful than Grant when feeling contact.

3.) Akrum Wadley, Iowa. Round 4-5. In many ways, Wadley reminds me of Aaron Jones. Elusive highlight film runner. Great vision. Finds the open field. Knows where the sticks are and he finds them. He doesn't have the build that strikes you as someone who'd shed blocks, but he runs through arm tackles. He's a good receiving back. Get him the ball in the flat and he's dangerous. He's a slasher. Might not have a 3-down back, but he'll have a role as a situational back. Get him in one-on-one match-up situations and he can cause problems for LB's.

4.) Jaylen Samuels, NC State. Round 5-6. Highly versatile RB. Think of him as a softer Ty Montgomery who doesn’t necessarily power through a tackle. He can motion into the slot and be a mismatch as a receiver. Get him in the open field and he’s going to make it hard to stop him in a 1on1 battle. Give him a hole and he’s going to hit it. If there’s no hole in front of him, he’s not going to create a big play. He follows his blockers and takes what’s given to him.

5.) Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma. Round 5-6. If the Packers are to draft a FB, it should be Dimitri Flowers. Flowers could be used in a similar fashion as the Packers previously used Kuhn. He's a solid blocker. He's also very smart. And, he's great with the ball in his hands. Get him the ball in the flat and he'll run through the first tackler. Get him the ball down the seam and he can outrun a LB. He'll also pound the ball up the middle in short yardage situations. You can also put him in motion. I'd think McCarthy could find a lot of ways to use Flowers in his offense.

6.) Justin Crawford, WVU. Round 7-UDFA. Slippery. Lethal in the open field. Much quicker on tape than he timed. Plays bigger than he looks. Potential to be a dangerous back. Get him the ball in space and watch him work. Falls forward on contact. A gamer.

7.) Ito Smith, Southern Miss. Round 7-UDFA. Ultra quick through the hole. Highly productive at the collegiate level. Averaged 5.5 yards per carry and was dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield. Gets small through the hole and elusive in space. Will outrun defenders to the spot. Too small to be relied upon to pass protect. Situational player in the NFL.

8.) Austin Ramesh, WI. Round 7-UDFA. Old school Fullback. Will occasionally pound forward in short yardage situation, but he’s mostly a blocking FB and a special teams gamer. Can be used in the flat as a pass receiving option. Wins with physicality and heart.

WR: The Packers have Davante Adams locked up. Randall Cobb is here for one more year. Geronimo Allison has showed promise, at times, in his first two years. I’m comfortable with him as the #3, but I’d like see some heavy competition behind him. Michael Clark was a fan darling towards the end of last year, but he flopped in a big way when he was given an opportunity to shine. As we are currently constructed, the Packers have to be counting on Clark to make a significant leap forward. He has the physical traits. I hope those traits translate into him becoming a trusted WR. Trevor Davis will be in training camp. He’s an ok punt returner, but he will never become a noteworthy NFL WR. I’d like to see the Packers move on from him. DeAngelo Yancey looked like he had an extremely limited skillset in the preseason last year. I’m really excited to see what Colby Pearson brings to the table in the 2018 training camp. My gut tells me that he’s going to make a strong push for a roster spot. I expect the Packers to draft at least one WR in the middle rounds and possibly a WR in the later rounds as well. Prior to the Packers drafting a WR, I anticipate that Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk and Courtland Sutton will be off the board.

1.) Deon Cain, Clemson. Round 2-3. Powerful speed demon who is poised to make an immediate impact in the NFL as a WR on the outside. Powerful after catch. Separates well on the deep ball. A feisty personality. Confident competitor.

2.) DJ Chark, LSU. Round 2-3. Fastest WR in the draft. Not just sprinters speed, but football speed, too. Tracks down the deep ball. Elusive in the open field. Solid Punt Returner. Tracks down the bomb. Wins jump balls.

3.) Anthony Miller, Memphis. Round 2-3. He reminds me of Greg Jennings. Catches the slant. Plants and goes. High points the ball. A fighter after the catch. Can also return punts.

4.) Dante Pettis, Washington. Round 2-3. Standout punt returner. Solid route runner. If TT was still the GM, I'd think he'd be a Round 3 lock for the Packers. He's really strong in jump ball situations. Shines on busted plays. Aaron Rodgers would fall in love with him.

5.) James Washington, Oklahoma State. Round 2-3. A TD machine. Gets deep down the field. Plays fast. Times fast. Dude can run. Undersized and limited route capacity, so a little bit of a project, but his production is difficult to ignore. He's a natural.

6.) Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State. Bold, big bodied WR. Wins jump ball. Clutch. Quicker than fast. Lacks long line speed, but wins jump balls with his menacing presence. Great body control. Although he lacks deep speed, he's a deep threat due to his figure. Limited route tree.

6.) Michael Gallup, Colorado State. Round 3-4. Might be best in the slot. Dangerous after the catch. Slips through tackles. Solid stiff arm. Dangerous after the catch. Excellent athlete.

7.) Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame. Round 3-4. Long strider. Likely a perimeter WR. Runs a solid comeback and crossing route. Thin frame causes concern, but he uses he plays stronger than he looks. Has the type of burst that you can't teach.

8.) Daesean Hamilton, Penn State. Round 3-4. He's a football player. He won't have the build that stands out, but put him one-on-one against a defender and he wins. He has traits that you can't measure. He's football smart. He's dynamite getting in and out of his breaks. Well coached.

9.) Tre'Quan Smith, UCF. Round 3-4. Smooth. Looks the part. Flashy with the ball in his hands. Gets in and out of his breaks. Takes off with excitement. Powers through tacklers. Awesome energy.

10.) J'Mon Moore, Missouri. Round 4-5. Gets over the top of the defense. Solid yards after catch, too. More powerful than fast. Runs a great slant and uses his frame to shield defenders. Does have issues with drops, but it looks like a concentration issue that can be fixed. Excellent on the deep ball. Rodgers would love Moore as a target down the field.

11.) Antonio Callaway, Florida. Round 4-5. Lethal slot weapon. Dynamic. When he has the ball, he’s electric. Lethal punt returner. Quick out of his breaks. When he has the ball, he’s looking for the End Zone. But, he has character concerns and those issues will drop him on draft boards.

12.) Allen Lazard, Iowa State. Round 5-6. Intimidating presence. He's massive. Looks like a small forward in basketball. Has inconsistent hands, but he's clutch under pressure. Great third down target. Moments of high production when it mattered most. Wants the ball.

13.) Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State. Round 5-6. If he’d have played against better competition, we’d be talking about him as a possible Day 2 selection. Speed is his concern. But, he has the size and the hands that teams crave. Uses his body well, too. He’ll win 50-50 balls. Very good hands. Often gets open on broken down plays. Looks to be football smart.

14.) Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa. Round 5-6. Caught my eye in the East-West Shrine Game. Looks like he has the athleticism and the know-how to create separation. Has football speed and fantastic leaping ability. Should be able to find yards after the catch, too. Nice mid-round prospect.

15.) Cedric Wilson, Boise State. Round 5-6. Doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but he’s really steady. A week-in and week-out performer. Consistent. Has good size. Can play in the slot and on the perimeter. Not a burner though. Did show signs of being able to get deep and getting separation even without top-end speed.

16.) Justin Watson, Penn. Round 6-7. Has all of the physical attributes of a star WR. Muscular. Fast. Has the burst to separate from the CB. He's long. Catches with his hands. Has soft hands. Gets in and out of his breaks, but he's still raw. High potential performer.

17.) Simmie Cobbs, Indiana. Round 6-7. I wish Cobbs had run faster. If so, he was an ideal Round 2-3 selection for the Packers. Seems to have natural receiving skills. Big bodied. Throw it up to him and he’ll make the play. Many back-shoulder catches had me excited for a possible Packers connection. But, speed is a concern and he looks like he’s strictly a perimeter receiver.

18.) Braxton Berrios, []_[]. Round 7-UDFA. Dangerous slot WR, who is also possesses punt return skills. Tough minded player. Reminds me of Wayne Chrebet or Brandon Stokely. Plays big though he's only 5-8. Takes and delivers punishment. Huge heart.

19.) Keith Kirkwood, Temple. Round 7-UDFA. Big target. Deep threat. Present himself well to the QB. Gets behind the secondary. Catches with his hands. Rounds his routes too much. Not afraid to absorb contact to catch a pass.

20.) Byron Pringle, Kansas State. Round 7-UDFA. Intriguing late round prospect. Sketchy personal life, but a dynamite player on the field. Legitimate deep threat. Intimidating physique. Significantly above average speed. Imposing presence. Great in the return game. Dominant after the catch. Take away the legal issues and he’s a Round 1-2 Target.

21.) Jester Weah, Pitt. Round 7-UDFA. Speedster. Deep threat. Great size. Inconsistent hands. Appears to have all of the tools, but it didn’t result in production. Confusing because he is physically gifted . Intriguing late-round target.

22.) Steven Dunbar, Houston. Round 7-UDFA. Fun project of a receiver. Has good length. Jumping skills. Plays the ball well in the air and shows an impressive catch radius. Inconsistent hands are his concern.

23.) Devonte Boyd, UNLV. Round 7-UDFA. Might project best as a slot receiver. Quick out of his breaks. Tall, thin framed. Like the way he gets in and out of his breaks. Has swagger. Smiling guy. Needs to get much stronger. Looks fragile.

24.) Jake Wieneke, South Dakota State. Round 7-UDFA. Hard working farm boy mentality. Can’t run. But, he’s not going to drop anything. And, he’s going to outwork everyone. Crisp route runner.

TE: Expect Jimmy Graham to be moved all around the offense. We will see him in the slot, lined up tight to the line and in motion. But, where Graham will do his best work is when he’s lined up to the outside. If he’s rejuvenated and fully motivated, when he’s split to the outside, he will do his best work. Lance Kendricks is back. While he didn’t play as athletic as I imagined he would, I’m interested in seeing what he offers with a full year of having Rodgers throwing him the ball. There were multiple times last year that Kendricks was open for a big play, but Hundley simply didn’t see him. Emmanuel Byrd showed small flashes of being a capable TE, but the Packers can't count on him being on the 53-man roster. The Packers have to draft a TE. I'd be surprised if the Packers draft a TE in the first 2 rounds, so I'll focus on those drafted between rounds 3-7. I love this TE class and I'm not opposed to the Packers drafting two TE's.

