Often in life, you notice the real tenacity of a man, when things around you become more difficult. For Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, this happened today. One quick look at the NFC North, the Division that the Packers dominated for the better part of 15 years, shows that if the Packers don't better themselves quickly, we might find ourselves in the cellar.
The 'Queens are the defending champs. The Bears just added the best young QB in the NFL and a massive OT to protect him. And, as for the 0-16 Lions, well, I take you back in time...in 1988, the Dallas Cowboys finished 3-13. That Cowboys team had one weapon, Michael Irvin. The Lions have Calvin Johnson. In 1989, the Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman. They finished 1-15. The Lions have Matthew Stafford waiting in the wings. In 1990, the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith with the #17 pick overall. This year, the Lions have the 20th pick in addition to the #1 pick. Knowshown Moreno will probably be available. Sure, they already have Kevin Smith, who I like, but...ok, I'm not saying, but I'm just saying...
Regardless, it's time for the Packers to get going. Time for the Packers to respond. Time for the Packers to win the 2009 NFL Draft. Time for the Packers to extend T-Mon, Collins and Jennings. Get this done now! Before the mini-camps. Before the draft. Show the players and fans that you are serious. Until now, we've been on our heels. It's time to act.
Hopefully, Duke Preston will provide necessary depth to our offensive line. Hopefully, this means one less OL is drafted as well.
The NFL Draft is 23 days away. I'm going to attempt to compile my fantasy NFL Draft. It will be a draft that is focused on building our roster to fit the 3-4 alignment and constructing a defense that is physically built to last.
Round 1: Raji tests positive - I can trade down and still get him. I like Orapko, but I am not certain that he can drop in coverage. I love Malcolm Jenkins game, but I can get him later. My gut tells me that we draft a T such as Andre Smith or Michael Oher - assuming Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe are gone. I don't draft OL in my mocks, so I'm trading down. The 49ers want a QB at 10, possibly Sanchez. As I've documented in the past, Ted Thompson has his trading buddies. One team is the New York Jets. Another is the Bucs. Both need QB's. Thompson negotiates with both as he did in the Favre drama last year. Again he strikes it rich with the Jets as Tampa does not have a 2nd round pick. A look at the draft point value chart shows me that the Packers get Tampa's #1, #2, and #5 in exchange for the Packers #1 and #6. With the #19 pick, the Packers select Michael Johnson. I'm convinced that with proper coaching and weight room development, this guy will become an NFL monster. He can drop in coverage. When motivated, he'll attack the backside against the run. He can get to the QB. He'll knock down passes. He can block kicks, which would improve special teams. I've swung and missed before, but man, I'm taking a chance with MJ. This pick might be WAY too early, but I'm ok with this. Last year - I wanted Slaton...regardless of where we had to draft him. I wanted Slaton. This year - I want MJ.
Round 2a: Sean Smith. Depending where you look, this guy falls late first to late 2nd. It's my fantasy mock. So, I'm having fun. Adding Smith would fulfill all of our secondary requirements. Our secondary would be lethal! Connor Barwin is also an option. I don't think that Sintim will be available. Sintim's the better pass rusher, but I like Barwin's work ethic and he's truly a Green Bay kind of guy. Plus, Barwin would bring attitude, selflessness, and fight to the special teams unit. He's developmental, but I think, if given the right system, he'll mature into a solid pro. He wants it. Seems like a Thompson kind of pick. But, I don't normally think like Thompson. I'm taking Smith.
Round 2b (from Tampa): Ron Brace, DT, BC. Well, I passed on Raji. It was tough to do, but we'll take his sidekick, Brace. He's an ideal size for the 3-4 NT. He went relatively unnoticed due to Raji's presence right next to him, but Brace can play. Great run stopper. But, can also get light pressure on the QB.
Round 3a: Mitch King, DE, Iowa. It would seem fitting. Lord knows I like Iowa defenders and their ability to transition into an NFL player. He has a 3-4 DE's frame. He'd play with fight. He's tough. He's blood, sweat and tears.
Round 3b: Zach Follett. I passed on Barwin in round 2 because I could get Follett here. Everywhere I look - it lists Follett as a 4th rounder. I want him this bad. Taking him with the Jets pick. OK, it's Favre for Follett. I guess.
Round 4: Mike Mickens. Last year, it was Chevis Jackson. This year, it's Mickens or Asher Allen. Appears Allen will be picked before Mickens. Mickens is a solid zone cover guy. Will also get in your face. Good hands. Good tackler. Been writing about him for 3 years. Hope his knee can recover. I'm sure it has.
Round 5a: I've been vocal about my desires for Bear Pascoe. Nothings changed. Again, everything I read says that he'll be here at this point. I'm grabbing him.
Round 5b: I doubt that Brandon Tate will last this long, but if so...man, tough to pass up. I bet he's long gone come draft day. So, I'm going back to defense. Myron Pryor. Sticking with the DT scheme. We rotate Brace, Pryor, and Pickett. I've been writing about Pryor's game and my desire to get him as a mid round pick. He can play in the 3-4.
Round 6 (from NO in last years trade): Robert Francois, LB, BC. When you like the draft as much as I do, you get feelers for things. Last year it was with Jeremy Thompson. Had a feeling he'd be a Packer. This year - strange, but true. I get that buzz with Francois. Had a great Pro day. A wedge buster. Loves special teams. Can play ILB and OLB. We need LB depth. It would not surprise me.
Round 7: Brannan Southerland, FB, Georgia. He'd bring a winner's mind. He'll leave his heart and soul on the field. He can catch. He can block. He can run. He's intelligent. If Kuhn is not retained, this should happen. If Kuhn is retained, I'm looking at a big WR such as Aaron Kelly or Patrick Turner.
This mock draft includes one trade down. We draft 2 OLB. 1 ILB. 2 DT. 1 DE. 1 CB. 1 S. The defense is stocked with youthful talent. Players who produced against big time competition at the collegiate level. Offensively, we add a TE and a FB or WR.
It's time to get serious.