After putting himself to win the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, Ted Thompson stayed aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillan and Terrell Manning will all be expected to make an impact in 2012. To close the Draft, Thompson went with two solid developmental players in Andrew Datko and BJ Coleman.
Candidly, I can't say I know much about either Daniels or McMillan. Daniels is an undersized DL who has showed a pension for getting to the QB. Last year, he had 9 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. The year before he had 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. From the minimal film that I've seen, it appears as though Daniels understands leverage and goes for the first punch prior to pushing the OL into the backfield. With Mike Neal out for the first 4 games and Anthony Hargrove out for the first 8 games, Daniels might be asked to make an immediate impact in the DL rotation.
I've never seen Jerron McMillan play football. Though I watched the Combine, I don't recall him even though he had a terrific performance as he ran the 40 in 4.36 and had a vertical of 39 inches. From what I read, he won't necessarily be the guy to replace the huge hole left by the release of Nintendo Nick Collins. While Nintendo Nick was a playmaking DB who roamed the center of the field, it appears McMillan is best suited to play at the line of scrimmage. He's been described as a fearless blitzer. He had 3.5 sacks last year. My initial thought is that he'll compete for the starting Safety spot across from Morgan Burnett. Burnett has shown the ability to be a ballhawk. With that, it's possible that McMillan could be an ideal compliment to Burnett.
When Thompson traded up for Terrell Manning, I was ultra surprised. Manning has an injury riddled history. Clearly, Thompson wanted him as he gave up a 6th and two 7th's to jump up and get him. Unlike Daniels and McMillan, I have great familiarity with Manning. Manning will get sideline-to-sideline. He moves well in space, but doesn't always take the best angle towards the ball. He plays fairly well in coverage. He sheds blocks decently even though he occasionally plays too high. He's dreaded! He plays with great intensity. I didn't have him on the Packers radar for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I thought he'd be picked in the 3rd Round, which I figured was too early for the Packers to draft an ILB. Secondly, Manning is leaner than the other ILB's on the roster. In some ways, I wondered if Manning was best suited as a 4-3 ILB and this pick made me wonder if the Packers were going to play a little 4-3 in 2012. Either way, I see Manning as a player who will successfully perform on special teams this year.
In Andrew Datko, Ted Thompson rolled the dice. If Datko stays healthy, the Packers might end up with a steal in the 2012 NFL Draft. He's aggressive. He's athletic. He uses his hands extremely well. And when his shoulder is healthy, he's got the strength required to play LT in the NFL. Had he stayed healthy throughout his college career, he'd have had the talent to be worthy of a 1st Round pick. But, Datko has been littered with injuries. Love the pick at the end of the 7th Round. Great value. If Datko can stay healthy, the Packers might have a gem.
With his last pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, Thompson grabbed BJ Coleman. Let me put it this way: I'm not a draftnik, but man, when I watched the QB's in the 2012 NFL Draft and how their games, size, speed and arm strength translated to the NFL; I looked at it this way: Andrew Luck and RGIII are way above everyone. After them, I thought that you could bunch Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, BJ Coleman, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson together. I seriously believe that BJ Coleman has the talent to eventually be the 3rd best QB to come out of this draft. Granted, unless an injury occurs to the NFL's MVP, Coleman won't get the opportunities that Tannehill and Weeden will get, but he could be Mr. August in 2013 and 2014. He's athletic. He has a cannon of an arm. He can make all of the throws. He's precise. After the Draft, I watched the East West Shrine Game again. Coleman was rock solid. He grabbed control of the huddle. He was accurate. He threw the out pass. He threw the crossing route. He fit balls into tight spaces down the seam. He moved his feet well. For a 7th Round pick, there wasn't much to dislike. I will say that I have minute concerns about his attitude as I hear that he can occasionally get down on his WR's if they run the wrong route or drop passes. I understand that he'll get in your face and criticize. He's not always constructive. Regardless, he's a competitor. And, in the 7th Round, I love this pick. Hell, in my pre-Mock, I had the Packers drafting him in Round 5!
The Packers also signed a handful of undrafted FA's. If you've followed the blog for a while, you'll know that I watched a lot of Vanderbilt football last year. Two players consistently impressed me: Casey Hayward and Sean Richardson. Richardson is not a ball hawk. Instead, he's a sure tackling safety who will make a living in the box. He hits with a vengeance. He's a bit of a tweener as he might be too big for safety and too small for LB. Nonetheless, he's a football player who was a high impact player in the SEC. It'll be interesting to see where the Packers line him up.
Marc Tyler is a fun signing. Ted Thompson loves bloodlines. Tyler has them. Coming off a disappointing college career, Tyler will be animated to prove the critics wrong. He isn't going to run by anyone, but he's powerful, he's instinctive and he hits the hole with passion. Additionally, since he was in a thick rotation at USC, he doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on his legs. At one point during the college season, he was projected as a mid-round pick. I can't guarantee that he'll make the team, but he'll definitely be in the mix as training camp commences.
I'll be curious to follow Nic Cooper, Dale Moss, Dion Turner and Dezman Moses. Cooper has beast like statistics at the collegiate level and it's anticipated that the Packers will move him to FB. Moss was a basketball player and at 6-4, 215, he presents himself as a potential match-up problem. He'll likely try to find his way onto the practice squad. At 6-0, 195, Turner has the height and weight that the Packers target for the position. At 6-3, 248, Moses has the ideal physique for an OLB in the 3-4. Additionally, Moses had a productive college career with 9.5 sacks last year. Further, the deep roots between the Packers front office and the University of Iowa has been well documented. With that said, it's important to note that Moses began his college career in Iowa.
The first rookie camp is this week. I can't wait to see our new toys in uniform!
Go Pack Go!