Monday, April 20, 2009

The Draft Buzz...

Greetings, G-Force.

Yes, I am a football nerd. And, yes, therefore, the NFL Draft is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Admittedly, I’m a total amateur, but nonetheless, I like to scout college players during the season to project their NFL careers. Often times, I’m wrong. Dead wrong. However, on occasion, I put Kiper & McShay to shame. At one time, I thought Ben Troupe would be a Pro Bowl TE. He has been FAR from it, but I’d still argue that, in some way, he was a victim of circumstance and landed in an offensively deficient program that did not utilize his skills to full capacity. I try to forget those predictions. Instead, I remember the ones in which I predicted that Steve Slaton would be among the elite or that I listed Chevis Jackson among the best of last year’s CB’s…definitely ahead of Patrick Lee. I also stand by the prediction that Brian Brohm does not translate into a legitimate NFL QB. On the last two points, I hope I end up dead wrong. Thus far, I’m spot on. Regardless, if I’m wrong, I can still write this silly blog with no worries. If Ted Thompson is wrong this weekend, he could end up looking for employment post the 2009 NFL Season.

Sadly, due to minimal free time and computer access, I will not be able to go as deep into the draft as I’d like via the blog. However, I would not be doing this blog justice if I did not apply some final draft thoughts. So here goes:

I argue that this years NFL Draft could determine the legacy of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. We have 5 of the top 109 selections in a draft where there will not be all that much of a difference between pick 20 and pick 120. How much better will Darius Butler be than Victor Harris? What about Vontae Davis and Mike Mickens? DJ Moore or Asher Allen? Hell, I’d prefer Allen!

Look at DT, Sen’Derrick Marks, Jarron Gilbert, and Fili Maola are projected as 2nd to 3rd rounders, but I’d rather have Myron Pryor in the 4th to 5th. Evander Hood is viewed as a potential 1st round talent. I’d put Pryor in the same breath as Hood.

It becomes really interesting when you look at the 3-4 OLB players. How much better is Sintim than Follett? One could argue that Follett may end up as a better pro player than Brian Cushing, if Follett ends us in a 3-4 and he can put on 10lbs. Follett can play every down! Can Clay Matthews or Brian Cushing? Can Aaron Maybin? Can Everette Brown? Yet, I’m convinced that with 10lbs, Follett can be an every down player. Matthews, Cushing, Maybin, & Brown are all considered top 25 picks. Follett is viewed as a 4th rounder. To me, Follett defines ‘roid rage. I’ll take him in Round 3.

At TE, Bear Pascoe can be had in the 5th round? Yet, he might be the best in-line blocker in the draft. He has soft hands. He can catch the ball in traffic. And, the first man almost never brings him down by himself. He might be a possession TE, but look at what Chmura, Bavaro & Christensen did for their teams. Or, on a much smaller scale, look at what Kevin Boss did for Eli. Pascoe will help on 3rd and 1 goal line situations. This is a no-brainer. I like Ingram, Beckum, and Coffman, but none of the 3 can block. They’re all pass catchers. They’re also considered 2nd to 3rd rounders.

Round 1: I assume that there is no chance that these guys are available: Stafford, Curry, J. Smith, and Monroe. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Going into the season, the Packers need a defense with a “No Surrender. No Retreat.” mentality. This attitude has to be established through the draft. I understand we have pains at Right Tackle. In my mind, we can figure that one out later. Think Bruce Wilkerson.

Breaking it down to the simplest, I would be stoked if we selected one of the following:
- BJ Raji: We need help at DT. Pickett broke down last year. There is a mammoth difference between Raji and every other DT in the draft, with the exception of Peria Jerry.
- Malcolm Jenkins: From the sounds of it, he’s dropping FAST due to his 40 time. This does not concern me all that much. He’s a football player and plays fast on the field. We might be able to slide down a couple of spots and still get him.
- Michael Crabtree: If he falls to us, this has to be the pick. He’s far too talented to let him pass us by. The last time we let a premier WR fall past us was in 1998 when we selected Vonnie Holliday over Randy Moss. We all know how that one ended up.

