Welcome to the 2013 NFL Season. Glorious words. In the salary cap era, it's challenging to build a consistent, sustained franchise. Managing the cap is a difficult task. For Ted Thompson, the model begins with the NFL Draft. He likes an influx of youth and then to develop that in-house. With the recent signing of the Claymaker and with an enormous contract around the bend for Aaron Rodgers, Thompson's salary cap could end up tighter than any financial situation that he has had to deal with as the GM of the Green Bay Packers. Thus, Ted Thompson must have a successful weekend or else the Packers could face significant concern with respect to the depth of talent on the roster.
Last year, Thompson was wise to be aggressive in his approach towards the Draft. The defense needed a youthful newness. It needed athletes. I enjoyed the trades that allowed him to grab Worthy, Hayward and Manning. This year, Thompson would be wise to trade down. This years draft offers power in numbers. With that said, I imagine it'll be tough to find a trading partner. If I were Ted Thompson, here'd be my approach:
(As a side note, I use the CBS DRAFT SCOUT website as the barometer as to what round someone will be selected. Further, I only comment on players that I've previously watched. Finally, let's hope the Packers draft defenders from Georgia, South Carolina and Stanford. All three had fast, physical, aggressive defenses.)
Round 1: I've struggled with this pick. Mightily. If you've followed my blog or my twitter account, you know I've wanted Sheldon Richardson, DL, Mizzou since Week 2 of the college season. But, I don't envision him being around when the Packers are on the clock. If Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia were to fall to #26, he has to be the pick. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas is an interesting prospect as he can play in the slot or over the top. He's feisty. Plays with attitude. Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU had an impressive Senior Bowl week. It's also worth noting the Packers have had great luck with drafting small school Safeties recently in Darren Sharper and Nick Collins. Cyprien looks the part. He has good range. He's active in the box and a fearless tackler. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford has the pass receiving skills that the Packers seek. He's great in traffic. He wins jump balls. He has to be considered. Though I wish he was 7-10 pounds heavier, Datone Jones, DE, UCLA, fits the Packers scheme. You can move him around. He uses his hands well to shed off blockers. He's active in his pursuit of the QB. At 6-4, he has length. He plays with great speed and gets off the ball with conviction. The more you watch him, the more you will like him. Jones would be great in Green & Gold. I view Sylvester Williams, DL, UNC as a great fit, but he will not last until #26. I love Alec Olgetree, ILB, Georgia, but the Packers aren't picking ILB in the first round. Two guys that interest me: Kawann Short, DL, Purdue and Margus Hunt, DL, SMU. Every time I've seen Hunt, he's been a baller. He goes for the football. He attacks the QB. He's long. Last year, my good friend, Stack, introduced Short to me. I've followed intently ever since. Short is similar to Cullen Jenkins. He fights with his hands. Though inconsistent, at times, he shows great determination when he's motivated. He plays the run and the pass. Pins his ears back and he's slippery. The Packers need help along the DL. Short is an answer. After extensive internal debate, I am going with Datone Jones. I like his versatility the most. Further, he would bring a size & speed dimension that is not currently on the roster. But, to reiterate, it'd be great to grab a 2 and a 3 in a trade down.
Round 2: Brian Schwenke, C, Cal. It isn't often that I'm all over an OL. But, with Schwenke, I can't help myself. He moves well. He's versatile. He's a commander. He pay s though he's a leader. He'd start from Day 1. Backup choices: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia; Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor.
Round 3: Stedman Bailey, WR, Dub-V. He can play the slot or the outside. Rodgers to Bailey on the back shoulder would be fantastic from Day 1. Bailey is a master of the back shoulder fade. He'd be a TD machine. Back-up choices: JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern; Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UCONN.
Round 4: Jordan Hill, DL, Penn State. He'd instantly jump in as a rotational beast. Solid 3-down potential. Back-up choices: AJ Klein, ILB, Iowa State; Josh Evans, S, Florida; Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford.
Round 5: Earl Wolff, S, NC State. Plays the ball well. Good turn and face ability. Can cover the crossing route. Back-up: Kenny Stills, WR, OK; Tony Jefferson, S, OK.
