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.