1.) Mike Gesicki, Penn State. Round 2-3. A star in the combine. Has had issues with the drops, but he has great speed down the seam and he's physical at the line of scrimmage. He's a big target who likes fighting for jump balls. Passionate player.

2.) Ian Thomas, Indiana. Round 3-4. My personal favorite in the Draft. Like the way he runs down the middle of the field. Stout at the point as a blocker. A deep threat. Tough after the catch. Gets free in the flat. Falls forward on contact. Soft hands. Would look great with a G on his helmet.

3.) Mark Andrews, Oklahoma. Round 3-4. Reliable TE. A better athlete than he appears. Goes up and wins at the peak of the ball, while it's in the air. A phenomenal red zone threat. Smart. Finds the hole in the zone of the defense. Has room to grow as a blocker.

4.) Durham Smythe, ND. Round 3-4. A muscular TE who does well as a blocking TE. Might have a better pro career than a college career. Terrific hands. Blocks like an additional OT. Should be able to win battles in both the run and pass game as a blocker. Not going to outrun anyone after the catch, but he's going to rumble forward. I really like him as a prospect to produce in Year 1.

5.) Chris Herndon, []_[]. Round 4-5. Top-flight receiving TE. Plays fast. Looks more slender than he weighed in. Great hands. Clutch performer. Reliable third down target. A go-to receiver. Room to improve as a blocker.

6.)Troy Fumagalli, WI. Round 5-6. Maybe the best blocking TE in the game. Limited as a receiver, but he's smart. He sits down on his route really well and uses his body to shield defenders. Physical with the ball. Not going to outrun anyone, but he's steady. Sure handed. Has the makings of being a QB's best friend. Chance to have a 10-year career.

7.) Dalton Schultz, Stanford. Round 5-6. Classic Stanford style football player. Great grit. Hand in the dirt punishing blocker. Good hands. Seeks contact after the catch. Nice sized target.

8.) Deon Yelder, Western Kentucky. Round 6-7. Sure handed, big bodied lumbering TE. Plows his way down the middle of the field and uses his frame to fend off the opposition. Limited YAC ability. He's not going to run by anyone. Finds soft spot in defense. Should be a decent Red Zone weapon. Needs to improve as a blocker.

9.) Andrew Vollert, Weber State. Round 6-7. He's limited as a blocker, but he's an excellent athlete. He's fast. He runs a great comeback route. He gets in and out of his breaks as well as any TE in the draft, but he's extremely raw. A developmental prospect. Like his upside as a receiver. Has the frame to add muscle. Biggest question is whether he'll be willing to get dirty in the run game.

10.) Jordan Akins, UCF. Round 6-7. Solid blocking TE. A red zone threat. Big bodied target. Great hands. Hard worker. Room to improve getting out of his breaks, but should be able to produce in year 1.

11.) David Wells, Round 7-UDFA. Love his mindset. Confident running down the seam. Takes a hit and keeps on ticking. Massive target in the middle of the field. Willing blocker. Limited after the catch, but he catches what's thrown to him.

OL: David Bakhtiari is a superstar at LT. Lane Taylor was rock solid at Guard. Corey Linsley is locked up. Justin McCray will - rightfully so - compete for a spot at RG. Who can we trust at Right Tackle? Bulaga is often injured. Springs is either hurt or beaten. Murphy has been banged up and frankly, I wish Murphy would be moved to Guard. Kofi Amichia looked like he lacked strength to play on the inside. Lucas Patrick struggled when given an opportunity. Gutekunst needs to uncover OL depth in a big way. He also has to find a competitor at RG, one that can push to start on Day 1.

1.) Connor Williams, Texas. OT. Round 1-2. Could be a RT in the NFL. Could also slide to guard. Has the mean streak you target. Shuffles well in his back pedal. Slides his feet to shield speed rushers. Can power forward as a run blocker. Good athlete.

2.) Frank Ragnow, Arkansas. OC. Round 2. Ragnow may be best suited to play Center, but he has the size, strength and quickness to play Guard. He's a leader who fights until the whistle.

3.) Kolton Miller, UCLA. OT. Round 2. Huge upside. Might be best as a Guard early on, but definitely has the size to play Tackle. Could use a little more strength, but he has the size that intimidates and the will to dominate. Seems to have a great attitude as well. The Packers have a history of drafting UCLA players early and Miller could be the next one.

4.) Austin Corbett, Nevada. OG. Round 2-3. Corbett is the best utility OL in the draft. He can play either Guard position and he could likely transition to Center, if needed. And, he played Tackle in college. I love his approach to the game. A wrestling approach. he gets inside the blocker, moves his feet well and looks like a young Josh Sitton.

5.) Braden Smith, Auburn. OG. Round 2-3. An explosive blocker. Gritty in the trenches. Mean dude. Has a real nasty streak to him.

6.) Mason Cole, Michigan. OC. Round 3-4. Ideal fit for the Packers zone blocking scheme. Can play Guard or Center. If he's asked to pull, he can has the quickness to move into the open field to create a lane at the second level. Plays with his heart on his sleeve. Classic Midwest style Big 10 interior blocker.

7.) Scott Quessenberry, UCLA. OC. Round 4-5. While he projects as mostly a Center in the NFL, I see him as being able to slide to guard as well. Great upper body strength. Quick enough to slide along the line of scrimmage and a natural as a zone blocker. Sees what's in front of him and creates the seal.

8.) Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech. OG. Round 4-5. Could also swing to the outside and play Tackle, but his best position in the pros will be at Guard. Sees what's in front of him and excels as a drive blocker. Imposing. Dominant in the run game. Gets to the second level and finishes blocks. Love his hustle.

9.) Cole Madison, Washington State. OT. Round 4-5. Played Tackle in college, but translates to Guard in the NFL. Great quickness. Really strong. I think he is a Day 1 NFL starter on the inside. He's reliable. Plays through pain. He's smart. He's dominant in the run game. I'm pining for the Packers to draft him.

10.) Skyler Phillips, Idaho State. OG. Round 4-5. One tough dude. Really wish he would have participated in the bench press at the combine because he fights with physical coordination. Each play - he looks like he's stepping into the boxing ring. Would be the classic Packer who played a lot of Tackle in college but translates to Guard in the NFL.

11.) Colby Gossett, Appalachian State. OG. Round 5-6. When I would do a Mock Draft online at fanspeak.com, I often drafted Gossett in either the end of Round 5 or with the Packers first pick in Round 6. Gossett played both Tackle and Guard in college. He's well constructed. He plants well and squares his body. Has the makings of being a figurehead as a run blocker. He's a better run blocker than a pass blocker as he sometimes does extend his arms with his jab and then he loses the leverage battle. Seems to have the right temperament. Should be able to compete on Day 1.

12.) Toby Weathersby, LSU. OT. Round 5-6. Massive Right Tackle. Would project as a guy who could compete on day 1 as a starter. Really like his athleticism. Super physical. Pushes through his defender and drives him backwards. Still raw. Great athlete. I'm bullish on him having a long NFL career.

13.) Brett Toth, Army. OG. Round 6-7. Played Tackle in college, but should project to Guard. On the edge, he reaches too much and isn't quick enough to keep up with a speed rush. But, when things are straight in front of him, Toth excels.

14.) Ike Boettger, Iowa. OT. Round 6-7. Take away the injuries and Boettger is a 4th round pick. I like the way he plays to the whistle. He's been coached up and has flashed as a player with NFL starter skills. Quick enough to slide and seal the edge. Has power to move straight ahead in the run game.

15.) Taylor Hearn, Clemson. OG. Round 6-7. Fun to watch Hearn as he doesn't overpower. He isn't super quick. He's just smart and he's a technician. He simply keeps himself in front of his man. Wins the leverage battle. Maximum effort performer.

16.) Nico Falah, USC. C/G. Round 7-UDFA. Quick footed interior lineman. Sets the anchor and moves well. Savvy, smart competitor. A grinder who finds his way to the second level.

17.) KC McDermott, []_[]. OG. Round 7-UDFA. I worked with his Dad for nearly 4 years. Was a great head on his shoulders. Well schooled. Going to fight until the whistle every play. A soldier. Tell him what to do and he's going to do it. Not going to complain. Played OT in college. Gutty player. Smart.

18.) KJ Malone, LSU. OG. Round 7-UDFA. The son of the Mailman, Karl Malone. Snappy blocker. Has moxie to him. Doesn't overpower, but he just gets the job done, play-in and play-out.

DL: After the Mo Wilkerson signing, the Packers defensive is more formidable than it’s been since 1998. With Wilkerson, Daniels, Clark and Lowry, the Packers have 4 players who can both hold the point of attack in the run game and provide a push on 3rd down. I’m also not ready to give up on Montravious Adams. I was bullish on his abilities coming out of college and I’m not going to let his injury riddled rookie season deter my feelings towards him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Packers add beef to the DL late in the Draft, but I don’t anticipate an early selection here. So, I'm going to focus on those that I project in rounds 4-7. And, for the record, I really like Vita Vea, but I don't want him in Round 1.

1.) RJ McIntosh, []_[]. Round 4. Take away the injuries and he's a round 2 target. Has the frame where he could stand to lose some weight and be a stand up OLB. But, at his current figure, he has to put his hand in the dirt and win. He bullies forward. Good speed-power combination. Love his effort. Didn't wow statistically. But, he's active. Big upside.

2.) Andrew Brown, Virginia. Round 4. Hard working player on the interior. Great strength. Doesn’t win with speed, quickness nor burst. Wins with sheer power. He pushes people out of the way and moves his way into the backfield.

3.) PJ Hall, Sam Houston State. Round 4-5. Total stud. Dominated at the college level. Fantastic pass rushing skills from the interior. Really quick off of the ball. Lowers his shoulder and bulls forward. Reminds me a little of Mike Daniels. Powerful. Quick. Shoots the gap. Gets into the backfield.

4.) Deadrin Senat, South Florida. Round 4-5. Injury concerns worry me. Has trouble staying on the field, but when he's playing, he's dominant. Great quickness. Lethal on the interior. Can move him around. Good length. Physical force. Plays the run and the pass.

5.) Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State. Round 4-5. Definitely looks the part in pads. But, where was the production? Has the physique and the power to translate into a 3-down NFL player. Tend to think he has a better pro career than college career if he can translate his athleticism to the field.

6.) Kentavius Street, NC State. Round 4-5. Great build. Best suited for 4-3. Put him on the end and let him fight. Looks like a freakish athlete who you wish was an inch or two taller. Like his effort, but often doesn't win his battle. Strong dude.

