Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Take -> Epic Mock Draft Final Version

Greetings, G-Force.

Caution: Hear me out on this one. Please read carefully.

Most experts write that the longer the CBA lasts, the better off the chances are for the repeat. I'm not sure that I agree.

This isn't about the Repeat. It's about the Three-Peat. Not since 1965-1967 has an NFL team won 3 consecutive titles. Sadly, the history of the NFL is not as cherished as in other sports. Most football fans only understand the Super Bowl era. Unfortunately, the Lombardi Three-Peat is often not recognized by the average fan. Thus, as a fan, my mission is the Three-Peat. With that, I'm concerned that the current CBA situation is punishing the Packers run at 3 in a row. I view this off-season as a "rebuilding" offseason. Not a "reloading" but a "rebuilding." Ted Thompson has built these Green Bay Packers rosters through the Draft. Not via Free Agency, so we won't "reload" with weapons - other than those that are returning from injury. This is an offseason in which we need to replenish our depth with additional youthful talent.

The CBA has dramatically affected the Packers approach towards this draft. Consider this: Had the CBA been signed, the Packers might be looking to trade Matt Flynn for a 2nd round pick. Flynn's trade value cannot get any higher than it is right now. We might be trading Nick Barnett for a 5th round pick. It's possible that we'd get a 6th round pick for Chillar. We'd move Brad Jones to ILB. And Ted Thompson would possess 12 picks, including 6 picks in the first 4 rounds. Further, he'd have the magical number: 4 of the top 100 picks. That'd be lethal.

Additionally, in Free Agency, the Packers would have lost Cullen Jenkins, which would presumably give the Packers a 4th round compensatory pick in the 2012 Draft. It's possible we'd also lose the likes of Korey Hall, Daryn Colledge, B-Jack, and James Jones. These losses would generate four more picks in the 2012 Draft. If the CBA gets remedied soon, it's probable that this scenario will still occur, but the longer the lockout lingers, the more likely the demand for FA's will diminish as there will not be enough time to get players adjusted to new systems. Also, in some instances, I imagine that teams will approach the draft as "need based" rather than the typical best player available.

To paraphrase from an Aaron Rodgers interview post the Super Bowl, "we're bringing back most of our players from this year & we'll be getting the best TE in the league back from injury." I agree, Aaron. Not to get ahead of myself, but let's think game at a time.

While I agree with the speculation that the CBA is benefiting the Packers because they got to play into February, I also view the off-season as a vital time for the development of our young roster. This was a big offseason for the likes of Neal, Burnett, Sammy Swagga Shields, Walden, Zombo, Chastin West, Quarless, Starks' pass protection, and Marshall Newhouse. However, there is no doubt that the rest will be a bonus for the Packers. A quick look at recent history shows the following:

In 2005, the Steelers played the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. In 2006, the Steelers failed to make the playoffs. The Seahawks finished 9-7 and won their division. They won 1 playoff game, which happened to be when Tony Romo dropped the snap on a short FG at the end of the game.
In 2006, the Colts beat the Bears in the Super Bowl. In 2007, the Colts did not win a playoff game. The Bears failed to make the playoffs.
In 2007, the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. In 2008, the Giants did not win a playoff game. The Patriots did not make the playoffs.
In 2008, the Steelers beat the Cardinals in the Super Bowl. In 2009, the Steelers did not make the playoffs. The Cardinals won 10 games. Made the playoffs and won 1 playoff game, which was 51-45 victory over the Packers. We all remember the rubbish play that ended this game.
In 2009, the Saints beat the Colts in the playoffs. In 2010, neither the Saints nor the Colts won a playoff game.

Add it all up & a Super Bowl champion has not won a playoff game the following year in the last 5 years. The Super Bowl loser has only won 2 playoff games. And both of those victories required extremely fortunate circumstances. Clearly, there is a Super Bowl hangover. Still, I argue that our team has enough youthful energy on the roster to combat this trend. Additionally, I hold firm on the belief that Ted Thompson builds this team via the Draft & it's crucial for us to have draft picks at our disposal so Thompson has the ammunition to wheel & deal. Currently, the CBA is limiting Thompson from fully capitalizing on his draft-day talents.

Due to the lockout, most of my friends are not as interested in the draft as they have been in previous years. I also feel that coverage of the draft has not been as detailed as in previous years. Moreover, most publications are only giving information that is 2-3 rounds deep. If you're like me, you're devoted to the first 5 rounds. You're absolutely glued for 5 rounds. Your heavily interested through the 6th and you're simply following along in the 7th round. Well, in this version of the mock draft, I'm going to attempt to provide a list of names to keep you entertained throughout the 7 Round NFL Draft. Admittedly, I have followed less this year than in past years. Nonetheless, I still feel armed with knowledge.

Below is a quick breakdown of each position & a list of potential prospects that I'm interested in. I believe these prospects could fill needs for us.

QB: Presently, we're in solid shape. We have the Super Bowl XLV MVP. We have the most talked about back-up in the NFL. We have a developmental prospect in Graham Harrell. Assuming the Packers hold onto Flynn, I cannot imagine Ted Thompson drafting a QB in the first 3 rounds. Below are a couple of names to consider with 4th-7th round picks:

- Greg McElroy, Alabama. Projected Round 5-6. A winner. Reminds me a lot of Matt Flynn will he was in college. Crafty. Good moxie. Knows how to move the football. Natural leader. Football instincts. Would need to be developed and wouldn't be ready to step in for a couple of years. Probably a career back-up.

