Author Archives: Marques Eversoll | About Marques Eversoll: Student at UW-Green Bay. NFL Columnist at Bleacher Report. Lifelong Packers fan. Avid sports follower.

1

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

WR Jordan Matthews

WR Jordan Matthews

Packers prospect profile: WR Jordan Matthews

Player Information:

Jordan Matthews, WR Vanderbilt
6-3, 212 pounds
Hometown: Madison, Al.

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.46
Vertical jump: 35.5″
225 lb. bench: 21 reps
Broad jump: 10′ 0″

News and Notes:

Ended career as the SEC’s all-time leader with 262 career receptions and 3,759 receiving yards … As a senior, the Biletnikoff Award semifinalist established a new SEC record with 112 catches … His receiving yardage total of 1,477 yards in 2013 is the third highest total ever by an SEC receiver … Matthews has had a record-setting junior season for the Commodores in 2012, arguably the greatest season ever by a Vanderbilt wide receiver, until his senior year … Unanimous First Team All-SEC WR by sportswriters and coaches in 2012 and 2013 … As a sophomore in 2011, Matthews emerged to lead the team in catches and receiving yards … After posting just five catches for 63 yards and no TDs through first five games in 2011, Matthews caught fire down the stretch, reeling in 36 passes for 715 yards and five TDs … Cousin of Jerry Rice. (vucommodores.com)

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: “Chiseled frame that was more impressive than higher-profile names also at the Senior Bowl. Size/speed combination along with his hand/eye coordination and body control makes him an attractive prospect, showing the ability to make plays at all levels of the field and do damage after the catch. Balanced route-runner with a sizeable catching radius. Size allowed him to be moved inside and out in Vandy’s offense, allowing the team to find him favorable matchups. Detailed and reliable route-runner. Very good hand-eye coordination to haul in tough passes, including one-handed catches.”
  • NFL.com: Good length. Big zone target. Good form as a route runner. Sinks his hips and pops out of breaks. Concentrates, tracks and adjusts. Soft hands and sticky fingers. Has leaping ability to compete in the air. Opens up his stride in the clear and shows nice long speed. Good field awareness. Gives effort as a blocker. Competes and plays with intensity. Tough and intelligent. Lined up outside and inside and has punt-return experience. Team captain and four-year starter with record-setting production.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Cut-ups like this are far more telling than highlight reels. But hey, his highlights are really easy to watch. They look cool.
24

February

James Starks Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB James Starks

Packers RB James Starks

1) Introduction:  James Starks was, if anything, an afterthought prior to the Packers’ 2013 season. After Ted Thompson spent a pair of draft picks on Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, the thought was that the rookies, along with a returning DuJuan Harris and/or Alex Green would make up the Packers’ backfield rotation. But that was not the case, as Harris didn’t play a single snap this season, and Green was cut before the season began. Starks was back. And he was pretty good, too.

2) Profile:

James Darell Starks

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 2/25/1986 in Niagara Falls, NY
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 218
  • College: Buffalo
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Slim to none. Two roster spots were claimed by rookies Lacy and Franklin, while DuJuan Harris was expected to play a major role after coming on strong late in the 2012-13 season as the feature back. Starks was very much on the roster bubble headed into training camp.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight of Starks’ season, individually, was undoubtedly week two against the Washington Redskins. After Lacy suffered a concussion on the game’s first possession, Starks was thrust into the starting role and responded with a 132-yard day on the ground. Starks’ performance against the Chicago Bears in week 17 (88 rushing yards) is worth an honorable mention. As far as low-lights, it’s hard to really pinpoint anything in particular. He exceeded expectations and tied a career high, appearing in 13 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Lacy’s physical running style leaves him susceptible to hits like the one he suffered against the Redskins, so having a capable backup is essential for the Packers. Starks stepped up to the plate whenever he was called upon, and the offense really didn’t miss a beat. His 5.5-yards-per-carry average was easily the best on the team.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Starks was good, not spectacular in the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He totaled 42 yards on six touches in relief of Lacy.

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B

22

February

Johnathan Franklin Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

1) Introduction:  Coming into the season, Franklin was expected to handle some return duties and play second fiddle to starter Eddie Lacy. But after an unspectacular training camp, Franklin was buried on the depth chart behind Lacy, James Starks and an injured DuJuan Harris. Franklin’s opportunity would come, but overall, it was a quiet rookie season.

