17

March

Packers Add Veteran Defensive Tackle

Letroy Guion

Defensive tackle Letroy Guion and the Packers have reportedly agreed on a one-year deal

According to a few sources, including ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Green Bay Packers have come to an agreement with free agent defensive tackle Letroy Guion.  The deal is reported to be for one year.  Terms have not yet been disclosed.

Guion most recently was with the Minnesota Vikings.  Typically at this time of year, we’re talking about former Packers who have become Vikings and this time, the Packers are on the receiving end of such a transaction.

Guion was a fifth-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2008 and will turn 27 this summer.  He has appeared in at least 13 games in each of the past four seasons.  2013 appeared to be one of Guion’s more productive years as he tallied a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defended along with three tackles for no gain or a loss.

With Guion’s deal only being for one year, it’s far from a certainty that he will be on the team when this season begins.  Two years ago, the Packers signed veteran defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, albeit under different circumstances, and he was unable to crack the team’s final roster.

The move could also signal the Packers’ intentions with regards to Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly, both of whom are unrestricted free agents and who have spent the majority of their careers with the Packers.  Pickett has said that he wants to return this season and so far, does not appear to have received much attention on the market.  Jolly was just recently cleared to begin working out after neck fusion surgery in January.

This is the second outside free agent move in the past three days after the Packers and general manager Ted Thompson were quiet on the first few days of the new league year.  On Saturday, news broke that the Packers had signed defensive end Julius Peppers to a three-year deal.

Keep it right here at allgbp.com for more updates and (dare I say?) signings by the Packers.

 

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

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5

June

What Is Mike Neal Doing At Outside Linebacker?

Admittedly, the Packers can’t claim to have much depth at outside linebacker at the moment; of course they have one of the best in Clay Matthews III, another 1st round selection they are high on and hope to see marked improvement in Nick Perry and a undrafted free agent looking to make a big jump in year 2 in Dezman Moses.  But that’s pretty much it in terms of actual experience; the Packers did draft Nate Palmer, a projected outside linebacker in the 6th round from Illinois State (much to the chagrin of commenters apparently) but they also did lose Frank Zombo to Kansas City and interestingly Erik Walden to the Colts for a 4-year $16 million contract (this is after the Packers signed Walden last year to a veteran minimum contract worth $700,000).  There has been some speculation that either Brad Jones or Jamari Lattimore, both who joined the Packers as outside linebackers but where converted to inside linebacker last year, could again make the transition back to the outside.

However, one dark horse candidate making headlines in OTAs was Mike Neal.  Just from initial impressions, you have to wonder what the Packers are doing.  2012 1st round pick Nick Perry was a little bit of a “square peg” weighing in a 271 pounds at the draft, but Neal outweighs Perry by a good 25 pounds.  Add to that Neal’s inexperience in playing from a two-point stance, and the multitude of extra responsibilities outside linebackers have (most notably dropping back into coverage) and Mike Neal is probably the last guy you’d think could have a shot at playing outside linebacker. Ironically most 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL are converted 4-3 defense ends, but this is the only occasion I can think of where a college 4-3 DT has been asked to transition to 3-4 outside linebacker.

Yes the Packers are tinkerers during the offseason; they love to mix and match offensive linemen and you’ll see players line up all over the place, but at least in my opinion, most of these were just small experiments to see how players would react to a new position; after all if getting the most out of a player is the main goal of a coaching staff, it would make sense to see how much positional versatility or even positional potential each player has.  Again, I would argue that if Neal had been a complete disaster the moment he lined up at linebacker (and I don’t think that should be a fault on him), the Packers probably would have pulled the plug on that idea in a hurry.  However, it does seem like the Packers like what they have seen and are willing to expand the experiment further.

16

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: William Campbell, DT Michigan

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: DT William Campbell

Player Information:

William Campbell, DT Michigan
6-5, 311 pounds
Hometown: Detroit. MI

STATS

Pro Day: 

40 yard: 5.15

Bench: 35

Vert: 27″

Broad: 107″

3 cone: 7.28

News and Notes:

William Campbell is your quintessential late round/priority rookie free agent.  Coming into Michigan, Williams was a 5 star recruit who never lived up to expectations; typically overweight and unrefined, Williams bottomed out when he was asked to switch to offensive line during his sophomore season.  That didn’t work out either and by his junior year he was back to defense.  Things took a turn for the better when Williams reported to camp in his senior year after dropping 46 pounds, which translated to on the field production.  However, just as things were improving, Williams was charged with  felony malicious-destruction-of-property when he attempted to slide across a car hood ala Starsky and Hutch.  In the end Campbell presents an enticing mix of size and athleticism muddled with immaturity and inexperienced.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “Looks the part with a tall, well-built frame, broad shoulders and a large wingspan (80 inches). Can carry a lot of weight on his frame without losing his athleticism. Quick feet for his size with the agility to collapse inside and disrupt the pocket. Natural power to bully blockers at the point of attack, reset and redirect. Takes up room and has the size/strength combination to command double-teams.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Looks the part of a potential 3-4 DE.
  • Very fast for a guy his size; at about 1:20, Campbell starts at the line of scrimmage at the Alabama 35 and hustles to make the tackle at the Michigan 35.  Not many 300+ lbs defensive tackles can run 30 yards to catch up to a running back.
  • Up against the best representation of a NFL offensive line in college, I though Williams acquitted himself fairly well.  He managed to beat Barrett Jones twice (thought to be the best center in the draft) and Chance Warmack three times (though to be the best guard in the draft), once for a sack where Williams swatted Warmack’s punch and “turned the corner” on Warmack (check it out at 2:40, it’s like Clay Matthews in super slow motion)  It should be mentioned that Williams was also destroyed on a couple plays, and it’s not like he’s the second coming of Reggie White.
12