7.) Christian LaCouture, LSU. Round 5-6. Mean, hard-working over achiever. Isn’t going to be first off the snap, but he’s going to be hustling until the whistle blows. High statistical achievement. When he doesn’t get a push, he’s going to get his hands up. Should make for a talented rotational defender on Day 1. Reminds me of Dean Lowry.

8.) Bilal Nichols, Delaware. Round 5-6. Love his build. Looks the part. Wins the one-on-one battle, but can get swallowed in space along the line of scrimmage. Still developing. Remarkable sideline-to-sideline effort. Looks like he could be an impact player in year 1.

9.) Poona Ford, Texas. Round 5-6. A bowling ball of a build. Quick footed. Lacks height. Understands leverage. Moves well up and down the line of scrimmage. Holds his own at the point.

10.) Jullian Taylor, Temple. Round 5-6. Excellent stack and shed run stopping maneuverability. Limited pass rush skills. Long arms allow him to tug and throw back the OL. Quick off of the ball, especially when positioned over the nose of the ball.

11.) Lowell Lotuleilei, Utah. Round 6-7. Hard to evaluate him. He was the focus of the oppositions attack. High effort player. Chases down the ball. Plays to the whistle. Didn't overwhelm with production, but he was often double teamed. Had he played elsewhere, he might be thought of higher. Smart, instinctive player. Reads the design of the play. Hunts down the ball.

12.) Justin Jones, NC State. Round 6-7. Benefitted from those around them. Has an NFL physique. Powerful dude. Eats blockers. Creating room for those behind him. Below average first step. Thick frame. Strong dude. Not as productive on those around him though.

13.) Greg Gilmore, LSU. Round 7-UDFA. Built to play on the interior of the DL. Ideal size. Stacking and shedding at the line is his best work. Not much of a pass rusher. Strong. Lacks quickness and get up off of the ball. Holds his point, but doesn’t push forward with excellence.

14.) John Atkins, Georgia. Round 7-UDFA. Big bodied defender. Eats blockers. Solid against the run. Holds the point.

OLB: Clay Matthews was really solid for most of 2017. Nick Perry got off to a hot start, but faded after injuries plagued his ankles. Vince Biegel was far from what I anticipated he’d be, but like I said with Adams, I’m not giving up on Biegel either. Reggie Gilbert flashed goodness when given the opportunity to see the field. He will make a strong push for a roster spot. Kyler Fackrell and Chris Odom can’t play at the NFL level. In the Draft, the Packers need to add 1-2 players to the EDGE of their defense. The matter is pressing. Bradley Chubb is an ideal pick, but he won't be around.

1.) Marcus Davenport, UTSA. Round 1. Davenport has the length and raw talent that you can't teach. At times, he makes you salivate over him. He stunts to the inside. He applies pressure to the face of the QB and when he gets his arms in the air, he looks a little like a young Julius Peppers. He can win the edge with speed. He's 6-5 and he runs a 4.58. When he dips his shoulder and gets around the tackle, he looks like DeMarcus Ware. He goes for the football when he grabs a sack. He has a mean streak. He sometimes plays too high. His mean streak is what the Packers will be seeking in a Mike Pettine defense.

2.) Harold Landry, BC. Round 1. Landry is the quickest of the EDGE rushers off of the snap. He turns the corner in elite form. He bends and dips under the push of the OT and bursts to the QB like a superstar. His pass rushing skills make him an attractive Round 1 pick for the Packers. I wonder if he's a one-trick pony. He often takes downs off. And, he can get mauled in the run game. There's times he disappears, but then he shows up in a big way when he's ready to make his arrival. If you're looking for a pure pass rusher, he's the guy.

3.) Lorenzo Carter, Georgia. Round 2-3. Jaw dropping length. Fantastic speed. Gets the corner. Can drop in space. Huge upside. Think he has room and the frame to get stronger. Plays best standing up where he can see the field and use his speed. He can also be used to mirror or shadow a QB in the modern era NFL. When he attacks, he goes. But, he goes invisible, at times. It's odd. I sometimes question his motor. He'll make a great Day 2 pick for someone.

4.) Arden Key, LSU. Round 2-3. The classic boom or bust. As high of potential as anyone in the draft. But, at times, he gets eaten up and is not heard from. If Key is dialed in and ready to ball, he's worthy of a top 20 pick. I'm not sure he wants it. Has the frame to add muscle. Has speed off of the edge. Has great length. If he finds the ready system and he's motivated, he's a second day steal.

5.) Uchenna Nwosu, USC. Round 2-3. Great burst off of the snap. Never takes a play off. Wins with effort. If he is stood up by the OT, he's quick to stop in his tracks and read the QB's eyes to try and block the pass. I like his burst off of the ball. He's quick. Somewhat limited physically and appears to be too small for the NFL, at times. Flashes in a big way. High octane. High intensity. Great focus. Playmaker. Especially on 3rd down.

6.) Kemoko Turay, Rutgers. Round 2-3. Has speed, quickness and size that you crave in an NFL EDGE defender. Want to fall in love with him, but he leaves much to be desired. Gets beat up in the run game as he gets gobbled up. Too many times, he doesn't understand leverage and he gets swallowed. When you see him in pads, you think he could be the next best thing. Not the savvy technician, but has all of the tools that need to be coached up. Has a great first step. Plants well and cuts to the inside with authority. Drops well in space. Fluid in his movement.

7.) Sam Hubbard, Ohio State. Round 2-3. Might be best suited for a 4-3 defense. Has the stout tenacity that I think the Packers will crave in their new look defense. But, he lacks speed. Can't play in space. But wins with effort and muscle. Gets low and drives forward.

8.) Josh Sweat, FSU. Round 2-3. If Sweat showed quickness off of the snap, I'd be enamored with his game. He has tremendous burst. Impeccable straight line speed. When he decides to get out of his stance, he's dynamite. The problem is that he's consistently one of the last players to get going off of the snap. Many times, the OT has taken 1.5 steps before Sweat gets moving. When Sweat attacks, he does so intensely. He's a punishing tackler. He inflicts pain on ballcarriers.

9.) Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma. Round 2-3. Undersized. Often gets eaten. But, when he can keep OT's hands off of him, he has tremendous speed around the EDGE. He doesn't waste moves. He motors forward and tries to give a stiff-arm punch and then speed around the corner. Needs to develop more moves. In some ways, he reminds me of a Carl Bradford coming out of college.

10.) Jeff Holland, Auburn. Round 3-4. I want to love Holland. I really do. At times, I thought he had the potential to be the next big thing on the EDGE. I watch him and I think he has late 1st round potential. Then, I watch him again and I see him as a Round 6-7 kind of guy. He lacks consistency. His speed doesn't show week-in and week-out. Hell, he doesn't seem to be the same player from one play to the next. He dominates. Then, he disappears. He's ultra mean. And, then he's soft. He timed terribly. If he nose dives, which he might, he could be a tremendous Day 3 pick. If he's around in Round 5, I'd really like him with one of the compensatory picks.

11.) Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest. Round 3-4. I want to put a 2nd round grade on him because he's a maximum effort guy. He appears to have burst off of the EDGE that I crave. He's been highly productive. He wins in both the run game and the pass game. Looks like a guy who will be able to make an impact in Year 1. He's a great fighter in the trenches. He's active on nearly every down. He's slapping wrists when he tackles. But, his injury history is concerning.

12.) Dorance Armstrong, Kansas. Round 3-4. All of the size you look for. Looks like a legit star in his pads. Can't get off the snap. Lacks speed. Lacks quickness. Not sure he can play in space. Really like his nose for the football though. Forces turnovers.

13.) Chad Thomas, []_[]. Round 3-4. Probably best suited for a 4-3 system. Can't play in space. But, he's dynamite when he's bullying his way straight ahead. Muscular. Physically intimidating. I'd love him as an interior rusher on the inside on passing downs. He's disruptive. Frame doesn't translate well to a 3-4 look.

14.) Hercules Mata'afa, Washington State. Round 3-4. Will be interesting to see how he's used. He played DT in college, but he's only 6-2, 254. Unique college background. He dominated the line of scrimmage. Plays as though he knows the snap count. Drives forward. Gets skinny through the line and wins with speed towards the ball. Dominant in both the run and pass game. How much of a learning curve will it be for him to play the EDGE in the NFL? He has no experience on the outside. He has the will and the skill set to make it work, but his lack of reps on the EDGE is alarming. Dude is so strong. I want to love him. Just don't know how he translates. He's lighning quick off o fthe ball. I enjoy the way he slips through blocks. His hustle is infectious. But, he appears to be a straight ahead player.

15.) Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss. Round 4-5. All the dude does is makes plays. Super productive. Would be fun to add as an ILB and to move him around. Wish he had 15-20 more pounds on him. Fast around the EDGE. Finds the football. If he were a little stronger, I'd have a 2nd round grade on him. Not going to win in the run game. Needs a wall in front of him for that. I think he could be a fun ILB on early downs and sensational pass rusher. Could end up being a steal in the Draft.

16.) Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State. Round 4-5. Each week, you know what you're going to get. He's not going to "wow" you. He's just going to win his one on one battle. He's going to bull forward, win with strength and win with leverage. Can't play in space. Timed faster than he plays, which could bump up his draft status. Forces turnovers with the best of them in this draft.

17.) Ade Aruna, Temple. Round 5-6. He's 6-4, 262 and has the intangibles to play the edge. Not sure he can win on the edge, but you might be able to use his length as an interior pass rusher. Stunts well. Great length. Disruptive when he gets his hands in the air.

18.) Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State. Round 5-6. If he had an SEC diet, we might be talking about him as a Day 2 selection. Great pizzazz getting to the QB. Extends hands to prevent himself from getting gobbled up. Plays with speed and hunger. Still developmental due to being in a small school. Will take seasoning, but love his upside. He's fast off the snap. A punishing tackler. He swims underneath the OL hands. He's quick out of the blocks. A pure pass rusher with an ability to drop in space.

19.) Kylie Fitts, Utah. Round 5-6. As my kids often say; you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. He's dependable. He's going to show up each and every down. He's going to fight. He's really strong. He timed well. He looks like he has all of the pieces of the puzzle. But, for whatever reason, he wasn't highly productive. Want to love him, but you're not going to see him dropping in space. Almost plays too aggressively, at times and exposes himself to the big play as he guesses the play.

