Sunday, July 31, 2011

5 Things to Watch

Greetings, G-Force.

With a vengeance, football is back. Rightfully, it's a thrilling time to be following the Green Bay Packers. Sure, the Packers are the defending XLV Champs, but the kings of the football world are also well stocked for another magical run. While the likes of the Eagles, Saints and Lions pillage through the Free Agency period in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage in the NFC, the Packers will return with the majority of last years core, key veterans who are coming back from injury and a number of promising rookies who are capable of making an impact. Sure, we are all thirsting to see who wins the starting LG spot, but here's 5 things I'll be paying attention to in Training Camp:

1.) As we initiate training camp, my biggest concern is the depth of the front 7 on defense. While I'm extremely confident with our starting rotation and the depth at OLB is comforting, we need someone to step up at ILB and we could use another reliable DE. Raji, Pickett & Howard Green assure that the Packers have solid run stuffers on the DL. CJ Wilson also had a quality rookie season. It'll be entertaining to watch his development. Mike Neal showed brute force, high octane effort and good quickness in limited action last year. His health is imperative to a run at the repeat. As the roster currently sits, there will be a depth chart battle between Lawrence Guy and Jarius Wynn for the last DL roster spot. Though Wynn has shown glimpses of talent, I expect Guy to earn a roster spot unless the Packers only keep 6 DL.

Meanwhile at ILB, things need to get figured out. From a starter's perspective, Ted Thompson covered himself from the losses of Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar. But, those departures left us alarming thin at ILB. It's possible Brad Jones could be versatile enough to slide inside to provide more options, but at this point we're left with DJ Smith, Robert Francois, Elijah Joseph and Cardia Jackson. One of these prospects must elevate!

2.) It can't be overstated, Ted Thompson wanted to improve the special teams portion of the team. It was an emphasis of the offseason. Other than the selection of Sherrod, improving the special teams facet of the game was the top priority. With that, hopefully the likes of Nintendo Nick will no longer be on kickoff coverage units as Ryan Taylor, DJ Smith, Davon House, Brandian Ross, and Anthony Bratton all appear to have both a pension to become core special teams players. With the added focus on special teams, hopefully, T-Mon is no longer the punt returner. Randall Cobb brings quickness that the Packers did not have last year. He'll be given the chance to win the return job. Shaky Smithson will also have the opportunity to provide a Desmond Howard style bolt to the return game. Thompson also invested in Mason Crosby. Tim Masthay was stellar in the 2nd half of last year. The question: During training camp, who will rise up as a gunner to assist Masthay?

3.) How many TE's can the Packers keep? While it's early, my initial projections have the Packers keeping all 5. J-Mike and DJ Williams are locks. AQ81 and Tom Crabtree showed enough last year to show they're worthy of repeat roster spots. Then Thompson spent a 7th round pick on a potential core special teams player in Ryan Taylor. One thing is for certain, DJ Williams has the ability and maturity to make an immediate impact on this roster. Call it the DJ Williams effect. While the Packers are loaded with receiving options, Williams brings a dynamic dimension. He is a unique talent who is capable of creating mismatches. In college, he was well schooled by Bobby Petrino. Williams can play on the outside, he can play as a traditional TE with his hand in the dirt or he can play as an H-Back. It'll be interesting to see how Mike McCarthy utilizes DJ's versatility. Be excited, G-Force!

4.) Ryan Grant is the "starter." John Kuhn will be the 3rd down back and FB. Quinn Johnson will be the lead blocker in power running formations. Last years run-game savior, James Starks, has the running style to be an ideal "closer." So, how does Alex Grenn fit into the fold? On video, he looks like a Dorsey Levens type from the mid-90's. 2nd & long. Spread 'em out. Come with the draw. He hits the hole. Makes one guy miss and he finds chunks of yardage. Via Green, will the screen, once again, play a prominent role in the offense?