- Scott Tolzien, WI. Projected Round 6-7. I'd be excited to draft Tolzien as a new toy for McCarthy. I felt that Tolzien grew as a player over the last 2 years. He grabbed command of the offense. He managed the game well. He picked up crucial 3rd downs in big games. He took his team on the road and quieted the crowd. If he lands in the right situation, Tolzien could have a nice career as a back-up/emergency QB.

- TJ Yates, UNC. Projected Round 7 or undrafted FA. Yates possesses a never-say-die situation. Faced with all types of problems this year at UNC due to his teammates off-the-field issues, early in the year, Yates showed his leadership as he fought hard to bring UNC back in the game against LSU. Not overly athletic. But, he's not afraid to attempt most of the throws. He comes across as a confident guy. But, he's inconsistent. At times, I'd watch him and think he has a chance to play in this league. Other times, he looks like a guy that won't get a shot. My guess: he'll get a chance & be an extra arm in someone's camp.

RB: James Starks became the Savior in 2010. Ryan Grant is returning from injury. Quinn Johnson is signed. So is Dmitri Nance. McCarthy appears to be high on Nance. Kuhn, B-Jack & Korey Hall are all Free Agents. Kuhn figures to be back. B-Jack's status is in question. Korey Hall was not offered a tender, which means he's free to go. Expect the Packers to draft a RB at some point this year. It wouldn't surprise me we picked a RB in any round this year. Here's my list:

- Mark Ingram: If he's available in Round 1, I expect the Packers to take him. I doubt he'll be there, but it's possible. Remember that Ted Thompson has ties to Ingram's father from his 1st go-around with the Packers, when Mark Ingram was catching passes from Favre. It should be noted that Ingram set the record for the fastest 10-yard split in the history of the NFL Draft. By now, we know Thompson is big on this number.

- Mike LeShoure, Illinois. Projected Round 1-2. LeShoure has a solid combination of speed, strength & elusiveness. Get him in space & LeShoure will make good things happen. He dominated the Wrigley Field game when Illinois played Northwestern. The typical workhorse who gets better as the game goes on. He'll wear you down. Beat you up. And he'll keep on running.

- Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech. Projected Round 2-3. Since the first time I watched him play against Alabama in the '09 opener, I've admired his game. He knows where the yard marker is at. He finds the goal line. He'll beat you to the corner. He's performed well in big games. He took it to the []_[] with HR ability. He's a bit short, but he makes up for it with toughness.

- DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma. Projected Round 2-3. Murray can run. He can catch. He's not afraid to stick his nose in the action to block. Some potential durability issues. But, when given the chance, Murray performs. An athletic back who'll bring good versatility to someone's offense.

- Daniel Thomas, Kansas State. Projected Round 3. His running style mirrors Ryan Grant. Runs the stretch play with grace. Gets to the corner. Hits the hole hard. Good one-cut runner. A threat to get into the oppositions secondary. My concern is that a lot of his yards came via the wildcat formation. He has the speed and awareness to get to the corner & generate a big play.

- Jordan Todman, UCONN. Projected Round 3-4. At 5-9, he doesn't have great size. But, he's 200 lbs. He can absorb contact. While he runs a 4.40, he doesn't seem to fly by players on the field. But, he produces. Every time you watch Todman play, he'll impress you with his steady production. He delivers consistently.

- Shane Vereen, Cal. Projected Round 3-4. Quicker than fast, Vereen has his eye on the big play. Good hands, which makes him a constant match-up problem. Hits the hole hard. Big play capability. Not an every down back, but will fit into someone's rotation nicely.

- Charles Clay, Tulsa. Projected Round 4. He has terrific hands. He's got a unique build. He's not a fierce blocker, but he's a constant mismatch problem for opposing defenses. Every year - it seems that the Thompson/McCarthy regime makes a head-scratching decision at either FB or TE. This year, it's in the form of Charles Clay who can carry the ball, but he could also be viewed as a guy that could play FB or potentially, TE.

- Damien Berry, []_[]. Projected Round 7. While Berry occasionally has had issues holding onto the football, he has shown glimpses of brilliance in his collegiate career. While he's not the most powerful back, he'll throw his body into the line of scrimmage & push for additional yardage. He's got NFL ability if he can stay healthy. He's fearless & might turn out to be a better NFL player than he was as a collegiate player.

- Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech. Projected Round 7. I can't say that I love his game. He played in a gimmick offense. He's not overly elusive. Not overly powerful. Not overly fast. Not overly impressive. But, he's consistently gaining yards. Gets yards after contact. A lot of uncertainty surrounds his game due to the type of offense he played in.

- Nic Grigsby, Arizona. Projected Round 7. If he had stayed healthy in college, he might be a 4th-5th round prospect. Good one-cut runner. Sees the hole & bursts thru it. HR potential. Good speed. He would be a great late round value pick. Good nose for the end zone & tough to take down in space. I'd like to see him in Green & Gold.

- Noel Devine, WVU. Projected Round 7. While he's tremendously undersized, you can't argue with his speed. Nor his collegiate production. He's a threat every time he touches the ball. Get him in space and let him make someone miss. It'll be 6 points. I'll bet most teams are confused because he didn't return kicks at the college level as Jock Sanders took over most of these duties. I'd be interested to see if he's capable of returning punts. Definitely worth a shot late in the draft.

