Category Archives: 2011 NFL Combine

7

May

Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL Draft: The Reasons Behind the Picks Part I

NFL Draft Logo Image

2012 NFL Draft

So now that the NFL draft is officially over, tons of fans will converge on Packers web sites to air their grievances about not drafting a particular player or reaching for another.  They will hand out grades to teams and players alike; argue with other fans about what should have happened, and how the analysts have no idea what they are talking about.

I frankly am uninterested in such things; you’re typically not going to find out how good a draft class or a player is for 3-5 years and a player’s success has a lot to do with the team and the environment they get drafted in.

Nevertheless, every team drafts a player with a role in mind, and in this article I hope to analyze what role I think each player was drafted for; I am not concerning myself with what I think will likely happen, I have not placed a grade or an analysis of each player’s potential for a reason.  I’ve also included who I think the rookies will be replacing, keep in mind I don’t necessarily think that a rookie will take a veteran’s spot (for instance I have Casey Hayward replacing Charles Woodson) only what type of role that rookie is like to take.

Nick Perry – Projected Outside Linebacker – Round 1, Pick 28 (#28 overall) – Replaces Erik Walden

Rationale: With no pass rushers taken until #15 (Bruce Irvin to Seattle), Ted Thompson probably just sat on his hands and waited for players to drop to him.  From a schematic standpoint I think Perry offers a good foil for fellow Trojan Clay Matthews III; Perry showed impressive strength (which is supposed to translate to explosion) at the combine with 38.5 inch vertical (tied for 2nd among defensive linemen and linebackers) and 35 bench reps (tied for 6th among defensive linemen and linebackers, though really he’s tied for 1st when you exclude defensive tackles) and while that didn’t translate to much of a power game on the field (though it could be argued when you are as fast around the edge as Perry is you’d probably neglect the power game as well), rookies typically get much “functionally” stronger with NFL weight rooms and trainers so Perry could be very good at setting the edge in the future.

30

August

Talking Packers With Mike Tanier From Football Outsiders

Mike Tanier wrote the Packers chapter in the 2011 Football Outsiders Almanac. Tanier took the time to answer a few questions about the Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com.

The 2011 Football Outsiders Almanac was released last week and, as is the case every year, it’s a must-read for fans of the Green Bay Packers and the NFL. Mike Tanier wrote the chapter previewing the Packers upcoming season and focused a good portion of his preview on GM Ted Thompson.

Tanier was kind enough to answer a few questions for AllGreenBayPackers.com and expand on this thoughts about Thompson, the Packers pass rush, no-huddle offenses and statistical analysis.  If you’re not familiar with the Football Outsiders, you should visit their website and learn more about some of their unique stats and measurements discussed in the interview.

Adam Czech: Do you think Ted Thompson knows what DVOA is? If not, how do you think he would react after you explained it to him? 

Mike Tanier: Thompson probably does not know what DVOA is. Every time we have spoken at length to a coach or GM about our methods, we have gotten reactions like this: “We do something similar, though the calculations are different, and it is based off our game film and internal methods.” The coach and GM know exactly what play was called and what each player’s assignment is, so they can analyze film in ways no one outside the organization can. One thing we always hear is that we are doing the right thing by making our stats situation-dependent: coaches want different things on 1st-and-10, 3rd-and-15, and 3rd-and-inches in the red zone, and DVOA reflects those differences.

AC: We’ve seen some major changes in the methods MLB and NBA GMs use to evaluate players and build teams over the last 10 years. Will Thompson’s team-building strategy — finding value players off the scrap heap that fit his coach’s system and provide depth — become the newest NFL team-building trend? Or have teams always been using the Thompson method, but we just haven’t noticed because a) Nobody is as good at the Thompson method as Thompson is or b) Few organizations have the patience to actually see if the Thompson method works?

27

July

Packers Sign Ohio State RB Brandon Saine

The Green Bay Packers have agreed to terms with Ohio State running back Brandon Saine, a deal that was tweeted by his representatives at XL Sports Management on Tuesday.

Saine did not visit Green Bay before the NFL draft, but he reportedly picked the Packers over a handful of teams that were interested in acquiring him.

At the NFL combine, Saine ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds and bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times. His vertical leap was 34.5 inches. Saine stands 5-11 and weighs 220 pounds.

College summary

Saine was a four-year contributor on offense for the Buckeyes, but he never took command of the Ohio State backfield despite all his physical traits. It didn’t help that Saine was constantly in competition with some pretty talented running backs at Ohio State. His best season in Columbus was 2009, a year in which he rushed for 739 yards and caught 17 passes for 224 yards. He was named second team All-Big Ten for his efforts.

