I am more excited about the 2017 Green Bay Packers than I was about the 2015 & 2016 teams. I didn't like the vibe heading into 2015. I was more nervous than excited as the 2016 season approached. 2017 seems to bring a new energy, a rejuvenated feel. We felt magic towards the head of the 2016 season and the momentum is sure to carry over to the 2017 season. Additionally, Ted Thompson was aggressive. He's playing to win the Super Bowl this year. We haven't seen Ted act like this since 2014. I really like the make-up of this team.
As I marinate in Packers thought I sip a Brew Dr. Kombucha. The Clear Mind flavor. It's a concoction of green tea, peppermint, sage, rosemary and dandelion root. The peppermint speaks boldly. I listen to Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. 3. What a lyrical magician. Stimulates the writing mind.
Ted Thompson attacking Free Agency with a fierce mentality? Did that really happen? Yes, it did. In grandiose fashion. And, because of his approach towards the offseason, the Green Bay Packers should be both tougher and faster on both sides of the ball. May you stay Forever Young, TT!
For the first time since 1996, the Packers will have two lethal TE's. Martellus Bennett is a Green Bay Packer! The self-proclaimed Black Unicorn will be running down the seam creating mismatches for the Green Bay Packers! Bennett can split out wide, he can play in the slot and he can line up tight to the tackle. He'll be the best blocking TE the Packers have had since Mark Chmura. He'll be coupled with a WI product in Lance Kendricks. Kendricks will be a fun toy for Mike McCarthy. Kendricks can line up most places on the field. He moves really well. You can put him in motion to cause confusion. He can line up at FB. He, too, can line up on the outside and he can line up tight to the formation. He'll be a great addition.
Jahri Evans isn't TJ Lang, but he is a 4 time Pro Bowler who will bring attitude to the OL. If Evans can find his youth, the Packers OL won't miss a beat.
Ricky Jean Francois will add beef, toughness and quickness to the DL. He is familiar with the 3-4 defense. He'll be a welcomed veteran addition.
Davon House isn't a shut down CB, but I'm happy to see him back. He's an improvement over what we saw all of last year on the perimeter at CB. And, if he can find his 2015 form, he'll elevate the Packers defense to great levels.
I've never been more excited about a Packers draft. Ted Thompson absolutely crushed draft weekend. He filled needs with legitimate playmakers at the college level. Here's a quick overview on each pick along with a couple of tidbits on a few UDFA's that I am familiar with.
Round 2a. Kevin King. The Packers needed speed and length at CB. In King, they got both. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he was the best Red Zone CB in the draft. He uses the sideline as his teammate and he'll have the size/speed combination to compete with any WR in the NFL. He'll be a playmaker in Green Bay and if he can get more physical, he has the makings of becoming a shut down CB.
Round 2b. Josh Jones. I'm so stoked to see how the Packers utilize him. He's so versatile. Put him in the middle of the field and he's going to find the football. His speed will change the look of our defense. He has great agility. He's smart and he gets sideline to sideline with elite burst. I'm almost wondering if you could see Burnett and Jones at ILB, at times, with Brice and HaHa at safety. With that, the Packers defense would have heightened athleticism and would have more speed on the field than they've had in my lifetime. Jones could eventually become the type of player that offenses have to game plan around.
Round 3. Montravius Adams. Be excited. This dude is an athlete. True run stopper. He'll eat up blocks. He'll burst through the line of scrimmage. He's ultra quick off of the snap. His first step is elite. He flat-out destroys plays. Happy that he's wearing #90. Hoping he can be as much of a difference maker as Raji was in 2009 and 2010. I believe Adams will make an immediate impact on this defense. Adams dominated the line of scrimmage at the Senior Bowl. He was the quickest player off of the snap in the game. The concern around Adams is his effort. He often takes plays off. I cannot imagine Mike Daniels allowing Adams to rest. Daniels will push Adams to ensure
Round 4a. Vince Biegel. I love that Biegel is a Packer. He was such a stallion at WI. He instantly caught your eye as a Badger. He's a high effort performer with a great jump off of the ball. A blue collar performer who has above average athleticism. A great first step. He's terrific in the run game. He's an intense pass rusher. He'll be a great addition to Titletown, U.S.A. I'm worried about his injury. The Packers need him to be effective Week 1. He'll allow Capers to have versatility with using his players. I'd be thrilled to see Biegel and Perry on the edge with Matthews flying up the middle on passing downs. Biegel is a dynamic playmaker who will bring high intelligence to the defense and if he's healthy, Biegel will instantly add a pass rushing fire to the defense.