20.) Marcell Frazier, Missouri. Round 5-6. A bit of a sleeper in the draft. Has the size and the tools. Good speed and quickness. Developed. Played on a bad football team and was often double teamed. Has good burst to win in pass rushing situations. Not going to be a dominant run stopper, but might have a role as a pass rusher at the next level.

21.) Davin Bellamy, Georgia. Round 6-7. Has the size and the intensity. But, plays really stiff. I try to fall in love with him because he has flashes of brilliance that make you crave it consistently. But, then you wonder, where'd he go? Has ideal build for a 3-4 OLB. Has all of the tools to dominate, but never took the next step. I would be very pleased if he ends up in Green Bay.

22.) Sione Teuhema, SE Louisiana. Round 7-UDFA. Among my favorite of the likely undrafted players this year. I'm pulling for him. Great hustle. Plays until the whistle. Hits with force. Plays with speed. Looks great in space. Has solid length. Might be best at ILB. Great athlete. Has the makings of being a solid NFL special teams player. Best when he sees the field and can attack with pace off of the line of scrimmage.

23.) Mike Love, South Florida. Round 7-UDFA. Long armed, freakish looking athlete. Great excitement off of the snap. Plays with a bounce to his step. Long strides. Forceful tackler.

24.) Justin Lawler, SMU. Round 7-UDFA. He has the mentality of a Pettine defender. He's going to achieve at his peak level. He's not going to win with speed. He wasn't a rock star on the bench. But, he times the snap with excellence and he is active towards getting to the QB. Could learn more fight in the run game. Up and down performer.

25.) Joe Ostman, Central Michigan. Round 7-UDFA. Typical Midwest style OLB. All effort. Limited athleticism. Farm boy build. Gives everything he has on every play. Not going to overpower you nor win with speed, but he is putting the pads on to go to battle.

26.) Trevon Young, Louisville. Round 7-UDFA. Great physique. Serious injury history is concerning and didn't recover as he hoped. Loved his game prior to the injury. Had the burst you crave off of the edge. Has the length and looks comfortable standing up in attack mode. Didn't look as comfortable this year. Would be a great late round addition for someone in hopes that he can return to his pre-injury form. If so, he could be a late round steal.

27.) James Hearns, Louisville. Round 7-UDFA. I really wish Hearns was another inch taller and 10-15 pounds stronger. He showed an ability to drop in coverage and a high effort player. Has the intensity. Good speed. Not sure he's physical enough to make an impact at the next level.

28.) Garret Dooley, WI. Round 7-UDFA. Good effort player. Gritty fight. Reliable. Tenacious. Limited athleticism. Finds his way to the football.

29.) Sharif Finch, Temple. Round 7-UDFA. Has all of tools to be a beast in the NFL. Prototypical size. High performer at his Pro Day. You watch his film and you wonder why you don't hear more about him. He's that good. Great at extending his arms and getting his hands to create separation. Quick off of the ball. Productive. But, he has serious knee injuries in his past and that will limit his ability to get drafted. If he is fit with health, he's a gem of an undrafted talent.

30.) Kendall Donnerson, SE Missouri State. Round 7-UDFA. Developmental prospect who is a gem of an athlete. An absolute warrior in the workout facility. Lightning fast for his size. But, as a player, he’s really rough around the edges. Has the size, speed and quickness that are desired on the edge. Lacks the present day tools. A major prospect.

ILB: Blake Machine was a tackling monster in 2017. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t do the same in 2018. Martinez struggles in coverage, but he’s the best ILB that the Packers have had since Desmond Bishop’s injury. Jake Ryan is limited to run stopping duties only. Ahmad Thomas was an active defender in college. He has speed and desire, but he’s undersized. I fully anticipate that Josh Jones sees enhanced opportunities as an ILB. Early in the year, he looked like he could be a difference maker at the position. After limited exposure due to injuries at the Safety position as the season progressed, we lost sight as to the potential he possesses an undersized modern day ILB. Nonetheless, the Packers have a glaring need for help at ILB.

1.) Roquan Smith, Georgia. Round 1. Somehow, someway, I’d love it if the Packers ended up with Smith. Modern day NFL ILB. Punishing tackler. Great sideline to sideline pursuer. Solid in coverage. Stack and sheds. Fast. He’s a man in the middle. All heart. My favorite player in the Draft.

2.) Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech. Round 1. Hit or miss prospect. Has athleticism. Has prototypical physique. Great frame. Athletic dude. Looks like a monster. Not always assignment sure. Fast on a track, but doesn’t always play fast. When he’s going, he covers ground quickly. Ideal length. Could boom. Could bust.

3.) Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State. Round 1-2. Most would have him as a top 25 pick. I’m not sure. If he’s around in round 2, I’d strongly consider him. Leader. Strong presence in the middle of field. Intimidating figure. Doesn’t wow, but he’s active and around the ball. 3-down player.

4.) Rashaan Evans, Alabama. Round 2. Potent tackler. Powerful hitter. Doesn’t play with dynamite speed, but has football potency. Will be a run game stuffer.

5.) Josey Jewell, Iowa. Round 3-4. Typical corn field focused ILB. Timed faster than he plays. Well studied ILB. Smart. Leader. Intense. A throwback. His effort commands respect.

6.)Malik Jefferson, Texas. Round 3-4. Not going to be stoked to take on a block, but he’s quick enough to run around them. Fast laterally. Solid in coverage. If he’s in the right system, he could blossom quickly.

7.) Shaquem Griffin, UCF. Round 3-4. Sensational athlete. Inspiring performer. Give him space and let him run to the football. Great blitzer. Immediately, a demon on special teams.

8.) Fred Warner, BYU. Round 3-4. Attacking playmaker who diagnoses well and reacts with precision. Leader. Smart. Sees, reads, reacts. Diagnoses well. Doesn’t have great make-up speed. Steady performer.

9.) Oren Burks, Vanderbilt. Round 4-5. Great speed. Terrific in coverage. Loves his ability to cover the field. Plays well in space. Need to improve when he’s engaged as he struggles to separate from blocks. Long defender who looks the part.

10.) Darius Leonard, South Carolina State. Round 4-5. Plays with quickness. Active. Will immediately be a diamond on special teams. Runs really well. Good length. Extends arms upon contact. Sound tackler.

11.) Andre Smith, North Carolina. Round 4-5. Bruising, active ILB. Great motor. Active pass defender. Didn't play with the speed he showed in the offseason workouts.

12.) Genard Avery, Memphis. Round 5-6. Stout ILB. Great effort. Stacks and sheds. Active. Quick burst.

13.) Jack Cichy, WI. Round 5-6. Other than the Watt brothers or DeAndre Levy, have any WI defenders had a sustained successful NFL career? Casillas has been average and Borland would’ve been great, but he retired. Other than that, not much. Cichy had the makings of being a star. But, then the knee injury occurred. Dude is a hungry hunter. I hope he fully recovers from the knee. If so, he could ball out in a big way.

14.) Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson. Round 5-6. Modern day NFL ILB physique. Has speed to cover TE and the RB out of the backfield. Smart, reactive player.

15.) Micah Kiser, Virginia. Round 5-6. Highly intelligent run stopping ILB. Not win you over with speed, but he’s fast enough. Needs to improve in coverage, but he’s willing.

16.) Jerome Baker, Ohio State. Round 5-6. Football pace to him. A bit undersized. But, he outruns blockers to the spot. Good lateral movement.

17.) DeMarquis Gates, Ole Miss. Round 7-UDFA. Attacking playmaker who diagnoses well and reacts with precision. High flying tackling demon. Sure to be a hunter on special teams, if given a shot. Likely an undrafted target.

18.) Tre Williams, Auburn. Round 7-UDFA. Hard-nosed run stopper. A plug in the middle of the defense. A tough minded competitor. Fiery spirit. Can be exposed in pass game. He’s a situational early-down ILB.


CB: Unquestionably, CB is the thinnest portion of the roster. TMon will bring veteran leadership to the position group. Kevin King has the size and the speed that teams crave at CB. I just hope that his shoulder doesn’t make him damaged goods. Davon House was limited due to injury for a lot of last year, but he's back for another year. It's tough to depend on House being healthy. Lenzy Pipkins has moments that made me believe he could be a physical, blitzing slot CB. But, since he received limited reps last year, my confidence in him being a consistent performer is slim. Without a doubt, Pipkins has the fiery spirit and the attitude required to play in a Mike Pettine defense. I don’t envision Josh Hawkins being a fit for the new defensive scheme. Q Rollins can’t be trusted. The Packers have to be aggressive in their approach towards acquiring depth at CB in the Draft. Thankfully, this Draft is rich with quality CB prospects.

1.) Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama. Round 1. Initially, I had him at Safety. But, I’d be drafting him to play slot CB. And, he’s the #1 fit on my Draft board for the Packers. Dynamite slot CB. Fantastic on the blitz. Electric play making skills. Jumps routes. Ideal size. Has speed. Checks all of the boxes.

2.) Denzel Ward, Ohio State. Round 1. The best pure cover corner in the Draft. Quick as can be. Jumps routes. Can play in slot and on the perimeter.

3.) Mike Hughes, UCF. Round 1-2. If he were an inch taller, he’d be a great target for Round 1. But, he’s only 5-10. He’s quick with his first step. He’s an aggressive tackler. Plants his foot and pursues. Does a great job playing the ball in the air. Can play in the slot as well on the outside.

4.) Carlton Davis, Auburn. Round 1-2. The most physical perimeter cover CB in the Draft. Has the speed, too. Grabs a little too much, but he’s an intimidator. Fits the Pettine style of island CB. He has the muscle to win in man-to-man.

5.) Isaiah Oliver, Colorado. Round 1-2. A speedster. Track star. Lacks physicality in run support. He’s not going to seek contact, but he plays the nail in the air really well. Prototype perimeter CB size. Highly athletic.

6.) Josh Jackson, Iowa. Round 1-2. A system CB. Best suited for zone or cover 2. If he sees the play in front of him, he’s going to break on the ball and make a play. A threat to grab the pick 6 on short routes. I really like his game, but I’m not sure he fits the Packers.

7.) Jaire Alexander, Louisville. Round 1-2. Short, speedy corner. Extremely confident. Playmaking skills. Not sure he’s physical enough to come on the blitz, but has quickness to be a slot CB. Not sure he’s tall enough to match-up on the perimeter. Great playmaking ability.