- I'm going to pass on Jacquizz Rodgers, Alex Green, Derrick Locke, and Dion Lewis. I don't think that any of them fit into what the Packers style. Rodgers is too small and I'm not sure he can return kicks. Green is a valuable 3rd down back, potentially, but I fear he'll have fumbling issues. Locke & Lewis are too small. I am also not sold on Roy Helu, Bilal Powell, Evan Royster & Mario Fannin.

WR: Greg Jennings has solidified himself as an elite WR in the league. Donald Driver can still play, but his game is on the decline. Jordy Nelson played his best game as a pro in the Super Bowl. He was featured. It wouldn't surprise me if the Packers insert him in the starting line-up in 2011. James Jones should not be re-signed. Brett Swain's ability is limited. I remain high on Chastin West. I truly believed that West would make a big impact during training camp last year. It didn't happen. Expect West to play a prominent role in the preseason this year. Still, it's necessary that the Packers draft a WR. Don't be surprised if the Packers draft 2 WR's this year.

- Leonard Hankerson, []_[]. Projected Round 1-2. Bring the Swagga to Lambeau! I want Hank in Round 1! Rodgers could use another weapon. Keep his stable of stallions stocked with youthful, fearless energy. Hankerson fits! He can play in the slot. He can beat the jab at the line of scrimmage. He'll occasionally have a mental lapse & drop a pass, but he's also a legitimate playmaker. He'll beat you deep. He runs a solid down-and-out. He'll run the post. He'll run the slant. He'll catch the ball in traffic. He's not afraid to take a hit. He has a nose for the end zone. He has great work ethic. He worked out with Mark Duper, his childhood idol, before his Junior Year to improve his route running. I want him. I can't guarantee that he'll be a Pro Bowl WR, but he'll be a solid NFL WR for the next 10 years, if he stays healthy.

- Randall Cobb, Kentucky. Projected Round 2. Utility player. Can return kicks. Great with the ball in his hands. Has played QB. Elusive. Gifted athlete. Might need to be developed as a WR, but he's a classic Ted Thompson style "football player."

- Jerrel Jernigan, Troy. Projected Round 2-3. This years Dexter McCluster. Just find a way to get him the ball. Undersized. Quick. Every time he touches the ball, he's thinking TD.

- Titus Young, Boise State. Projected Round 3. A poor man's DeSean Jackson. Not positive I'd draft him because I believe he's afraid to take a hit. He'll have alligator arms on routes across the middle, but his return value makes him a legitimate prospect. Great speed. Dangerous returner. Loves the deep route. Without his return value, I don't list him.

- Greg Little, UNC. Projected Round 3-4. Without the character issues, he'd be listed much higher. Watch his video & it shows a talented WR who has the size to be an elite WR in the league. He has the size & speed to be a mid-round steal of the draft. He's also played RB. Overly physical. Seeks contact. Tough to bring down. A fighter with the ball in his hands. Physically beats down Defensive Backs. Possible attitude issues. But, Thompson has shown that he's not afraid to take a risk on a middle round pick.

- Greg Salas, Hawaii. Projected Round 3-4. Watch Greg Salas play and you'll think Greg Jennings. He is football smart. He understands angles & is great at improvising both with the ball in his hands & without the ball in his hands. He is a premier player after the catch. He goes up & gets the ball in jump ball situations. He may not fly in the 40, but he's football fast. He will make people miss, but he'll also fight through a defender for additional yards.

- Terrence Tolliver, LSU. Projected Round 4-5. Ideal size for the NFL. I thought he improved as the season went along last year. Seemed more focused. Will go over the middle with confidence. Great NFL size. Excelled, at times, against top notch competition. From what I saw, he looked good in the workouts prior to the East-West game as well.

- Austin Pettis, Boise State. Projected Round 5. Whoever drafts Austin Pettis will get a solid football player. He'll never be a #1 WR, but he'll have a long career. Above average hands. A big-game player. A go-to guy on 3rd down & late in games. He's a winner. Solid route runner. I like him better than Titus Young. Take away return abilities and I'd rank the WR's in this draft like this: 1.) AJ Green 2.) Julio Jones 3.) Leonard Hankerson 4.) Greg Salas 5.) Greg Little 6.) Austin Pettis

- Jeremy Kerley, TCU. Projected Round 5-6. How can you not root for this guy? Doesn't have ideal size. Doesn't have ideal speed. He just gets open. Wiggles his hips. Makes you miss. Solid returner as well. Worth a mid-to-late round pick. Reminds a little of a young Antonio Freeman.

- Lester Jean, FAU. Projected Round 6-7. Had a chance to see a little of him while I was living in Miami Beach. He definitely looks the part in his uniform. A little raw. Played against questionable competition. I went to the FAU v FIU game to watch Anthony Gaitor, TY Hilton & Rob Housler. I left the game being most impressed with Lester Jean. A developmental prospect who will get a look after getting a chance to perform at the East-West game.

- Stephen Burton, West Texas. Projected Round 6-7. By now, we know Ted Thompson loves Texas kids. This can't be stated enough. Burton has the size at 6-1, 221. He's a junior college prospect who thrilled scouts at his Pro Day. Good leaping ability allows him to get up and make plays against defenders. He uses his body well to shield receivers to create space.

- Dwayne Harris, WR, ECU. Possession WR. Looks like a slot receiver who would have a hard time beating the jam at the line of scrimmage, so it'd be necessary to slide him inside.

- Jamel Hamler, WR, Fresno State. Big, athletic WR. Had some big games for Fresno last year. Good developmental prospect.

- I'm not sold on Jonathan Baldwin, Pitt. I also have concerns over Torrey Smith's route running. Sure, he has the speed, but most of his success can on go-routes. He'll need more than that to thrive in the NFL.

