Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Take - > Packers Draft In Review

Greetings, G-Force.

This draft was a unique combination of securing the continuance of Aaron Rodgers' dominance and replenishing defensive depth with players who had great production at the college level. First, we ensured that the XLV MVP's blindside was protected for the next 10-12 years. Then, we gave him weapons. Drafting players with high character, Thompson patiently waited to see which impact performers would fall into his lap. Biding his time, Thompson found top-notch SEC talent in the first two-rounds: Derek Sherrod & Randall Cobb. In the 3rd round, Thompson drafted a Home Run threat in Alex Green. On the draft's 3rd day, Thompson loaded the roster with statistically dominant players in Davon House, DJ Williams, DJ Smith, and Ricky Elmore. Thompson brought competition to the offensive & defensive lines in Caleb Schlauderaff and Lawrence Guy. Thompson also added Ryan Taylor who'll bring special teams talent & versatility to the offense.

Plainly stated, Thompson knows the Green Bay Packers. He recognized that the Packers offense almost prevented the XLV run. It was the offense that faltered in Detroit. It was the offense which struggled in Week 17 against Chicago. It was the offense which stalled in the 2nd half at Philly. It was the offense, which failed to produce results in the second half of the NFC Championship. It was the offense that had issues in the 2nd half of the Super Bowl. Additionally, we had issues with our special teams units. These issues have been addressed with high profiles.

As my wife went out with her sister on Friday night, I was left with a Cuban cigar & a bottle of Zyr. She left at approximately 8:00. After the Cobb & Green picks - two guys I'm very familiar with - I was yearning to learn more about Sherrod. So, I lit my cigar, popped open the bottle of Zyr and went to my DVR Playlist. I tuned into the Senior Bowl. I watched every snap that Sherrod played. Competing against Cameron Jordan (1st round pick), Ryan Kerrigan (1st round pick), Jeremy Beal (7th round), Pierre Allen (undrafted), Ian Williams (undrafted), and Christian Ballard (4th round), Sherrod showed great ability. He moves his feet well. He has great length. Uses his body well when bellying up against defenders. A terrific run blocker. He moved his feet with grace. On run plays, it was nice to see him get to the 2nd level. He finishes blocks well in the run game. With that, he definitely needs to add strength. At times, he struggled with the bull rush. He needs to utilize his arm length as occasionally, he lets defenders get into his body. He looks like a LT for the future to me, but he'll take light seasoning and he'll need to add strength.

Against speed rushes, Sherrod did a great job of pushing defenders up the field, which created nice passing lanes. On three goal line plays, Sherrod was impressive as won his battle each time. He showed natural athleticism when he came with cut blocks. As I said, he did struggle with the bull rush. On one play, Pierre Allen came with a power move and pushed Sherrod into the backfield. Greg McElroy broke his hand as he hit it on Sherrod's helmet on his follow-through.

Bottom line: I'm stoked with the Sherrod pick. With Bulaga & Sherrod, we have our tackles for the future. Sherrod is a 2-time 1st-team SEC performer. He had a 3.54 GPA. And he appears to be a high-character individual who is cut out for zone blocking scheme.

One coincidence: Post the XXXI title, the Packers drafted Ross Verbal. He wore #78 and was a LT. According to packers.com, Sherrod will wear #78 as well.

Get ready, G-Force! Randall Cobb is about to amaze! What a thrill! Literally, this pick had me jump off the couch and scream with joy. A resounding: "YES!" About 8 picks before our selection, I was enamored with the thought of drafting either Hankerson, Cobb, Salas or Daniel Thomas. Prior to the draft, I didn't foresee a scenario in which Cobb would be available in the 2nd round. I had envisioned a big run on WR's in the 2nd round. Cobb will bring added dimensions to the offensive & special teams units. Finally, we have a return man!

Cobb has a nose for the end zone. After all, he did have a hand in FOUR touchdowns against the National Champion, Auburn Tigers. He ran for 2 TD's, he caught a TD & a threw a TD. He's a football player. Put him on the field. Put the ball in his hands. Watch him make plays. Consistently. He makes people miss. He makes defenders look foolish. He's a threat to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball. Watch his highlights. See the slant. Watch him take it to the house. Think about how that applies to our roster. Amazing!

His press conference was terrific. His comment in which he's "trying to get a hold of Aaron Rodgers right now, so that he can be wherever Rodgers is at as soon as possible" is exemplary of his leadership skills.

