Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prospecting Round 1

Greetings, G-Force.

It's 1 month until the NFL Draft. Soon - the NFL's Executive of the Year will be back at work. The contemplation is killing me. While in most scenarios I would prefer to trade out of the 1st round, it's necessary to consider players that would satisfy my soul should we happen to draft in the 1st round.

I'm on the prowl. I am seeking a player that I want the Packers to choose in Round 1 on Draft Day. I am looking for someone that can make an immediate impact. A difference maker. Otherwise, I want out of the Round 1.

When your team picks #30 in the draft, it's tough to determine who will be available. There are 19 players that will not be available when the Packers draft. If any of these players are available, we need to pick him, regardless of the position. The players are:

RB: D. McFadden, R. Mendenhall, F. Jones.
DB: DRC, L. McKelvin, A. Talib.
WR: M. Kelly
LB: K. Rivers
DL: C. Long, G. Dorsey, V. Gholston, S. Ellis, P. Merling, D. Harvey.
OL: J. Long, R. Clady, C. Williams, J. Otah.

Therefore, I'm scanning the rest of the field to determine our #1 prospect.

QB: The Packers will not draft a QB in the 1st Round.

RB: I'm enamored with Felix Jones' game, but he will not be available. Jonathan Stewart could be an option, but I don't think he'd be a fit within our scheme. We would need a change of pace guy. Plus, I'm hoping that Stewart is off the board. This would eat up one of the picks with the players that would not interest me.

WR: I believe that Ted Thompson will draft a WR in the first 3 rounds. I know, I know...yes, we have Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. And James Jones and Aaron Rodgers showed tremendous chemistry in the pre-season last year. But, K-Rob was a huge disappointment in the Giants game. He was unable to break a tackle and get himself into the open field. Additionally, I've seen enough of Ruvell Martin. He's a good 5th WR, but he's not pushing others to get better and I still cannot swallow his drop on 3rd Down in the NFC Championship.

It's known that Thompson visited with Limas Sweed at Texas' Pro Day. After watching nearly 15 minutes of Sweed video on youtube, I'd like to see Sweed in Green Bay if he's available. He reminds me of Javon Walker. He can get deep. He seems to run decent routes. He can slip a tackle and he wins jump balls. Thompson likes WR's that make DB's "shrink" when the ball is in the air. Sweed fits the bill.

Devin Thomas would be an ideal fit for the Packers offense. He can turn a 7 yard slant into an 80 yard TD. He's a similar player to Greg Jennings. If he's around, I want him.

DeSean Jackson is a play maker. At any moment, he can change a game. He'd instantly become our KR/PR and he'd step in and assist as either a #3 or a #4 WR. Jackson is a human highlight film. Every time he touches the ball, he's thinking about putting 6 points on the board. If he's around, I want him.

Mario Manningham's stock has dropped. At one point, I was reading that he might end up being the 1st WR drafted. I do not want the Packers to spend a 1st round pick on him. He does not fit in our system.

James Hardy should also be available. The guy produced in college.

TE: Fred Davis will most likely be available when the Packers select. In earlier discussions, he was the guy that I wanted the Packers to select. His stock seems to have dropped considerably. I'd still like him, but it sounds as though the Packers might be able to trade down and still draft him. I'd strongly consider this option. A reliable TE is a young QB's best friend. Donald Lee is more than serviceable, but a 2nd quality TE would add another dimension to our offense.

I would not spend our first round pick on Dustin Keller. He was a workout wonder and I'll be surprised if he translates into a top-notch NFL talent.

OG: Branden Albert is the best Guard in the draft. Admittedly, I don't scout OL, but this is what the "experts" say anyways. I do not want the Packers to draft an OL in the 1st round. It would not surprise me if we draft a Guard in Round 2. If Albert is on the board, Thompson will have a decision to make. If Albert can start on Day 1, as much as it pains me to say it, he'd have to be considered, but then he better be among the elite OG in the NFC.

OT: Both Gosder Cherilus and Sam Baker could be available. Again, I do not want an OL. Plus, I want a T less than I want a G. We've got two starters at T. It would be wise to use a late round pick on a T as a development back-up to both Clifton and Tauscher, but to me, it would be nonsense if the Packers drafted a T in Round 1.