8.) Donte Jackson, LSU. Round 2. I love his attitude. Has swagger. Swift out of his breaks. Fast. Active hands. Wish he had more muscle. Fearless tackler, but not built for punishment. Willing to come on blitz. Fits need for slot CB.

9.) Isaac Yiadom, Boston College. Round 3-4. Has the physical make to be a stand out as an island CB. Turns and sees the ball. Great length. Quickness out of his breaks. Not afraid to get physical in the run game. Long arms. Jumps and plays ball in the air really well. Does get beat on the double move.

10.) MJ Stewart, UNC. Round 3-4. Has the tools to be a slot cover CB. No fear of blitzing. Active hands in press coverage. Quick feet. Has punt return skills as well. Like the way he moves to find the football. Good acceleration.

11.) Holton Hill, Texas. Round 3-4. A confident approach. Has the flair and the mind to cover in both the slot and on the perimeter. Breaks on the ball well. Active hands. Punches the ball loose. Has ideal length to cover on the outside and to jam receivers. Has quickness to play in the slot. Still developing. Fearless run stopper, too. But, dude likes to party and he'll be frowned on for it.

12.) Duke Dawson, Florida. Round 3-4. Adjusts well to the ball in the air, but needs to hang onto the football. Moves feet well. Tough minded. Might be better suited for the slot.

13.) Anthony Averett, Alabama. Round 3-4. Speed demon. Though he's small, he attacks as a tackler. Has the mental toughness to play in the NFL. Annoys his opponent. A little chatter bug. Lacks big play ability.

14.) Quenton Meeks, Stanford. Round 4-5. I thought he'd play better than he did this year. I had high hopes for him. But, he wasn't as willing to mix it up as I thought he'd like to. He also didn't show the play making skills that he'd flashed last year. He isn't the tough style of Stanford player that we're accustomed to seeing, but he uses his hands well. He's smart. He's active in press coverage. But, he doesn't aggressive hunt down the ball in run situations. Still, I like his upside. He has great size. He has a great make-up. He has the tools. Would like to see him get stronger. Speed is not a problem.

15.) Kameron Kelly, San Diego State. Round 4-5. Laser in pursuit. Loves to blitz. Ideal length. Plays the ball in the air. Didn't time well and that scares me. So, he might have to play a role as a deep safety.

16.) Kevin Toliver, LSU. Round 4-5. Exceptional length. Glides like a gazelle. Has the prototypical frame of a perimeter CB. Phenomenal build. Bulging muscles. But, he grabs on nearly every play. Poor footwork, too. Really raw. Huge upside to his game. Could develop into a star. Really solid mid round pick for someone.

17.) Christian Campbell, Penn State. Round 4-5. Campbell is a tough-nosed football player. A physical perimeter CB. Sees the ball and knocks it away. A fighter for the football in the air. Sometimes, he's too physical and likes to use his hands too much. He's a magnet for penalties. But, he's tenacious in coverage.

17.) Levi Wallace, Alabama. Round 4-5. He has willpower that cannot be taught. He has great desire to be a star football player. There's no quit in him. He's rail thin. But, plays the ball well. He flies on the field, too. But, he isn't a physical specimen. He needs to put on 15-20 more pounds. He won't shy away from contact. He's the engine that could. Has good length.

18.) Arrion Springs, Oregon. Round 5-6. If he started catching the ball, he'd potentially be a 2nd round pick. He's instinctive. A fierce tackler. He's smart. He understand angles. He jumps routes. Uses his body well shielding receivers on deep balls. He has the makings of being able to be a star in the slot. I wish he were an inch taller. Physical for his size. True slot CB prospect.

19.) Tony Brown, Alabama. Round 5-6. Dude flies. He ran a 4.35 40. Can play on the inside and the outside. Looks really strong. He's carved up. Should be an immediate star as a gunner on special teams. Like most Alabama CB's, he's willing to step up and take on a ball carrier as well. Wasn't much a factor in the turnover game.

20.) Charvarius Ward, Middle Tennessee State. Round 5-6. Great acceleration. Needs to turn and see the ball because when he does he makes plays on the ball. Long athlete. Good speed. True perimeter CB. Drives his shoulder into the ball carrier to make a tackle. When the paly is in front of him, he's top notch. Still a little raw in his shuffle during the back pedal.

20.) Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech. Round 5-6. He's a mystery to me. He stopped developing. He looked like he was on the way to becoming a dynamite NFL CB. And, then he stopped being the playmaker that he was earlier in college. He has the mentality. He has the bump and run skills. He sees the ball. He has the tools. I'm not sure what happened. I'd be thrilled if the Packers took a chance on him.

21.) D’Montre Wade, Murray State. Round 5-6. Playmaking CB. Still raw and in developmental mode. Has the length to jam WR’s at the line of scrimmage as he gains seasoning. Didn’t time as well as I expected. By all appearances, he played as though he had the speed to compete on the perimeter. But, his time has me wondering if he is best suited for safety. He tracks down the ball and is a fearless tackler. He seeks contact. Has the toughness to play in man. But, can he turn and run? Thought so, but his time suggests otherwise.

22.) Darius Phillips, Western Michigan. Round 5-6. Undersized slot CB. Fun to watch when the ball is in his hands. Great punt return skills, too. Quick feet. Tough mind. Too small to play the perimeter.

23.) Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State. Round 6-7. Ideal size + straight line speed. Good vision. Willing tackler. But, heavy on his feet. Exposed in double moves. Might be a safety in the NFL.

24.) Michael Joseph, Dubuque. Round 6-7. Dominated lower level competition. High points the ball. Not afraid of contact. Jumps routes. Won on athleticism. Still developing and will need to get accustomed to playing a better level of competitor at the next level. Has great length and the tools to be a perimeter CB.

25.) Siran Neal, Jacksonville State. Round 6-7. Highly competitive CB who was a force against lower level competition. He is a physical presence who likes to attack the line of scrimmage. He has the length to play on the outside, but probably translates best to play safety. His safety/CB combination is attractive. He’s strong at the point of contact as a press slot corner. But, if the receiver gets a release, Neal is in trouble. He seems to panic and struggles to recover.

26.) Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech. Round 6-7 Scrappy, athletic CB. Wish he were an inch taller. Tenacious approach. Appears to have the foot quickness to play slot CB. Not positive that he can man up on the blitz. Willing to help in run support.

27.) Dee Delaney, []_[]. Round 7-UDFA. Prior to transferring to Miami, he was an absolute superstar at the Citadel. It's somewhat noteworthy that the Packers added Maurice Drayton as an assistant special teams coach. Drayton was the defensive coordinator for a part of the time that Delaney was in Citadel. So, there's familiarity. At Miami, Delaney was inconsistent. He flashed at times. He was torched as well. He often bit on the double move. He looked like he was still somewhat raw. Athleticism won't be a challenge. If he becomes a technician, he has the tools to play both the slot and the perimeter.

28.) Malik Reaves, Villanova. Round 7-UDFA. Long, strong CB. Tough guy. Strictly a perimeter CB. Probably best suited for a zone coverage scheme as he struggles to handle speed in man coverage.

29.) Linden Stephens, Cincinnati. Round 7-UDFA. Developmental late round prospect. Has the length to play on the outside and the quickness to play in the slot. Looks the part in his backpedal. He’s often in position, but doesn’t find the ball in the air. Needs to learn to turn his head. When he sees the ball, he’s legit.

30.) Emmanuel Moseley, Tennessee. Round 7-UDFA. There are moments where Moseley shines and you think that he has the traits to be a perimeter CB in the NFL. But, consistency was an issue. He played the underneath ball really well, but he was beaten over the top too often. He has the speed that you crave on the outside. He has the length, too. He just hasn't put it all together.

31.) Tremon Smith, Central Arkansas. Round 7-UDFA. I love his punt return skills. He also makes plays on the ball in the air. A fun athlete with a nose for the goal line after an interception. Forceful tackler. Reads routes and jumps them. Flashy style to his persona. Though he's really undersized, there's a fun confidence to him.

32.) Mike Ford, SE Missouri State. Round 7-UDFA. Has good speed, but lacks a burst out of his breaks. Looks good in his backpedal. Opens up his hips in fine fashion to see the field. Feels most comfortable when he can see the field. Struggles to turn and run.

33.) Taron Johnson – Round 7-UDFA. Scrappy CB. Try hard guy who struggled on the perimeter at the Senior Bowl. Might be best suited for the slot, but he’s likely too small to help out in run support.

S: On the surface, it appears as though the Packers have plenty of Safety talent to feel comfortable heading into the 2028 season. However, if you dig deeper, there are potentially serious concerns. It’d be difficult to give HaHa a long term contract and he’s in the last year of his current deal. Josh Jones might be best utilized as an ILB-style rover. I am still pleased that Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans are Packers. I’m confident that new leadership and a new scheme will be good for both of them. But, both have left much to be desired when they’ve been given an opportunity to make their mark in the Regular Season. Jermaine Whitehead gave a valiant effort last year when he was given the chance to compete at the highest level. He wasn’t good enough. It’s likely that Gutekunst will add depth to the Safety position. Expect Gutekunst to target a Safety who can cover in the slot.

1.) Derwin James, Florida State. Round 1. Electrifying playmaker. James can fly. He's a hard hitter. He tracks down the ball. He's sensational on the blitz. He's looking to force a turnover every time he makes a tackle. My only curiosity: can he cover in the slot? There's little-to-no proof that he has that ability. My gut says that Gutekunst would love to get James. I have a feeling that James is Gutekunst's top player on the board.

2.) Dane Cruikshank, Arizone. Round 2-3. Feels like Cruikshank is the type of player that Gutekunst is trying to find in this draft. He brings a burst that you can't coach. He has experience as a CB on the outside. He brings slot CB experience. He's tough when he comes on the blitz. He steps up in run support. At 4.41, he can fly. A high-end athlete. He'd compete for the starting slot CB position on Day 1. And, he can play S, too.

3.) Ronnie Harrison, Alabama. Round 2-3. A leader in the secondary. A powerful, bruising hitter. When he tackles, he crushes. Read and react player. Has the range to make a play on the deep ball. Solid blitzer. Physical, intimidating presence.

4.) DeShon Elliott, Texas. Round 2-3. A ballhawk. He shows up when the lights are brightest. Best as a free safety where he can see the play in front of him. He reads the QB's eyes and he jumps routes. Quick to jump routes. Not afraid to come from deep to help along the line of scrimmage either. Decent coverage skills.