Despite starting the 2010 season on the Doak Walker award watchlist and being named a team captain, his production dropped considerably last season. He became more of a pass-catcher in ’10, and Saine posted 23 catches for 195 yards and five touchdowns out of the backfield. His rushing numbers went from 739 yards to just 337 on 75 less carries.

Overall, Saine rushed for 1,408 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 55 passes for 616 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons. He also has limited experience on special teams, as he returned 17 kicks for 302 yards.

Commentary

While Saine has the body type to be an every down back in the NFL, that scenario never came to fruition at Ohio State and it won’t with the Packers. He was a complimentary player with the Buckeyes and that has to be the expectation as he enters Packers camp. Saine could be an effective change of pace option, however, as he can hit the edge with his speed and is a weapon out of the backfield. His hands are also as good as you could want from a first-year back.

The Packers obviously have a crowded backfield as it stands currently, but Saine will be someone to watch in camp. The Packers offense could find a bunch of different ways to use him if he progresses down the road. Saine should be a solid practice squad possibility.

16

June

Aaron Rodgers’ Road To Canton: Off To A “Super” Start

It seems that like no matter what Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers does in his career, someone has a question about him.

First, there was the question of whether he was athletic enough to succeed as a starter in the NFL. That was answered in 2008.

Then there were the doubts of whether or not he could lead the Packers to the postseason. He checked that one off in 2009.

Next it became whether or not Rodgers could win a playoff game and truly replace Brett Favre in the hearts and minds of Packers fans. He finally sealed the deal on that one with a Super Bowl title in 2010 (although the hearts and minds of many were already won by the start of 2010).

Now there is another question involving Rodgers, but I don’t think he would mind this one being asked around too much especially this early in his career:

“Is Aaron Rodgers on the path to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?”

Before we can even begin to answer that question, there should be one huge disclaimer attached: Rodgers has played six NFL seasons and has seen enough meaningful action in three of them.  Hall of Fame enshrinement is judged upon a player’s entire career so to prognosticate Rodgers’ chances after three seasons as a starter is a little preposterous.

All that said, we can look at some trends from these past three seasons and try to play the role of Nostradamus in gauging how Rodgers will finish his career.

If you count just 2008-2010, Rodgers is averaging 4,131 yards per season with 29 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions plus four rushing touchdowns.  If Rodgers is somehow able to maintain that average for 11 more years when he turns 38, he would finish his career with 58,164 yards, 406 TD passes, 142 interceptions, and 57 rushing touchdowns.

Those numbers would definitely be Hall of Fame worthy, but it’s likely that pace will drop off a bit.  For one, every quarterback experiences an “off year.” Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have down years.  While they’re not horrible, they are lower than what they average each season.   The law of averages is sometimes simply too much to overcome.

6

May

Bryan Bulaga vs. Derek Sherrod: Battle for Left Tackle!

With the 32nd pick, the Super Bowl Champions selected Derek Sherrod, offensive tackle from Mississippi State and raised one big question, where is he going to play?  The question stems from the 2010 NFL draft, where the Packers used their 1st round selection to nab offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga from Iowa.

Bulaga and Sherrod seem to have a lot in common; both players were predicted to be drafted far ahead of where they actually ended up and both were technically sound and athletic offensive linemen who weren’t as highly touted as some of the other offensive linemen in their respective drafts (such as Russel Okung and Trent Williams in 2010 and Gabe Carimi and Tyron Smith in 2011).  Both are considered more technicians than maulers and were considered left tackle prospects.

The Packers have claimed after drafting Sherrod that both will get a chance to battle it out in training camp, but lets see how they compare to each other and who fits the mold of a left tackle.  Below is a side by side comparison of Bulaga and Sherrod.  I don’t claim to be a evaluator of talent, so I’ve used analysis from CBSports.com (most likely written by Rob Rang), Doug Farrar (of Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner and Football Outsiders) and Kevin Seifert (of ESPN).

 

Name Bryan Bulaga Derek Sherrod
Pass Blocking Takes a strong angle on kick slide, keeps knees bent, head up, and arm extended to keep defenders at bay. Very difficult to get off his blocks if he’s mirroring. Has a strong punch. Tends to lunge against inside moves, lacks great recovery speed and can be beaten by secondary rush. Slow to recoil once extended. Hesitates when defenders let up. Gets bull rushed into the pocket by strong ends because he allows their hands into his chest, but typically anchors before reaching the quarterback. Must improve his arm-bar to keep rusher out of the pocket. Inconsistent quickness after the first step in his kick slide makes him susceptible to giving up the edge to quicker pass rushers.-NFLDraftScout.com 

 