TE: J-Mike returns. Assuming he's healthy, he'll be in the Pro Bowl. I have concerns over his long-term status. He'll have contract demands. It's questionable whether Thompson would be willing to meet his financial desires. Quarless showed promise, at times. He was forced into action sooner than the Packers would have ideally liked him to play. He was inconsistent, but he showed enough to offer hope for a more productive 2nd year. Crabtree is a legitimate blocking TE. The guy also has solid hands. Remember that he played most of the year with 1 hand. He'll be more involved in the offense this year. Donald Lee will not be back. I foresee Ted Thompson adding a TE in the middle rounds of the draft. We have to prepare for a worst case scenario (ie: losing Finley). It's in the DNA of Ted Thompson to add a TE when he has an elite prospect nearing a contract year.

- Luke Stocker, TN. Projected Round 3-4. Physical TE. Good blocker. Solid possession receiver. A bear to bring down. He'll run you over. Good hands in traffic. While some compare him to Jason Witten, I look at him as being more comparable to John Carlson.

- Jordan Cameron, USC. Projected Round 3-4. Can you say mismatch? This former basketball player knows body control. Great at snatching the ball out of the air in traffic. Uses his body well to shield defenders to create separation. Not only is he talented coming out of a 3-point stance, you can also stand him up. Put him at WR. Have him run the slant. Throw it up. Let him go get it. He'd be a terrific insurance policy in case J-Mike leaves via FA after next year.

- Virgil Green, Nevada. Projected Round 4. Workout wonder. Great combine. Solid performance in the East-West game. Has potential. I believe him to be slow off the snap and thus, at times, he fails to create separation. Might be too soft. But, he has the build to be a guy the Packers would be interested in.

- Rob Housler, FAU. Projected Round 5. I went to a game of his to check him out. A man among boys at his level of competition. But, while he looked the part in uniform, he didn't blow me away with his production. He's a workout maniac and I've read the Packers have had discussions with him.

OL: Bulaga has a future. Sitton has Pro Bowl potential. Wells has 1-year remaining on his contract. Clifton had a solid campaign in 2010, but he's nearing the end of his career. He'll be a Packers HOF'er. I doubt Colledge comes back. With that, there will be an opening at LG. TJ Lang would be the leading candidate for the gig. McCarthy has long stated that he believes Lang to be a Guard. Nick McDonald & Evan Diedrich-Smith have also garnered praise from McCarthy as developmental prospects. Personally, I'm high on Marshall Newhouse. He had a great pre-season. He dominated the game-winning final drive of the Seahawks game. He was a stud against the Colts in the preseason. High hopes surround Newhouse. Still, it's imperative that the Packers draft a couple of OL in this year's draft. As always, I lack knowledge with regards to OL as draft prospects. Although, I would be excited if the Packers traded up for Gabe Carimi in the 1st round. He & Bulaga would be the book-ends of the future.

DL: BJ "the Freezer" Raji is one of the fastest rising defenders in football. He was durable. He was a consistent playmaker. A force in the middle. Pickett remains a solid player, but he has had injury issues the past couple of years. He's also not getting any younger. CJ Wilson showed promise. Mike Neal has 7 sack potential, if he can stay healthy. If fit, Neal could become a legitimate force in the 3-4. Howard Green is a capable run defender. While Jairus Wynn gives great effort, he can be upgraded. Cullen Jenkins will most likely be gone via FA. Jolly will never wear #97 in Green & Gold again. Therefore, the Packers must address the DL in this years draft. Thankfully, the DL position is arguably the strongest position in the draft.

- Cameron Heyward, Ohio State. Projected Round 1. If he's available at #32, I believe that he'll be the pick. Ideal 3-4 DE. Would fill in for Cullen Jenkins when we lose him via FA. Can play the run & the pass. Has the genes as his Dad was a former NFL player. Spends time in opponents backfield.

- Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple. Projected Round 1. Great athlete. Dominated light competition. Fluid for his size. Perfect fit for a 3-4 defense.

- Kendrick Ellis, DT, Hampton. Projected Round 2-3. 6-5. 345. Massive. He'd be a great addition to our DL. He'd fit our Big Beefy package.

- Terrell McClain, South Florida. Projected Round 4. Super athletic big man. Fits the 3-4 DE spot. Holds the point of attack. Uber quick for his size. Played both the run & the pass very well. He'd add pressure and can hold the point of attack - though not overly powerful.

- Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas. Projected Round 5. Watched him extensively during the Senior Bowl week. Hard worker. Small school player that competed admirably against the big school players. Active hands. Good spin moves.

- Martin Parker, Richmond. Projected Round 6. Had a great performance in the East-West game. Moves well in small spaces. Showed a good motor in the East-West game. Good pressure on the QB. Smart defender. Reads plays well. Has good size for either the 3-4 or the 4-3. He has the capacity to have a nice rotational NFL career.

- Anthony Gray, SMU. Projected Round 7. Big boy. Stout run defender. Would be able to hold the point of attack at DT in the 3-4. It's possible he could slide out to DE in Big Beefy front.

- Brandon Bair, Oregon. Projected Round 7. From a weight perspective, he's a bit undersized for the 3-4, but he's an active player with a great motor. No one will work harder on the field & he has a nose for the football.