5.) The Packers are loaded with depth at WR. As of now, you'd have to predict that the toughest cuts will come at WR - especially if Shaky earns himself a roster spot as a KR. At WR, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb are locks to make the team. Brett Swain has spent 3 years on the roster and won't leave without a fight. Chastin West showed moments of goodness last year in the preseason. Tori Gurley, Kerry Taylor and Diondre Borel each have unique skill sets that should provide for a competitive training camp. Could this be an area where we're able to pull a trade for a future pick at the end of Training Camp? Further, I'll be curious to see Mike McCarthy's plan for Cobb. Will it be in the slot as a future Donald Driver? Will he be running underneath crossing routes like James Jones did in 2007. Will the bubble screen make an appearance? The wild cat? Time will tell and I'm anxious to witness.

Are you ready to rumble? Family Night is less than a week away. I'm pumped.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ted Thompson is Doin' Work!

Greetings, G-Force.

The time is now. It's when Ted Thompson finds gems in unknown talent. It's when Dan Snyder overspends on the oppositions Free Agents. One philosophy led to XLV. The other has led to multiple seasons of disappointment.

The motto surrounding the Packers attack on the undrafted Free Agent market is "Getting Shaky Wit' It!" Since Allen Rossum left the Packers before the 2002 season, the Packers have been in search for a threat as a return specialist. Willie B. showed flashes of brilliance. But, for the most part, the Packers return game has been the most disappointing portion of our franchise for the better part of a decade. Enter: Randall Cobb and Shaky Smithson. Shaky led college football in punt yards per return after averaging more than 19 yards per return. Yes, more than 19 yards PER return! Wicked! Expect to see Shaky high-stepping down the sidelines. He's a north-south returner. Wish a legit shake to his step. Additionally, he averaged more than 24 yards per kickoff return. I fully expect Smithson to make an impact for the defending Super Bowl champions in 2011. Through the addition of both Smithson and Cobb, look for the Packers to incorporate the bubble screen into the office in attempt to get these guys into space.

Other than Shaky, the guy I'm most stoked about is Brandian Ross. He's 6-0. More than 190 lbs. Not afraid of contact. Plays the ball in the air. A former safety. Turned CB. He looks for contact. He'll be a special teams gem. It's clear that Ted Thompson wanted to improve the special teams unit. Look for Ross to have the opportunity to win the job as the gunner. Further, his versatility in the secondary is invaluable - though I imagine he'll enter into training camp strictly as a CB.

Thompson went for riches at the WR position. Reportedly, he's agreed to terms with Tori Gurley, Kerry Taylor, and Diondre Borel. I don't have any insight to add on Borel other than what you read in highly publicized circles, but I have seen much of both Gurley and Taylor. I'm excited about the prospects. During the 2010 college season, I wondered how good Gurley could be. He has elite size. Great physique. Looks to have good hands. In the epic game against Auburn last year, he found his way into the end zone, but the problem is that Alshon Jeffery was across the field from him. For those not familiar with Jeffery, he might enter the 2011 college football season as the best player in the game. Thus, Gurley's opportunities to shine were limited. Taylor - the nephew of former 49er star, John Taylor - is an exciting addition as well. Taylor should be pro ready having played in Dennis Erickson's offense. While it's true that Taylor and Erickson didn't always see eye-to-eye, Taylor was a consistent performer. Taylor won't be a speed demon, but he's fast enough. He's physical for his size and runs with might. He's sure handed and a go-to guy on 3rd down. In the dramatic Arizona-Arizona State game in which Arizona State's Alex Zendejas got his Extra Point blocked in double overtime to lose, Taylor was dynamite grabbing 6 balls for over 100 yards.

Undoubtedly, the Packers need depth at the Safety position. Thompson got what he wanted in Anthony Bratton. Bratton is a workout wonder. He's 6-0, 213. He ran a 4.46. He notched 2 picks and forced two fumbles showing he has a nose for the football. He is a safety that likes to enter the box as he laid down the wood to the tone of 99 tackles his senior year. Thompson also targeted MD Jennings. Jennings is a playmaking, small school safety who had a statistically loaded collegiate career.

