30

April

Packers Defensive Possibilities in Rounds 4 and 5 of the 2011 NFL Draft

Here are six potential defensive targets for the Green Bay Packers in rounds four and five of today’s NFL Draft:

Lawrence Guy, DE, Arizona State, 6′ 5″, 300lbs.
All-Pacific 10 Conference honorable mention…Quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (top collegiate defender)… Member of the Outland Trophy Watch List (top collegiate lineman)…Started all 12 games and ranked eighth on the team with 41 tackles (14 solos), including 1.5 sacks for minus six yards and six stops for losses totaling 14 yards…Key piece in a front wall that led the Pac-10 and placed 16th nationally, allowing just 119.67 yards per game on the ground…Made 39 plays vs. the ground game, holding ball carriers to just 58 yards (1.49 ypc), as the defender limited those runners to five first downs while producing nine third-down stops and another on fourth-down…Delivered six of those tackles inside the red zone, including four on goal-line plays, as he posted 10 total stops (assists/solos) for loss and six tackles that brought down ball carriers at the line of scrimmage no gain…Made two stops vs. the aerial attack, holding receivers to just six yards on those receptions (3.0 ypc), as he deflected two passes, including one on a fourth-down attempt

Cedric Thornton, DE, So. Arkansas, 6’3″, 301lbs
All-American and All-Gulf South Conference first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report…Listed as the most underrated defensive tackle prospect eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft and the top defensive player in the NCAA Division II ranks, according to that scouting information service…Added more than 30 pounds of muscle to his frame since the end of the 2009 campaign…Ranked third on the team with 54 tackles (28 solos) that included 1.5 sacks for minus 7 yards and thirteen quarterback pressures…Tied for 11th in the Division II ranks with 14.0 stops for losses totaling 195 yards…Made 54 plays vs. the ground game, limiting those runners to 36 yards (0.67 ypc), as he registered 16 total stops for loss (solos/assists), took down ball carriers at the line of scrimmage for no gain nine times, posted 12 of his hits inside the red zone, including six on goal-line plays and made six third-down tackles, with one more on a fourth-down snap vs. opposing rushers…Against the pass, none of the 15 passes targeted into his area were completed, as he delivered seven thirddown stops…Two of his 13 pressures caused interceptions, as one pass theft was returned for a touchdown and another set up a Muleriders’ field goal.

28

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Safety

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the safety position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#36 Nick Collins
27 yrs. old / 6 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#26 Charlie Peprah
28 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#42 Morgan Burnett
22 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#34 Anthony Levine
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#43 Michael Greco
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#20 Atari Bigby
29 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

#27 Anthony Smith
27 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

As I noted in the cornerback position evaluation, the Green Bay Packers have arguably the best secondary in the league. This could not be possible without a pair of safeties like Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah.

Nick Collins has been playing for the Packers since he was picked up in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. An unquestioned starter as the free safety, he has shown no signs of slowing down. Collins saw his third consecutive selection for the Pro Bowl in 2010, and his worth to the team was made clear during the final run of the season. His interception against the Chicago Bears in Week 17 was a game-clincher, and the interception of “Big Ben” Roethlisberger helped the Packers gain an early lead in Super Bowl XLV.

Of course, at the beginning of the season, Nick Collins was expected to do well. Charlie Peprah, on the other hand, wasn’t even expected to be a starter.

27

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Cornerback

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the cornerback position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#21 Charles Woodson
34 yrs. old / 13 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#38 Tramon Williams
28 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#37 Sam Shields
23 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#24 Jarrett Bush
26 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#22 Pat Lee
27 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#28 Brandon Underwood
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#40 Josh Gordy
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

Josh Bell
26 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

Many NFL analysts have said that the Green Bay Packers have the best secondary in the league, and it all begins with the cornerbacks. Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, and Sam Shields are three players that no quarterback wants to face.

Charles Woodson, the 2009 AP Defensive Player of the Year, was undoubtedly Ted Thompson’s best free agent signing ever. He is the Packers’ Troy Polamalu – a guy who is everywhere and does everything on the field. Though his man-to-man cover skills have receded, Woodson’s ability to disrupt plays from the line have made him invaluable.

In his past three years with the team, Woodson accumulated 18 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, 7 sacks, and 6 touchdowns. He is also credited with 48 passes defended in that span of time.

25

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Inside Linebacker

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the inside linebacker position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#50 A.J. Hawk
27 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2015

#55 Desmond Bishop
26 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#56 Nick Barnett
29 yrs. old / 8 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#54 Brandon Chillar
28 yrs. old / 7 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#49 Rob Francois
25 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#48 Cardia Jackson
22 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#57 Matt Wilhelm
30 yrs. old / 8 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

As it stands right now, the Packers are stacked at the inside linebacker position.

Nick Barnett is a well-seasoned veteran whose hair is almost as big as his reputation. He was a starter for Green Bay from day one, and has been an anchor at the position for the past eight years. He led the team in tackles for five of those years, set the single-season franchise record with 194 tackles, and ranks third in franchise annals with 986 career tackles.

Then there’s A.J. Hawk, the Packers’ top 2006 draft pick who finally seemed to make his mark this season with Barnett out of the picture. For the first three years, fans became increasingly frustrated with a performance that belied his first-round draft status. Finally, we have seen that his communication skills, good study habits, and great work ethic were a gigantic asset to the team. And for his efforts, Ted Thompson rewarded Hawk with a brand new five-year contract.

22

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Outside Linebacker

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the outside linebacker position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#52 Clay Matthews
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#51 Brady Poppinga
31 yrs. old / 6 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#93 Erik Walden
25 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#59 Brad Jones
25 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#47 Diyral Briggs
25 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#58 Frank Zombo
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

I can’t tell you how many times the past two years that I’ve heard or said, “Clay Matthews is a beast.”

He alone propels this defense to a new level. Opposing offenses work up their game plans in a concentrated effort to take him out of the equation, because he is the biggest threat to the quarterback. Matthews’ motor never stops running, his lightning fast break off the line is a nightmare to blockers, and there’s just something intimidating about that long mane of hair.

Okay, so maybe I made that last one up. But in all seriousness, Clay Matthews boasts 23.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the Packers. Ted Thompson made one of the best moves in his career as a GM by trading up in the 2009 NFL Draft to grab him.

Now, despite the lack of a stud player “opposite Matthews” (as you so often hear), there is a lot of strength in the depth of this unit. The cliché may be that this team won the Super Bowl with the players, but they also made it through the season with them.

19

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Defensive Line

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the defensive line currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#90 B.J. Raji [NT]
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#79 Ryan Pickett [DE/NT]
31 yrs. old / 10 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#95 Howard Green [DE]
32 yrs. old / 6 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#91 Justin Harrell [DE]
27 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#94 Jarius Wynn [DE]
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#96 Mike Neal [DE]
23 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#98 C.J. Wilson [DE]
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#68 Jay Ross [NT]
23 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#60 Curtis Young [LB/DE]
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#77 Cullen Jenkins [DE]
30 yrs. old / 7 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

#97 Johnny Jolly [DE]
28 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
(Currently suspended from the NFL)

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

If there is one player I would have to call the foundation of the Green Bay Packers defense, it would undoubtedly be B.J. “The Freezer” Raji.

Throughout the season, