30

April

The Reasons Behind The 2013 Packers Draft: First Impressions

I actually got my first shot writing for AllGreenBayPackers.com when Al allowed me to post my draft rationale on his site and 3 years later I’m continuing the tradition.  As before I’m not going to be assigning draft grades or projections, I agree with the idea that grading picks now is something akin to being graded on a test you haven’t taken.  In this article I want to point out some more broad observations I noticed during the draft

 

Aaron Rodgers dictated the Packers 2013 draft: And Clay Matthews III to some extent as well.  Simply put the Packers are now in a mini-rebuilding year, not due to a lack of talent but due to a lack of money.  While Rodgers’ $110 million and Matthews’ $66 million contracts were both necessary and in my opinion great deals for the Packers, let’s not kid ourselves and think that the Packers are going to be awash with saved money over the next couple years, Rodgers and Matthews are still two of the highest paid players in the NFL and that will have financial ramifications down the road; maybe not as bad as Joe Flacco and DeMarcus Ware bad, but Ted Thompson probably isn’t going to be able to keep everyone he wants.  This is why I think this is the start of a mini-rebuild; teams typically trade down and stockpile draft picks in order to stock the team with young, cheap players who can be the foundation long term and perhaps become stars.

Thompson used this approach when he was hired in 2005 to fix the salary cap mess left by Mike Sherman and he’s doing it again to proactively protect the Packers from the next couple years.  The notable players who are set to become free agents in the next two years are Morgan Burnett, Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, CJ Wilson, Mike Neal, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Tramon Williams and Bryan Bulaga.  The next two years are perhaps the toughest because they also are when Rodgers’ and Matthews’ cap hits are the highest. Furthermore veterans who occupy a niche, like John Kuhn and Jarrett Bush are probably on the bubble now.  Needless to say, Thompson is going to have to be very judicial when it comes to keeping his own players, therefore this draft (and probably the next one) are looking to build the foundation of the team for the next 5 years, not just “put the cherry on the top” for the team now.  Thompson can now do this is that Rodger’s contract gives him a window where he can expect the team to be competitive; Rodgers probably has at least another 5 good years left in his career and now it’s important to have talent around him throughout all 5 years and not just right now.

31

January

Clay Matthews III: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews III

1) Introduction: Expectations couldn’t get any higher for Clay Matthews III in 2011; after being the first Packer to record double digit sacks in the first two years, Matthews has been voted into the Pro Bowl every season he has been in the NFL as well as being voted as a All-Pro selection in 2010 and almost bring home defensive player of the year as well.  The team expected that Matthews would again be the center of their pass rushing ability as well as an emotional leader on the defense.

2) Profile:

William Clay Matthews III

Position: OLB
Height: 6-3
Weight: 255 lbs.
AGE: 25
Career Stats

 

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Very high; everyone expected Matthews to continue terrorizing quarterbacks at an alarming rate, if he could do that much damage on a hurt leg (which has plagued him for his entire career), imagine what he could do fully healthy?

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews highlight were definitely in week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings where Matthews essentially shut down quarterback Christian Ponder by himself by recording 2 sacks and generally throwing Ponder out of his groove and in week 13 where he picked off quarterback Eli Manning and returned 38 yard for a defensive touchdown.  However, Matthews was strangely absent in some games, at Atlanta and San Diego Matthews only managed to record one tackle and through out the season wasn’t nearly as effective as he was last year.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: High; Matthews and inside linebacker Desmond Bishop represented the Packers only two consistent pass rush options and opposing offenses knew it.  Many have speculated that without defense end Cullen Jenkins on the other side to keep defenses honest, opposing teams zeroed in on Matthews and made sure to scheme him out of plays with several players almost at all times.  Nevertheless, even with his drop in sack production, Matthews managed to still be a presence in the backfield where he seemed to get the quarterback a split second too late.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Matthews didn’t managed to get to quarterback Eli Manning very much during the playoffs and as a result Manning often had plenty of time to sit in the pocket and pick his receivers, which ultimately lead to the Packers quick exit.  It however is not all on Matthews, since if he is double or tripled team, it becomes the responsibility of the other linebackers (in the playoffs that was Brad Jones) to make the big play with the one-on-one match up. While Jones did sack Manning once, it still wasn’t enough to stop the Giants offense.

7

April

Packers Prospect Profile – LB Von Miller, Texas A&M

1) Profile:

Von Miller

College: Texas A&M

Position: Defensive End/ Weak Side Linebacker (Hybrid)

Height: 6′3″   Weight: 246 lbs.

Born: March 26th, 1989 From: DeSoto, Texas

2) High School / College Highlights: Von Miller joined the Aggies in 2007 as the Rivals 29th ranked weak side linebacker in high school but first saw action as a defensive end in the 4-2-5 defense and was voted Freshmen All-Big 12.

After a disastrous 2007 season lead by head coach Dennis Franchione which was headlined by a newsletter scandal and several crushing defeats, Franchione resigned midseason and subsequently former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman was hired.

Sherman installed a 4-3 defense and Miller was moved to weak side linebacker under defensive coordinator Joe Kines.  2009 was his break out season, where Miller played in all 12 games, leading the NCAA with 17 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss (4th in the NCAA) and garnering First-team All-America and First-team All-Big 12 honors.

After 2009 Joe Kines retired and was replaced with Tim DeRuyter, who installed a 3-4 defense where Miller played the outside linebacker position.  Miller suffered a foot injury but still managed to record 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss as well as garnering First-team All America, First-team All-Big 12 and the Butkus award, given annually to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker.

Miller also leaves for the NFL in the strange position of being one of the plaintiff’s in the lawsuit between the NFL and the player’s union on the current lock out situation, the sole draftee to be included; he also is planning on being at Radio Music City in New York for the annual NFL draft

3) College Stats: 4 year starter.

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.53 40-yd dash, 21 bench press, 37 vertical, 126 broad, 6.7 3-cone, 4.06 20 yard shuttle, 11.15 60 yard shuttle.

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Miller’s strongest asset is his pass rushing ability; he great speed around the corner and the displays good ability to dip under the pads of tackles and get skinny when shooting an inside gap.  Miller also has great closing ability to the quarterback.  Miller has a wide array of moves at his disposable including spin moves, change up and arm over moves.