Brandon Saine had solid production when he was on the field. He simply had difficulty staying healthy. Good one-cut runner. Runs low to the ground. He'll power through defenders - almost surprisingly for his size. In many ways, he runs like Brandon Jackson. Not going to out-run you, but he'll find a way to sneak into the defensive secondary and he'll also occasionally bust a decent size run.

I like the OLB additions. Gotta enjoy depth and young prospects with a successful resume with regards to getting to the QB. Jamari Lattimore looks like a legit prospect. He has the speed and athleticism to take the corner, but at only 230 lbs, I wonder whether he can sustain the point of attack. After watching nearly 15 minutes of his video on YouTube, he looks like a lighter Erik Walden, another former MTSU player. Great hustle. Never quits on a play. Likes the speed rush. Looks like he played in a 3-4 defense, but he's looks more accustomed to having his hand in the dirt rather than standing up. He'll be a good project for Kevin Greene. Vic So'Oto is a virtual unknown to me.

The interior of the OL could use depth. Thompson signed three undrafted free agents. Most notably, he agreed to terms with Arkansas standout Ray Dominguez. I don't have familiarity with neither Theo Sherman nor Sampson Genus.

Thompson also grabbed the Joseph twins from Temple as he signed Peanut and Eli Joseph. Eli has the power necessary to play the 3-4 DE spot. He played NT in the 3-4 for the Owls in college, but he won't be big enough to do the same at the next level. I imagine he'll get the opportunity to compete at DE instead.

Finally, Thompson added to his FB group. With the uncertain return of John Kuhn and with Korey Hall likely headed to Seattle, Thompson brought in the former Gopher, Jon Hoese.

All in all, I like it. Frankly, prior to yesterday, I only had familiarity with Shaky, Ross, Taylor, Gurley, Bratton, Saine, Lattimore and the Joseph brothers. And with the exception of Shaky, Taylor, Gurley and Saine, my familiarity came via reading a variety of internet articles prior to the draft. Nonetheless, in Ted I Trust. I like the positions that he targeted via Free Agency. I'm ready to get this thing going. Let's Get Shaky Wit' It!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Goodness to Cullen Jenkins!

Greetings, G-Force.

With the lockout over and Free Agency staring us in the face, it's time to direct our attention toward the Packers pursuit of a repeat. XLV is ours. Forever. Now, it's time to play for the present. XLVI. The 3-peat is the mission. But, first, we need XLVI. It's expected that Ted Thompson won't be a player as far as acquiring another teams talent. And, unless there are significant concessions from his current stable of UFA's, it's unlikely that he'll make much of a play on the likes of Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, B-Jack, Ras-A-tari and James Jones - even though each has made significant contributions over the last 4 years. During that time, the Packers have made it to 2 NFC Championship games, and of course, the Green & Gold captured the XLV crown. Considering these successes, how can anyone judge Ted Thompson in a negative light?

Ras-A-tari was huge in '07. He was a physical presence that brought intimidation to the secondary. He's been injured ever since. Jones has been a solid WR since his arrival in '07. B-Jack has been a dependable 3rd down back with the exception of the one play in the 2nd Quarter of the '07 Championship Game. If you watched the game, you remember the play. Colledge will be tough to replace. I won't be shocked if Thompson makes an offer, but he's going to receive compensation that the Packers won't be able to match. And, then, there's Cullen Jenkins.

Dear Cullen Jenkins,

It seems our time together is over. Sadly. I'm going to miss you. Since your arrival in '04, you've been a feisty competitor. A beast. Consistently, you won your one-on-one battles. You've solidified the point of attack and made it difficult for teams to run against us. During your 8 years with the Packers, you manned multiple positions. Starting as a DT in the 4-3, you were an underrated, often under-appreciated pass rusher.

In '04, on 3rd down of the Eagles opening series in the game where Favre's TD streak was snapped, I recall you bursting through the line and throwing McNabb to the turf. With excitement, the Packers were off the field! My cousin, Ryan, and I screamed thru telephone lines into each others ears. I was in Miami Beach. He was in Green Bay. For a moment, due to your efforts, it felt like we were sitting on the couch together!