Good initial quickness. Eases out of his stance and has the lateral agility and balance to mirror the defender. Good hand strength and has long arms that he uses to latch onto and control his opponent. Generally plays with good knee-bend and leverage, but can lose his anchor when he tires. Can become fundamentally lazy and lean into the defender; gets knocked off-balance and gives up the inside lane. Should improve in this area with greater focus on his technique, but has an upside-down triangle build due to broad shoulders and relatively narrow hips, making him top-heavy and susceptible to being overpowered. Among his better attributes is his recognition. Recognizes the blitz coming and gets a good initial pop on his primary target (defensive end) before passing him off to the guard and working his way outside to catch the rushing linebacker or stunting defensive tackle.-NFLDraftScout.com
5

May

Packers 2011 NFL Draft – What was Ted Thompson Thinking?

With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, Green Bay Packers fans everywhere are left to speculate on why Ted Thompson chose the players he did. In this article, I will try to delve into the mind of our ‘awkward genius” and present a coherent rational for each pick.

* Derek Sherrod – Offensive Tackle – Round 1, Pick 32 – Replacement for Chad Clifton: The Packers hope that they have their bookends for quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ prime years.  This pick reminds me a lot of Bryan Bulaga, another offensive tackle that was widely respected but not as highly touted as some of the other offensive linemen in the draft and probably fell roughly 10 spots before the being selected by the Packers.  Thompson was thinking value last year with Bryan Bulaga and that applies to Derek Sherrod as well.

At the moment, the Packers claim that they haven’t worked out where Bulaga and Sherrod will be playing, but I think it largely lies with Mark Tauscher.  If Tauscher decides to come back for another year (and beats out Bulaga as the starter), then the Packers will have the option of choosing who goes where.  If on the other hand Tauscher retires, gets cut or becomes the backup, then Bulaga becomes the logical choice for right tackle since he already has experience there and Sherrod gets to learn the ropes behind Clifton and become the future left tackle.

In my opinion this isn’t a snub on Bulaga, nowadays both bookends are equally important, especially with a pass first offense like the Packers; defenses will take advantage of the weakest offensive linemen, not just the blindside tackle.

* Randall Cobb – Wide Receiver – Round 1, Pick 64 – Replacement for James Jones/Donald Driver: The Packers hope to add another wide receiver to their stable to replace James Jones (who is likely to leave for greener pastures) and continue to add depth behind Donald Driver, who just turned 36.  Thompson knows that the Packers are a passing team and keeping multiple receivers on the field gives the Packers the best shot at winning.

While Cobb was seen as a slot receiver, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cobb spends plenty of time outside the numbers. The Packers are rather unconventional in the sense that they don’t really have designated roles for their wide receivers, with every receiver playing every position. For example, Greg Jennings was often most effective coming from the slot, perhaps due to the fact that #1 receivers rarely line up there and often have linebackers or safeties covering them.

4

May

3 Main Themes Emerge From Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft

The 2011 NFL draft is now officially over, and its time to take a look at what the Packers did.  Over the next couple of weeks, fans and analysts alike will sit in front of their computers and grade each team’s draft class; in my opinion this is completely absurd for two reasons.

For one, these players haven’t played a single snap in the NFL yet and no one knows exactly how these players are going to pan out; if anyone did the draft would be a pretty boring affair.

And second, the inherent flaw in grading is that it’s based on a big board typically made by an analyst or the fans themselves.  There are only a few people privy to the actual boards of the 32 teams, and I’m willing to bet that none of the boards you see online are even remotely close to the real things.

Nevertheless, one fact that must be true is that every team drafts with a logical purpose; whether drafting purely on talent, athleticism, speed, need or value, it would be simply foolish for a team to draft a player without an idea of what to do with him and how that player fits into the team.  With that in mind, in the following article I hope to analyze what the Packers were thinking when they drafted each player.

Overall Impressions:

  1. The retooling of the defense is basically complete: Teams set a tone with the players they draft and this year it was all about giving Aaron Rodgers more help.  Many people have forgotten that the Packers are only two years removed from completely changing their defensive scheme from a 4-3 bump and run scheme under Bob Sanders to a 3-4 zone blitz scheme under Dom Capers.The 2009 and 2010 drafts were very defensive heavy, with BJ Raji and Clay Matthews III being drafted in the 1st round in 2009 and Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett being taken in the 2nd and 3rd round in 2010.  This was simply based on the fact that many of the players acquired pre-2009 weren’t ideal for a 3-4 defense (such as DE/OLB Aaron Kampman).  In comparison, the 2011 draft was definitely an offensive draft, with the first 3 picks on the offense and 4 offensive skill positions being addressed overall.