Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Take -> Draft Review (Rounds 4-7 and Undrafted Free Agents)

Greetings, G-Force.

After putting himself to win the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, Ted Thompson stayed aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillan and Terrell Manning will all be expected to make an impact in 2012. To close the Draft, Thompson went with two solid developmental players in Andrew Datko and BJ Coleman.

Candidly, I can't say I know much about either Daniels or McMillan. Daniels is an undersized DL who has showed a pension for getting to the QB. Last year, he had 9 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. The year before he had 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. From the minimal film that I've seen, it appears as though Daniels understands leverage and goes for the first punch prior to pushing the OL into the backfield. With Mike Neal out for the first 4 games and Anthony Hargrove out for the first 8 games, Daniels might be asked to make an immediate impact in the DL rotation.

I've never seen Jerron McMillan play football. Though I watched the Combine, I don't recall him even though he had a terrific performance as he ran the 40 in 4.36 and had a vertical of 39 inches. From what I read, he won't necessarily be the guy to replace the huge hole left by the release of Nintendo Nick Collins. While Nintendo Nick was a playmaking DB who roamed the center of the field, it appears McMillan is best suited to play at the line of scrimmage. He's been described as a fearless blitzer. He had 3.5 sacks last year. My initial thought is that he'll compete for the starting Safety spot across from Morgan Burnett. Burnett has shown the ability to be a ballhawk. With that, it's possible that McMillan could be an ideal compliment to Burnett.

When Thompson traded up for Terrell Manning, I was ultra surprised. Manning has an injury riddled history. Clearly, Thompson wanted him as he gave up a 6th and two 7th's to jump up and get him. Unlike Daniels and McMillan, I have great familiarity with Manning. Manning will get sideline-to-sideline. He moves well in space, but doesn't always take the best angle towards the ball. He plays fairly well in coverage. He sheds blocks decently even though he occasionally plays too high. He's dreaded! He plays with great intensity. I didn't have him on the Packers radar for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I thought he'd be picked in the 3rd Round, which I figured was too early for the Packers to draft an ILB. Secondly, Manning is leaner than the other ILB's on the roster. In some ways, I wondered if Manning was best suited as a 4-3 ILB and this pick made me wonder if the Packers were going to play a little 4-3 in 2012. Either way, I see Manning as a player who will successfully perform on special teams this year.

In Andrew Datko, Ted Thompson rolled the dice. If Datko stays healthy, the Packers might end up with a steal in the 2012 NFL Draft. He's aggressive. He's athletic. He uses his hands extremely well. And when his shoulder is healthy, he's got the strength required to play LT in the NFL. Had he stayed healthy throughout his college career, he'd have had the talent to be worthy of a 1st Round pick. But, Datko has been littered with injuries. Love the pick at the end of the 7th Round. Great value. If Datko can stay healthy, the Packers might have a gem.

With his last pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, Thompson grabbed BJ Coleman. Let me put it this way: I'm not a draftnik, but man, when I watched the QB's in the 2012 NFL Draft and how their games, size, speed and arm strength translated to the NFL; I looked at it this way: Andrew Luck and RGIII are way above everyone. After them, I thought that you could bunch Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, BJ Coleman, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson together. I seriously believe that BJ Coleman has the talent to eventually be the 3rd best QB to come out of this draft. Granted, unless an injury occurs to the NFL's MVP, Coleman won't get the opportunities that Tannehill and Weeden will get, but he could be Mr. August in 2013 and 2014. He's athletic. He has a cannon of an arm. He can make all of the throws. He's precise. After the Draft, I watched the East West Shrine Game again. Coleman was rock solid. He grabbed control of the huddle. He was accurate. He threw the out pass. He threw the crossing route. He fit balls into tight spaces down the seam. He moved his feet well. For a 7th Round pick, there wasn't much to dislike. I will say that I have minute concerns about his attitude as I hear that he can occasionally get down on his WR's if they run the wrong route or drop passes. I understand that he'll get in your face and criticize. He's not always constructive. Regardless, he's a competitor. And, in the 7th Round, I love this pick. Hell, in my pre-Mock, I had the Packers drafting him in Round 5!

The Packers also signed a handful of undrafted FA's. If you've followed the blog for a while, you'll know that I watched a lot of Vanderbilt football last year. Two players consistently impressed me: Casey Hayward and Sean Richardson. Richardson is not a ball hawk. Instead, he's a sure tackling safety who will make a living in the box. He hits with a vengeance. He's a bit of a tweener as he might be too big for safety and too small for LB. Nonetheless, he's a football player who was a high impact player in the SEC. It'll be interesting to see where the Packers line him up.