In '05, you developed into a legitimate 4 down player. Playing in 16 games, notching 3 sacks and totaling 37 tackles, Cullen Jenkins was becoming a constant on the Packers DL.

Then, in '06, the NFL world was introduced to Cullen Jenkins. The average NFL fan started to learn what die-hard Green & Gold fans already knew: Cullen Jenkins was a blossoming NFL talent. At 4-8, the Packers season was over. Sure, we were in the developmental stages under a new organizational regime, but, man, this team was searching for answers. One decision was to move you to RDE in place of future Packer HOF'er and master sack artist, KGB. In chronological order, it was arguably the 4th controversial decision that the Ted Thompson led Green Bay Packers had to make since taking the reigns of the most unique American sports franchise. To reflect, first Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers as the eventual replacement to #4. Then, Ted Thompson selected Mike McCarthy over Sean Payton when the Packers gig was Payton's desired choice. Payton had a successful track record. McCarthy was a virtual unknown who had recently preferred Alex Smith to Aaron Rodgers. Third, Thompson traded away Javon Walker, who at the team appeared to be a budding superstar. This acquired pick was once again traded. Eventually, via that trade, Thompson selected Greg Jennings. The 4th controversial decision was moving Jenkins into the starting rotation over KGB. While this decision wasn't necessarily Thompson's, it was done under his watchful eye and it also reaped immediate rewards. Flourishing in your new role, you rebelled your way to 3.5 sacks in 4 games. The Packers were suddenly a forceful defense. Rummaging thru all 3 divisional foes along with a convincing victory in SF. The Packers swept thru December and had significant momentum entering the '07 season. Cullen, you earned your new contract!

In '07, with the rotation of yourself, AK-74, KGB, Corey Williams and Ryan Pickett, suddenly, the Packers had a dynamite front 4. Cullen, you had your best year with regards to combined tackles with 44. Defensively, we had a pension for creating the big play. It was initiated by the domination on the DL.

In '08, you were off to a Pro Bowl start to the season. You were a menace to opposing OL's, Cullen. At 2-1, the team was off to a good start. I was at the fateful game in Tampa when your season was cut short. Vividly, I remember the play. You bullied your way thru the line on 3rd down. You had Griese in your grasp...and after that play, for the rest of the '08 season, the Packers defense was not the same. We lacked confidence. You swagger was missed. So was your attitude. Consistently, the Packers lost close games and could not get a key defensive stop.

In '09, once again, Cullen, you were asked to change roles as the Packers moved to a 3-4. Being the solid teammate you are, you did so with only minimal complaint. With a vengeance, you returned from injury. 16 games played. 4.5 sacks. 32 tackles.

I'd argue 2010 was your best year. Playing in only 11 games, you fought your way to 7 sacks. Working with an injury and an uncertain future with the Packers, you were the consummate professional. Again, you were asked to play a variety of different roles along the defensive front. Again, you excelled. It was culminated with a BLING, BLING RING and an XLV Season. Pop Tarts, Cullen! Pop Tarts!

Cullen, if this is good-bye, I want to say thanks. In my mind, you'll always be a Green Bay Packer. You'll always be the beast who made life difficult for the opposition. You'll be remembered as a team player with a win first attitude. I won't blame you if you sign with another team. Just don't make it the Lions, Bears or the Viqueens.

But, Cullen, before I let you go...I want to say one last thing: Imagine this scenario. You take a significant discount. You'll still make millions. You stay with the Pack. You sign for 4-5 more years. Basically, a lifetime contract. You continue to play at your current level. The Packers win another Super Bowl or two. You retire as a Packer. And as a millionaire. Oh, and at that moment, you'd also join your former DL mates KGB & AK-74 as those retiring as more than worthy members of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame! To me, there would not be a price on that honor. I realize that there are two sides to every negotiation and I am not a fly on the wall at 1265, but what if you came to the mystical place referred to as Lambeau Field with a take-it or leave-it offer?

