A joyful St. Patrick's Day to you. I'm drinking Guinness as I type. And, I'm full of glee.
Believe it or not, you aren't always blessed with a Hall of Fame QB. When you are, you have to appreciate it. This year - we witnessed the pain associated with uncertainty at the QB position. Still, we survived. And, the Packers won the Division. In dramatic fashion. I will remember the 2013 season fondly.
Here are some thoughts since I last wrote:
* I look forward to a future with Eddie Lacy. Defenders will have to make "business decisions" as Lacy roars forward for years to come. I couldn't be more excited for the future of our offense. Rodgers and Lacy. Riveting.
* Jordy Nelson. Get locked up. Forever.
* I'm stoked that Sammy Swagga is back. Didn't like what we had to pay, but it was mandatory to bring him back. And, ultimately, it showed that what we paid was market value.
* I'm happy to have a motivated BJ Raji back on a 1-year contract. Enough with body eating Raji. I want the play-making Raji. The XLV version. Sign a body eater next to him. Let him freelance.
* I'm hoping Letroy Guion is that body eater. I liked him in Minnesota. He was forceful in the middle. He had good quickness. He played the run well. He disrupted plays up the middle. He's a good addition.
* Julius Peppers, yo. Julius Freakin' Peppers! Yes, Julius Peppers! Oh. My. God. Julius Peppers is a Packer. Yes, he's past his prime. Sure, he's coming off of a down year. But, the contract that TT signed him to has little risk and it's going to add significant diversity to the defense. Further, he's going to be an excellent presence in the locker room. Imagine a 3rd down defense with Peppers, a Neal/Datone Jones/Daniels combo, and Perry manning the line of scrimmage. With the Claymaker lingering in the middle. Roaming for his gap to attack. This could be epic.
* Another Peppers thought: Why can't he play the same role in the 3-4 that Aldon Smith plays?
* Welcome back, James Starks. I liked the Lacy/Starks rotation. It'll be interesting to see how DuJuan Harris & Jonathan Franklin fit into the mix.
* I'm trying hard not to classify Micah Hyde in a category similar to the way I did J-Bush, Ruvell Martin and B-Jack after the 2007 and Jeremy Ross last year. Had Hyde caught the ball, the Packers would've headed to Carolina with loads of momentum.
* The difference between winning and losing is minuscule. One could argue that the Cowboys are three yards from the Lombardi Trophy being the Landry Trophy as Dallas would have won SB I & II. Meredith would be remembered. Not Starr. Had Desmond Bishop not tripped up DeSean Jackson, XLV might not have occurred. Had Micah Hyde caught the ball...ah, it's fun to speculate.
* By signing AQ81 & Neal, the Packers haven't gotten better, but continuity is important and both are hard workers who'll play hurt.
* Ever next to a lady pounding McDonald's burgers on a tight airplane? If not, the smell is painful. Trust me. It is kind of like watching MD Jennings play football. The Bears still suck!
* I loved the picture of Peppers at Lambeau Field in front of the Championship years. Add another, Mr. Peppers.
* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good one. Down 20-17. 4th Quarter. Lacy and the Packers OL were bruising the 49ers defense. Pushing them backwards. 1st & goal from the 9. The Packers appeared destined to take the lead. Then, suddenly, Eddie Lacy was taken off the field. Instead, McCarthy handed it off to Randall Cobb. McCarthy got cute and played into the 49ers strengths. I'll never understand it.
* I am stoked with how the OL looks. Bakhtiari, Sitton, Lang and a presumably healthy Bulaga! Also, Tretter offers excitement. Barclay can play. Sherrod should be fully recovered. The prospects of a dominating OL are promising.
* The 28-yard TD pass to Vernon Davis that gave SF a 20-17 lead makes me sick to my stomach. How did Morgan Burnett whiff? As I've watched it again, I've begun to wonder whether Burnett has the speed, athleticism and recognition to play in this league. He appeared to have no vertical leap. I swear that ball went right thru Burnett's hands.
* While it is fun to be hopeful about Brandon Bostick's potential impact, I'm not confident that he will ever be able to stay healthy. Seems soft.
* I'm excited that Chase Thomas is in Titletown. He can drop in coverage. At he college level, he made plays in space. And, he pressured the QB. He could surprise. Prediction: he's on the 2014 roster. Will be interesting to follow.
* If Owen Daniels is healthy, he's a perfect fit. If I'm Owen Daniels, I sign a 1-year deal in Green Bay. I expect to have a big year. And, then I make a big splash next year in FA. It happened with Martellus Bennett. Daniels could experience the same. I'd be shocked if Daniels isn't a Packer.
* James Jones was a great Packer. A true professional. Forever to be remembered in a positive light. Good luck in Oakland, JJ!
* I'm sorry if I was tough on you, EDS. You surpassed my expectations. Happy trails. Play well. Start 16 games. Net us a 5th round compensatory pick, please.
* I'll be sad to see J-Mike go. So much potential. So much to offer. Too bad that none of it was realized in Green & Gold. It feels like we've seen his last down in Titletown.