LB: The Claymaker is among the elite players in the NFL. Desmond Bishop legitimized himself as an ILB. I'm stoked that he got his contract! AJ Hawk earned his contract as well. Together, Hawk & Bishop showed great continuity. Erik Walden's development was an encouraging sign. Frank "The Z-Man" Zombo showed ability. Between Zombo & Walden, we have enough talent at OLB and therefore, drafting an OLB early in the draft is not overly necessary. I also don't think that you can discount the relationship between Zombo & Clay. Clearly, from the NFL videos that I've seen, there is a mutual respect & strong camaraderie. The Packers will also get Brad Jones back. Expect to see Jones get some action at ILB this year. The status of Barnett & Chillar is up in the air. Diyral Briggs & Matt Wilhelm were nice mid-season additions, but I would think we can find an upgrade. I envision the Packers drafting at least one LB; and probably two of them.

- Akeem Ayers, UCLA. Projected Round 1. For a part of the 2010 college season, Ayers was my favorite player in college football. I thought he'd be an ideal fit across from Clay. Ayers can drop in coverage. He attacks with a vengeance. Great athleticism. Then, with great excitement, I tuned into the UCLA vs Oregon game. Ayers was slow. He got beat to the corner a number of times. Then he ran a poor 40 at the Combine. Don't get me wrong, if we're drafting OLB early, I want it to be Ayers. He's an instinctive football player. Looks the part. He'd be a fun addition to the Packers defense.

- Brooks Reed, Arizona. Projected Round 1-2. What I liked most about Reed was his ability to close out games. Early in the year, in close games, Reed was applying pressure and sealing wins for Arizona. I'm concerned that he was a DL at the college level who will have to convert to OLB. We've never seen him stand up and drop in coverage. He had a great combine - especially in the 10-yard split, which is what Thompson covets. I like Reed, but I don't see him as the best player available at #32. If he's our 1st pick, I hope we trade down & grab additional picks and get him around #40.

- Casey Matthews, Oregon. Projected Round 3-4. Definitely not his brother. But, he has a nose for the football and the heart of a lion.

- Colin McCarthy, []_[]. Round 3. Immediately, he'll be a stallion special teams player. Finds the football. Moves well. Gets sideline to sideline.

- Greg Jones, Michigan State. Round 3-4. At one time, he was considered a top-15 prospect. Now, we might last until Day 3. It's almost unbelievable. Every time he plays, he seems to lead the game in tackles. Even at the Senior Bowl, he had a dozen tackles. Not the best size. Not the best speed. Just a football player. I'd take him.

- Akeem Dent, Georgia. Projected Round 6. Great awareness. Sees the field. I envision him immediately contributing on special teams. Gets to the sideline well. Will take on blockers. He's not going to shy away from contact.

- Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State. Projected Round 7 or Undrafted. Might be able to play both ILB & OLB. Active player. Appeared to have good discipline during the East-West game. Versatile defender. Can drop in coverage. Decent awareness.

- Mario Harvey, Marshall. Round 7. You know when you watch someone play one time & he instantly catches your eye? That happened to me with Mario Harvey. Not ideal size nor speed. But, he plays like Desmond Bishop. Crushes you. I'd take him in a heartbeat in Round 7.

- Marc Scheichl, Colorado School of the Mines. Round 5-7. So, I wrote about the Packers being present at this Pro Day. Well, Schiechl became the talk of local sports radio for a night after he posted a 35-inch vertical jump and ran up 38 reps on the bench pressure. He stands just over 6-2 & weighs 251 lbs. Speculation was that the Packers were a huge player in conducting drills that tested his ability to drop in coverage and play as an OLB as he was mainly a DE at the college level. Further, he holds the D2 record with 45 career sacks. He was a man amongst boys.

- Cheta Ozougwu, Rice. Round 6-7. Arguably, the most naturally gifted of the bunch. Moves with grace. Totally fluid. Good lateral movement. Played DE in college, but I believe his skills translate to OLB in the NFL. Runs like Walden. Good developmental prospect.

- Matt Berning, Central Michigan. Probably an UFA. But, what would a Ted Thompson prospect list be without a guy from Central Michigan? He needed to be on the list.

- Bruce Miller, UCF. Projected Round 7. Put this guy on the field. Let him get after the QB. I'd love to see the Packers take a shot on him either in the 7th round or as an undrafted FA. Consistently, he's applying pressure. Great effort player. Late him games, I've seen him seal the deal.

- I view OLB's Dontay Moch, Chris Carter, and Mason Foster all as players who will make rosters & bring solid special teams contributions. I don't necessarily view them as players that will be upgrades over our current roster.

CB: With Sir Charles, T-Mon, and Sammy Swagga, the Packers are in good position. But, depth concerns me. Underwood, P-Lee, and J-Bush have not shown consistency nor true development. Josh Bell remains on the roster, but I don't have confidence in him either. I like Josh Gordy as a developmental prospect. I liked him out of college. I'll be interested to follow him in training camp. I foresee the Packers drafting at least one CB this year.

- Jimmy Smith, Colorado. Projected Round 1. If he's available at #32, man, he'd be tough to pass up. Baltimore, Philly, NYJ and Pittsburgh seem like logical spots for him. But, it's possible he could fall. Ideal size. Attitude is a concern, but I think our locker room would straighten him up.

- Aaron Williams, Texas. Projected Round 1-2. Many think he'll have to play Safety at the next level. Not me. I think he'd be a solid CB both in the slot and on the outside. Great tackler. Aggressive. Gets his hands on the ball. Plays the ball well in the air. I'd like him at #32 if he's the pick.

- Ras-I Dowling, Virginia. Projected Round 2-3. As I've said before, he were healthy, he'd be a top-15 pick. I love his game. 'Nuff said.