Jerry Garcia made these words famous: "I Know You Rider gonna miss me when I'm gone." Cullen, if you leave, you'll be missed. Wholeheartedly, I hope these lyrics don't apply to you.

Go Pack Go!


Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free Agency Leads to Draft Picks

Greetings, G-Force.

***As a preface to this take, I'd like to thank Brian Carriveau and Aaron Nagler from CheeseheadTV for providing insight as to the expected, impending CBA rules. Without their writing, I would not have clarification on a couple of important pieces included in the CBA. If you aren't following CheeseheadTV, what are you waiting for? While Tom Silverstein and Bob McGinn go on summer vacation, there are only two outlets that deliver top notch Packer Packers insight: Bill Huber at Packer Report and So far, the writing of Tyler Dunne - the new writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - has been first class and I'm excited to read more. Sure, there is an enormous quantity of fluffy Packers information available, but quality information is hard to find. Don't sleep on CheeseheadTV.***

Ted Thompson has built his Green Bay Packers rosters through the accumulation of draft picks, raging the undrafted Free Agent pool and locking up his superstars prior them hitting the Free Agent market. Don't think XLV will alter his philosophy. Thompson entered the 2011 draft with 8 picks. He left with 10. Prior to FA starting, Thompson locked up Desmond Bishop, T-Mon, and AJ Hawk. Thus, if history continues, the futures of Cullen Jenkins, Brandon Jackson, Daryn Colledge and James Jones will not be in Green Bay unless there is an extreme discount attached to the contract.

Even if a discount is attached to the contract, it's important to remember that Ted Thompson values the NFL Draft. Clearly, he cherishes draft picks. He relishes the opportunity to scout young talent. And after compensatory picks are handed out next year, it's not unfathomable to believe the Packers could have as many as FOUR - yes, FOUR - compensatory picks. Thompson has always had his eye on the future. He's planned for something like this. He wants to infest the development of this roster with a continued youthful exuberance. Thompson is salivating over the notion of multiple picks that can be found in abundance without tarnishing his current roster depth. In fact, we're built for this to occur. And since compensatory picks cannot be traded, Thompson will have his other picks to potentially use as ammunition to trade up and win the middle rounds of the draft.

It's conceivable to think the Packers could lose as many as 11 players via Free Agency without adding anyone from another roster. Cullen Jenkins, Ras-A-tari, B-Jack, James Jones, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Anthony Smith, Korey Hall, Matt Wilhelm, Brett Swain, and Spencer Havner. I'm writing this under the assumption that the Packers re-sign Crosby and Kuhn. I can't see either of them going anywhere. Though, with Kuhn, I suppose anything is possible.

For the record, I don't know the science associated with providing teams with compensatory picks. What I do know is that Colin Cole had 48 tackles in 16 games in 2009. Decent stats. Due to his performance, the Packers were awarded with a 5th round pick.

Wherever Jenkins signs, if he stays healthy, he's sure to make an immediate impact and the Packers would likely receive a 4th round pick in return. If you've followed this blog, you know I think Cullen Jenkins a total star. But, Thompson has positioned himself well with the likes of Mike Neal and CJ Wilson to replace. Additionally, Dom Capers' wide variety of defensive packages would ease the departure.

James Jones would start on most rosters. Most teams have less offensive talent than the Packers. Therefore, it's not inconceivable for Jones to have a 65-70 catch year. If so, he'd likely be a 4th or a 5th round compensatory pick. There is WR depth in Titletown. It's hard to imagine Jones returning.

Daryn Colledge has started every game for 3 years. He plays through pain. He'll likely play 16 games for someone else next year. Assuming he plays at the level Colledge has played throughout his career, that should warrant a 4th or 5th round pick. I would like to sign Colledge. But, it'd have to come at a discounted rate. Thompson has built a roster with the likes of TJ Lang, Dietrich-Smith, McDonald, and Schlauderaff to compete for this starting LG position. Look for Sherrod and Newhouse to also get reps at Guard. Losing Colledge would be the scariest of our Free Agents to depart as the Packers don't have a proven replacement.