His first tweet as a Packer: Green and yellow green and yellow!!!!! Uh huh u know what it is!!!!!!

No doubt - Randall Cobb will be a fan favorite. Immediately.

The Alex Green pick surprises me. Unquestionably, Green has the skill, speed, size & power to be a terrific addition to our team. He ran a 4.46 & a 4.48 in the 40. Playing in Hawaii's spread offense, he led the league in yards per carry. He's a perfect fit when we go to our 4-wide formations. He sees the hole & he hits it viciously. He has good shake. He's smooth. He's flashy. He's good in space, a threat to take it to the house. Against New Mexico State, he ran for 327 yards. In 12 of 14 games, Green had a play of at least 20 yards. He scored 19 TD's as a Senior. He catches the ball well. He'll be a solid third down back. For these reasons, I'm totally thrilled with the pick. But, I have a huge concern: He fumbles. Often. In 2 years, he fumbled the ball 8 times at Hawaii. When I re-watched the East-West game prior to writing my draft blog, I thought to myself: Man, Green looks good in his uniform. He's sporting dreads. Looks the part. Then, Green fumbled twice.

Since Aaron Rodgers took over, the Packers have won the turnover battle. On running plays last year, the combination of B-Jack, Starks, Grant, Kuhn & Nance had ZERO lost fumbles. Winning the turnover battle has been a foundation of our success. For this reason, I didn't envision Thompson drafting Green. I absolutely believe that he has the tools to be a star in the NFL, but he must solve his fumbling issues. And, if he does, he'll be a legitimate threat. Thompson obviously believes that the Packers can fix his fumbling woes. At this stage, who would I be to second guess Thompson? He went to Green's Pro Day. He's a master evaluator. It does concern me that Edgar Bennett will not be the one who is coaching him on ball security as Bennett is now working with the WR's.

Super cool connection of the draft: Like Aaron Rodgers, Green went to Butte Junior College prior to going to Hawaii. While at Butte, Jordan Rodgers (Aaron's brother) was handing the ball to Green.

My Dad called me mid-way through the 4th round and said, "Well, Scott, give me a name." I said, "I'll give you five. Greg Jones, Lawrence Guy, Cedric Thornton, Davon House and Brandon Burton." Needless to say, I got what I wanted. Not only did we get House in Round 4, but we got Guy in Round 7.

Davon House is a playmaker. 11 interceptions in his college career. 3 of them were returned for TD's. That's Packer football. He gets his head turned. Looks fluid. Can turn and run with receivers. He sees the football and plays the ball well in the air. While he isn't overly physical, he isn't afraid to stick his nose into a play to make a tackle.

House has the size and speed to be a big time NFL Corner. He also had been developed by DeWayne Walker who was the Head Coach at New Mexico State. Prior to being the Head Coach at New Mexico State, Walker was a secondary coach for the Patriots, the Giants and USC. Most certainly, the infancy stages of his development have been taught.

As a man, he seems to accentuate the positive with a hard working mentality. It's noteworthy that his favorite CB is T-Mon! Here's a twitter exchange between the two of them:

House - Packers got them a steal with the 31 first pick in the 4th round. Glad to call this place home
T-Mon - Anyone know if Davon House has a twitter? I want to congratulate him.
T-Mon - Davon, Welcome to Green Bay big dawg!
T-Mon - I just read Davon House said I was his favorite corner. respect respect
House - Tramon, cant wait to meet you. its going to be a pleasure working with you!!!
T-Mon - Davon, Same here fam. U comin to a great organization with great coaches and players. Plus u representing the WAC!! Good to have u
House - Woke up this morning saying whooooo feels good to be a PACKER

Gotta love the camaraderie! Continuing to build the locker room!

In the 5th round, the Packers got a total steal! DJ Williams is a tremendous talent! I thought he'd be a mid-3rd round talent. Almost certainly, I thought he'd be off the board before the Packers drafted at #96 in the 3rd round. So certain that I didn't even keep him on my tracker. The Mackey Award winner has great hands, he's a solid route runner, he manages the middle of the field & can beat LB's down the seam. Additionally, he can be a load to bring down. I believe that he'll make an instant impact. He's also a great insurance policy in case J-Mike doesn't return after he's a FA this year.