2) Profile:

Johnathan A. Franklin

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 10/23/1989 in Los Angeles, CA
  • Height: 5’10″
  • Weight: 205
  • College: UCLA
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Although he was a fourth-round pick, Franklin was expected by some (including himself) to be selected in the second or third round. So from that standpoint, much of Packer Nation was excited about the eccentric rookie runner. However, training camp proved to be a quick drizzle on Franklin’s rookie parade.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight and low-light of Franklin’s season was Sep. 22 in Cincinnati. Filling in for an injured Lacy and a hobbled Starks — who left the game earlier — Franklin burst onto the scene with 126 total yards and his first career touchdown. “That’s the Franklin we thought we were getting,” Packers fans said. Then, on a crucial fourth down in crunch time, Franklin fumbled, which was recovered by the Bengals and returned for a touchdown. It was the best of times, then it was the worst of times.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Realistically, Franklin had very little impact on the Packers’ season. He was on multiple special teams units and had the big day against the Bengals, but that’s it.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Franklin finished the 2013-14 season on injured reserve and was inactive for the Packers’ wild card playoff game against the 49ers.

Season Report Card:

(C-) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D+

Note: It was a rough year for Franklin, but I still think he has something. After all, I had him ranked ahead of Lacy (as the No. 2 back behind Gio Bernard) prior to last year’s draft. And yes, I was dead wrong on that.

14

February

Big-name free agent targets for the “big-spending” Packers

Could free agent safety Louis Delmas join Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb in Green Bay? Never say never.

Could free agent safety Louis Delmas join Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb in Green Bay? Never say never.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Feb. 12 that the Packers, armed with $30 million in cap space, are prepared to spend on outside free agents this offseason to remake the defense in Dom Capers’ image.

Capers has been in Green Bay for five seasons, so the wording is a bit confusing. Surely, the Packers haven’t given Capers a team of bobsledders and asked him to mold them into an attacking 3-4 defense. But regardless, Rapoport’s report ignited a spark of hope among Packers fans that the team would make a rare dip into free agency.

With all due respect to Matthew Mulligan and Duke Preston, the Packers haven’t made any “splash” moves in free agency since 2006 — when they signed both cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

The Packers’ offseason spending spree got off to a roaring start with Thursday’s addition of fourth-year undrafted free agent tight end Raymond Webber. That was sarcasm. But it’s rather comical that a portion of the fan base almost seems upset that Webber’s name isn’t Jimmy Graham.

Of course, the Packers’ $30 million in cap space won’t be $30 million for long, as they’ll be forced to spend about $5 million on this year’s rookie class. And with Sam Shields, Evan Dietrich-Smith, and others (perhaps Jordy Nelson and/or Randall Cobb) likely to receive contract extensions, that number will continue to shrink.

But should the Packers let B.J. Raji walk — which seems more likely than not, given Raji’s production, or lack thereof, the past two seasons and his reported rejection of a contract extension that would have paid him $8 million per year — then they’ll have some financial flexibility to perhaps spend on veterans. Take into account Jermichael Finley’s cloudy future coming off major neck surgery, and the Packers could, really, become players in free agency.

As far as positions of need, the Packers could use help at every level of the defense. The opposite can be said about the offense, with the exception of tight end, at which they could still bring back Finley or opt for a cheaper option in Andrew Quarless.

Here are a few bigger-name free agents the Packers could — probably won’t — but could target once free agency hits.

7

February

Packers News: Four added to coaching staff, five get new titles

Alex Van Pelt was a backup quarterback in the NFL and will now coach Aaron Rodgers and the quarterbacks after spending two seasons in charge of the Packers' running backs.

Alex Van Pelt was a backup quarterback in the NFL and will now coach Aaron Rodgers and the quarterbacks after spending two seasons in charge of the Packers’ running backs.

The Green Bay Packers have announced the final changes to their coaching staff, according to the team’s official website.

Winston Moss was named assistant head coach/linebackers, Scott McCurley assistant linebackers coach, Alex Van Pelt quarterbacks coach, Jason Simmons defense/special teams assistant, John Rushing defensive quality control coach, Sam Gash running backs coach, Ron Zook assistant special teams coach, Luke Getsy offensive quality control coach and Chris Gizzi strength and conditioning assistant.

Five coaches–Moss, McCurley, Van Pelt, Simmons and Rushing–have been with the Packers for at least the past two seasons.

Moss had served as assistant head coach/inside linebackers for the past five seasons but will now add the outside linebackers to his responsibilities. Former outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene decided earlier in the offseason to step away from coaching. Moss was the only defensive coached retained by head coach Mike McCarthy following the 2008 season and his role on the coaching staff has continued to grow. He will be assisted by McCurley, who had been the team’s defensive quality control coach since 2007.