Brandon Jackson is a durable third round back who has a pension for protecting the QB. He'll be on someone's roster in 2011. Assuming it's not the Packers and that he performs like B-Jack has throughout his career, he'll garner approximately a 6th round pick. The Packers have Grant, Starks, Green, Nance, and Quinn Johnson in the backfield already. I foresee Kuhn being brought back. Thompson will sign an undrafted FA.

Jason Spitz is likely to sign elsewhere. If he stays healthy, it wouldn't surprise me if Spitz starts 16 games. That could also net the Packers a 6th or a 7th round pick.

Ras-A-tari has been injury filled since his breakout 2007 year. He won't be back in the Green & Gold. With Burnett, Nintendo Nick, and Charlie Peprah on the roster, Bigby will not get playing time with the Pack. So, he's gone. Again, if healthy, he's a good candidate to start somewhere, which could generate a 6th or a 7th round pick.

Korey Hall, Anthony Smith, and Brett Swain have all shown special teams ability. Hall has also done an average job at playing FB. Swain has also shown glimpses of being a capable 3rd or 4th WR. With the addition of Cobb, that's one less WR roster spot. Also, remember my Chastin West prediction! I also envision Thompson targeted undrafted FA's at the WR position. Last year, we grabbed Anthony Smith for a 7th round pick. It's unlikely that he'll get much attention and it's possible that he'll return to Green Bay, but should the Packers not being interested, Smith will be on an NFL Roster in 2011. Should the Packers lose all 3, it's possible we'd get a 7th as compensation.

If my calculations are correct, Thompson will be loaded with draft picks in the 5th-7th rounds. Can you imagine a draft in which Ted Thompson has 11 picks? He can.

Get your popcorn ready. Free Agency is coming. It's going to be fast. It's going to be furious. While other teams raid the Packers roster, Thompson will be targeting the undrafted market. And, as Packers fans, we're all comfortable with that.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Power of the Undrafted Free Agent

Greetings, G-Force.

The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl Champions! Yes, XLV is ours for life. Regardless of how much the NFL lockout tries to kill our buzz, don't let it. The Packers hold the title. Rodgers wears the belt. The only positive vibe in the league is ours. Fitting, for the place referred to as Titletown.

Post the NFL Draft, the Packers roster consists of 85 players. 26 of them were undrafted FA's. Yes, more than a whopping 30% of the Packers current roster was undrafted. It should be noted that Josh Bell is still listed on the roster and he is one of the undrafted players. Clearly, he won't be on the roster once the league opens for business. Listed among the 26 undrafted players are some extremely prominent figures on the 2010 title team including are T-Mon, Sammy Swagga, Frank "Z" Zombo, Cullen Jenkins, and John Kuhn. There were 5 first year undrafted Free Agents on the roster at the end of the year. Clearly, a major strength of the Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy combo is their ability to identify the best players that weren't drafted and then to coerce them into signing with the Packers. Then, the Packers have shown a unique ability to develop these youngsters into solid contributors. Undoubtedly, the lockout is going to impact the effect a rookie will have on the 2011 NFL Season.

One of the discussions in the current lockout is how many players will be allowed on training camp rosters. Under the previous CBA rules, NFL teams were allowed to have 80 players in training camp. There is speculation that under the new CBA rules, rosters could expand to 90 or more. Assuming the Packers lose the likes of Bell, Jenkins, Tauscher, Barnett, Spitz, B-Jack and Bigby due to FA, trade, retirement or by release, there is a strong possibility that Thompson will be able to add double digit undrafted FA's. Below, you'll find a list of the players Thompson might be interested in - ranked by position.