April

NFL Draft Prospect: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

 

Sylvester Williams

North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: Defensive Tackle Sylvester Williams

Player Information:

Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, University of North Carolina

6’3″, 305 pounds

Hometown: Jefferson City, MO

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.99

225-pound bench: 27 reps

Vertical: 26 1/2″

News and Notes:

After nearly giving up on football and dropping out of high school, Williams gave the game another try during his junior year at Coffeyville Community College.  He spent two years there (honorable mention JUCO All-American with 12.5 tackles for loss and five blocked kicks) before transferring to Chapel Hill. . became an immediate starter at UNC in 2011. . .still managed 42 stops in 2012 despite heavy focus from opposing offensive blocking schemes.. .  earned First Team All-ACC honors from both coaches and the media with a career high 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: ”Possesses a naturally large, thick build. Possesses a very quick first step and a lethal swim move (both arms, if necessary) to slip past interior linemen. Varies his burst off the snap, lulling his opponent into relaxing and can make the explosive tackle behind the line of scrimmage before the ball-carrier has had time to make his first cut.”
  • NFL.com: “Wide body nose tackle with an unexpected bit of quickness off the snap. Has girth through the middle that makes him tough to move when he looks to anchor. Keeps his eyes in the backfield and locates the ball well (and will sniff out the occasional screen). Uses strong hands and upper body to rip past and push aside lesser linemen. Good flexibility and balance, showing the ability to bend and roll his hips through contact off the ball and keep a wide base to anchor against base blocks and doubles. Violent tackler, will throw ball carriers to the ground.”

 

Video Analysis:

  • Has a good initial burst off the snap
  • When pad level is low, he holds his ground. Is tough to move
  • Effective swim move but many scouts say he relies too heavily on it
  • Moves well down the line – can erase cut back lanes and defend the screen well
  • Does not bull rush well and gets stood up at times
  • As with many college D-linemen, O-linemen will let him over pursue the QB up field
25

May

Green Bay Packers Taking Shotgun Approach to Improving the Defensive Line

Phillip Merling

Veteran free agent DE Phillip Merling became the twelfth defensive lineman on the Packers' offseason roster.

Call it the “shotgun approach.” Ted Thompson added his twelfth defensive lineman to the roster on Wednesday with his signing of DE Phillip Merling, who spent the last four years with the Miami Dolphins. Of the four (non-Packer) veteran free agent signings by Thompson this offseason, three have been defensive lineman: Daniel Muir, Tony Hargrove, and now Merling.

There’s obviously been some emphasis by the Packers on bolstering the talent and depth across the unit. The drafting of Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels take the total number of new linemen up to five, meaning almost half of the group will be new faces in training camp.

Is this a case of desperation in response to the horrible performances of last season? No, that’s taking it a bit far. Ted Thompson is not spending beaucoup money on these free agent players, which one would tend to do when desperate.

But he is stockpiling the talent pool in a variety of ways, and hoping a good number of them stick.

The three free agent signings are not superstars. Tony Hargrove is the most well known of the group, but he’s probably not going to be a game-changer. His career has been up and down, playing with four different teams over eight years and racking up just 19.5 sacks and 16 run stuffs in the process. Hargrove hasn’t started a game in two seasons, and he only has 25 starts to his name across his entire career. Those numbers aren’t meant to discourage anyone – they’re certainly not the whole story – but they’re not indicators of a guy who’s going to “tilt the field.”

Then there’s Daniel Muir, whose career contrasts with Hargrove’s. Both are 28 years old, but Muir has 3 years less experience in the league and a slightly less impressive resume. Unlike the travelling Hargrove, he spent most of his years with the Indianapolis Colts after his rookie stint with the Packers. Muir’s numbers aren’t as flashy (just a half a sack in his career), but he is also an inside tackle player rather than a defensive end, so his role is considerably different.

23

March

Packers Add Free Agent DT Daniel Muir

DT Daniel Muir is the latest free agent signing by the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Packers have just announced their second free agent signing of the season – defensive tackle Daniel Muir. Here is the information as reported by Packers.com:

Muir, a 6-foot-2, 312-pound fifth-year player out of Kent State, played for the Indianapolis Colts from 2008-11, appearing in 40 games with 26 starts. He posted a career-high 66 tackles (54 solo) and a half-sack for the Colts in 2009.

Muir originally entered the NFL as a non-drafted free agent with the Packers in 2007. He appeared in three games for Green Bay as a rookie in ’07 and recorded eight tackles (four solo). Muir was a four-year letterman (2003-06) at Kent State, playing in 46 games with 45 starts.

It’s clear Ted Thompson has identified the same holes in the team as just about everyone else. With the replacement of center Scott Wells by former Colts player Jeff Saturday, Thompson has now moved onto addressing the gaps in the defensive line. The departure of Cullen Jenkins last season coupled with the disappointing play and four-game suspension of Mike Neal have made the unit rather thin.

Muir is not guaranteed a spot on the roster, but it’s obvious the Packers are taking this need seriously. Thompson doesn’t often dip into free agency outside of his own team, so these last two signings are rather noteworthy.

Expect Thompson to continue to shore up the defensive pitfalls with draft picks in April.

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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