* Packers fans needed to chill after the first couple of days of FA. There was a lot of offseason left. TT has a plan. I trust him. We are the NFC North Champs! Others have to catch us.
* Julius Peppers is a Packer.
The Packers need to improve and/or add competition at S, TE, ILB, WR, and C. In that order. I'm early in my draft preparations, but he's a start to a mock draft. More to come in the near future. As always, I use the CBS DRAFT SCOUT site as a barometer for a rough estimate as to others will be drafted. I will occasionally move players forward, but never back.
Round 1 - Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. Others will consider this a stretch. They'll view him as a 2-3 round pick. I think he'd change the culture of the Defense in a similar fashion that Eddie Lacy altered the aura on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest pain on the roster is at Safety. Bucannon solves this pain. With intense fashion. More to come on him as Draft Day nears. Other: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville.
Round 2 - Jordan Matthews, WR, Vandy. Big play WR. Gets deep. Full-on gamer. Shows up when needed. Clutch. Great hands. Can play on the outside or in the slot. Others: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Has the size and athletic ability to replace J-Mike. Was often used as a split receiver. Played in the slot. Absolutely destroyed Dub-V in Morgantown. And, every time Tech needed a play, he came through in the clutch. Has a nose for the end zone. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington. Love his size. Great hands. But, to my eye, he's disappointing after the catch and he isn't an overpowering blocker. Slow with the ball, but man, he caught everything when I watched him and he sat down in the zone. Further, he caught the ball in stride and didn't break pace. Prior to the Peppers signing, my pick was Carl Bradford, OLB, ASU. Shows up down the stretch. Good hustle. Sometimes inconsistent, but his good buzz is awfully positive. Can stand up or plant his hand in the dirt. Have not seen him drop into coverage much. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State. This dude DOMINATES on the inside. If Lang were to move to guard, Jackson would make great sense. Marcus Martin, C, USC. For my eye, he was the best Center that I have seen in my minimal viewing of the position. He can play either Guard or Center. TT likes versatility. Martin offers it.
Round 3 - Chris Borland, ILB, WI. He'd instantly be a fan favorite. Reminds me of Zach Thomas. A bruiser. He may not measure up, but man, put him on the football field and he dominates. Slaps wrists. Jars the football loose. Legit 3-4 prospect. Other: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU. When I watch Landry, I see a young Greg Jennings. Can play in the slot or on the outside. Crisp route runner. Lethal after the catch. Charles Sims, RB, Dub-V; Terrence Brooks, S, FSU.
Round 4 (a) - Christian Jones, ILB, FSU. Gets sideline to sideline. Hits with a menacing mind. Can pressure up the gut. Would help change the mentality of the defense.
Round 4 (b) - Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy. Been watching Ladler for two years. He's always around the football. Fits the Capers scheme as he can play In the box or deep down the middle of the field. Other: CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa. Great 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle at the Combine. Big body presence. Solid hands.
Round 5 - DeAndre Coleman, DL, Cal. An absolute body eater. Inconsistent, but when he balls, he plays at a HIGH level. Would be an ideal fit for the 3-4 and fits nicely next to Raji, if motivated. Great length who uses leverage to establish a push. Disruptive when it's important to him. Other: Max Bullough, ILB, MI State. Tough minded. Displayed leadership skills prior to the mysterious disappearance before the Rose Bowl. A gutty, winner who gathers the troops. Blitzes well. Has the heart and mind to make an immediate impact.
Round 6 (a) - Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida. Sometimes you have to draft on potential. Especially late in the draft. He has all of the tools to develop into an elite player. But, for whatever reason, he never hit his ceiling at the college game. Ideal size/speed for the 3-4. Lynch is worth a look. Other: Howard Jones, DE/OLB, Shepherd. Has the speed off the line of scrimmage that entices. Gets a good jump off the ball. Attacks the QB. Dominated lower level competition. Kasim Edebali, OLB, BC has limitations, but he is a try-hard developmental 3-4 prospect. I was disappointed in his ability to bring ball carriers to the turf in open space, but he does a good job showing recognition.
Round 6 (b) - Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose St. Not an elite tackler, but he wants it. Plays the ball exceptionally well when it's in the air. Solid playmaking skills with the ball in his hands as well. Could develop into a REALLY good player. Other: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State. Fun to look at RB's who were stallions at a big school and then got into off-field trouble. If there's a fire burning, a steal can be had. James Wilder, RB, FSU. Going to be a better pro than he was college player. All the tools. Tough runner.
Round 7 - Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor. Love Najvar as a blocker. Good hands. Tough to overlook. Has the size that translates to being an elite threat at the next level. Underused at Baylor. Other: Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo. Neutz can play at the next level. He'll likely be an undrafted FA. If so, I want him. Dionate Spencer, WR, McNeese State. I wish I knew more about Spencer. From my limited sample size, he looked like he was a threat after the catch. A possibility as a return man/slot receiver. An undrafted player.
Football's new year is upon. And the Packers have added a gem. I'm looking forward to seeing what else is in store.
Go Pack Go!