Round 4b. Jamaal Williams. He’s the back that the Packers really needed to add after losing Lacy. He has the toughness to handle 20+ carries a game for an extended stretch. He plays through pain. He’s a tough runner with excellent vision. He sees the hole and he explodes through the hole. He’s a really solid decision maker as a runner. One thing that really catches your eye is that regardless of the opponent, he seemed to produce the same way. He consistently pounded through the hole and he seemingly broke into the open field at least one time every game. He might not have HR speed, but he produced HR results each and every week. His game translates to the NFL. He’s not overly shifty and with the exception of his vision and decision making as a runner - not one thing stands out as though he does it exceptionally well – but he is capable of tackling every task necessary to be a successful NFL RB. The more you watch Williams, the more you love Williams. I'm expecting big things from Williams this year. Maybe not in September, but as the season grows and the weather turns, I envision Williams playing a more integral role in this offense.
Round 5a. Deangelo Yancey. First and foremost, don't be surprised if Yancey gets a significant look as a gunner on special teams and as a punt returner. He showed well as a gunner in the East-West shrine game. He also returned punts. He occasionally shows inconsistent hands and that might be a concern as a punt returner, but he'll get a look at winning the punt returner job. He has great feet, he plays quick and has explosion. He doesn't take plays off as he's a true hustler. He brings the ability to get deep. He's a hard working route runner, but he sometimes rounds off his cuts on the out route. We know Rodgers won't allow Yancey to round off his routes at the NFL level. When the ball is in his hands, he's not easy to bring down. Yancey will fight for extra yards. He's also a really talented blocking WR.
Round 5b. Aaron Jones. He is a really powerful back for being under 5-10. He lives on yards after contact to get himself to the open field. He has soft hands out of the backfield which creates the possibility of him being not just a situational back but a 3-down back. He sheds tackles in a variety of ways. He will run through you, he's quick enough to get to the corner, he'll drop the stiff arm and he has a little shake to him as well.
Round 6. Kofi Amichia. I love this pick. Terrific developmental prospect at Guard. He was a Tackle in college. He is an uber athletic player. He moves really well. He's powerful. A dynamite athlete. He moves really well laterally and if he is in a position to be a pulling guard, he'll be quick enough to get himself into space. He'll show really well in the screen game. He's an intimidating presence. The kind of guy you want leading your team off of the bus. He moved people with pure brutality at the college level. I expect him to have a good career in Green Bay.
Round 7a. Devante Mays. He's built differently than the other backs in camp. Physically, he's structured as a bigger, more powerful back. But, he carries his 230 lbs very well and plays with a little bit of juke to him. He has short spurts of acceleration like he has a turbo button on his remote control. He has good hands. He can shake defenders in the open field as well as run thru them. He has the athleticism to get to the corner. He's a disciplined runner who plays with patience with the ball in his hands.
Round 7b. Malachi Dupre. Be excited. He's incredibly talented. He's a long receiver with great concentration. He has the ability to line up in the slot as well as on the outside of the formation. He releases well off of the snap when he's put in motion. He's an underrated blocker who is willing to get physical in the run game. He can get deep. He's not afraid to work across the middle of the field. He wins jump balls. He's a reliable third down target. He seems to be a good teammate. He loves to celebrate his teammates successes. He often the first to congratulate his teammates after a big play, hustling down field for a moment of jubilation. In short, he has a legitimate chance to be a star.
I'm familiar with a couple of UDFA's that will be in camp. Again, if I haven't studied him, I won't comment.
Taysom Hill. I'm really animated to see Hill play at the NFL level. He has a great arm. Plays with field awareness. Terrific mobility. Smart QB. Can make all of the throws. Was somewhat surprised that he went undrafted. He fits the Packers scheme of a targeted QB. I'd think that he'll outperform Callahan in camp. Hill has all of the tools to be an NFL QB. He's tough. He has NFL size. Really like his pocket presence. Good accuracy on the deep ball. Not afraid to gun it into traffic. Throws receivers open. A true gamer at the college level. He could sneak onto the 53-man roster and if he doesn't make the roster, I'll be really surprised if he doesn't make the practice squad.
Geoff Gray. He's a finesse blocker. He'll compete at Guard, but he's not going to overpower anyone. He's quick to get to the LB and he has solid lateral movement. He needs to put on muscle. He has the potential to be a pulling guard who'd do well in space.
Adam Pankey. Really liked Pankey at Dub-V as a Tackle. Also plays Guard. Likely translates to Guard in the NFL. He bellies up with defenders and plays with an attitude. He looks to win the muscle war and plays with leverage. He'll need to move his feet better as he can get beat with quickness. He's a better run blocker than a pass blocker. He'll be a really nice developmental prospect in camp who'll compete for a roster spot on Day 1. At worst, I imagine that he'll be on the Practice Squad.