I’d also be fine if we selected one of these guys:
- Jeremy Maclin: He possesses true playmaking ability. Whether it’s on special teams or as a receiver, he’s a threat to take it to the house.
- Andre Smith: You cannot argue with his film. The offseason jargon concerns me, but we do have issues at RT and if Thompson feels that this is the biggest area of need, I would understand the pick. Not my ideal choice, but I’ll be OK with it.
- Michael Oher: He’s supposedly flying up the charts. While Andre Smith has dropped, Oher has skyrocketed.
- Brian Orakpo: I think he is the best pure pass-rusher in the draft. Is he an every down player? In a 3-4 defense, I’m not positive that he fits the bill. Regardless, I’d appreciate the selection. We need to attack the QB.

I do not want Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin with our 1st round selection.

I’d be ecstatic if we traded down. Are the Broncos an option for their #’s 12 and 48. Sanchez could be available at 9. If so, let’s get down! If we were to trade down to the 16-22 range, Peria Jerry is a great option at DT. Robert Ayers is also someone to consider.

But, from all that I read & hear, it appears that the Packers will select Tyson Jackson. He’s viewed as the best 3-4 DE in the draft. One should note that he played in a 4-3 for the better part of his college career. It’s funny as I found some old chicken scratch that I had compiled over the last 3 years. Early last year, I wrote the following: “Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU, pass rusher.” To me, he’s disappointed as he’s aged. At one point, I looked at him as though he was dominant at the point of attack. Physical. Full of desire. Aggressive. But, last year, I was disappointed in his play. He was banged up and, in my mind, lazy at times. As a sophomore, he had 10 sacks. As a junior and a senior, he combined for 8.5 sacks. Why the decline? Is it the Glenn Dorsey factor? Any way, he’s 6-4 1/8 and 296lbs. He can add weight. We need bodies on the DL. He’s dreaded. Hence, we fit. I’m not over the top enamored with him, but I’d like the pick – especially if we drafted a 3-4 OLB to play next to him in the 2nd round.

Round 2: If Michael Johnson is there, draft him! The major knock on Johnson is his desire – he takes plays off. Isn’t that why we brought Kevin Greene into our program? Johnson has Pro-Bowl talent. He has a little Jason Taylor in him. If Greene cannot bring this out of Johnson – who could? Plus, we got rid of our #93 this offseason, so the jersey number has opened up for him. He may have to battle Tyson Jackson for it, but that’d be fun competition. I can picture it now – Jackson at #93, Johnson at #90. Lined up right next to each other. Anchors of the right side of our defense for the next decade. Bringing attitude. This is an immediate solution to all of our pains on the right side of our defensive line!

If Johnson is gone, I’d be interested in the following: Sean Smith, Lawrence Sidbury, Larry English, Vontae Davis, Connor Barwin, LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Ron Brace, and Clint Sintim.

I’d be OK with the following: Shonn Greene, Rashad Johnson, Donald Brown, Brian Robiskie, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Darius Butler, Patrick White, and Alex Magee. In some of these guys cases, it is probably too early to draft them, but I still think they are good football players. In others, they most likely won’t be available.

As 2nd round picks, I don’t want: Jared Cook, Cornelius Ingram, Shawn Nelson, Jarron Gilbert, Chris Wells, Mohammad Massoquai, Derrick Williams, Louis Delmas, Alphonso Smith (though he can play, he’s too small to cover the likes of Calvin Johnson), William Moore, Ziggy Hood, James Laurinaitis, or Patrick Chung. It’s not that I don’t like some of these guys, it’s just that I don’t think they fit into what we’re trying to construct at this point of the draft. If we can get one of these guys in a later round, I’d consider it. Of this list, the only guy I have ZERO interest in is Derrick Williams.

Round 3: Zach Follett, ‘nuff said.

