Category Archives: Players

19

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Troy Niklas

Player Information:

Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame, 6-6, 270 pounds

Hometown: Fullerton, CA

 

Troy Niklas' physique is so imposing that his teammates have nicknamed him "Hercules."

Troy Niklas’ physique is so imposing that his teammates have nicknamed him “Hercules.”

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.84

Vertical jump: 32″

225 lb. bench: 27 reps

Broad jump: 9’06″

News and Notes:

Began his career at Notre Dame as an outside linebacker and started one game as a freshman. … One of five Notre Dame receivers to tally multiple catches of 25 yards or more in 2012 … Had a career-high six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in a  41-30 loss at Michigan on Sept. 7, 2013.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Prototypical build for today’s matchup nightmare at tight end. Excellent height, long arms and a well-built frame. Experience on the defensive side of the ball is shown with his physical nature on the field. Uses his height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
  • NFL.com:   Work in progress as an in-line blocker — lacks ideal base strength, grip strength and overall body power. Bends at the waist and falls off some blocks. Route running needs refinement. Is still learning to use his frame advantageously — inconsistent traffic player. Lacks elite top-end speed. Average elusiveness and creativity after the catch. Could stand to play with more physicality and become a better finisher

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • This is a highlight reel so don’t forget, it doesn’t show the plays he missed.
  • It is scary how much Niklas resembles Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
  • Does a good job of coming back to the ball.
  • Has developed soft hands after transitioning over from defense.
  • Sheds and can give blocks with ease.
  • Is a little slow getting out of his break, which forces him to post-up his huge frame.

If drafted by the Packers:

18

April

Should Packers Add Competition for Crosby?

Mason Crosby

Crosby bounced back in 2013. Will his success continue into 2014?

Green Bay Packers placekicker Mason Crosby is coming off of his best season in 2013, in terms of field goal percentage.  After facing the worst year of his career and posting the worst mark for a starting kicker in the NFL in 2012 (63.6%), Crosby finished 2013 at 89.2%.

He converted on 33 of 37 tries, seven of which were 50 yards or longer.  Crosby also made all 42 of his extra point attempts.

Still, let’s not forget some of the circumstances that Crosby faced to reach that success.

Entering the 2013 season, one had to search long and hard to find any amount of confidence that Crosby would bounce back from the horror that was 2012.  Towards the end of that year and any time Crosby lined up to kick a field goal, fans and media alike held their collective breath, hoping that the ball was at least somewhere near the crossbars.

That season, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts, Crosby kicked a ball so far off base that some wondered if he had hurt himself on the kick.

After the 2012 season, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy immediately began fielding questions about Crosby and his future with the team.  The head coach expressed frustration about the output from his kicker but seemed to be supporting Crosby throughout the offseason and preseason.  McCarthy has had a tendency to remain loyal to “his guys” and players that he is familiar with, even when those players are sometimes not performing to acceptable standards.

This appeared to be the case as Crosby entered training camp the lone placekicker on the roster.  Shortly after it seemed that Crosby was still struggling to find his groove, the team signed Giorgio Tavecchio to come in and compete with Crosby.

The left-footed Tavecchio actually out-kicked Crosby in terms of field goals made during practice and preseason games, but lacked the ideal leg strength to offer the complete package the Packers would have needed to move in another direction.

Tavecchio was cut (much to the chagrin of our own Jersey Al) and McCarthy seemed ready to ride or die with Crosby in 2013.  Crosby didn’t let his coach down.

17

April

Brandon Bostick: The Packers’ Darkhorse at Tight End

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Brandon Bostick, Green Bay Packers tight end, Packers tight end, Packers 2014 draft

Packers TE Brandon Bostick scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013

As everyone continues to wait and watch for news on the football future of Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers are facing a point where they will soon have to make a decision at the tight end position.

Drafting a tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft seems like a foregone conclusion for the Packers, but they’d be wise to take a long hard look at a player currently on their roster before taking a tight end too high.

That player is not named Andrew Quarless either, though he showed some promise late last season after finally getting healthy from a 2011 knee injury.