5.) Jessie Bates, Wake Forest. Round 2-3. A playmaker. Speedy free safety who covers ground quickly. With the ball in his ends, he's thinking about a TD. Can return punts. Great athlete. Could potentially slide into the slot and play CB. Has the physique to muscle up a slot WR. Plays with intelligence.

6.) Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee. Round 2-3. Attractive CB/safety option. Wish he timed faster because I like the way he plays on the perimeter. Great length. Looks like a star athlete. But, ran north of 4.6, which doesn't work on the perimeter in the NFL. So, he's likely a FS.

7.) Justin Reid, Stanford. Round 2-3. Speedster. Great instincts. Plays with great preparation. Smart. Wish he shuffled his feet better in coverage. Often uses his hands and exposes himself to pass interference.

8.) Armani Watts, Texas A&M. Round 3-4. Violent. Carless with his body. Always around the ball. Hustler. Goes for the strip. Wish he was an inch taller. Plays with speed. Covers ground when he gets going. Inconsistent though. He's all or he's nothing.

9.) Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech. Round 3-4. A beast of a hitter. Solid on the blitz. Football hunter. He hits with determination. Can play in the box.

10.) Kyzir White, WVU. Round 4-5. Heavy hitting safety who plays with an attitude. Confident playmaker. Has a knack for getting his team off of the field on third down. Attacks the line of scrimmage with the right mindset. Has coverage skills, too. Plays faster in short sprints than he does when he has to cover grass in abundance.

11.) Tarvarius Moore, Southern Miss. Round 4-5. Moore can flat-out fly. At times, he was dynamite. He glides as he runs. Not only can he run, but he can jump. Still raw as he only played two years of college football. Feels like he's a developmental prospect who could make an instant impact on special teams. Needs to wrap up instead of delivering shoulder blows.

12.) Marcus Allen, Penn State. Round 4-5. Long body. Solid tackler. Decent coverage skills against bigger targets. Needs to play faster. A little stiff. Doesn't have the bend to play in the slot. Fun to watch him attack the line of scrimmage in run support.

13.) Troy Apke, Penn State. Round 5-6. Workout wonder drew attention. Long strides. Developmental prospect who can play free safety and will be a high performer as a gunner on special teams. Best playing days are likely ahead of him. Played in a crowded secondary. Like the way he plays when he's asked to cover. Needs to be more physical. Fast straight ahead. Doesn't move as well laterally.

14.) Natrell Jamerson, Wisconsin. Round 6-7. Jamerson is undersized for a pure safety, but translates well as a possible mid-to-late round slot CB. Jamerson can fly. He ran a 4.4 and was super quick in his 10 yard split. He has good lateral movements and he's willing to throw his body in the mix.

15.) Tray Matthews, Auburn. Round 6-7. Hard hitting beast. Leader in the secondary. Not best when he's asked to cover, but he'll attack the football and lower the boom. Can play both free and strong safety. No fear of playing in the box. Has the speed to get sideline-to-sideline. Plugs holes in run game with a mission in his mind.

16.) Jamarcus King, South Carolina. Round 7-UDFA. Played a mix between CB and S in college. Doesn't have the speed to play CB. Has to translate to FS. He's a competitor, but has to grab in order to make up for his lack of speed. He's physical enough to man-up in the middle of the field. Put him at FS and he has a chance to compete as a training camp body.

Here's my Packers Mock Draft. For the first-time ever, I've given focus to the OL.

Round 1 – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA.
Round 2 – Dane Cruikshank, CB/S, Arizona.
Round 3 – Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana.
Round 4a – Dante Pettis, WR, Washington.
Round 4b – Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College.
Round 5a – Cole Madison, OL, Washington State.
Round 5b – Oren Burks, ILB, Vandy.
Round 5c – Colby Gossett, OL, Appalachian State.
Round 6a - Toby Weathersby, OL, LSU
Round 6b – Natrell Jamerson, CB/S, WI.
Round 7a – Davin Bellamy, EDGE, Georgia.
Round 7b – Keith Kirkwood, WR, Temple.

Thus far, the offseason has brought. There is a new attitude surrounding the franchise. A newfound toughness. An tough minded throwback mentality on defense. Now, we need to round out the roster with players that play with the new defensive coaching philosophy. On draft weekend, Gutekunst must uncover talent at the slot CB position. It's my belief that he should draft a CB/S hybrid to fill that role in an attempt to build a more aggressive, form tackling defense. Additionally, unless it's for Chubb, Minkah, Ward or Roquan, I really hope that Gutekunst stays patient this weekend. There’s some good depth to be had in Rounds 2-5. Gutekunst can cover a lot of ground in the first 5 rounds with his 8 picks. He can quickly patch up the holes that currently plague the roster. Thus far, I’ve liked the way Gutekunst has played his cards. I expect him to continue to win me over on Draft weekend.

Go Pack Go!

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

We are all a product of our roots. We apply those roots to our present state and the culmination of those experiences defines us. Some moments in our lives carry more meaning than others. Some are positive and some are negative. My roots began in Titletown, U.S.A. I couldn’t be more proud of my upbringing. When this blog started in the early 2000’s, my mission was to write with an optimistic, yet realistic approach to the current state of the Packers union. For the most part, I feel I’ve held true to that philosophy. I’ve tried to provide a different outlook than you’ll receive from the mass media or from other bloggers. I’m not a frontrunner. I’m a loyalist. I’ve tried to keep my identity. As I write today, I’m in utter disbelief. Yes, it’s easy to focus on the 2nd shutout loss at Lambeau in 2017. That was disgusting. Consistently, we failed to execute. But, frankly, that wasn’t the thing that bothered me most. What hurt the most is that it feels as though the Green Bay Packers community is vastly different than the one I grew up loving.

Growing up in Titletown, U.S.A.; it was almost a Badge of Honor that was earned when you sat in the cold and defeated the temperatures as you rooted on your beloved Green Bay Packers. These days – it feels as though that Badge no longer exists. As I watched the extensive Purple colored clothing yell with excitement in Lambeau Field, I couldn’t help but remember December 11, 1988. The Green Bay Packers were 2-12. Playing their 15th game of the year. The ‘queens were 10-4. It was 6 degrees. The wind chill was -7. The ‘queens were on their way to the playoffs. The Packers appeared headed to the 1st pick of the draft. Troy Aikman was destined to become a Packer. I was 11 years old. I remember sitting in the heart of those frigid temperatures with my Family. I remember my brother Chad and I reaching across our Mom as Tim Harris notched a sack to belt out an excitable high five. I remember Packers fans walking proudly throughout the Stadium. Packers fans left Lambeau with grins that day. We upped our record to 3-12. We had hindered our chances at getting the #1 pick, but the Packers had claimed victory. And, really, that’s all that mattered.

Today, it’s clearly different. Admittedly, I have had a tough time relating to these current times. As I watched the 15th game of the 2017 season, a piece of my Packers spirit felt weakened. The Faithful seemed less loyal. The temperature was 10 degrees. The Packers were playing the queens. The Packers were eliminated from playoff contention. The queens were playoff bound. The queens were 8.5 point favorites. In 1988, the queens were 10.5 point favorites. But, while in 1988 the Packers fans were rowdily rooting on their team to victory, in 2017, it felt as though a number of Packers fans had sold their tickets to the Dark Side. They had let the enemy into the elements and cozied up to a fireplace.

Some Packers fans will call their disappearance a failure by the Packers meeting expectations. Others will say that it appeared as though the Packers fans suddenly became antagonistic frontrunners. Not only has the organization sunk to new lows in 2017, but the fan base shrunk from the mountaintop to a deep valley.

I’m sure that a number of the same “fans” that are calling for the heads of Thompson, Capers and/or McCarthy are the same “fans” that sold their tickets.

For me, I watch the Packers for entertainment purposes. I believe in energy creation. I believe that fans can make a difference. I believe in the connection between a team and their fanbase. Win or lose, I tune in to enjoy the experience. The result is not always what I hoped for, but I can control how much enthusiasm I carry. Today, it feels like talking Packers football is like talking politics or religion. It seems like it’s easier to get into a disagreement with someone than it is to have a productive conversation. Such is the state of the union for the Packers community. That – for me – is tough to stomach.

Over the last 25 years, the Packers have been to 3 Super Bowls. We’ve been to 7 NFC Championship Games. We’ve won 2 Super Bowls. We’ve been to the playoffs 19 times. Has all of this success made us Elitists? Do we no longer support our adored franchise in times of strife? Sad to think about.

It scares me to think about the way our youthful Packers fans are being raised. It's the complete opposite spectrum as to how I remember my brother, Chad, and my cousin, Danny, watching this team as adolescents. We were three of less than 20,000 people that sat through the Snow Bowl in 1985. I remember the three of us sitting with my Uncle Tim and my Aunt Jeanne during the home opener in 1988. The Packers got destroyed by the Rams, 34-7. But, Johnny Holland was great that day. We stayed until the end to watch Holland rack up tackles. We were raised to support this team and to be present regardless of the outcome. As I watched the color Purple take over Lambeau Field, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Where did my community go? And, are we teaching the youth right?

Brett Hundley played better than the results showed. His team couldn’t catch the football. Jordy had multiple drops. So, did Lance Kendricks. So, did Michael Clark. I seriously felt bad for Hundley. Other than his first interception, I felt like he played a decent game. Had his receivers caught the ball, his results would’ve been much different.

While the queens defense is pervaded by muscle-soaked, bone-crushing hitters, we’ve become pancake makers. We like our tackling to be soft and fluffy. I thought Reggie Gilbert played well against Minnesota. But, man, he had a chance to make a defining hit on Case Keenum. Keenum was rolling right. Gilbert was in fast pursuit. Keenum released. Gilbert had a chance to deliver a serious hit. Similar to what Barr had done to Rodgers earlier in the year. Instead, Gilbert gave him a soft love tap to the turf. For me, that hit would've been worth the possibility of offering up 15 yards. It had me think: Where’s the fire inside of this defense? Where’s the punch you in the mouth mentality? Dom Capers has failed to bring this defense to higher heights.

Lenzy Pipkins. Why hasn’t he played more often? He was the highlight of the game for me? Twice, inside the 5 he wrapped up to prevent the queens from punching it into the end zone. He has the mentality that this defense needs. I’m not claiming he’s ever going to be elite, but he has the mentality, the swagger and the confidence that our secondary is so painfully lacking.

Michael Clark. A couple of riveting moments. Two absolutely brutal moments. Both in single coverage. Both should have been big plays.