I also think that the 3rd round is a great spot to add a CB. I’d look into Victor Harris, Mike Mickens, Sherrod Martin, Asher Allen and Coye Francies. I also see value in Keenan LewisAgain, I don’t want DJ Moore. I’m not overly stoked about Kevin Barnes.

***Let me pound my chest for a bit – I see in a lot of places that Bradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa is listed as a 3rd or 4th round pick. Remember that you heard of him HERE – yes, in this blog – FIRST. His name was not listed on or at You heard his name right here – If, that is, you were paying attention. I would not select him above Harris, Mickens or Allen. Martin and Francies are getting a lot of publicity in Miami newspapers, but this might be too early to draft either of them.***

Round 4: I’d like Javon Ringer at this pick – if he’s available. But, this is probably a good time to select a DT. I’m still committed to Myron Pryor at this point. If you are to start looking into small division prospects, this is a time to look at Sammie Lee Hill. Others to consider are Ricky Jean-Francois, Clinton McDonald or Terrance Taylor. Other than Pryor, Taylor impresses me the most because I think he has a ton of upside if he is motivated.

Round 5: Bear Pascoe! The Packers are drafting the Bear!

Round 6: If Brandon Tate is available, this has to be the guy. But, chances are that someone will grab him before this. So, I’m turning to a LB. Robert Francois, Willie Williams or Tyrell Sales are all options. Francois comes from BC. Remember that BC was coached by Jeff Jagodzinski who comes from McCarthy’s system. You know that he’s familiar with the Green Bay Way. Francois is a special teams wedge buster. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy who simply loves to play football. On the contrary, Williams & Sales are tremendous athletes with all the skills in the world. However, these guys can’t keep themselves on the field. Williams was once the prized possession of the “U.” Now, he’s looking for a chance at redemption. Sales arrived at Penn State – full of optimism, full of promise. As he began to realize his potential, the problems came. He could be a late round gem – if he can stay out of trouble. Another trouble guy that might find his way around this slot is Jaison Williams.

Round 6: Arian Foster is a name to consider. If the guy could hang onto the ball, he’d be a 2nd round pick. Problem is that he loses focus and becomes lackadaisical. Who better to learn from than Edgar? Foster has the talent to be an NFL starter. I’d also look at another DE, such as Jeremy Navarre. He’s a big body who would add competition. If the move is to add a DE, other names to look at are George Hypolite and Will Johnson. Both spent time at DT in college, but could transition to a DE spot in the 3-4. You also can’t hate on Terrill Byrd’s production from the DT spot. Guy can simply get into the offensive backfield. Brandon Underwood at CB is also a solid value pick at this spot.

Round 7: I’m taking a shot at a small school playmaker. Names that interest me are Josh Vaughan, Dudley Guice, Greg Toler, Don Carey, Vaughn Martin, Jason Williams, Johnny Knox or Rashad Jennings. Someone who performed at peak levels against lower competition. All might end up as lower division gems at the next level. Think Ahmad Bradshaw, Marques Colston.

Here’s a list of guys that I’ll be watching in rounds 5-7 (some may end up as 4th rounders, but, oh well):

RB: Josh Vaughan, Arian Foster, Ian Johnson, James Davis, Rashad Jennings, Mike Goodson (solid 3rd down back), Devin Moore, Gartrell Johnson, and Javarris Williams.

WR: Johnny Knox, Dudley Guice, Brandon Tate, Kenny McKinley, Patrick Turner, Jamarko Simmons, Michael Jones, and Jaison Williams.

TE: John Nalborne, Jared Bronson, Dan Gronkowski, Brandon Myers, David Johnson, and Brandon Ledbetter. All seem to be low round picks who have the ability to be blocking TE’s and possession receivers.

FB: Brannan Southerland

DE: David Veikune, Philip Hunt (probably 4th round), Mitch King (probably 4th round), Jeremy Navarre, Will Johnson, Zach Potter, and George Hypolite.

DT: Vaughn Martin, Marlon Favorite, Terrill Byrd, and Demonte Bolden.