No, the dark horse to watch is Brandon Bostick.  He saw action in 11 games in 2013 and had seven catches for 120 yards with one touchdown and three dropped passes. Those three drops all came in the Week 12 tie against the Minnesota Vikings, however.  It wasn’t an overwhelming performance, but Bostick showed enough that should warrant at a least a shot at the starting job in training camp.

The undrafted Bostick beat out former fifth round pick D.J Williams and veteran Matthew Mulligan last year in camp and had shown some flashes in practice. Bostick played wide receiver for small Newberry College and the Packers knew transitioning him to tight end would take some time.

By making the roster in 2013, Bostick must have shown he was making significant progress.  During the regular season, Bostick saw action in 11 games and scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien.

Looking at 2014 and beyond, Bostick could be the long term answer at tight end for Green Bay. He plays in a similar manner to Finley and having a tight end with that kind of ability does wonders for the Packers’ offense. While Finley never put up “huge” numbers for the Packers, his presence on the field alone affected how teams would attack the Green Bay offense.

By inserting Bostick, the Packers would have to do little tweaking to their style of offense.  There are going to be growing pains, but the reward in this case outweighs the risk.  It would also give Aaron Rodgers one more weapon in the passing game.

16

April

Matthews Still Recovering From Injury

Clay Matthews

Matthews says he will be ready for training camp. The Packers hope he’s right.

A recent conversation between Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and USA Today’s Tom Pelissero revealed that Matthews is still not 100% healed from a repeat thumb injury suffered late in the 2013 season.  ESPN’s Rob Demovsky featured the conversation in a recent article at ESPN.com.

Matthews explained, in more detail, what happened with each injury and how doctors chose to address the second break in December.  Here is an excerpt:

“And unfortunately, on a sack of Roethlisberger, the tip of my thumb [hit] my teammate’s helmet. All that pressure went down the cast, broke it again. So then, to make it tighter, we took part of the tendon, turned it around, drilled some holes and they almost tied a knot through. It’s stronger than [the left one]. Now it’s super tight.”

The Packers defense is just not the same without Matthews on the field.  Since appearing in at least 15 games in his first three seasons, Matthews has missed 11 games over the past two years, including last season’s wild card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Had the Packers advanced and made a serious push for a Super Bowl appearance, Matthews may have returned and played.

It still bears mentioning that a player who plays with the type of intensity as Matthews does is likely to be more vulnerable to injury.  Although Matthews says he will be ready by training camp, everyone heals differently.  The thumb can be a tricky injury with all of the bones and tendons connected to both the hand, wrist and arm.

Matthews should be able to make a return but even if he does and based on averages, he will likely miss some time this upcoming season for whatever reason.  The Packers need to prepare accordingly at the outside linebacker position.  With a healthy Matthews and Nick Perry, the possibilities are many and scary for opposing offenses.  But the “healthy” part has not come easy in the two seasons that tandem has existed.  They have appeared together in just 14 games over those two years.

16

April

Packing The Stats: The Importance of Pre-Draft Visits

Packing the StatsSo it’s not exactly a busy week in the world of the NFL (try as they might to might to make it a year long sport), and there isn’t really anything going on until the draft; the Combine and Pro Days are essentially over, free agency has definitely hit that point where teams are now waiting to see what pieces they manage to pick up in the draft before signing anyone new and basically the headlines are now composed of DeSean Jackson missing the Redskins voluntary training camp (i.e. not all that voluntary after all so it would seem) and Aldon Smith trying his best to impersonate a terrorist at an airport.  Needless to say the media dull Packers are even more boring, apparently Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb are going to the Kentucky Derby…which is great and all but in all honesty I don’t really care.

There is however something going on that you should care about…if only a little.  That event is the annual tradition of pre-draft visits.  Essentially, every NFL team is allowed to invite 30 players from the college ranks to their facilities for whatever reason; sometimes potentially draftee’s are just going to get a medical update on an recent injury, some go through positional drills or even chalk board stuff (made famous by Jay Gruden’s QB camp series on ESPN) or even just a more in depth interview for the front office/coaching staff to really get to know a player.  Frankly, the Packers rarely make the news with their visits, as opposed to the Cleveland Browns, who essentially ignored the QB workouts and are instead inviting all big QB prospects for pre-draft visits instead (which is brilliant and idiotic all at the same time, got to love the Brown’s MO).