Round 5: Michael Buchanon, OLB, IL. Packers need additional size, speed and pay making ability. Like Buchanon's ability and think he could progress with a dose of Kevin Greene.
Round 6: Zach Line, RB, SMU. The Kuhn days are limited. Line brings versatility and could be an eventual replacement. Back-up: Zeke Motta, S, ND; Zac Stacy, RB, Vandy; Corey Fuller, WR, VA Tech.
Round 7: Mychal Rivera, TE, TN. The bet of his football career is ahead of him. Appears to be able to be molded into something special. Back-up: Byron Jerideau, DL, South Carolina; Brandon Jenkins, OLB, FSU; Robert Lester, S, AL; Ray Ray Armstrong, S, _; Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas.
Here's a quick position-by-position breakdown. In parenthesis, you'll find a projected round in which the player will get drafted:
QB: With Rodgers, Harrell and Coleman, there isn't an immediate need. Especially because I believe in BJ Coleman. It is a good year to not require a QB as I do not see many starting QB's in this years draft. Nonetheless, here are some players that could step in and compete for a backup role.
Tyler Wilson (3) - Had a rough go of it in his final year of college due to a coaching change. Throws a good ball. Only average on the move, but he's a solid pocket passing prospect.
Matt Scott (4) - He's a gritty competitor. Great mobility. Like his arm. Still a somewhat raw prospect after sitting behind Nick Foles. A gamer. Loved his Bowl game comeback. For someone, he will be a fun draft pick who could evolve into a reliable back-up.
Zac Dysert (5) - Enjoyed his game vs Ohio State, which had me keep my eye on him. But, after that, he never overwhelmed. Still, he has enough to warrant consideration.
Jordan Rodgers (7) - Due to the name, how could I not mention him? Has a lot of intangibles, but his decision making was lackluster. Inconsistent. He's highly athletic. A tough minded prospect.
RB: I'm not as worried about the RB position as most I talk to. Between Harris, Starks, and Green, I believe there's enough talent to prevent us from investing an early pick on a back.
Eddie Lacy (2) - If Lacy is our first round pick, I'll be disappointed. He has battled injury throughout his college career. With that said, when he's played, he's been a beast. Physical. A pounding runner with great vision. Without the injury history, I'd consider him a 1st round talent.
Johnathan Franklin (2) - A deceptively powerful back who pounds away at chunks of yardage after contact. He shows patience at the line and should transition into an every down back.
Montee Ball (2) - Thanks for the memories, Montee. Love his vision. Admire his durability. Great character. But, no way I'd draft him in the first 3 rounds.
Le'Veon Bell (3) - He has a lot of carries on his legs, but man, I like his game. He catches the ball well. Soft hands. Powers through contact. He is a solid short yardage back. A warrior. My favorite back in the draft.
Christine Michael (3) - If I had the time and the access, I'd watch every carry of his college career. He has a nose for the end zone. Good vision. He will put the ball on the ground in careless fashion, but he'll also burst through defenders an pick up additional yardage. He has a stellar attitude. A consummate pro. Would be great in Green & Gold.
Stepfan Taylor (4) - A leader. The kind of guy that everyone roots for. Says the right things. Does the right things. Seems flawless. He's a great mid-round value pick.
Kenyon Barner (5) - Every year, I dream about the Packers drafting an undersized, lightning bolt back who is a threat to take it to the house. This year, Barner is that guy.
Cierre Wood (6) - I'm higher on him than most. A grinder. In the right system, I think he can be a good situational back. Knows the game. Has toughness. A solid role player who can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Zac Stacy (6) - I can envision Stacy in a Packers uniform. Undersized, shifty back who plays with fury. Runs with conviction. Tough to bring down. Not an every down player, but a legit prospect who has a future in the league.
Knile Davis (7) - Terrific size and speed combo. Always hurt. Occasionally, a fumbler. But, dude is a freakish athlete. The type of back that the Packers might take a shot on. The sky is the limit for Davis although I wonder if he'll ever be healthy enough to maximize his potential.
FB: I am a John Kuhn fan. I don't like his salary figure. So, it's worth exploring the FB position.