ILB: Scott McKillop, Ronnie Palmer

OLB: Robert Francois, Jason Williams, Kaluka Maiava, Brandon Williams, Willie VanDeSkees, Ian Campbell, Kirston Pittman, Brian Toal, Tyrell Sales, Willie Williams.

CB: Brandon Underwood, Don Carey, Greg Toler, DeAngelo Smith, London Fryar, Jacob Lacey and DeAndre Wright

S: David Bruton (probably 4th round), Chris Clemons (4th round), Derek Pegues (4th round), Troy Nolan, Otis Wiley, Kevin Ellison, Lendy Holmes, Terence Moore, and Keith Fitzhugh.

I’m hoping to provide light thoughts on each of these guys before draft day…if time permits.

Any way, this draft could depend on Mark Sanchez. Let’s hope he’s available at #9. This will provide options and the ability for Ted Thompson to work his draft day trading magic. An ideal scenario:

1.) Lions – Stafford
2.) Rams – J Smith
3.) Chiefs – Curry
4.) Seahawks – Monroe
5.) Browns – Orakpo
6.) Bengals – A Smith
7.) Raiders – Crabtree
8.) Jaguars – Maclin
9.) Packers!!!

This would allow options. Raji, Jenkins, Jackson would all be available. But, the best option would be to slide down and add another pick or two inside the top 120. If we could end up with 7 of the top 120, we’d be in position to WIN THE DRAFT! Right now, we have 5 of them.

So, since Sanchez is a Mexican. I’m having a theme party at my place on Saturday night. It’s the Mexican-Wisconsin party. Mexican Food. Mexican Beer. Tequila. WI cheese. WI beer. And hopefully, some Mexican luck. Vargas, got any pull, bro?

Hey Ted, Make It Happen!

Time to Roll, Baby!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fantasy Mock!

Greetings, G-Force.

Often in life, you notice the real tenacity of a man, when things around you become more difficult. For Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, this happened today. One quick look at the NFC North, the Division that the Packers dominated for the better part of 15 years, shows that if the Packers don't better themselves quickly, we might find ourselves in the cellar.

The 'Queens are the defending champs. The Bears just added the best young QB in the NFL and a massive OT to protect him. And, as for the 0-16 Lions, well, I take you back in 1988, the Dallas Cowboys finished 3-13. That Cowboys team had one weapon, Michael Irvin. The Lions have Calvin Johnson. In 1989, the Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman. They finished 1-15. The Lions have Matthew Stafford waiting in the wings. In 1990, the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith with the #17 pick overall. This year, the Lions have the 20th pick in addition to the #1 pick. Knowshown Moreno will probably be available. Sure, they already have Kevin Smith, who I like, but...ok, I'm not saying, but I'm just saying...

Regardless, it's time for the Packers to get going. Time for the Packers to respond. Time for the Packers to win the 2009 NFL Draft. Time for the Packers to extend T-Mon, Collins and Jennings. Get this done now! Before the mini-camps. Before the draft. Show the players and fans that you are serious. Until now, we've been on our heels. It's time to act.

Hopefully, Duke Preston will provide necessary depth to our offensive line. Hopefully, this means one less OL is drafted as well.

The NFL Draft is 23 days away. I'm going to attempt to compile my fantasy NFL Draft. It will be a draft that is focused on building our roster to fit the 3-4 alignment and constructing a defense that is physically built to last.