1.) Scott Tolzien, WI. He's accurate. He showed composure. He won at the college level. Both McCarthy & Thompson were in attendance at his pro day. McCarthy spent significant time with Tolzien on the sidelines. He'd be a decent developmental prospect.
2.) Pat Devlin, Delaware. During the East-West Shrine Game, he was extremely inconsistent, but he did show moments of ability in which he displayed the potential to develop into a back-up QB at the next level.
3.) Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M. He was tutored by Mike Sherman, so you know he's familiar with the Packer way. He had an awful Senior Year after a promising Junior Year. He's gifted athletically, but struggles with decision making.


1.) Noel Devine, WVU. It's partially amazing that he didn't get selected. At times, he was absolutely brilliant at the college level. Each game, he seemed to get loose at least once. He's consistently a threat to take it to the house. It'd be exciting to see the Packers sign him!
2.) Graig Cooper, []_[]. Prior to his injury against WI in the bowl game his Junior year, many viewed him as a legitimate NFL prospect. He never fully recovered. He seems to have lost his burst, but he might be a guy who is worth tucking on the practice squad.
3.) Mario Fannin, Auburn. He was an offseason workout wonder. Some saw him as a 3rd-4th round pick. Not a lot of tape on him as Auburn was a Cam Newton based offense, but he's size and physical tools make him attractive.
4.) Derrick Locke, Kentucky. He has the make-up of a decent 3rd down back. He can catch the ball. Has some elusiveness. Not overly fast, but he was productive.
5.) Damien Berry, []_[]. Playing in a crowded backfield, Berry had moments in which he looked like a quality NFL back, but he had issues holding onto the ball. And, thus, he lost playing time. He's undersized, but he's a surprisingly powerful runner who always seems to get additional yardage after contact.


1.) Terrence Tolliver, LSU. A big receiver. He can get down the field. Though he didn't have dynamite hands, he was reliable in big-play situations. I can see him lined up on the right outside where we watched James Jones last year.
2.) Armon Binns, Cincy. Another WR with a big frame. When Binns played with Tony Pike as his QB and he had Marty Gilyard running routes across from him, Binns was a playmaker. Without them, Binns wasn't so special. Still he's a guy that can make plays in traffic as he'll out-fight defenders when the ball is in the air.
3.) Lester Jean, FAU. When I went to watch the FIU/FAU game last year, I had my eye of T.Y. Hilton and Rob Housler. While Hilton was a stud, Jean stole the show. He was man among boys with over 100 yards and a TD.
4.) Jamel Hamler, Fresno State. Thompson has shown an attraction towards Fresno State WR's and the Packers showed interest in Hamler during the offseason.
5.) Jeremy Ross, Cal. He's a sound kick returner with decent speed and an ability to get deep. He's also willing to play special teams.
6.) Shaky Smithson, Utah. It was widely reported that the Packers viewed him as a special teams threat. While the selection of Randall Cobb makes this a less likely addition, it's still a decent possibility that they'll bring in another option as a kick-returner.
7.) Jeff Maehl, Oregon. Ted Thompson would call him a "football player." Not fast. Not necessarily quick. But, he catches everything and he finds ways to get open.


1.) Ben Thayer, Eastern Michigan. It's highly doubtful that the Packers will bring in additional competition at TE since they have 5 on the present roster, but Thompson has always had a knack for bringing in undrafted players from the state of Michigan. Thayer has the size required to play in this league.
2.) Schuylar Oordt, Northern Iowa. Oordt has NFL size and he was productive at the collegiate level. Further, he's a Midwestern kid with a hard working mentality.


1.) Henry Hynoski, Pitt. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He seeks contact. Sound blocker. When the ball was in his hands, he was a force to bring down.


1.) Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas. During the Senior Bowl practices, he looked like he had the ability to be a 3-4 pass rushers. He was quick. With active hands. Aggressive off the snap. Truly impressive.
2.) Martin Parker, Richmond. At the East-West game, he was rock solid. In fact, he was the Defensive MVP of the game. He applied consistent pressure up the gut. He was disruptive throughout the game. A difference maker.
3.) Scooter Berry, WVU. He was a decent run-stopping defender for the Mountaineers. He got a good push. Gained extensive experience as he was in the rotation early in his collegiate career. Won't be afraid of the lights. A fighter.
4.) Brandon Blair, Oregon. I call him a poor man's JJ Watt. Every time you watched him, he was winning his battle with effort. Good length. Uses his hands well. Distinguished himself as a player during his Senior year.
5.) Ian Williams, ND. He was a star at the Senior Bowl with 5 tackles. He's best suited inside, but he could possibly translate as an end in the 3-4.
6.) Anthony Gray, SMU. Fits the mold of Ryan Pickett and Howard Green. He'd be the type of guy who could rotate in the Big Beefy front.