- Curtis Brown, Texas. Projected Round 2-3. Has the size, the speed and awareness. Good out of his breaks. Legit prospect. Will be a great pick for someone.

- If Korey Lindsey, Brandon Hogan, and Marcus Gilchrist stood at least 5-11, I'd write with great length about each of them. But, since they're only 5-10, they haven't fit the typical Ted Thompson profile.

- Cortez Allen, Citadel. Projected Round 5. Sometimes I watch players and think "Green Bay Packer." He fits the bill. Long, lanky. Good extension. Aggressive. Looks the part.

- Richard Sherman, Stanford. Round 4-5. Raw. Only played one year of CB. Previously, he was a WR. Has great size. Small similarities to Ras-Al. We struck gold with a 1-year collegiate CB last year.

- Antareis Bryan, Baylor. Projected Round 5. He's 6-1, 200. He ran a 4.37 at his Pro Day. He's had injury issues. As a sophomore he had 9 passes defensed. He's a Texas kid. He didn't get a combine invite. It's widely known that the Packers have interest. He's a classic Ted Thompson pick.

- Chris Rucker, Michigan State. Projected Round 4-5. Gets in your face as a CB. I enjoy his game. Jabs you. Runs with you. Gets his head turned around & finds the ball.

- Kevin Rutland, Mizzou. Projected Round 5-6. Fast. Powerful. Would be a great late round pick. Can rush the passer from his CB spot with great success. Really helped developed Mizzou's defense last year. Gets his hands on the ball. A legit prospect. Will be on a roster next year.

S: The Packers have great depth at S. Nintendo Nick, Morgan Burnett, Charlie Peprah, Anthony Smith, and Anthony Levine will be back. While most would look at this depth chart & assume the Packers would not draft a Safety, I've learned with Ted Thompson to expect the unexpected. Therefore, I've looked into late round safety prospects.

- Tyler Sash, Iowa. Projected Round 3. If Ted Thompson drafts him, he'll say "football player." He makes plays that you're used to seeing in backyard football. A lot like Jim Leonhard.

- Zac Etheridge, Auburn. Projected Round 7. The leader in the secondary for the National Champs.

Special Teams: While I'm not overly sold on Mason Crosby, Thompson won't be spending a draft pick on a K. Tim Masthay was a hero over the last half of the season. We could use help with a kick returners. I've read the Packers are spending pre-draft visits with kick returners. Even though McCarthy has been outwardly against using a small receiver, I've long believed that if given the opportunity, McCarthy would enjoy diagramming a play to get it to a scat-back type player who was a weapon in space.

- Shaky Smithson, WR/KR, Utah. He led the nation in punt return yards and punt return average. He'd be a 6th or 7th round pick, possibly an undrafted FA. The Packers visited with him. I've watched every YouTube video I could find on him. Guy has bounce. A swing to his step, he'll dance in the open field. He can be seeing throwing a TD pass, catching deep balls for TD's, and looking like a magician returning kicks.

- Jeremy Ross, WR/KR, Cal. Ross can absolutely fly. He blew up at his pro day, running under a 4.40. I've watched all of his YouTube videos as well as I understand the Packers brought him in for a visit. Standing 5-11, 213 lbs., Ross is a beast. Not a great route runner. He has limitations as a WR. Still, he could be worth a late round draft as a kick returner & a deep threat on offense. His video also showed him as a weapon running a reverse. Further, he holds a number of Cal records for strength & conditioning in events such as the power clean, the bench press, the squat and the vertical jump. Best of all, he wore #3 in college. Sounds like a Ted Thompson prospect to me.

As always, though they are necessary, no OL in my mock draft. I'd like to draft 2 OL, but I don't know the prospects all that well. For the record, I'd like the Packers to trade out of the 1st round with hopes of grabbing a total of 6 picks in the first 4 rounds. I like the magical 4 of the top 100 as we refuel. I doubt that pick #32 will have significant trade value as it appears that most teams near the end of the 1st round are interested in trading down. Though the demand to trade up for QB's will be high towards the end of the 1st round, I imagine that supply will outweigh demand. The Seahawks, Bears, Patriots. Steelers and Packers are all rumored to be interested in trading down & out of the 1st round. Again, this draft is about replenishing the depth on our roster. Since the CBA won't allow for teams to trade players, I project that Flynn will be on the roster in 2011 and thus, the Packers won't draft a QB. Always remember, Ted Thompson likes players with roots from TX, CA, FL, and MI.

Round 1 - Cameron Heyward, DL, Ohio State - Kills me to not type Hankerson, but we must continue to win the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball.
Round 2 - Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii - It's probably a bit early for him, but Thompson gets his guy.
Round 3 - Daniel Thomas, RB, K-State - Ryan Grant is in the last year of his contract. Typically, Thompson buys himself insurance in this scenario.
Round 4a - Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State - So much production. Nose for the football. Line him up. Put pads on him. Let him play.
Round 4b - Jordan Cameron, TE, USC - Though we are loaded at TE, his athleticism is too good to pass up.
Round 5 - Antareis Bryan, CB, Baylor - Vintage Ted Thompson pick. Texas product. Injury issues limited his college production.
Round 6 - Martin Parker, DL Richmond - Furthers the depth. Really like his ability to move.
Round 7a - Mark Schiechl, OLB, Colorado School of the Mines - while we might be able to get him as an undrafted FA, why take the chance?
Round 7b - Jeremy Ross, WR/KR, Cal - he'd potentially solve our issues at KR. He'd also be a nice developmental WR.