DE: The Packers may look to take a DE in the draft. A-to-the-K is a lifer in Green Bay. But, Cullen Jenkins disappointed last year as a full-time DE and KGB struggled after his injury against Detroit on T-Day. Calais Campbell could be on the board when the Packers select. He's a physical specimen. He's long. He looks great in a uniform. But, he's not always productive. Nonetheless, if he's available Thompson will take a long look at him.

Quentin Groves could also be considered as a potential pick for the Packers at this slot. I'd be disappointed if he were selected. He plays with energy and an attitude, but he's also injury prone.

DT: I'd be shocked if the Packers drafted a DT in the 1st round. Pickett, Jolly, Harrell, and Cole is depth. Plus, I have yet to give up on Daniel Muir.

Most predict Kentwan Balmer will be gone before the Packers pick. This would be a positive thing. Pat Sims is also an option. If the Packers really wanted a DT, I'd imagine that they could trade down and still get Sims.

LB: After signing Brandon Chillar, the Packers will not select a LB in the 1st round. The team will most likely keep 5-6 LB's. Chillar, Hawk, Barnett, Tracy White and Poppinga are locks. If the Packers decide to keep a 6th LB, it'll be between Desmond Bishop and Abdul Hodge.

I read that Jerod Mayo might be selected before the Packers pick. I hope he is gone. Not that I don't like his game...it's just that we don't need a LB and I'd like a player within a position of need to fall to us. Dan Connor is a stud. In many ways, I wished he would have been our pick.

DB: The most likely scenario is for the Packers to draft a DB. It's our most obvious pain. Our secondary needs help. It needs depth.

Mike Jenkins can return kicks as well as play CB. I doubt that he'll be available when the Packers select.

I definitely do not want Brandon Flowers.

Antoine Cason is an interesting candidate. He is a play-making CB. He can also return kicks.

Patrick Lee is also an exciting prospect. He finds the football. He played against big time competition and he's got the size and speed to play at the next level.

Admittedly, I know little-to-nothing about Justin King.

If the Packers are to look at S, then it basically boils down to 2 men: Kenny Phillips and Reggie Smith. I have tried to dig deep for video on Smith. I only found limited footage. He looks small in his uniform. He seems active and willing to lay a hit. His statistics show that he was around the football and therefore, he does intrigue me - even though his size scares me.

Kenny Phillips - I live on Miami Beach. The Miami Herald treats the "U" like a religion. I can tell you Kenny Phillips life story. At this stage, I'll refrain. Any way, Kenny Phillips looks like a man among men. He's physical. He's fast. He looks the part. However, he reminds of a young Darren Sharper. But, not the Darren Sharper that could pick off a pass and take it to the house. He looks great in a uniform. He'll find his way around the ball. He does intercept passes. But, he also finds himself out of position. He takes terrible angles to the football. He often times plays flat footed. I saw Tashard Choice make him look like a fool on more than one occasion. His upside is high. He left school after his Junior year. And he did not play that well as a Junior. Expectations were high and he came nowhere close to meeting them. He's the kind of guy that could be a bust...but, he could also be the steal of the draft. He may be worth the risk.

There's one month to go until the draft. At this stage, I want the Packers to trade down, however if one of these guys is available, I'd be extremely excited if we drafted him: Limas Sweed, Devin Thomas, DeSean Jackson, Mike Jenkins, Kenny Phillips, and Calais Campbell. Moreover, I'd be intrigued if we took Antoine Cason, Patrick Lee or Reggie Smith. And if Brendan Albert is available, I understand why he was the Packers choice. I would not necessarily like it, but I'd understand it.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Enjoy.

Talkin' S-Mac.

11 comments:

Stack said...

Guy,

Epic take. The buzz is on. First of all, wanted to take on the untimely death of Heath Benedict. Shocking news, to be sure. Didn't know the guy, never saw him play, but seemed like a guy that TT might pull in on the second day. Just a reminder that nothing, I mean nothing, is guaranteed to you in this life. Thoughts and prayers.

I agree with your take on the nineteen players that will not be available to us. Possible exception being Malcom Kelly. The guy is a stud, and I'm more comfortable saying that he will be gone than saying that he will be available, but WRs seem to be one of those positions where preferences matter.