Marc Tyler is a fun signing. Ted Thompson loves bloodlines. Tyler has them. Coming off a disappointing college career, Tyler will be animated to prove the critics wrong. He isn't going to run by anyone, but he's powerful, he's instinctive and he hits the hole with passion. Additionally, since he was in a thick rotation at USC, he doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on his legs. At one point during the college season, he was projected as a mid-round pick. I can't guarantee that he'll make the team, but he'll definitely be in the mix as training camp commences.

I'll be curious to follow Nic Cooper, Dale Moss, Dion Turner and Dezman Moses. Cooper has beast like statistics at the collegiate level and it's anticipated that the Packers will move him to FB. Moss was a basketball player and at 6-4, 215, he presents himself as a potential match-up problem. He'll likely try to find his way onto the practice squad. At 6-0, 195, Turner has the height and weight that the Packers target for the position. At 6-3, 248, Moses has the ideal physique for an OLB in the 3-4. Additionally, Moses had a productive college career with 9.5 sacks last year. Further, the deep roots between the Packers front office and the University of Iowa has been well documented. With that said, it's important to note that Moses began his college career in Iowa.

The first rookie camp is this week. I can't wait to see our new toys in uniform!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.!/buzzboy3

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Take -> Draft Review (Rounds 1-3)

Greetings, G-Force.

It's been said before and it'll be said again, but Ted Thompson is a master of the NFL Draft. If he were playing "Go Fish" - he'd be saying "I got what I wanted!" Prior to the draft, I thought Thompson's mission would be to bring intensity to the defense. In 2011, the Packers defense lacked attitude. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Thompson was aggressive in his approach to add the ferocious mindset that was glaringly absent in the 2011 defense. While the naysayers will write about question marks surrounding the Packers first 3 selections, you won't read that from me. With the additions of Nick Perry & Jerel Worthy, the Packers suddenly have an intimidating look to the Front 7. The Perry and Worthy selections also brought the intensity and added to match that of Kevin Greene & Mike Trgovac. Greene & Trgovac are guaranteed to be salivating over the notion of coaching Perry & Worthy.

It was October 29, 2011. I turned on the Stanford v USC game. Had to see more of David DeCastro, Andrew Luck, and Jonathan Martin. While I wasn't overly high on Martin, I thought DeCastro and Luck were two of the best players I had seen in college football. Stanford dropped 56 points on USC. Regardless, the player who impressed me the most was Nick Perry. Perry consistently pushed Martin backwards. He ran around Martin. He ran through him. After the game, I said to my wife, "*, what are we doing next Friday night?" She said, "nothing." I said, "we're going to the USC v Colorado game. I'm buying tickets. We're going into the Stadium an hour early. I have to watch Nick Perry workout. The Packers have to draft this guy."

The next day, I called my good friend, Stack, and told him that I wanted the Packers to draft Nick Perry. He was the solution to our pass rush woes.

A week later, we walked into Folsom Field just over an hour before the game. There was Perry. Ripped up. Mean as could be. Looking like a baller. I pulled out the camera. Flashed a couple of photos. Meanwhile, * fields a phone call. I paraphrase, but she says something along the lines of "I'm standing inside a football stadium watching Scottie take pictures of nothing. And we're on a college campus, so they don't sell beer. And he didn't sneak any liquor into the Stadium." Little did she know - I was taking pictures of the Packers future 1st Round pick.

Fast forward to last week. I didn't foresee Perry lasting until pick #28. He did. And with that selection, the Packers added an absolute beast. The naysayers will shout "boom or bust." They'll question his work ethic. They'll say he is a "square peg in a round hole" in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. And - while some of this is potentially true - I see it completely different. To start - I don't believe Perry needs to be a 3-down player. He needs to be a 3rd down player, much like Aldon Smith was for the 49ers this year. He has to come in well-rested. Full of energy. Full of anger. Ready to attack the QB. I see him as a pass rusher who should bring a minimum of 7 sacks in 2012. He'll punish QB's. He'll attack with a variety of pass rush moves that will confuse OL. As far as his work ethic is concerned, there is no way that Kevin Greene will allow him to slack off.