Kyle Juszczyk (4) - The Ivy League back has great hands, football wit and the ability to roam along the line. He's a solid blocker who can move up to the line of scrimmage. Fearless in his approach, he impressed me at the Senior Bowl.
Zach Line (6) - He may need to add weight to be a FB in the NFL, but. Zach Line is what Ted Thompson would deem a "football player." He runs hard. Good cutting ability. Plays with confidence and within himself. He catches the ball well out of the backfield. In many ways, he is a mini-Kuhn.
WR: With the departure of Jennings and Driver's retirement, the Packers must look to add depth at WR. Thankfully, this draft is loaded with possibilities. Here are some options to consider:
Keenan Allen (1) - Legit Cal product who can stretch the field. Goes up and gets the ball in traffic. Good extension. Could be an immediate difference maker.
DeAndre Hopkins (1) - Really like his game and skills after the catch, but he wasn't the best player on his team at WR. Wonder if some of his best football isn't ahead of him.
Terrance Williams (2) - My favorite WR in the draft. Great size, speed, hands. Dominant. Über productive. Seemed like he was unable to be covered. Nose for the end zone.
Quinton Patton (2) - Often compared to Greg Jennings, Patton excels in route running. Really came on the week of the Senior Bowl. Plays with a carefree approach and appears to be a festive, team oriented player.
Markus Wheaton (2) - Have to like his run after the catch ability. Does good work along the sidelines. Like his physique and pay making ability. Gets deep.
Justin Hunter (2) - In uniform, I'm not sure anyone loos better. Ultra talented. Question his motivation.
Stedman Bailey (3) - I'm biased, but I love Bailey. Under appreciated at the college level. Plays bigger than he measures. A gamer. Motivated to be big time. Needs to be a Packer!
Chris Harper (4) - Great size. Football player. Put him on the field and you'll get consistent production. Don't love his speed. But, he's a feisty competitor who'll play solid ball for the next 7-10 years.
Kenny Stills (5) - Family ties to the Packers. Between the lines, he's a 1st round pick. Attitude is a concern. So are off field issues. Pro Bowl potential. Possible mid-round gem.
Corey Fuller (6) - Lots of intangibles. Has enough size, speed, ability to make it in league. Plays with heart. Like his desire to fight for the football. Solid mid-to-late round pick.
Marquiss Wilson (7) - Man, early in the year, I considered him to be a 1st or 2nd round pick. But, he's lazy. Drops easy passes. When he's on, he's lethal. But, he fails to consistently show up. If a WR coach can reach him, he'll be a difference maker.
TE: It is hard for me to imagine the Packers skipping on a TE. At some point, I believe Thompson will grab one. Finley is a loose cannon and a FA after this year. DJ Williams hasn't met expectations. Quarless didn't play last year. We're drafting a TE. I really like the TE class in the mid-to- late rounds.
Tyler Eifert (1) - I'd love him. He won't be around. But, he's ideal.
Zach Ertz (1) - In season, at times, he amazed. Stretches the field. Wins the jump ball. Makes plays. Consistent. Worthwhile to question his blocking ability.
Travis Kelce (2) - Big target. Deceptive speed. Solid blocker. Good hands. A leader. And a knack for converting on 3rd down.
Vance McDonald (3) - Good athlete. Used to double TE sets. But, seemed slow off the ball and, on occasion, he looked like an unwilling blocker.
Gavin Escobar (3) - Have to admit, I saw him the least amount, but what I saw of him was not superstar quality. He fought hard after th catch. Showed decent hands. But, had trouble getting open and finding the opening in the zone . Granted, he did not play on an overwhelmingly gifted offense.
Dion Sims (4) - Extremely productive and a go-to target in college. Would be surprised if he ended up in Green Bay. Not fleet of foot. But, seems to find the open space in the defense.
Levine Toilolo (5) - Under shadowed and under utilized because of Ertz, Toilolo has great versatility. Can shift into the backfield or h can line up along the Tackle. A fighter. Does the dirty work.
Mychal Rivera (7) - Really like him. Played on a talented team with a number of offensive weapons even though they struggled to win. He impressed every time he touched the ball. Good run after the catch ability. Solid hands. Not an overwhelming blocker, but a willing one. Would fit nicely.
Joseph Fauria (7) - Beastly in stature. Presents a huge target. Occasionally, he disappeared. But, has ability to get down the seam and make plays.
Luke Wilson (7) - Played 2-TE set at Rice. Reminds me of Kevin Boss. Smart. Hard working. Soft hands. Will consistently stumble forward for yards. Red zone threat.
Justice Cunningham (7) - Possibly an underrated player. Good blocker. Decent receiver who displayed good awareness. Wasn't flooded with opportunities, but showed up when given the chance.
C: Please, Ted. Draft a Center.
Brian Schwenke (2) - I'm fully on board. GRAB HIM!
Barrett Jones (3) - Leader. Battler. Mauler.
Joe Madsen (7) - A grinder who'll take command at the line of scrimmage. Great effort guy.
DL: The Packers should draft multiple players along the DL.
Sheldon Richardson (1) - Plainly stated, my favorite player in the draft.
Sylvester Williams (1) - Tough for me to envision him around at #26, but he'd offer bulk and muscle that'd be a welcomed addition.
Datone Jones - Huge versatility. Monster. Madman in a helmet. Ideal addition.
Kawann Short (1) - I'm higher on him than most. He's beastly. At times, he's absolutely dominant. Forceful at the line.
Margus Hunt (1) - A tremendous athlete. Physical specimen. Ability to add weight. Makes impact on defense and special teams. A Green Bay kind of guy.
Jesse Williams (2) - Others are a lot higher on him than I am. Decent run plugger. Doesn't amaze.
John Jenkins (2) - A perfect replacement for Ryan Pickett.
William Gholston (3) - If the Packers truly want length on the DL, Gholston should be considered.
Jordan Hill (4) - Terrific ability. Ideal 3-4 DE. Slippery. Can get to QB. Solid run stopper.
Kwame Geathers (7) - A giant of man whose best football might be ahead of him.
Abry Jones (7) - Got lost in a crowded defensive line. Limited ability, but holds the point.
Byron Jerideau (7) - An ideal late round pick or undrafted FA. Really impressed. A never say die kind of guy. Slips into the backfield with good quickness. Really tough. Great muscle.
ILB: With Jones &Hawk financial investments, I wonder what is in store at ILB.
AJ Klein (4) - Great production. Kept Iowa State in a number of games with sheer willpower. Not a great blitzer, but a sure tackler in space. Might have inflated numbers due to tackles 4-6 yards downfield. Good in coverage.
Vince Williams (7) -Punishing tackler. Good instincts. Finds the football.
OLB: In a 3-4, the OLB role can be discussed as power in numbers. Right now, the Packers are light. We need to add one or two.
Jarvis Jones (1) - If he slips...it is a no brainer.
Sio Moore (3) - Not sure he's a 3-4 OLB, but he's a football player. Find a spot. He will perform. At peak levels.
Chase Thomas (4) - A Ted Thompson "football player" who has all the know-how and leadership skills. A talented player who might be too slow to be an elite NFL OLB. But, he's got the will and the fight to be a steady player for the next 7-10 years.
Cornelius Washington (4) - A workout warrior. His skills on the field don't match his workout numbers. Still, an intriguing prospect.
Michael Buchanon (5) - Early in the year, I viewed him a a 1st round pick. But, man, he tapered off. Against lesser talent, it was pure bliss to watch him. He was fierce. Athletic. Aware. An ideal 3-4 OLB. But, in the Big 10, he was often swallowed up and he looked slow. Regardless, a great value pick in the middle rounds.
Brandon Jenkins (7) - Had he not been injured, he might have been a 1st round pick. Would love him in Green Bay. Ideal 3-4 size.
Wes Horton (7) - Next in a long line of USC pass rushers. Like his hands. Gets arms in air while in pursuit. Gets pushed around wen he's not extended and plays too upright.
Meshack Williams (7) - A go getter. Not overly strong nor fast, but he plays with intensity. Leaves it all on the field. A winner. Shows up weekly.
Alex Debniak (7) - Great hustle player. Smooth athlete. Plays with speed. Great burst off the edge. Never gives up. Pursues with passion. Punches for the ball.
CB: The Packers have many needs. If Shields signs, CB is not one of them. Still, there are a couple of prospects that intrigue me:
Blidi Wreh-Wright (3) - If you've followed my blog long enough, you remember me writing about Richard Sherman before he was drafted. I compared him to Al Harris. I'll put Wreh-Wright in that same category. It would be epic if he were in Green & Gold. All about this kid. Swagger vibes are all around him.
Jordan Poyer (4) - Dude turns, runs, finds the football. Makes plays on the ball. Tells you about it. A CB mentality. Big time potential.
Micah Hyde (6) - Never hear anyone talk about him. But has good size. Sure tackler. Physical player who'd be a welcomed addition.
S: Other than the DL, the biggest need is at safety.
Kenny Vaccarro (1) - Plays the slot with a vengeance. Possibly overrated due to those before him. But, plays with attitude and as though he's on a mission.
Eric Reid (1) - Not as high on him as others are. Shoulders scare me. He also misses tackles. But, he flies to the football and forces turnovers.
Jonathan Cyprien (1) - Fits the bill. Would immediately improve the tackling in the secondary. Full of confidence. Finds the ball. Plays with great speed.
Matt Elam (1) - Do not want him in Round 1. A punisher, but undersized. A total gamer. Better 2nd round prospect.
Philip Thomas (2) - Finds the football. Makes plays on ball. Can run. But, man, he struggles with open field tackling. Rocks dreads. Does this mean we're picking him?
DJ Swearinger (2) - Boat loads of confidence. Gets sideline to sideline. An intimidator. Sometimes plays the man and not the ball. Robust hitter.
JJ Wilcox (3) - Confident team player. William to give for the team. A winner. All around football player that caters to Ted Thompson's eye. Knows and understands the game. Only going to get better.
Bacardi Rambo (3) - I always though he'd blossom into an absolute stud. Never did it. He's a gamer. Decent tackler, but no the dominant player I envisioned him becoming.
Josh Evans (4) - YES. YES. YES. I like his game. Overshadowed at the college level. Littered with ability. Big play potential is all around him.
Tony Jefferson (5) -Undersized, but an absolute leader. Great tackler. Tough minded.
Shawn Williams (4) - A vocal leader who looks for physicality amongst himself and his teammates.
Earl Wolff (5) - I'm way higher on him than most. Smart. Reads routes well. Didn't get a lot of recognition, but plays the ball well. Chance to be a great role player for a long time. And could develop into something special.
Zeke Motta (6) - Dude is a fierce hitter. Not overly fleet of foot and does ge exposed in space. But put him in the box and he's lethal. Intense. Can cover the TE.
Robert Lester (7) - Dropped post season after being viewed as a 3rd round prospect throughout the year. Finds ball, but a bit stiff. Reminds me a little of Aaron Rouse.
Ray Ray Armstrong (7) - While living in Miami, I loved his game. Was called the next Sean Taylor. Wore #26. Has first class ability. But, massive off-field issues. Could Thompson take the same chance on Armstrong that he did on Mike Hawkins in '05?
Orhian Johnson (7) - Not great in coverage, but a steady tackler. Great build, but lacks flexibility. Stiff. Still, I like his game and enjoy his physical presence.
Jahleel Addae (7) - He will likely go undrafted but I had to list his name. Complete fighter. Love his guts. Dreaded. And plays the ball with decent ability. Terrific special teams prospect.
In closing, I hope Thompson can finish with a minimum of 10 picks. Hopefully, he can get 4 of the top 100. This daft can be won in picks 35-90. A good mix of talent. Ideally, I would like for Thompson the get 2 OLB, 2 DL, 1 TE, 1 WR, 1 C, 1 RB, 1 G/T 1 ILB in this draft. And, if we got 2 WR's, I would like to see the weapons added to the arsenal. For live thoughts during the draft, especially on days 2 & 3, follow me on twitter.
Go Pack Go!
In Ted I Trust,