William Stanback. He’s the kind of player that I’m happy the Packers took a chance on. He appeared as though stardom was on his horizon early in his college career. Then, he had issues with the herb as a college kid and he lost his scholarship. Obviously, it’s a sign of immaturity, but he deserves a shot to see if he’s grown up and I’m happy to see he’s getting his chance in Titletown, USA. He’s a physical runner, with soft hands and runs with great patience. He has a good burst. He’s quicker than fast. He powers through arm tacklers. He really punishes tacklers. He could be a sleeper to make the 53 man roster and if he doesn’t make it, you’d have to think that he’s a prime candidate to be targeted for the practice squad.
Kalif Phillips. He is an interesting prospect for my eye because he plays different than he looks like he would. He looks like the type of back that you’d like to get in the open field. He has that sort of quickness, too. But, that’s not necessarily his game. He takes choppy, quick footed steps. He surges through the hole. He’s a patient runner. He seems to play with composure as he trusts his OL to open a lane for him. And, when he gets to the 2nd level he becomes a thick necked, broad shouldered bull of a runner as he uses his powerful body to seek contact. He’s a stout ball of muscle who has the makings of being a mudder that is equally as quick in December as he is in September. I'm excited that he's wearing #34, just like Edgar Bennett did.
Lenzy Pipkins. He's an excitable CB who was lost in the shuffle in a 3 man CB rotation at Oklahoma State. He played like a star in his bowl game against Colorado. He's not afraid to jam at the line. He isn't shy on contact. He has a powerful lower body. He's highly athletic. He prefers to open his hips to see the field as he covers deep routes. He prefers to see the field rather than keeping the WR to the outside and using the sideline as his friend. He has good make-up speed. He's gets in and out of his breaks. He jumps comeback routes, but he's conservative in his approach. He's not the type of CB who's going to get beaten on a double move. He's agile enough to play in the slot and has the athletic ability to play on the perimeter. He'll add to the competition at CB in a big way.
Johnathan Calvin. He's an elephant end with good size. He can also move to the inside as an interior pass rusher. At the NFLPA Bowl, he was exclusively used as a DT in the 4-3. Pro Football Focus listed him as the highest graded player in the NFLPA game. He has to learn to use his length to disrupt passing lanes when he's stood up as an interior pass rusher, but he's a high effort performer. On the outside, when he's attacking with space, he plays with good depth, but he needs to play with better leverage to drive the OL backwards and to collapse the pocket as an interior pass rusher. He extends his hands well to separate from the OL, but he doesn't get the push you'd desire. He has the athleticism to occasionally drop into space. He has experience standing up as well as playing with his paws in the dirt. Calvin's size and physique make him an intriguing UDFA. I'm curious to see if he could potentially compete for the role that was vacated by Datone Jones.
Justin Vogel. Look for Vogel to give Jacob Schum all he can handle. Vogel is a great punter. He doesn't have an ultra strong leg, but he's accurate as can be. He's expert at pinning teams deep. He can flip field position quickly. While he doesn't boom punts, he'll almost always have high quality hang time. He's noted for limiting the oppositions return yardage. Additionally, Vogel is comfortable holding in the kicking game.
The position that will be most intensely watched heading into OTA's and Training Camp will be FA. The Packers enter OTA's with 5 new RB's on the roster. A lot of the backs have the same characteristics with patience and vision being at the core of their running philosophies. And what intrigues me the most is that the Packers RB situation isn't as rough as some make it out to be. Montgomery and RIP combine to make a decent situation at RB. All the Packers need is for one of these 5 backs to become a quality addition and the position will be in a good position to rotate players and keep everyone fresh. I'm confident that we will not only see 1 player, but likely 2 who will be able to make a solid impact this year.
Heading into this offseason, I was concerned. I thought the Packers window for winning a title was possibly going to close. I knew the Packers had FA's that were likely going to get more money than I wanted Ted Thompson to pay. The Packers were going to lose multiple valuable performers. Packers guys. Thompson guys. Traditionally, Thompson has re-upped these players, but not this time. TT held his ground. He managed the cap well. He's revitalized the roster. He's injected the team with a new personality. All the while, the Packers still have more than $18 million in cap room. They're in a position to potentially add an Elvis Dumervil or to trade for a Sheldon Richardson. Or TT could ante up Aaron Rodgers' money and pay it forward. He could also pay the likes of HaHa, Linsley or Davante Adams with that money as they are pending FA's. He can also save the money and head into 2018 FA with over $40 million in cap room. He's most likely accumulated 4 compensatory picks for next years draft. He'll go into the 2018 Draft with 11 picks and he'll likely have 4 of the top 107 picks at his disposal. It was a crucial offseason and Ted Thompson was victorious with a methodical, savvy approach. And, all the while, the future of the Packers remains healthy. The winning window remains wide open.
I'm fired up! Ready to go!
Go Pack Go!