We can not stand pat at the WR position. As you said, K-Rob was disappointing. I am interested to see how he comes out this year after being back in football for a year plus a full offseason. He's still worth keeping, he's someone who can return kicks and punts. Ruvell Martin, I don't need. Martin was on the field last year, and I would hope, seriously, that we can find someone better in this draft.

That said, here we are at 30... Sweed, Jackson, Thomas and Hardy would all be worth the #30. I think that Sweed and Thomas could be gone. They are both big receivers who are pretty seasoned at the game of football. You watch them play and they know the little things, they know where to sit down and turn back to the QB. They go and get the ball in the air. If one of them is there, we should grab them. Jackson would be next. Different animal. And maybe more to offer us at this point. Electric return man. Hardy is a guy that I found and fell in love with. Multi-sport athlete, great hands and lethal in the red zone.

For all the time that I've spent watchng these prospects, the most disappointing and even disheartening thing about this process is that we're not privvy to their interviews. I know nothing about Devin Thomas' personality. I've seen Sweed and I enjoy him for being a bright and thoughtful, seemingly positive individual. But what does he think of the Green Bay Packers? I have seen DeSean Jackson's attitude and chip on his shoulder, seems like he uses it to motivate himself, reminds me of Steve Smith. Does he translate to Lambeau in November? James Hardy, all the physical tools you look for...what's his response when you ask him, "What does James Hardy need to improve? What is James Hardy willing to do to be a premier WR in this league?"

I don't doubt any one of these our WRs, but there's an aspect to each of them that we are never really able to see from where we sit.

Depending on those variables, and based on TTs ability to bring guys here who work, I'd have to say that I'd take any one of them and truly be excited about it.

As much as I love those guys, DeSean Jackson probably excites me the most.

Having said that, if we go a different direction with that early position, I am intrigued by a number of players who will be available later. TT was at UW's pro day, I wonder about WR Paul Hubbard (6'3", 223#, 4.42, 39.5" vert). Jordy Nelson, Harry Dougals, Dexter Jackson... If I had a chance to sit down and talk with these guys I would be able to offer a more definitive draft strategy.

Was Hubbard under developed as a Badger WR? - cause he's physically similar to Thomas. Does Hubbard want it? Does Dexter Jackson work better in the cold than DeSean Jackson? Does Jordy Nelson want it more than James Hardy? We don't know. We dont' know what's in these kid's heads...

Other than WR, I think the only other position to look at with #30 is CB. With CBs being a highly rated and deep position in this draft, one of the top five corners might fall to us. Jenkins and Cason are the two possibilities that might fall. I would take either, preferring Cason.

I think that there may be value in the 5-10 CB range. I wish that I had seen more of Justin King. I love the way that Patrick Lee breaks on the football. He was the biggest eye opener in offseason workouts for me. Chevis Jackson showed explosive burst with a 40" vertical at his pro day. I'm curious about Tracy Porter, who looked unbelievable fluid, but I wonder about his ability to tackle and support the run. Terrell Thomas and Darnell Terrell still intrigue me.

I think that each of these guys could be had in the second. I see Lee in the first half of the second round, which would be an option if we trade down. Guy breaks on the ball so well.

Kenny Phillips, not interested at #30. If Tashard Choice is breaking him down, what is going to happen when we play AP and the Vikes? Reggie Smith....eh, same thing...I'll wait on Safety in this draft.

I would not overextend for a Tight End. I love Martellus Bennett. But if he's not a fit for us, let's put a band aid on it this yeard and draft Travis Beckum next year at #20.

That's my piece.

porterbela said...

I have no reason to believe, or evidence, that TT would go offense in the first round. I think he would be dumb to do that. I think the Packers should go corner back unless Phillips falls to them, which he might. I know you don't think much of him Scottie, but he is well worth the 30th pick. Remember, Ed Reed fell to #24. And as sold as you all are on Bigby, I still think he sucks.

The one thing I caution packer fans about is this whole "can he handle Lambeau in November" phrase I keep seeing. You don't draft players for their ability to play in cold weather...that's just stupid.

Anyways, I'd be disappointed if the Packers got Jackson, I'd like to see him on the Bears even with Hester.


As far as your top 19 go Scottie, I disagree with a few.
I think that Jackson is a safer bet to be gone than Kelly. But like you said, you never know with WR.
Malcom Kelly could drop, you see him in the second round in a lot of mocks. A lot of that has to do with his choice not to work out. I'd take him on the Bears.