In Ted Thompson, I trust.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Take -> Epic Mock Draft Volume 2

Greetings, G-Force.

For some, April brings baseball season. For me, it's the start of NFL Draft month. The 2011 NFL Draft is less than a month away. Ted Thompson has 9 picks. If his guy falls in Round 1, he'll have the ammunition to trade up. Also, depending on what happens with the likes of Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, and Ryan Mallett, the #32 pick might be coveted. The new draft format gives added value to the later picks on Day 1 & the earlier picks in Round 2. Remember that last year the Viqueens were able to swing a deal with the Lions at pick #30. The Broncos also traded up to pick #25 to grab Tebow. It wouldn't surprise me if Thompson were to receive a solid offer for pick #32 - depending on what happens with the QB position. Every year, I say that I like having 4 of the top 100. This year - Thompson has 5 of the top 131.

And now for Volume 2 of my Epic Mock Draft. Once again, I don't include OL. Time limits me & quite simply, I don't follow it closely enough to make an opinion. I wish I had more time to dig into the OL as it's a crucial component to the 2011 Draft, but unfortunately, I've been busy.

Round 1 (#32): Leonard Hankerson, WR, []_[]. I've tried to convince myself to go another direction & to grab a DL or OLB at this spot. I've looked at options to potentially grab WR later and while I'm intrigued at the possibility of grabbing a gifted WR later in the draft, my focus is on giving Aaron Rodgers another weapon. Too many times we've seen this offense stall late in games. It was our defense that saved games. With the majority of our playmakers coming back on defense, it's vital to add more talent on offense. By now, we know that Ted Thompson places an emphasis on spending early picks on pass-catchers. See: Terrence Murphy, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, J-Mike. This year - the choice is Hankerson. He leaves THE []_[] having caught more TD's than any player in the rich history of Miami football. Hankerson not only has a knack for finding the end zone, but he's also had a pension for getting open on 3rd down. He's not afraid to go across the middle. He can play in the slot. He can also play on the outside. He's solid in traffic. He's a gifted WR. Occasionally, he'll drop a pass, but I believe he'd look great wearing either #86 or #84 next year.

Others to watch: Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple. Great talent. Impressive quickness for a big guy. Powerful. Don't think he'll make it to #32, but if he does, he'd be a solid 3-4 DE. Same applies to Cameron Heyward, DL, Ohio State. For the record, I don't want Brooks Reed, OLB, AZ with our 1st round pick. After watching him play 5 times this year, I don't see him as a 1st round talent. He has a great motor. He's a closer. He'll finish games with a sack, which intrigues me. But, he was strictly a DE in college. He didn't drop in coverage. His hand was in the dirt. Yes, he'd add variety to the Defense, but I've never considered him a 1st round talent. I viewed him as a 3rd rounder, at best. If he's our 1st pick, I hope we've traded down & accumulated extra draft choices. Also, earlier in the college season, I wrote that Akeem Ayers would fit the Packers better than anyone else at the college level. I viewed him as a perfect compliment to the Claymaker. He dominated Texas. But, this was prior to knowing that Texas was awful last year. Additionally, then I watched him play Oregon. Against Oregon, he looked slow. Granted, Oregon made most defenders look slow, however that's the type of speed that Ayers will face on a weekly basis in the NFL. Consistently, Ayers was beat to the corner. The Combine also showed that Ayers lacked speed. He wasn't overly physical. Still, I'd like Ayers, a lot as our 1st round pick. I've seen him dominate. He has the ability. I'm no longer juiced with the notion of Martez Wilson, LB, IL in the 1st round. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. Often times, in late-March/early-April, teams forget about the tape. They remember the pre-draft workouts. Players who consistently made plays at the college level drop in the draft. It's always confused me. For me, this applies to Williams. At one point, Williams was viewed as a 1st round pick. The draft advisory board listed him as a 1-2 round prospect. Now, while reading the draft "experts", they express concern rather than discussing his positive attributes. While at Texas, Williams did it all. He picked off passes (4), he got to the QB (3 sacks, 3 pressure), he made plays against the run (12 tackles for loss), he forced fumbles (6) and he blocked punts (5). At times, he even returned punts. In some ways, his style of play reminds me of Sir Charles. He's physical. He attacks the football. Additionally, as we know, the McCarthy/Thompson combination requires rookies to play special teams. Well, not only did Williams block kicks, but he also finished tied for the team lead with 9 tackles on special teams. Most speculate that his college teammate, Curtis Brown, will be selected before him. Williams stands 6-0, 200 lbs. He ran a 4.42 in the 40. Presently, it appears #32 will be too early for Aaron Williams. It's doubtful that he'll be around when the Packers select at #64.

