Speed and the Newest Packers: Perception vs. Reality
Even though most of my time for the past month has been spent doing team draft grades, I have indeed been watching roster activity and the rumor mill. I want to touch on a couple of aspects of the Packers’ current roster and it’s composition.
But before I head in that specific direction I want to debunk one of the myths I heard during and just after the Packers 2012 draft. I heard talk on national TV and read several articles in print that a big goal for the team this off-season was upgrading team speed. My observation two months after the draft would be that rumors to that affect were greatly exaggerated. Either that or they absolutely had one of the League’s slowest collection of players coming out of the 2011 season, during which they went 15-1. Yes they lost to the Giants in their first Playoff game, but I think that has more to do with their D having problems (like many do these days) containing ELI, and the fact the Packers’ O suddenly decided to become a turnover and mistake machine.
I will grant you that some of their rookie additions could increase team speed incrementally if they pan out, but based on the simple numbers coming out of the combine, Green Bay is still going to look a tad slow indoors on fast tracks. Let’s just look at the numbers of players who are now Packers who ran a 40-yard dash at the combine and how they fared.
NICK PERRY, Pick 28, ran a 4.64/40 which was the second fastest of any DE in Indy. But as an OLB, which he is currently listed at, he would have been tied for 4th fastest. That’s good and I will grant you, a significant upgrade.
JEREL WORTHY, Pick 51timed at 4.79, which placed him tied for 10th out of 22 as a DT. IF he’s a 3-4 DE then you don’t want to know how far the list he was as a DE.
CASEY HAYWARD/CB, Pick 62 was timed with a 4.57/40, which made him the 17th fastest CB out of 32 to run at the COMBINE.
JERRON McMILLIAN/S, Pick 133 recorded a 4.56/40 in indy which made him the 5th fastest S out of 20. That’s a real plus.
TERRELL MANNING/OLB, Pick 163 ran his 40 in 4.79, which placed him 9th out of 13 OLB.
ANDREW DATKO/OT, Pick 241 ran a 5.32/40 which placed him 11th of the 25 OT to run.
The reviews are mixed amongst the rookie free agents who were timed in Indy.
SEAN RICHARDSON/S, ran a 4.52/40 which was 2nd fastest of all S.
MICAH PELLERIN/CB, tied for 19th in CB timing with a 4.61. But if as rumored he converts to S he’d be 9th fastest.
JARRETT BOYKIN/WR was timed at 4.74 which was dead last among the 40 WR to test.
MARC TYLER/RB had the slowest RB timing with a 4.76/40.
I’m not saying the team got slower, or that straight line 40-speed is the only real measure of football speed, but I do believe that some writers and announcers way over played the “speed hunt” by the Packers. When I first heard the story I bought in. But checking some of the numbers says to me that Ted Thompson still selects his players based primarily on their on-field game productivity and how they fit into the Packers schemes and needs. Building a track team is still not his goal in crafting the Packers roster.
As I had mentioned in several earlier pieces the NFL’s decision to ramp Training Camp rosters up to 90 players this year plays right into the wheel house of Ted Thompson. It gives the team 10 more bodies to look at and assess. You just have to believe that 1 or 2 of the final 53 players on the September roster might not have been in Training Camp if 80 players were still the max. We’ll never know for sure but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
This roster expansion brings another aspect of player acquisition into play more heavily than ever. If you’ve been following my draft grade evaluation process then you know that as part of every draft grade I factor in the signing of Undrafted Rookie Free Agent, hereafter referred to as URFA. Even though the draft itself is the lifeblood of an NFL roster the average picks per draft is only 8 players when you factor in Compensatory Picks. Combine that with veterans and most teams now will have about 15-20 URFA from the current Rookie class on their roster.
For instance, as of a Friday the 22nd of June roster printing the Packers had 89 players under contract, or about to be. 27 of those players are rookies and only 8 of those are draftees. That means 19 of 89 roster Rookies were signed as Free Agents. That represents 21% of the whole roster. But what I find even more interesting is that of those total 89 players on the roster only 45 of them were Drafted. The other 44 were all signed as URFA at one time or another. So on this roster the percentage make-up is pretty much 50/50 between Draftees and Rookie Free Agents, as they were originally brought into the NFL player ranks. That is not out of line with the rest of the League’s teams. Even though a higher percentage of Drafted players will make up final September rosters it still demonstrates that even though the NFL draft has been reduced to 8 Rounds through Collective Bargaining most teams would still have plenty of players on their Boards to go back to a dozen of more Rounds. Back when I first got seriously interested in the NFL in the early sixties the draft was 17 Rounds. No, I really don’t want to revert to longer drafts especially as long as WHITEY is running the Packers. I think their ability to go out and get another 15-20 players of their choosing puts them ahead of more than half the teams in the League. And that, in my opinion, is a conservative estimate.
One last thing I want to get down in writing today is where Packers Rookies were ranked in my TOP 351 PROSPECT List.
This will be in order of my rankings not when or how the Packers acquired them.
#29 JEREL WORTHY/DL
#33 NICK PERRY/DE/LB
#66 CASEY HAYWARD/CB
#117 TERRELL MANNING/OLB
#162 MICAH PELLERIN/CB
#174 DALE MOSS/WR/
#190 B.J. COLEMAN/QB
#211 JERRON McMILLIAN/S
#256 JARRETT BOYKIN/WR
#258 MIKE DANIELS/DT
#280 ANDREW DATKO/OT
#312 SEAN RICHARDSON/S
#329 TOMMY DRAHEIM/C/T
#337 MARC TYLER/RB
#339 JAYMES BROOKS/OG
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
You can read more from Paul on the Packers and the NFL Draft on his site, Pigskin Paul’s Place.