David Bakhtiari is a superstar.

Wish HaHa had pulled in that interception.

Once again, Kenny Clark was dynamite!

Kyler Fackrell grabbed another sack on a hustle play. As I said last week, he’s doing just enough to stick around for another year. Much to my chagrin.

It’s locked in. The Packers will finish third in the Division. We’ll probably have a top 15 pick, too. If we stay in the top 15, we should be able to identify a year 1 difference maker on the defensive side of the ball.

This week – it’s the Lions. The Lions will likely be without three starting OL. Thus, look for Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark to dominate the interior of the line. They get in Stafford’s face. Stafford throws two gifts for interceptions.

Hundley plays composed. He looks to establish rapport with Michael Clark. Clark shows he’s comfortable with the offense. This time – he hangs onto the ball for a TD.

Jamaal Williams runs hard. He bruises his way into the Lions secondary.

The Packers close on a winning note.

Packers 28.
Lions 27.

For now, I’m signing off. In times of trouble, we call upon the most high. Through thick and thin, please remember to always BACK THE PACK!

Go Pack Go!

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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

Yoda, the Master of all Jedi’s, states: “The greatest teacher, failure is.” The 2017 Season was a failure. A full-out waste. A true bummer. An utter disappointment. How the Packers respond to this failure is something I’ll watch with great curiosity. The Packers can’t continue to walk down the same path and expect to watch different outcomes. Something needs to change on the defensive side of the ball. It’s been our demise for too long.

I’m the kind of guy that loves the same through thick and thin. Life’s road isn’t always easy. There’s a roller coaster to life. And, with perseverance, when you hit the bottom, you climb to the top again. It’s a boomerang effect. The Green Bay Packers have brought great joy to my life. 2017 was fun while it lasted and I’m grateful that we got the Rodgers game at Carolina. But, in the end, it wasn’t meant to be. And, so, this Christmas season will not include meaningful Packers games. It won’t include high impact sports drama. That’s really unfortunate.

I listen to John Lennon’s Power to the People: The Hits. The three song concoction of “Imagine”, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and “Give Peace a Chance” is as magical as it gets. Beautifully concocted. Lyrically powerful. Spiritually moving.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

Mike McCarthy. The Packers are fortunate to have him. He took over a dying franchise in 2006. In 2007, the Packers went to the NFC Championship. In 2009, one year after the face of the franchise dramatically exited the organization, the Packers were back in the playoffs. In 2010, we won the Super Bowl. In 2011, we went 15-1. In 2012 and 2013, we won the Division. In 2014, we made it to the NFC Championship Game. In 2015, we made the playoffs with the majority of our starters injured. In 2016, we made it to the NFC Championship. In 2017, we hit rock bottom. I don’t place the blame on him. The quickest way for the Packers to climb back to the top is to keep the QB + Head Coach combination intact. Other changes need to occur.

Dom Capers has to go. It’s time. The Packers needed the defense to carry the weight without Aaron Rodgers. The defense failed mightily.

Crazy to think, but next year, the Packers will likely have a 3rd place schedule. We’ll play the NFC West and we’ll likely have games against Washington and Atlanta.

I’m not a guy who enjoys being negative about something I’m invested in. I don’t see that purpose in life. I like to find solutions to present or to give optimistic energy with a hope for the future. All year, I thought that McCarthy’s leadership and Rodgers’ energy would spark a run. I felt like there were magical things happening around the franchise. It faltered quickly. On each of Rodgers’ three interceptions, he had WR’s streaking open. On each play, he underthrew the WR. We’ve been accustomed to seeing those plays result in TD’s. Against Carolina, they were turnovers.

Shocking to see how much Josh Jones regressed this year.

Marwin Evans. How did he go from being the best player on the field in August to a nobody in the regular season?

Need to play the young guys moving forward. Let’s see what Michael Clark can do. I’d play him extensively this week. Get him some live action.

Next year – when building the team – the Packers should look at patching together depth holes with players in their low-to-mid 30’s. Not necessarily to start, but guys who still have juice in the tank and can be used in the rotation. Ahmad Brooks was a highlight this year, when healthy. This is going to be a tough offseason. We drafted 4 players on defense last year and we were excited about all of them, but we didn’t learn anything from any of them in their rookie year. King, Adams and Biegel were hurt. Jones never settled in.

The Packers will enter into the 2018 offseason with more uncertainty than they’ve had since 2005. Prior to the 2016 season, I called it a Super Bowl or Bust season. I thought that a window was closing. I thought the window reopened with some masterful GM work from Thompson this offseason. I loved the Bennett signing. I loved the Draft. I was happy about Jahri Evans’ addition. I thought House could be a solid perimeter nickel corner. I liked the Dial, Brooks and Ricky Jean Francois signings. But, Bennett quit, Evans wore down and the Draft has as many question marks and thumbs down as exclamation points. Dial and Brooks got hurt for portions of the year and Ricky Jean Francois didn’t pan out. Consider that along with questions regarding the contracts and production from key components such as Bulaga, Clay, Nelson and Cobb; and all of a sudden, the Packers are looking like they’re entering a crucial, dangerous time in their franchise. The Packers will likely have 9 picks in the first 5 rounds, so they’ll have ammunition to add talent, but they’ll have to fill holes at RG, RT, TE, WR, OLB and CB.

I don’t fault Thompson for the 2017 failures. I put the 2017 failures solely on the defensive coordinator. He made fine work of the offseason and had the Packers reconstructed for a Super Bowl run. But, Dom Capers never maximized the defense’s potential. Sure, we could use injuries as the excuse. But, the defensive side of the ball was responsible for the team faltering down the stretch more often than not since the glorious XLV Super Bowl run. Capers has been given an arsenal of high draft picks in the secondary. Still, today, the secondary remains the weakest link on the roster. And, the successes of the likes of Casey Hayward + Micah Hyde post Green Bay shouldn’t be overlooked.

I seriously thought Rodgers would return as a savior. I thought he’d uplift the franchise, once again. He brought his spirit. He brought his swagger. He didn’t bring his A-game. I don’t fault him. It was great to see his competitive fire. It just wasn’t meant to be.

The Packers need to invest in two CBs. I'm not sure who is available as a 2018 NFL Free Agent, I’d either trade for or buy a highly priced FA CB and I’d draft a CB or two in the first 3 rounds. These days, CB is as important as any position on the field outside of QB.

With Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, the Packers RB position is set for the future. I also like Ty Montgomery. It’ll be interesting to see if the Packers can conjure a way to play both Williams and Jones. Williams seems like he needs multiple carries to get into a rhythm. He’s not a rotational back.

Kenny Clark is a sensational football player.

I’d rest Jahri Evans and play Lucas Patrick. Need to see what we have at RG going into next year.

I hope to see a lot of Vince Biegel, Montravious Adams and Lenzy Pipkins on the field this week. I want to see what those youngsters bring to the squad.

I wonder what Ted Thompson’s role is within the organization right now. Is he really the GM? Or is he a glorified aid as he grooms Elliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst? A consultant, of sorts. Does Thompson accept more input from Wolf and Gutekunst than he did in past years? I tend to think so. It should be noted that Thompson wasn’t even giving a press conference after the picks like he did in years past. Instead, it was Wolf and Gutekunst that were most present. Further, the construction of the team didn’t have the Thompson print like past years. There was a different approach towards the construction of the team. The vision for building the team was vastly different than years past.

Davante Adams. Feel terrible for him. If healthy, he commands roughly $15 million in the open market. But, he’s had 3 concussions in the last 14-15 months. How much can you invest in a guy that has his injury history?

I no longer understand the rules of the game. What’s a catch? What’s not a catch? I don’t know. Neither do Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Mike Pereira.

This week – it’s the ‘queens coming to town. We’ll find out what kind of fight this team has in them. Will there be a revenge factor? Will we come out with an intense vengeance? Will we get feisty? Or will we be outmatched and overpowered?

I agree with David Bakhtiari’s assessment of how to approach this week. “I think we’ll see guys characters, who they are, and hopefully if there is any quitting – which I don’t intend on seeing, but if there are – hopefully, it’s noticed and gets weeded out.” My guess is that the Packers come out swinging. Intense. And, in some ways, cheap. Playing beyond the whistle. Playing with aggression. Frankly, they’ll be pissed off. The ‘queens are the little brother. They just took our prize for the 2nd time in 3 years. Each year – McCarthy has outcoached Zimmer once. My guess is that he devises a strategy to attack the ‘queens on the perimeter and pounds away at the heart of their interior.

Zimmer will definitely be dialing up blitzes. Hundley shows composure. He looks for the dump off. He plays safe.

The first time we played, Hundley was a turnover machine. This time – he protects the ball.

The temperature lingers near 0 degrees. Hits hurt. Mike Daniels, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are determined to put pain into the ‘queens backfield. This is going to be a street fight. Look for a late night, rowdy Lambeau Field crowd to make a difference.

Hundley gets the ball late. Needing a TD. Again, he’s cool as a cucumber in hot sauce, baby. It’s Hundley running the 2 minute offense. It’s Hundley finding pay dirt as he scrambles free.

Packers 24.
‘queens 23.

For now and forever, GO PACK GO!

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

7-6! In dramatic fashion! Still alive. Not fully in control of our own destiny, but if we finish 10-6, you have to feel good about the prospects of making the playoffs. And, with the return of NFL Royalty, a sense of hope surrounds the franchise. There’s a belief that this team could put together a magical run to finish the season. With the way the NFC is shaping out, just get to the playoffs and let’s see how this thing plays out. There is no clear-cut favorite. If the Packers can sneak in, I can’t see a match-up that would scare me – other than at NO or at ATL. With the way it’s shaping up, I don’t see a possibility of the Packers playing at ATL unless it occurs in the NFC Championship Game.

As I write, I’m listening to Phish at Madison Square Garden. 7/23/17. “I’m vibrating with love and light. I’m pulsating with love and light. In a world gone mad, a world gone mad. There must be something more than this.”

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. McCarthy was in his finest form on Sunday. I loved the fake punt call early in the game. And, the 4th down decision on the opening drive. The decision to go for it on 4th down would’ve led to a TD had Hundley flipped the ball to Aaron Jones. McCarthy made the necessary adjustments at halftime to keep the Browns defense guessing in the 2nd half. And, really, the Browns had no response for stopping the Packers offensive attack in the 2nd half. McCarthy had his young QB trained to find the check down and to avoid sacks. McCarthy provided his young QB with a wide array of receiving options. There were deep routes, crossing routes and backs/TE’s settling underneath. His young QB was in position to succeed.