Felix Jones is another player that could fall. I still see Stewart being drafted above him. Even though he is hurt, you have teams like Arizona that have Edge already and could wait a bit. I think it really depends on the Cowboys with this one.

If I were the Packers I would still go CB in the first round unless a player I am enamored with is available, but I doubt it.
In the second I would go with an OT/OG...someone that could back up multiple positions, and a TE. Then in the 3rd I would think about going after a WR or try to get Dexter Jackson a little later.

All in all, I have to say that it's been tough concentrating on the NFL draft with having to move and baseball season 4 days away.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Love the written buzz. If Malcolm Kelly falls, I draft him. He excites me. He dominates games and carries himself with prestige on the field. He's probably best suited to be a Cowboy, but he'd look good in Green & Gold.

Stack, I am looking at WR/CB with our 1st round pick as well. If Felix Jones drops as Grammy suggests is a possibility, I'd jump on him in a heartbeat. He'd be a perfect compliment to Ryan Grant. He's a terrific cut back runner. When he gets in the open field, you are not going to catch him. He's also a stallion kick returner.

Dexter Jackson is an interesting name. He'd fit into the Green Bay work ethic. He would welcome our culture and would relish the opportunity to compete at the next level.

I buy your philosophy at TE. It's the Kevin Boss theory. Get a guy who catches the ball. Reliable hands. A guy who can occasionally break a tackle and this guy has to fall forward every time he gets tackled. Also, Bo Scaife is a RFA. Jerramy Stevans is a UFA and could be worth a 1-year deal. Stevans has been a bum, but he's always been loaded with talent.

As for Phillips, it's not that I don't think much of him. I just don't think that he's a slam dunk. To me, the jury is out on him.

In my mind, you do draft players that have the ability to play in cold weather. Most years, we play at least 4 cold weather games a year. Watching James Jones with his hands in his pockets as he is waiting for the snap is frustrating. It also diminishes his ability to get off of the line of scrimmage. It's a football reality.

My mock draft:

Round 1: DeSean Jackson, WR, California.
Round 2a: Charles Godfrey, CB, Iowa.
Round 2b: Trade with the NO Saints. In return, the Packers get the Saints 3rd and 4th round pick. This works according to the value chart.
Round 3a - From the Saints: Chevis Jackson, CB, LSU.
Round 3b: Steve Slaton, RB, WVU.
Round 4a: Tom Zbikowski, S, ND.
Round 4b: Owen Schmitt, FB, WVU.
Round 5a: The Packers trade with the Arizona Cardinals for their 6th and 7th round picks.
Round 5b: Kevin O'Connell, QB, San Diego St. All that I read is that he is a developmental QB who requires patience. This sounds like a fun project for Mike McCarthy.

With the final three picks, the Packers draft all OL in hopes of finding their next Adam Timmerman or Mark Tauscher...the late round gem.
Round 6: Andrew Crummey, OG, Maryland.
Round 7a: Breno Giacomini, OT, Louisville.
Round 7b: James Blair, OG, Western Michigan.

My next project: To discover who my desired CB will be in Round 2.

Enjoy.

porterbela said...

I still don't think Jackson falls to 30. I still see Kelly falling before Jackson does, but that's just me.

As far as the cold weather goes...I don't think you can draft for that, if you did you'd only be drafting players from the Big 10. Favre never would've been a Packer if that's the case. There is also no reason to draft Jackson or Felix Jones, etc. I think you draft talent and players with the mental ability to be able to take what's thrown at them and that involves more than just the cold weather.

As far as Felix Jones is concerned. I've never really seen him play much, but I do know that Lovie went down and had dinner with both him and McFadden. What that means, I have no idea, but he is a guy I could see the Bears picking if they trade down in the first round.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Malcolm Kelly:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9RiitZEHxA&NR=1

Talkin' S-Mac said...

April 9 - Reggie Smith & Malcolm Kelly are holding private workouts for NFL Scouts.

Smith looks small in a uniform. I've heard his name and LeRoy Butler's in the same sentence. This might be considered blasphemy, but it also must say something about Smith's prospects. He's versatile. He's made plays at the collegiate level and when the ball is in his hands, he's thinking about 6 points. I'm not saying that I want him in Green Bay, but I'd like to learn more about him.

