Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Need For Speed

Greetings, G-Force.

The Packers have an interesting quandary at RB. They have a budding star in Ryan Grant. But, behind him, there are a lot of question marks. Grant had a breakout season. He proved to be a tremendous zone runner who has excellent vision and a knack for finding the cut back. He showed the ability to get the edge and to slash up the middle.

Brandon Jackson left a lot to be desired in his rookie campaign. However, the Packers invested a 2nd round pick and B-Jack last year and therefore, it's tough to give up on the guy. Vernand Morency showed that he does not have what it takes to play in this league. DeShawn Wynn displayed glimpses of ability, but ultimately, he does not appear to be fit for the NFL.

Thus, the Packers enter the NFL Draft with a need to add a back. The current state of the NFL requires a dual-back system. The everyday beating of an NFL back has proved to be so much that most teams are operating with two capable running backs.

This years draft has some intriguing prospects. Darren McFadden, and Rashard Mendenhall will be off the board when the Packers pick. Jonathan Stewart will most likely be gone as well.

Felix Jones is expected to be gone when the Packers select, but he's the guy that fits what we need. He's a perfect compliment to Ryan Grant. He's the change of pace, speed rusher that can take it to the house every time he touches the ball. If Jones is around, he should be our 1st round pick.

I think that Chris Johnson is overrated. I watched him against West Virginia last year and I left disappointed. While he's got speed, I'm not positive that he is football fast. He lacks wiggle. I hear comparisons to Brian Westbrooke. I did not see the similarities when I watched him. Instead, he reminds me of LeShon Johnson.

In my mind, Ray Rice and Mike Hart are nearly the same guy. Both took a beating in college. They carried the ball a bunch in physical conferences and then played with injuries. They were both very productive in college, but I wonder if either will be durable enough to have long NFL careers. Additionally, both are only average receivers out of the backfield. I believe that Hart is a better receiver than Rice, but I'm not certain he will be the better NFL player. In the end, I'd probably prefer to stay away from both.

Jamaal Charles has the speed to play at the next level. He runs with pace. The sky is the limit with Charles. I'm not sure where Charles will end up being drafted, but if he's available in Round 2, I'm interested. I see mock drafts that have him selected at the end of Round 1 and others that have him drafted in Round 3.

I want Steve Slaton. Hell, my wife wants Steve Slaton to become a Packer. That's reason enough. But, also, I think Slaton has the breakaway speed that you cannot teach. He's football fast. He's a sprinter. When he's in the open field, you simply cannot catch him. He'd bring excitement to Lambeau. I hope he is our 2nd round draft pick.

I would not be overly excited if the Packers drafted Kevin Smith.

When I watch Matt Forte, I see Ryan Grant. Deceptive speed. Good vision. Surprisingly shifty. Good hands.

Tashard Choice is a football player. Put him on the field and he'll play. More often than not, he'll get the job done. He's worth a 3th-5th round pick for someone. I don't think that we're the right fit for him, but some team will be getting a competitive, confident football player.

Is Anthony Alridge the next David Meggett? Or maybe Darren Sproles without the power side to him? He's worth a look in the late rounds.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Ryan Torain. I'm not certain that he's going to make it at the next level, but he was a great collegiate player before his injury last year. A bruising back who plays with aggression and finds the yardage marker.

I like Justin Forsett's game. If he's drafted into the right system, he'll produce at the next level. He's undersized, but he, too, is a football player. He's intelligent and he knows how to play the game. He never quits on a play and is never afraid of a challenge. Also, plainly stated, he scores touchdowns.

Justin Parmele does not fit what we do.

I have minimal interest in Allen Patrick and Thomas Brown. I've seen both make some exciting plays against high levels of competition, but when push comes to shove, both are undersized and I'd be surprised if either can excel at the next level.

I'm interested in Cory Boyd. Can you say Herman Fontenot? He's not necessarily going to be a terrific halfback rather he'll be the guy making the play on 3rd down. He'll always move the sticks. Get him the ball in space. He'll make the first guy miss and keep the punt team off the field. He'll be a good late round pick.

As the draft nears, as a fan, I'm taking a boring, sit-back and let it happen approach. I really am. I think that Thompson has a number of different options in regards to approaching this draft. With that being said, I want to add a runner. Slaton is my #1 guy followed by Charles. I don't think Jones will be available, but I can hope. Alridge brings excitement and possibilities. And Edgar Bennett would smile when he watched Boyd play.

At FB, for me, three options exist: Owen Schmitt, Peyton Hillis and Jacob Hester. I rank them that way. I've been outspoken about my desire to draft Schmitt. He has Tom Rathman potential. He's a bruiser. He can block. He can catch. He can run. He could bring the FB position back to what the FB position should be. He's surprisingly athletic. He punishes the opponent.

I also like Peyton Hillis. He'd be an upgrade at what we currently have at FB. He catches the ball out of the backfield and has decent speed for his size. He was an absolute MAN against LSU in the game on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year. He'll have a career in the NFL and I'd be happy if it were in Green Bay.

Jacob Hester is more of a rusher than a blocker. I don't think he's a fit for what we are building. He reminds me a little of a stronger Brian Leonard. He's a fighter, a team player, but I'm not sure of where he'll play at the next level.

Next stop: Wide Receivers.


All Good,

Talkin' S-Mac.

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