So who exactly do the Packers invite for visits and does this mean anything in regards to the draft as a whole?  Below is a list of every confirmed report of a pre-draft visit I could find going back 3 years (I chose 3 years because that’s all the data I could find, deal with it).  Also listed is each player’s alma mater, their ultimate draft pick and which NFL team initially signed them.  Two players, Jakar Hamiliton and Brandon Hardin (listed in italics) were both undrafted rookie free agents that initially signed with other teams but were released and then signed with the Packers.  I would wager that the Packers do indeed use their full allotment of 30 players, but some of these visits will never be reported (especially if they are unknown players with unknown agents), so keep in mind that this list is almost certainly incomplete.

15

April

QB Matt Flynn Reportedly Re-Signs with Packers

Matt Flynn led a fiery comeback for the Packers. And in some ways, the tie is a win.

Flynn will reportedly return to Green Bay in 2014

According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN and via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Matt Flynn have reportedly come to agreement on a new contract.  Terms have not been announced and Schefter reported this after confirming with a source close to the Packers.

Flynn was signed by the Packers last season in late November after losing their first two games following the injury to starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  Flynn took over for Scott Tolzien and amassed over 1,100 yards passing with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

More importantly, Flynn helped keep the Packers afloat until Rodgers’ return in late December.  In relief of Tolzien against the Minnesota Vikings, Flynn helped guide the Packers to a tie after the Vikes had built a 23-7 lead.  Flynn also led victories against the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys and came within a late touchdown pass of pulling off a comeback win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Prior to Flynn’s signing, the fact that he remained unsigned by the Packers was a mystery to many.  Flynn hadn’t reportedly received any interest from other teams after the 2013 season and it was often said that Flynn’s best opportunity in the NFL was in Green Bay, where his career began in 2008.

After leaving Green Bay and signing a lucrative deal with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012, Flynn bounced around the league, spending time in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo before he was released by the Bills and spent a few weeks on the street.  It was not that surprising that other teams weren’t beating down the door to talk to or sign Flynn.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has said that he wants to have at least three quarterbacks in training camp and with Flynn signed, Green Bay should enter 2014 with him as well as Rodgers and Tolzien.  The Packers could also add a quarterback in next month’s draft or via free agency afterward.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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15

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: CB Justin Gilbert

Justin Gilbert

CB Justin Gilbert

Packers prospect profile:  CB Justin Gilbert

Player Information:

Justin Gilbert,  CB, Oklahoma St.,  6-0, 202 pounds  Hometown: Huntsville, TX

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.37

Vertical jump: 35.5 inches

225 lb. bench: 20 reps

Broad jump: 126 inches

News and Notes:

Second team All-American in 2013. … Averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return, second all-time at Oklahoma St. … Six kickoff returns for touchdowns in college. … Picked off 12 passes during his career. … Fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine among defensive backs. … One of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top cornerback. … Appeared in 51 games and started his final 39. … A former track star in Texas.

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Gilbert changes directions fluidly and has impressive acceleration to handle deep coverage responsibilities against speedy receivers. Gilbert possesses prototypical height and overall frame for the position with broad shoulders and long arms. He extends well to snatch the ball out of the air and times his leap well. Gilbert is a willing tackler, who closes quickly and effectively…Gilbert can be physical and tough in press coverage, but his technique and footwork are inconsistent. He is too grabby in tight coverage, and his contact downfield will easily attract penalties at the next level.
  • NFL.com:  The most talented cover corner in this year’s draft class, Gilbert has size, speed and flexibility to blanket receivers at the next level. Also brings impact ability as a kick returner. Is capable of stepping into the starting lineup from Day One and playing at a high level if he adheres to a professional approach to the craft. Could stand to improve in run support.
  • Ninersnation.com: The tape says he may have a rough rookie year, but has potential to be pretty good. I’m souring on the idea of taking him in the mid-first round, though someone probably will. If he falls to 30, I’m OK with it, but not jumping up and down. In the 2nd I think you’re starting to talk about a real value with what he brings to the table, though there’s likely a fat chance of that happening.

Video:

 

Video Analysis:.

  • His speed is no joke. Appears to be as fast on the field as he was at the NFL Combine.