* I love the 2017 Green Bay Packers. Fantastic intestinal fortitude. Like him or hate him, you can’t deny that Mike McCarthy’s teams never quit. They start adversity in the face. They persevere. Admittedly, with 2 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter, I’d lost hope. I thought the defense had faded into the Lake Erie wind. We were blown off the ball and had just seen a tremendous TD opportunity disappear due to a mental failure by our QB. But, the coolness of the Hundley & McCarthy combination was on display. In grand fashion. McCarthy kept Hundley confident. Hundley delivered. Thus, the Packers remain in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt.

* Brett Hundley. When it was all said and done, in games that he started, the Packers were 3-4. As a starter, he kept his team alive. In the end, isn’t that what we were looking for? Granted, it was a less than impressive for the most part. But, when it mattered most, Hundley was clutch. He delivered with the game on the line. Against Cleveland, he was dynamite. He faced a variety of looks, a vast array of blitzes. He finished 35/46. For 265 yards. He had 3 TD’s. He had 0 interceptions. Hundley was sensational. Further, he powered through Cleveland tacklers to grab extra yards as a runner. With back-to-back OT victories, he etched his name into the 98 year old History books of the Green Bay Packers. You can dig as deeply into the archives of this glorious franchise and you’ll never find a QB who led his team to back-to-back OT victories. Until now. Thank you, Brett Hundley.

* Jamaal Williams has soul. He brings fun to this team. Enjoyed seeing him getting Jiggy next to McCarthy. Hysterical to see McCarthy give Williams a high-five as he was getting down.

* Aaron Jones needs to improve as a pass blocker. He offers this team so much, but he can’t be trusted as a pass protector.

* Davante Adams is getting paid. If not in Green Bay, somewhere.

* Aaron Rodgers! The two-time MVP is back. I’m overly stoked. With his return, the Packers will also get Jordy Nelson back as a receiving threat. They’ll also get Randall Cobb as a slot receiving threat. Geronimo’s role will expand, too. I can’t wait to see Rodgers running this offense with two legitimate RB’s.

* David Bakhtiari was a monster. He’s become a strong run blocker. His quickness has become a tremendous asset as the Packers have begun to move their OL more than they have in past years. Bakhtiari has been able to seal blocks as he’s gotten to the 2nd level. He remains a dynamite pass blocking LT.

* Jahri Evans needs to be better. Another rough game for Evans.

* Thought Spriggs played another decent game. He wasn’t flawless, but he did have another improved performance.

* Jordy is open. Rodgers will get him the ball.

* Jamaal Williams did it all. He won with power. He won with speed. He showed himself as a legitimate pass catching threat. He was a stallion in pass blocking.

* I believe in Mike McCarthy. He epitomizes leadership.

* Clay Matthews. He was double teamed throughout. Still, he was a true difference maker. In the first half, he twice altered Browns drives. Once, by rushing Kizer. The second time, he sacked him. Without Clay’s pressure, it could’ve been 24-7 Browns at the half. If the 2017 season evolves into a year to remember, Clay Matthews’ performances against the Bucs and the Browns will live in the same breath as the Doug Evans interception return against the Rams in 1996. Without Clay, the Packers would’ve lost the last two weeks.

* The Packers need a healthy Nick Perry.

* Mike Daniels has been a powerhouse in the middle of the defense. If the Packers are going to Run the Table 2.0, Mike Daniels is going to have to play a critical role. We’re going to needs sacks and a forced turnover from Daniels. We might need Daniels to play as he did against the Seahawks in Week 1.

* Great play by HaHa to close out the half and to prevent the Browns from adding to their 1st half lead.

* Whitehead on the fake punt. POWER MOVE!

* I really like Ahmad Brooks. But, at this stage of his life, he's best seen in smaller doses.

* Trevor Davis has a pulse! A dynamite return that provided the spark the Packers needed to equalize.

* My FitBit had me tracked as working out for 26 minutes between 1:45 – 2:15 MST on Sunday afternoon. Yes, I was intensely watching the closing moments of the game.

* Hundley to Adams to knot it up. Hundley to Adams to claim victory! Phenomenal!

* Damarious Randall has picked up his game to new heights. Each week – he seems to make a play that offers hope that he’s finally turned a corner.

* I want to see Lenzy Pipkins. Without House and King, I can’t be convinced that he’s not one of our top 3 options at CB. If Demetri Goodson sees defensive snaps before Pipkins, it'll be a great disappointment. In limited playing time, Pipkins has brought toughness. He's brought attitude. He's brought a semblance of playmaking potential.

* Apt timing for Josh Jones' first interception.

* THE. CLAYMAKER!

* Good to see Montravious Adams hustling down a ballcarrier.

* Kenny Clark, for the most part, was back to being his physically dominant self.

* Dean Lowry was, once again, a force at the line of scrimmage.

* Kyler Fackrell is doing just enough to wet the pallet of the Packers brass. Like it or not - and I don't - but Fackrell will end up playing out his contract in Green Bay. Fackrell was active. He fought his way to a sack with hustle.

This week - it's the Panthers. Win and hope remains alive. Man, I have to get sappy for a second. I saw the photos of snow dumping in Green Bay, WI. It brought back sensational memories of my youth. I really hope the good people of Green Bay get to watch a meaningful game on 12/23. As I saw the photos of the snow, I thought of all of those kids in WI. Those who love the Pack. The feeling of snow during the Christmas season. Such a blessing to have snow on the ground and coupling it with the Christmas spirit. A meaningful game could be a life changing moment for those kids. I imagine them opening up the new Madden on Christmas Day as the Packers are 9-6. Man, that's what life is all about. The ability for a WI kid to dream over he Holidays. Wanting to be Jordy or Davante as he drags his feet to stay inbounds. Or Aaron Jones as he tries to elude his brother in a backyard game of tackle the bum. Or being Clay as you're wrapping your brother up. It all carries so much weight. I hope our youth in WI gets that buzz this Holiday season. In order for that to happen, the Packers have to take care of business in Carolina.

The Panthers have a bruising, physical offense. They mix that physicality well with the speedy, versatile Christian McCaffrey. When McCaffrey is on the field, the Panthers are looking to get him in space. It'll be vital for Blake Martinez to nut up against McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been dynamite in the screen game. The Packers have been disastrous trying to stop the screen. Devin Funchess is banged up, but he'll be active and a tough target for the Packers to stop. Funchess is a big bodied WR who outmuscles defenders and wins jump balls. It'll be up to Damarious Randall to slow him down. Russell Shepard has good length at WR, but he hasn't been overly productive and shouldn't be a significant threat. Greg Olsen is also banged up. His foot is clearly still bothering him. He's an otherworldly athlete who tough to contain when he's healthy. He'll play, but I'm not sure how mobile he'll be. Ed Dickson get motor down the seam and catch the ball in traffic. He often outfights defenders for big plays over the middle of the field. Cam Newton is an enigma. When he's dialed in, he's a dynamite runner. He's rifling slants for first downs. He's hitting his big targets between the hash marks. He's the most athletic player on the field. But, there's another side to Cam Newton. He becomes less focused. He gets careless with the ball. He makes bad decisions. The Packers need to get in Newton's face early in the game. Jonathan Stewart can still bulldoze for yardage. He motors forward and hits the hole with a vicious intent. Plainly stated, Stewart falls forward. Fozzy Whittaker is a noteworthy pass catching RB who can make people miss in the open field. The Panthers have a solid OL, but their best OL is Trai Turner and he's expected to miss the game. That should allow for plenty of opportunities for Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels to disrupt the interior of the line of scrimmage. Matt Kalil is a good player, but Nick Perry has typically won the battle against Kalil. I like the Clay Matthews vs Daryl Williams match-up. Clay can beat him with speed. But, that'll open up a lane for Cam to run through, so the Packers better have a plan to contain Cam. It'll be interesting to watch how Capers rushes Matthews. Don't be surprised if we see Matthews mostly coming on stunts to the inside to help collapse the pocket and to limit Cam's ability to escape between the Tackles. Because of that approach, we might not see Clay applying the same pressure that we've seen over the last two weeks. Ryan Kalil is a stud at Center. He'll work to get to the second level in the run game and he gets out really well in the screen game.

The Panthers have the best front 7 in all of football. Julius Peppers has been a pass rushing dynamo. Star Lotulelei is a mean machine in the middle. Kawann Short is a special DT. Jahri Evans better be ready to ball out. Mario Addison is a pass rushing threat at DE. Vernon Butler has provided good depth. Addison and Peppers have combined for 19 sacks. Jason Spriggs will be tested this week. We'll see how far he's really progressed this weekend. Luke Kuechly is the definition of how to play iLB in the NFL. Thomas Davis continues to be a star at LB. Shaq Thompson will likely miss the game this week, which will limit the Panthers depth at LB. If the Packers can protect Rodgers, we'll see some big plays. James Bradberry has all of the athleticism that you look for in a #1 CB. But, he's young and he uses his hands a lot, so you can normally expect him to get called for a crucial pass interference deep down the field. He's physical and will be penalized. Daryl Worley and Kevon Seymour cannot cover our WR's. Kurt Coleman is an intimidating presence at Safety. Mike Adams is an intelligent, veteran safety.

So, here we are. NFL Royalty sporting #12 for the Packers, once again. Healthy. In rhythm. Motivated. Determined to get this team back to the playoffs. Focused. Connecting with Nelson early. Finding Cobb over the middle of the field. Hitting Adams on the comeback. Finding Jordy on the back shoulder to put the Packers up 7-0 early.

The Packers defense fights yard on the early downs, but struggles to get off of the field on third down as they have no answer for McCaffrey.

Funchess gets his. The Packers struggle to have an answer for Funchess' size.

But, Rodgers is not going to be denied. He's cerebral. He's prepped for a shootout. He knows he needs points. He's in control. He's attacking the Panthers secondary deep down the field. McCarthy gives Spriggs help to provide additional time for the 2x MVP.

Morgan Burnett comes through with a big interception on a pass intended for Ed Dickson over the middle.

Mike Daniels grabs a sack.

With Rodgers back in the huddle, expect to see more Aaron Jones. Rodgers seemed to have chemistry with Jones. Williams sees less action. Jones gets loose.

We're alive. We're well.

Packers 34.
Panthers 30.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
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