I've been fighting a stomach virus and I spent my Friday night indoors. The NCAA tourney was disgusting so I turned my attention to youtube and the WR position.

My WR preference:

1.) DeSean Jackson (he gets the edge due to his kick return capabilities)
2.) Devin Thomas
3.) Limas Sweed
4.) Malcolm Kelly
5.) James Hardy

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Some know him...others don't...but this an e-mail from my good friend, Bob Barnum. Bob has been attending home Packer games prior to my existence. He's a Packer lifer. He's die hard. I've known him for 20 years. He taught me how to play soccer and introduced me to some my greatest life experiences. He also hosts a fuckin' epic tailgate party. Each week - he hosts a tailgate party at the SE corner of Lambeau Field, usually in the 2nd row from the stadium, with a green & gold stripped flagpole. Next time your at Lambeau, stop by his tailgate and tell him McKenna sent you. Neither he nor I am responsible for the buzz that you leave with nor are we responsible for making sure that you make it home safely.

Here goes:

Very nice anaysis on your blog. The Pack needs a DE more than any position as far as I am concerned. Probably their biggest weakness and if they learned anything from the SB, the pass rush is probably the biggest equalizer there is. Just like weather for soccer. I have been a Campbell proponent. And I really like Martellus Bennett in the 2nd, as he is an accomplished blocker and has size and speed. Also, a CB in the second.

Cannot get over the NFC championship game, still drags me down, bad coaching adjustments, but he does learn. I agree that our OL is fairly strong still, with adequate and better than adequate backups, look how they stopped the Giants (God, I hate the Giants).

Favre's retirement was a real downer, but it had to happen, and when I heard his wife's interview, you knew he was done. Don't know if you heard about that, but she said when they were 10-1, he was a basket case of nerves, cause he was under pressure, and didn't know if he could live up to expectations, and he didn't want to live up to the expectations and scrutiny for this year (my interpretation) Much easier playing for an 8-8 team.

Long winter up here and they really suck, say hi to your Dad!

porterbela said...

I agree. This winter sucked. I can honestly say, and there is proof to back this up, that this was the worst winter I have ever experienced in my life.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

I'm excited that the Packers secured an additional 4th rounder rather than a 5th rounder as compensation for losing Ahman Green and David Martin in FA last year.

Additionally, after seeing the Ravens receive an additional 3rd rounder, I believe that it becomes even more realistic for the Packers and Ravens to pull off a trade at the end of Round 1. The Packers could trade their first round pick (#30) to the Ravens for their second round pick (#38) and their fourth round pick (#106).

I also believe the Chiefs and Jets remain viable trading partners. This trade would give the Packers 7 of the first 135 picks in the draft. This would also mean Antoine Cason, Mike McGlynn, Steve Slaton, Chevis Jackson, Owen Schmidt, Tom Zbikowski, and Kenny Iwebema.

Iwebema is a guy that I've been buzzing into lately. An end from Iowa. He had 14.5 sacks in college and is known as a run stopper.

Stack said...

This from NFL.com....

Connecticut (March 26)
Fifteen teams were on hand, including four defensive back coaches and John Dorsey of the Packers to watch five players work out indoors on FieldTurf. It was a new state-of-the-art indoor building -- one of the best anywhere.

» DB Tyvon Branch (5-11 7/8, 208): Had a 38-inch vertical jump, ran position drills and kept all his other times from the combine. Since 2004, only five defensive backs have weighed 200-plus pounds and run under 4.40 in the 40. Three were drafted in the first round and the other two were taken within the first three rounds. Four of the five are NFL starters (Bob Sanders, LaRon Landry, Michael Huff and DeAngelo Hall). Two teams (Jets, Bengals) have had private workouts with Branch and he has made trips to visit four teams (Bills, Browns, Dolphins and Chargers).

Branch was the only DB who worked out for UConn.

I follow these reports pretty closely and this is the first time I've ever seen Packer personnell mentioned.

Stack said...

This from Scout.com...

I like this mock...

1. Cason
2. Martellus Bennett
2b. Ray Rice
3. John David Booty
4. Donald Thomas - OG - UConn
4b. Dominique Barber - S - Minnesota
7. J Lehman - LB - Illinois

Sure, I'd make some changes, but I like this guy's line of thinking more than much of what I've seen out there...