Round 2 (#64): Kendrick Ellis, DT, Hampton. 6-5. 345. Massive. He'd be a great addition to our DL. He'd fit our Big Beefy package. I've often wrote that Ted Thompson will occasionally draft for next year (meaning 2012) rather than this year. Well, Ryan Pickett is aging. Howard Green has one more year on his contract. Couple that with the assumption that Cullen Jenkins will be gone via FA & the Packers must draft a DL in the early portions of the 2011 NFL Draft. Thankfully, DL is largely considered the most talented position in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Others to watch: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy. Elusive with the ball in his hands. He'll make you miss & he's a highlight film in the making. But, the big question mark is his size. Is he physical enough to withstand the punishment of the NFL game. Truly, I believe that Mike McCarthy would love to design plays to get Jernigan in the open field. Randall Cobb, KR/WR, Kentucky. The Packers love versatile performers. Cobb played both QB & WR for Kentucky in his career. He was also a dangerous KR. I envision Ted Thompson calling him a "football player." Christian Ballard, DL, Iowa. I've seen his name attached to the Packers at the end of Round 1. I don't see him as a 1st round pick rather I see him as a mid-to-late 2nd rounder. If he's around, he'd be a solid pick as he'd be able to rotate with Mike Neal/CJ Wilson at DE. He'd also be able to pressure the QB in the 2-4-5 defense that the Packers often use. While I believe the Packers are in good hands with the Grant/Starks/Kuhn combination, there might be good talent available when the Packers pick at #64. Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech. Williams is a game changer. He gets better with more carries. He's a home run threat. Mikel LeShoure, RB, IL. LeShoure is a nifty runner who was extremely productive at the college level. For his collegiate career, he averaged 6.0 yards per carry. Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia. If he'd have stayed healthy, he'd be a top-20 draft pick. Great frame. Sees the field. Plays the ball. As I've said before, when healthy, he outplayed his college teammate, Chris Cook who was an early 2nd round pick for the 'queen in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Round 3 (#96): Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon. Totally wishful. There looks to be good value in the 3rd round at ILB with the likes of Colin McCarthy, []_[] and Greg Jones, Michigan State, as other options. I know that it's unlikely that Matthews will be a Packer, but man, it's attractive to consider. He'd fit the 3-4. He has the long hair that we require to play LB. He's instinctive. He has the bloodlines. Plus, we have a true requirement to add an ILB. If Matthews is on the board at pick #96, I want him!

Others to watch: I'm enamored with Austin Pettis, WR, Boise St. The guy will have a career in the NFL. He runs solid routes. Great size. Solid hands. A gamer.

Round 4 (#129): Jordan Todman, RB, UCONN. Every time I watched UCONN play over the last two years, Todman was making plays. He has a nose for the end zone, he gets tough yards and for his size, he falls forward. Would be a solid addition to our backfield. Again, Thompson will draft for 2012 over 2011 - at some point - in this draft. Todman might be that pick if he doesn't expect to resign Ryan Grant after this year.

Round 4 (#131): Terrell McClain, Super athletic big man. Fits the 3-4 DE spot. Holds the point of attack. Uber quick for his size. Played both the run & the pass very well. He'd add pressure and can hold the point of attack - though not overly powerful.

Others to watch: Charles Clay, RB, Tulsa. He has terrific hands. He's got a unique build. He's not a fierce blocker, but he's a constant mismatch problem for opposing defenses. Every year - it seems that the Thompson/McCarthy regime makes a head-scratching decision at either FB or TE. This year, it's in the form of Charles Clay who can carry the ball, but he could also be viewed as a guy that could play FB or potentially, TE. I know I previously said that I'd undoubtedly have him as my pick at #129, but surprisingly (even to myself), I've changed my mind. Virgil Green, TE, Nevada. A physical specimen. A threat that has the size & speed to create headaches for defensive coordinators. If utilized properly, he could turn into a true gem. Alex Green, RB, Hawaii. Out of a spread offense, he led the nation in yards per carry. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards. Solid 3rd down back.

Round 5 (#163): Antareis Bryan, CB, Baylor. He's 6-1, 200. He ran a 4.37 at his Pro Day. He's had injury issues. As a sophomore he had 9 passes defensed. He's a Texas kid. He didn't get a combine invite. It's widely known that the Packers have interest. He's a classic Ted Thompson pick.

Others to watch: Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State. I'll be ultra-interested to see where Thomas is selected. A tremendous athlete. Former TE. Sound hands. Great confidence. Anthony Sherman, FB, UCONN. A bruising FB who the ability to catch the ball. Looks for contact. Similar player to Kuhn. He could also be used as the occasional runner. Solid blocker.

Round 6 (#197): Marc Scheichl, OLB, Colorado School of the Mines. I continue to read on the Internet & hear on the radio that the Packers are showing interest in Scheichl. The DII prospect has the size and physical attributes to play at the next level. Not only were the Packers 1 of 3 teams to be in attendance at his Pro Day, but they have now scheduled a private workout with him. It might be in hopes of him being signed as a UFA, but with the CBA restrictions I'm guessing the Packers use a draft pick on him.

Others to watch: Bruce Miller, OLB, Central Florida. Every time I watched him, he was around the football. Especially late in games. To me, he's almost every bit the prospect as Brooks Reed. Nic Grigsby, RB, Arizona. Has the speed & tools to be a big-play threat. Was limited in college, but he would be a good compliment to the running styles of Grant/Starks.

Round 7 (#204): Scott Tolzien, QB, WI. He's a great prospect. A heady football player. Can make the throws. Great moxie. Intelligent QB. Developmental player. McCarthy could use a new toy. Tolzien fits the bill.

Round 7 (#233): Dwayne Harris, WR, ECU. Last year, Thompson drafted CJ Wilson from ECU and he scored well. This year it's Dwayne Harris, the highly productive college performer. Harris scored 10 TD's as a Senior after scoring 7 as a sophomore.

Others to watch: I'm confident that Thompson will look at WR in the later rounds. Names the Packers have spent time with: Edmund Gates, Abilene Christian; Jamel Hamler, Fresno State; Lester Jean, FAU; and Stephen Burton, West Texas.

Tick-tock to the draft. It's the time when Ted Thompson generally plays like "Pop Tarts!"

Wishing you an XLV-like April!


Talkin' S-Mac.