Here's additional camaraderie built in the Packers locker room via twitter:

DJ Williams - Thanks everyone for your support with all the tweets and text!!! I will try my best to respond haha green & yellow go packers
Finley - DJ, welcome to titletown USA!! I just saw your story online pretty amazing. Hit me if u need anythin. Oh and AROD, he's a beast!! champs repeat yotto!!!
Williams - Jermichael, thanks man, I will. Glad to be apart of the fam

Our locker room is unified. And our best players are the leaders who are publicly welcoming the newest members of the organization.

I don't know much about Caleb Schlauderaff or DJ Smith. But, from what I read, I like the picks. Schlauderaff seems to enjoy a nasty streak. We needed to look at OG as Colledge's status is uncertain. Further, we haven't identified a definitive a replacement for Colledge. We needed additional competition. Should Colledge leave, it'd be a battle between McDonald, Dietrich-Smith, Lang, Newhouse & Schlauderaff. While each have shown good promise, no one has been able to secure the job and I'd like someone to secure the job by winning it outright - not by default.

DJ Smith means the end of Brady Poppinga. Appears as though Smith will be a heat-seeking missile on special teams. He's a bit undersized, but I read comparisons to Dexter Coakley. There are two players in Appalachian State's football history who amassed 500 tackles in a career: Smith & Coakley. Should Smith be anything similar to Coakley the Packers will have gotten an absolute bargain in Smith. Dear DJ, on special teams, find the football, young man!

For the 6th round, the Ricky Elmore pick was excellent! Great value. While watching Arizona, Elmore was as much of a fighter as his teammate, Brooks Reed. Elmore had 21 sacks in 2 years! He ripped up Ricky Stanzi from Iowa for 2 sacks. He got to Jake Locker. He had 3 sacks against Washington State. In his rivalry game against Arizona State, he had 8 tackles & 3 sacks. Elmore is a battler & will immediately compete with Walden, Jones, and Zombo for snaps as a 3rd-down pass rusher. The combination of Clay Matthews & Elmore gives us two Pac-10 Sack-Masters!

Elmore has the motor that the Packers seek in OLB's. He has great fight and a nose for the QB. While he isn't blessed with great spin moves, Elmore has the fight that Kevin Greene covets. And while he doesn't time well in the 40, he has shown the ability to beat Tackles around the corner with speed rushes. He's smart, disciplined and possesses a high football IQ on the field. In many ways, Elmore's style and competitive streak reminds me of Zombo.

Further camaraderie building: On twitter, Elmore suggests that he's going to grow his hair out. He also has been training with Clay Matthews' Dad & Brother. He also posted this twitter message: Proud to be a packer! I can't wait to get to Titletown.

Unless Ryan Taylor gets moved to FB, this pick confused me. I read that he has solid special teams talent, but how many TE's can you keep? I'd expect the Packers to keep Finley, Quarless, Crabtree & DJ Williams, so it'll be interesting to see how he's utilized. Hopefully, he's a special teams demon.

I love the Lawrence Guy pick. No doubt that he'll be on the roster. He'll make the team. He'll be a solid 3-4 DE for the Packers. Bret Bielema called him the most disruptive DL that the Badgers faced all year. Guy would have benefited from staying in school for his senior year, but nonetheless, he'll be a nice developmental prospect for the Packers. It wouldn't have surprised anyone if he had been a 4th round pick. Getting him this late was a total bargain.

I had a feeling that Thompson was trying to accumulate picks because undrafted Free Agents won't be immediately available for signing. When that time comes, my guess is that the Packers will look at Jeremy Ross, WR, Cal; Nick Bellore, ILB, Central Michigan; Martin Parker, DL, Richmond; Cedric Thornton, DL, Southern Arkansas; Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M; Scott Tolzien, QB, WI; Lester Jean, WR, FAU; Graig Cooper, RB, []_[].

It was an exciting 3 days for the Packers. We're armed for another Super Bowl run. We're layered with talent. I was happy that we went after offense early in this draft. We got great defensive value late. Thompson targeted big schools as 6 of his 10 picks were from the SEC, ACC or Pac-10. He tried to win the 6th round of the draft by accumulating 3 picks. Clearly, he saw good value between picks 131-197 as he made 5 selections inside that 66 pick segment. I imagine that the Packers will give immediate action to Cobb, Green, House, and Williams. Elmore will compete for 3rd down snaps. Guy will find his way into the rotation at some point in the season. And, hopefully, Taylor & Smith will add immediate value to special teams. If we're lucky, Bulaga & Clifton will remain healthy so Sherrod will have a year to develop and add strength. Through it all, it was a total treat to watch Thompson work his wizardry.

Cheers to Ted Thompson!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com

1 comment:

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