1.) Mark Bellore, Central Michigan. Could he be this year's Frank Zombo? They played together in college. He does a decent job getting sideline-to-sideline. He had an average East-West game. If I had to predict one guy the Packers would bring in, it'd be him.
2.) Marc Schiechl, Colorado School of the Mines. He's a beast. Local Denver radio was heavy in discussing the Packers interest in him. He holds the D2 collegiate record with 45 career sacks and he's a workout wonder.
3.) Mario Harvey, Marshall. I love his game. Finds the football. Doesn't have elite size, but he makes up for it was heart and a punishing attitude. Looks for the ball. Finds the ball. He makes plays all over the field. He'd be a special teams stalwart.
4.) Mark Herzlich, Boston College. He has a great life story as he's a cancer survivor. Prior to cancer, he was viewed as a 1st round prospect. Worth a look.
5.) Adrian Moten, Maryland. He's an active LB who was productive both in coverage and against the run. Might be better suited for a 4-3. I'd be surprised if he doesn't make an NFL roster this year.
6.) Matt Berning, Central Michigan. Undersized. Great effort player. Good statistical performer. He'd be a solid camp player. Wouldn't make a roster, but he's the type that will do anything that is asked of him.


1.) Devon Torrence, Ohio State. Solid production at the collegiate level. NFL size as he's in the 6-0, 200 lb range. Super special teams ability. Impressive game against the []_[] last year. Made the game changing play in the victory over Penn State as well.
2.) Ryan Hill, []_[]. He was a workout phenom. He flew at the Miami pro-day. Could he be this year's version of Sammy Swagga? One thing that was consistent with the Randy Shannon era at the []_[] is that his players have played better at the professional level than they did at the collegiate level. Hill could fit in that mold. Plus, it'd be sweet to bring more swagga to Lambeau!
3.) Mario Butler, Georgia Tech. The Packers could pair him with his former collegiate mate, Morgan Burnett. Butler started for 3 years. He'd need to put on weight, but he stands 6-1. He'd be a good player to hide on the practice squad and see if he could develop into a decent NFL back-up.


1.) Deunta Williams, UNC. He was a big-time player at North Carolina. He can do it all. He'll stuff you at the line of scrimmage. A converted WR, Williams also has shown good ability to play the ball in the air. He picked off 12 passes in his career, but he's coming off of a broken leg, so he'd be viewed as a long term prospect. He might be the guy that I want most out of any undrafted FA's.
2.) DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson. I always pay extra attention to safeties that played for Clemson. It's the Brian Dawkins rule. McDaniel was a physical specimen who could step into the box with excellence at the college level. He struggled in space, but he was an absolute intimadator when he put his helmet on you.
3.) Zac Etheridge, Auburn. A leader in the secondary for the National Champions. A vocal presence. Plays the ball decently in the air. Not overly physical. Has good flair and a crowd energizer.

With that, my 10-player mock undrafted Free Agent list is the following (as always, no OL as I don't follow it closely enough):

1.) Nick Bellore, Central Michigan, LB
2.) Ryan Hill, []_[], CB
3.) Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas, DL
4.) Anthony Gray, SMU, DL
5.) Lester Jean, FAU, WR
6.) Jeremy Ross, Cal, WR
7.) Graig Cooper, []_[], RB
8.) Marc Schiechl, Colorado School of the Mines, LB
9.) Scott Tolzien, WI, QB
10.) Martin Parker, Richmond, DL

Let's end this lockout!

Go Pack Go,

Talkin' S-Mac.