If you don't go big, you shouldn't go at all. Sure, it was an exhibition game. I get it. But, I'm not sure why the defensive and special teams units even showed up. It was a total embarrassment. So, in some ways, I feel it's up to me to alter the mojo of the current Green Bay Packers vibe. Therefore, I sit with a pairing that I've waited a year to view side-by-side. The Almanac Dogpatch Sour Batch #3 v the Almanac Dogpatch Sour Batch #4. The Batch #3 was bought a year ago. The #4 is fresh. This is the way that I enjoy drinking beer the most. If you're into barrel aged beers - be it wine, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, etc. - give this a shot. For wine beers, I find that most are best 2-3 years after purchase. For whiskey or bourbon barreled beers, a 5-year aged Stout is a glorious sensation. Sip that beer right next to a fresh one. You'll be amazed as to how the beer changes over time. The Almanac Dogpatch Sour is a cherry sour that is aged in wine barrels. It's not overpoweringly sour. The cherry is tart. After a year, the cherry has rested a bit and the carbonation is down significantly. The beer is wild and clearly, the yeast continues to work it's magic.
I listen the Rockers soundtrack. Arguably - the greatest reggae compilation ever assembled. The Maytones' "Money Worries" is a mint, often-unknown tune that echoes into the ears with glory.
Here are some quick hit vibes that caught my eye during the exhibition debacle against the Eagles:
* Brett Hundley. Dude has a future. A bright one. The Packers got exactly what they wanted out of him. They have assurance that he could easily be the #2 next year. And, therefore, look for Tolzien to get the vast majority of snaps against the Saints. It'll be the Packers mission to put Tolzien on display for opposing teams who will be in the market for a QB. Tolzien will be on the roster in 2015, but you can bet that TT has his eye on a compensatory pick for Tolzien after this season when he's an unrestricted free agent.
* Matt Blanchard. He was great fun with the flick of the wrist! I fully anticipate that he'll be on the Practice Squad this year with a shot to earn the #3 role next year.
* Good to see Starks running straight ahead. Little wasted movement. Ran with purpose on the screen.
* Speaking of the screen, glad to see that the screen is back in the Packers offensive arsenal.
* After the 1st exhibition game, I had Alonzo Harris ahead of Rajion Neal. Well, Harris dropped two balls against Pittsburgh and then he got hurt. Like a professional, Neal has taken advantage of his opportunities. He doesn't possess elite speed, but he runs with decent pace. He's patient, determined and he's been productive. It'll be tough to keep Neal off the roster.
* Brett Hundley was so impressive. Can't get over it. Used his feet with confidence. Stood in the pocket like a seasoned vet. Knew the progressions. Utilized the check-down. Couldn't be more excited for him.
* Jeff Janis. Wish Rodgers had more confidence in him. He's a tough cover off of the line of scrimmage. Loved seeing him catch the TD out of the slot. Plus, the TD happened as the Packers entered the Red Zone. If allowed, Janis will be a weapon. He caught three balls. One was for 16 yards. One was for 29 yards. One was for 27 yards. That's firepower. Imagine a scenario in which the Packers have 4 Receivers and Lacy in the backfield. Rodgers out of shotgun. Montgomery split wide left. Janis in the slot to the left. Cobb in the slot to the right. Adams split wide right. The defense slides to the right side of the offense. Leaving Janis against a dime CB. Name a dime DB that can run with Janis. I can't. I see big plays in Janis' future. If the Packers allow him to be a baller.
* Myles White had the game that he needed to have. For a moment, he put Packers fans pain to rest. White fought for the ball. He played with pride. Given the circumstances, he earned himself a roster spot.
* Ed Williams is a physical specimen. Wanted to see him fully step out of the tackle. Didn't get to see much of him in the preseason, but wonder if he's been hidden as a practice squad target.
* Ty Montgomery. Was great to see him gallop his way out of a tackle to find the open field. Couldn't tell if he hurt himself on the play, but he sure seemed to lose a step as he was running. He had green pastures in front of him. I expected him to take it to the house. But, he looked like his hamstring tightened on him as he was trying to find another gear. I noticed that he was held out of practice today. Might have happened on that play.
* Another Janis thought. I've liked how they've used that underneath crossing route with him. He has speed. You can't teach speed and he's a threat to take it for big yardage every time he touches the ball.
* Richard Rodgers. I'm a broken record on this one, but he'll catch a minimum of 6-8 TD's this year and possibly even more. Additionally, he might catch 50 balls.
* KENNARD BACKMAN! LOCKING UP A SPOT! WITH AUTHORITY!
* Donny Barclay had his best game of the preseason. Seemed to be playing with more comfort.
* Matt Rotheram is making a push to make this roster. In a year, I see him as a guy that might even be able to slide to RT. Worst case scenario he's a practice squad player, but I'm not sure that he'd last as I'd fancy that someone would sign him to their roster. At this stage, I have him above Lane Taylor.
* Josh Walker. Have to believe that he's on the 53 man roster over Rotheram as he's been utilized at Tackle in back-to-back preseason games. He's displaying the versatility that the Packers like in back-up OL. And, while he didn't have a great game against Pittsburgh, I thought he played well vs Philly.
* I said it often last year: Sam Barrington is vulnerable in coverage. He's confident in the run game. He looks comfortable with the defense. He tackles with desire. But, in the passing game, he's not good enough. He isn't fast enough. And, he gets exposed.
* Mike Pennel has had a great preseason. Possibly our best defender. Yes, I just wrote that.
* Need more out of BJ Raji, Mike Neal, and Nick Perry.
* Hope that Jayrone Elliott is utilized in the regular rotation on passing downs.
* Wishing the best for Adrian Hubbard. Was sad that he never turned the corner. Really liked how he was given a shot to play DT on 3rd downs. Gives me even more conviction that Peppers will be utilized in that role during the Regular Season. I've been begging for it on a consistent basis since last October. It wouldn't shock me if 20-25% of Peppers' snaps this year are at DT on passing downs.
* YELLOW JAKE. Where'd he go? He was so impressive in NE. And, all of a sudden, he's disappeared the last two games. Lights are on, Jake. Ball up!
* Joe Thomas. I had him as the #4 ILB right now. While he hasn't been overwhelmingly impressive, he looks more natural at the position than Bradford and Palmer. But, Bradford has been around the ball more than Thomas in the preseason, so as of now, if it were up to me, Bradford would prevail.
* Thought James Vaughters had his best game. I keep waiting for their to be a player or two to get a mystery injury that'll keep him on the IR for the year. Wouldn't shock me if that happens with Vaughters. TT often likes to store players that way. Vaughters is a candidate.
* HaHa is such an intimidating presence. Liked to see his activity along the line of scrimmage. If he buttons up his tackling, he'll have a monster year. He's in position to make so many plays. But, he's tackling continues to be inconsistent.
* Thought Morgan Burnett played well around the line of scrimmage as well.
* Loved the special teams tackle by Randall!
* In an effort to not get negative and to keep things in perspective, I'll finish my thoughts on the Eagles game right there.
* It won't happen, but I would like it if TT kicked the tires on Phil Taylor who was just cut by the Browns.
By the time I write again, the Packers roster will be down to 53 players. While the Packers are narrowing the roster down to 53 players, consider this: TT plays with the future in mind. He builds through the Draft. While he's constructing his roster, compensatory picks are a piece of the strategy. If TT invests three years in a player on his roster, he's likely going to get a 4th year, so that he can get something in return for him. Heading into next year, the Packers have Mike Daniels, Casey Hayward, Letroy Guion, BJ Raji, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Scott Tolzien, James Starks, Sean Richardson, Don Barclay, and AQ81! all as free agents. The only one that I believe is a lock to come back is Daniels. And, given Daniels' current contract demands, Thompson is going to have to over pay Daniels in order to keep him. Thompson needs to create cap room. Additionally, the following year, he'll have to lock up Lacy, Bakhtiari, Lang and Sitton. Thompson will need the extra draft picks to reload the roster. Hence, I'm betting that he keeps all of the names that I listed above in an effort to maximize his opportunity to receive additional draft choices. As poorly as Barclay has played, he does have starters experience, which is a valuable commodity in the NFL. He's been a trusted bruiser for the Packers when he's been healthy. He'll receive interest in FA next year. He'll be on the roster before Rotheram and Taylor. Regardless of who outperformed who. I'm guessing that TT is banking on receiving 4 compensatory picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Even if those compensatory picks are between rounds 5-7. Those picks will have relatively low salaries and they will allow the Packers to lock up their stars for years to come.
Here are my top 53:
QB: Rodgers, Tolzien, Hundley.
RB: Lacy, Starks, Kuhn, Ripkowski, Neal.
WR: Cobb, Adams, Janis, White, Montgomery.
TE: Rodgers, AQ81!, Backman.
OL: Bakhtiari, Lang, Sitton, Linsley, Bulaga, Tretter, Barclay, Walker.
DL: Raji, Guion, Pennel, Ringo, Daniels, Jones, Boyd.
LB: CM3, Peppers, Barrington, Ryan, Elliott, Neal, Perry, Mulumba, Bradford.
DB: Sammy Swagga, Hayward, HaHa, Burnett, Richardson, Hyde, Gunter, Randall, Rollins, Goodson.
SPECIALISTS: Crosby, Masthay, Goode.
Practice Squad: Blanchard, Crockett, Mitchell Henry, Matt Rotheram, Larry Pinkard, Ed Williams, Gaston, Rasco, Vaughters, Thomas. Admittedly, I'm not sure if Justin Perrilo still qualifies for the Practice Squad, but if so, I'd select him over Henry. Also, I wish the Packers would take a look at Danny Mason who was just cut from the Broncos. Dude is a relentless pass rusher.
IR: Alonzo Harris.
This week - it's the Saints. STAY HEALTHY! REST THE STARTERS! Give the ball to Tolzien. Let him earn a big contract next year. Hand it to Neal. Let's see what he can do with 20 carries. Tolzien tosses to Backman down the seam. He hits Janis on a deep ball. He uses the screen to Neal. Defensively, Elliott has a monster game. Mulumba gets to the QB. The Packers win handily.
Packers 27. Saints 13.
Bare with me. The college season starts this weekend. So, I've put together my notes on players from last year. I've taken a look at some videos on draft breakdown's epic website. And, I've compiled my initial 2016 NFL Mock Draft. Before you laugh too hard, please note that last year when I did this I had Jake Ryan, Ty Montgomery and Bernard Blake listed. Blake - you may recall - was signed as an UDFA. Any ways, here is my first crack at the 2016 Packers NFL Mock Draft.
Round 1.) Darron Lee, ILB, Ohio State. He's a redshirt sophomore. If he comes out, he'll be a great target for someone as he has elite NFL speed. He'd make for a dynamic duo teamed with CM3 at ILB. While his speed is his greatest asset, his recognition and instincts are innate. He's absolutely fierce when attacking the ball. Others: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State and Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA.
Round 2.) Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama. James Starks will be a FA next year. I don't believe that he'll be brought back. Derrick Henry is a bruiser with deceptive speed. He runs with a purpose and, in some ways, he reminds me of Eddie Lacy. Henry would be the classic TT - I'm just stockpiling the depth on offense - addition. Others: D'haquille Williams, WR, Auburn and Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor.
Round 3.) Deon Bush, S, _. Yes, I know that every year I draft a Cane. Can you blame me? I will forever root for Da _ and I cherish my time in the 305. Bush plays with speed. He's a contact seeking hunter. He attack the ball with a mission to jar the ball loose. He has limitations in coverage, but he has the athleticism and agility to improve with added experience. Other: Jalen Mills, S, LSU.
Round 4.) Taveze Calhoun, CB, Mississippi State. He has ideal length to play on the perimeter. Fearless in run support. Plays with great quickness. Has excellent short-line speed. He brings true swagger. A confident player who plays with impressive passion. Though he's light, he offers sincere heart on every down.
Round 4.) Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA. Exceptional athlete. Quick on the inside. Muscular. Slips off blocks and finds his way into he backfield. Has the potential to be great in the run game. Has nose for finding the football. Consistent week-in and week-out performer.
Round 5.) Jake Duzey, TE, Iowa. Great route running TE who finds open field underneath the coverage. Ideal NFL size. Can improve as a blocker, but he's more than willing. Catches with his hands. Did have some issues with drops, but overall, he's a more than capable receiver who is a tough cover as he gets in and out of his breaks with precision. Not overly fast, but finds ways to get open. Gave WI all kinds of trouble last year. Vintage Midwestern TE.
Round 5.) Kris Frost, ILB, Auburn. He's a passionate player who has a nose for the football. An intimidator in the run game in the middle of the field. Plays with heart. Wears his emotions on his sleeve. Not overly fleet of foot, but he makes game changing plays.
Round 6.) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. He gets deep. Great NFL size. And he has the frame to add more muscle. Catches with his hands. Gets in and out of his breaks. Can be dangerous after the catch.
Round 7.) Christian French, OLB, Oregon. French has the length required to play OLB in the 3-4. He has experience dropping into coverage and plays well in space. He slides along the line of scrimmage to string out plays and when he uses his arm length, he's able to avoid getting overpowered in the run game.
Go Pack Go!