Round 1: Raji tests positive - I can trade down and still get him. I like Orapko, but I am not certain that he can drop in coverage. I love Malcolm Jenkins game, but I can get him later. My gut tells me that we draft a T such as Andre Smith or Michael Oher - assuming Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe are gone. I don't draft OL in my mocks, so I'm trading down. The 49ers want a QB at 10, possibly Sanchez. As I've documented in the past, Ted Thompson has his trading buddies. One team is the New York Jets. Another is the Bucs. Both need QB's. Thompson negotiates with both as he did in the Favre drama last year. Again he strikes it rich with the Jets as Tampa does not have a 2nd round pick. A look at the draft point value chart shows me that the Packers get Tampa's #1, #2, and #5 in exchange for the Packers #1 and #6. With the #19 pick, the Packers select Michael Johnson. I'm convinced that with proper coaching and weight room development, this guy will become an NFL monster. He can drop in coverage. When motivated, he'll attack the backside against the run. He can get to the QB. He'll knock down passes. He can block kicks, which would improve special teams. I've swung and missed before, but man, I'm taking a chance with MJ. This pick might be WAY too early, but I'm ok with this. Last year - I wanted Slaton...regardless of where we had to draft him. I wanted Slaton. This year - I want MJ.

Round 2a: Sean Smith. Depending where you look, this guy falls late first to late 2nd. It's my fantasy mock. So, I'm having fun. Adding Smith would fulfill all of our secondary requirements. Our secondary would be lethal! Connor Barwin is also an option. I don't think that Sintim will be available. Sintim's the better pass rusher, but I like Barwin's work ethic and he's truly a Green Bay kind of guy. Plus, Barwin would bring attitude, selflessness, and fight to the special teams unit. He's developmental, but I think, if given the right system, he'll mature into a solid pro. He wants it. Seems like a Thompson kind of pick. But, I don't normally think like Thompson. I'm taking Smith.

Round 2b (from Tampa): Ron Brace, DT, BC. Well, I passed on Raji. It was tough to do, but we'll take his sidekick, Brace. He's an ideal size for the 3-4 NT. He went relatively unnoticed due to Raji's presence right next to him, but Brace can play. Great run stopper. But, can also get light pressure on the QB.

Round 3a: Mitch King, DE, Iowa. It would seem fitting. Lord knows I like Iowa defenders and their ability to transition into an NFL player. He has a 3-4 DE's frame. He'd play with fight. He's tough. He's blood, sweat and tears.

Round 3b: Zach Follett. I passed on Barwin in round 2 because I could get Follett here. Everywhere I look - it lists Follett as a 4th rounder. I want him this bad. Taking him with the Jets pick. OK, it's Favre for Follett. I guess.

Round 4: Mike Mickens. Last year, it was Chevis Jackson. This year, it's Mickens or Asher Allen. Appears Allen will be picked before Mickens. Mickens is a solid zone cover guy. Will also get in your face. Good hands. Good tackler. Been writing about him for 3 years. Hope his knee can recover. I'm sure it has.

Round 5a: I've been vocal about my desires for Bear Pascoe. Nothings changed. Again, everything I read says that he'll be here at this point. I'm grabbing him.

Round 5b: I doubt that Brandon Tate will last this long, but if, tough to pass up. I bet he's long gone come draft day. So, I'm going back to defense. Myron Pryor. Sticking with the DT scheme. We rotate Brace, Pryor, and Pickett. I've been writing about Pryor's game and my desire to get him as a mid round pick. He can play in the 3-4.

Round 6 (from NO in last years trade): Robert Francois, LB, BC. When you like the draft as much as I do, you get feelers for things. Last year it was with Jeremy Thompson. Had a feeling he'd be a Packer. This year - strange, but true. I get that buzz with Francois. Had a great Pro day. A wedge buster. Loves special teams. Can play ILB and OLB. We need LB depth. It would not surprise me.

Round 7: Brannan Southerland, FB, Georgia. He'd bring a winner's mind. He'll leave his heart and soul on the field. He can catch. He can block. He can run. He's intelligent. If Kuhn is not retained, this should happen. If Kuhn is retained, I'm looking at a big WR such as Aaron Kelly or Patrick Turner.

This mock draft includes one trade down. We draft 2 OLB. 1 ILB. 2 DT. 1 DE. 1 CB. 1 S. The defense is stocked with youthful talent. Players who produced against big time competition at the collegiate level. Offensively, we add a TE and a FB or WR.

It's time to get serious.

Talkin' S-Mac.