A peaceful breath to the air. Stars slowly settling in. A beer. An old friend. It's a great night to talk Packers football. Such is life for me on this late March evening as I marinate with my good friend, Porter, and sip on a Southern Tier IPA. Porter - for those that don't know - is a dog. I've known him since the day he left the dog pound. 12 years later. He's still extra attentive and if you're not careful, his wagging tail will knock over your beer. Porter was best mates with my dog, Clayton. In fact, they grew up together. In many ways, they owned the St. Norbert College campus. As I relax, I football vibe overtook me. After all, it's the Ted Thompson Season
Yes, I wear Packers goggles. And, yes, there is no GM that I'd rather have than Ted Thompson. And, now, it's his time to shine. Over the last week, he's signed Jeff Saturday to replace Scott Wells. It was inevitable - Scott Wells was leaving. So, Thompson replaced him with Saturday and saved a couple million dollars on the cap. While Saturday is not the player that he was, he still has gas in the tank and he should be just as solid as Wells was last year. Saturday brings a presence. He's a leader. And - it's likely that he'll teach Rodgers a trick or two. I imagine great chemistry between our new starting Center and the NFL's MVP. Due to both players football IQ, it wouldn't surprise if that camaraderie will likely be immediate. They'll be dialed in with a common goal. Saturday came to Green Bay to get his 2nd ring. Rodgers wants the same. Word.
Don't overlook the Daniel Muir signing. Muir is not dominant, but he's an average run stopping DL who will compete for a roster spot and would give BJ Raji additional rest. It's all in an effort to create more pass rush on 3rd down. A well-rested Raji will add a boost.
Also, it's important to remember Lawrence Guy. Guy was a 7th round pick. Some had him projected as a potential 3rd rounder. But, he slipped. He's raw. He's young. Last year, he was on IR. But, you know he was building strength. Absorbing time in the meeting rooms. Getting better. Expect him to compete for a role on this defense this year. He'll be in the rotation this year.
The rumors of the Anthony Hargrove signing surprised me. The Favre bounty hunter was adamant on twitter that a deal was close. He talked about his first Lambeau Leap. He repeatedly claimed "Go Packers Go" and he busted out a handful of "Green and Yellow" comments. Further, he talked about his excitement of playing next to Pickett again. He also stated that he weighed 285 lbs, which is significantly higher than the 272 lbs that he was listed at last year. At 285, Hargrove might be big enough to hold the point as a DE in the 3-4. Hargrove would make a solid addition as a 3rd down pass rusher. Further, the reality is that the Packers don't need Hargrove to be a guy who gets 8-10 sacks. He'd simply be asked to get 5-6 sacks and to consistently collapse the pocket. Hargrove is an active pursuer. He's high energy. He's physical and in 2009, he was a legitimate force for the Saints defense.
In 2011, the Packers generated 4 passes defensed from the DL. 2 from Raji. 2 from Pickett. Continuously, the pass rush failed, but so did the DL's ability to get their hands in the air. Consider this: in 2009, Johnny Jolly had 10 passes defensed. If you can't get to the QB, get raise your hands and block the passing lane. The DL's failure to disrupt the QB's vision was a consistent issue throughout 2011.
So, what do these FA signings mean? To me, they signal something big on draft day. Thompson is building depth. Veteran talent at fair prices. He's loaded with draft picks. 12, to be exact. He hasn't made 12 selections in a draft since 2006. Look for Thompson to trade up in the 1st round. Per the draft pick value trade chart, it appears as the though Packers could trade a 1st and a 2nd to get all the way up to #17 in the Draft. At 17, the Packers could target Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois. Physically, Mercilus appears to be the player most likely to transition to OLB in a 3-4 defense in this year's NFL Draft. He was dominant last year. Together, Mercilus and Matthews could form quite the tandem. Pair them with Raji and Hargrove on 3rd downs and the Packers would have legitimate options.
I'm expecting to have the Ultimate Packers Mock Draft Volume 1 for the 2012 NFL Season completed this weekend. Until then, In Ted I Trust!
Go Pack Go!