Be excited, G-Force. Nick Perry, while wearing #53, will be attacking the likes of Ray Nutler and Matthew Stafford. And he is coming with a vengeance!

Jerel Worthy! Yes! Jerel Worthy! I would have been stoked to get Worthy in Round 1. I'm absolutely amazed that he fell as low as he did. Absolutely shocked. Thompson's aggressive stroke needs to be applauded at peak volume. Worthy is a stud. Admittedly, I've questioned Worthy before. I didn't like how he was calling out his teammates on the final drive of the Spartans victory over the Badgers in East Lansing last year - especially after he sat out portions of the 4th Quarter with cramps. I didn't like when I saw him on the bench on 3rd downs against the Badgers in the Big 10 championship and then again in the Outback Bowl against Georgia. It frustrated me. It confused me. He'd dominate 1st and 2nd down. Then, he'd be on the sideline on 3rd down. I still don't understand why this occurred. I wish I could find out.

Even though he often times played only 2 downs, Worthy still dominated games. He irritated OL's. He won the leverage battle. He's the kind of guy that you hate when he's on the opposition, but you love if he's on your team. He was physical. He walked with a possessed demeanor. A nasty temperament. He was beastly. And, today, he's a Green Bay Packer.

Again, the naysayers will say he is a "boom or bust" player. For me, I can't imagine Trgovac allowing Worthy to take plays off. Trgovac will be in Worthy's face if Jerel goes lazy. Further, the Packers figure to have the ability to form an interesting rotation of DL. Pickett and Raji will be fixtures in the rotation. While CJ Wilson isn't a world beater, he is a decent run stopper. Barring suspension, Anthony Hargrove will bring a nastiness that has been missing along the defensive front. Suddenly, Mike Neal has to perform or else his stay in Green Bay might be short lived. Daniel Muir is coming in to compete for a roster spot. Jarius Wynn, thanks for being the first Packer to sack Brett Favre, but I can't imagine him being on the roster next year. Don't forget about Lawrence Guy. I'll be surprised if Guy doesn't play at least a minimal role in the rotation this year. There is also Mike Daniels in the mix. But, I'm going to save Daniels for the next post. The point is this: Worthy will be fresh. To start, he'll be rotational. He'll be put in position to succeed. He'll be well rested. He'll be animated. He'll be challenged. He'll be ready to attack. Beware Ray Nutler: Worthy is on the prowl. And - as for the naysayers - well, they aren't "WORTHY!"

The brilliance of Ted Thompson continued as the NFL Draft neared the end of Round 2. Man, I love the game of Casey Hayward. Hayward picked off 6 passes in 2010. He picked off 7 passes in 2011. If you've been following along, you know that I've been a big Hayward fan for most of the last year. I had him mocked to the Packers. I see him as a great compliment to T-Mon. He'll get his hands on the ball. I initially started watching Vanderbilt due to Aaron Rodgers brother, Jordan. For those that don't know, Jordan Rodgers became the starting QB for Vanderbilt. The 1st game I tuned in to see Vanderbilt play was against South Carolina. Admittedly, I wanted to watch Alshon Jeffery - who became the Bears 2nd round pick. Instead, it was Hayward who grabbed my attention. Jeffery had two catches. So did Hayward. Instantly, I was attached. He's aggressive. He's a fighter. He jumps routes. Reads the QB well. At Vanderbilt, I watched him play 6 games. In those games, he had 5 interceptions. Consistently, he was around the ball. Additionally, I watched him in the Senior Bowl. He picked off a pass in the end zone in that game. Through the 7 games that I watched intently, Hayward ran with WR's. He covered the deep ball. He undercut crossing routes. He accurately jumped slants. Hayward played with intelligence. He was a gamer who sold his soul to make a play on the ball. He'll undoubtedly make an impact this year. And he'll do so with pizzazz.

Three players. All will make a difference in 2012. Suddenly, the Packers have a defense that intimidates. Ted Thompson knows that the window with the current roster make-up might be limited. Sir Charles is nearing the end. So is Double-D. Pro Bowlers Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers, and BJ Raji all need contractual extensions. Same with TJ Lang. It'll be tough to keep everyone. So, Thompson went aggressive this offseason. He re-upped J-Mike. He added Jeff Saturday. Then he revamped the Packers defense by trading up more than any other GM during the NFL Draft. Yes, once again, Ted Thompson was masterful on Draft weekend.

Go Pack Go.

Talkin S-Mac.!/buzzboy3