Van Pelt, a career backup quarterback, joined the Packers in 2012 as running backs coach but will now serve as the quarterbacks coach, replacing Ben McAdoo who joined the New York Giants as offensive coordinator. Overseeing the running backs this past season, Van Pelt helped the Packers’ run game improve to No. 7 in the NFL. Van Pelt was the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons (2010-2011) and helped quarterback Josh Freeman enjoy his most successful season as a professional in 2010.

Simmons is entering his fourth season with the Packers after joining the coaching staff in 2011 following a ten-year NFL playing career. Having served as coaching administrator the past three seasons, Simmons will now work with special teams, defensive backs and quality control.

Rushing, entering his sixth season in Green Bay, served as offensive assistant/special teams for the past two seasons after starting his Packers coaching career as an offensive quality control coach for 2009-10 and assistant wide receivers/special teams in 2011.

The four newcomers–Gash, Getsy, Gizzi and Zook–bring different backgrounds to Green Bay’s coaching staff.

27

January

Jarrett Bush 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers CB Jarrett Bush

Packers CB Jarrett Bush

1) Introduction: Despite being a special teams ace and, along with Tramon Williams, a veteran presence among a young group of cornerbacks, Bush wasn’t necessarily a lock to make the team in 2013. The Packers spent a fifth-round pick on what they thought was a NFL-ready corner in Micah Hyde, and they were already stacked at the position with Williams, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward. But as always seems to be the case, Bush was asked to play a fairly prominent role on defense at several points throughout the season. That said, Bush’s time in Green Bay may be waning, as the veteran defensive back will turn 30 before the 2014 season kicks off.

2) Profile: Jarrett Bush

  • Age: 29
  • Born: 5/21/1984 in Vacaville , CA
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 200
  • College: Utah State
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 8 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: While probably not the most popular player among the Packers’ fan base, most, at this point, know Bush is what he is. He’s a guy who prepares as well as anyone in the locker room and can play a defensive role if need be, but his primary impact would come on special teams. Once Bush made the roster, his expectations for the upcoming season were a carbon copy of what they are every season.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: If there’s one highlight that came out of Bush’s 2013-14 season, it’s his clutch interception of Matt Ryan on the Atlanta Falcons’ final possession. The way the Packers’ season had been going at the time, it looked like the Falcons may be on the verge of a Hail Mary road win, but Bush put an end to that. The Falcons game (+1.4) was Bush’s best of the season, according to Pro Football Focus, while the Vikings game in Minnesota (-1.1) was his worst.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jarrett Bush was Jarrett Bush. He played a lot on special teams and a little on defense; never more than 23 defensive snaps in a game and never less than zero. Bush, however, missed four games in 2013 after missing just two in his first seven seasons.

27

January

Davon House 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers CB Davon House

Packers CB Davon House

1) Introduction: Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, House, while often showing flashes in training camp, had only suited up for 11 games in his first two seasons. Part of a crowded group of cornerbacks along with Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde, the injury bug forced House into the lineup, as he was able to avoid the training room in his third year, appearing in all 16 games for the Packers. House is cut out of the Al Harris mold–from his 6’1″ frame to his No. 31 and dreadlocks. House could be a beneficiary of the trickle-down effect should Williams and/or Shields move on from Green Bay.

2) Profile: Davon House

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 7/10/1989 in Van Nuys , CA
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 195
  • College: New Mexico State
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Before the season, the rookie (Hyde) wasn’t expected to play a significant role on defense, so the three “starters” were expected to come out of a four-man battle fought between House, Williams, Shields and Hayward. Obviously, Hayward’s bid for early-season playing time was exterminated by injury, and Hyde stepped up to the plate. After not winning a starting job to start the season, the outlook for House’s season was cloudy.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Pro Football Focus would say House played the best game of his career against the Cleveland Browns in October. He helped blanket breakout-star Josh Gordon, limiting the All-Pro to just two catches on the day; House, himself, caught a pass, as he intercepted Brandon Weeden on fourth down. But while appearing in all 16 games was a big step for House, he went through a rough patch late in the season. After playing 67 snaps on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions, House’s playing time fizzled as the regular season wrapped up, playing just five snaps over the course of the final four games. At one point, the coaching staff opted for Jarrett Bush over House.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: House failed the earn a starting job in training camp, but opportunities were plentiful as the season went on. With Shields out of the lineup for two games, Hayward on the sideline for all but 88 plays and Hyde still a rookie, House played more than he may have anticipated and did a solid job overall. Did he do enough to make the front office and coaching staff believe he’s a starting-caliber player? Probably not, but we’ll find out.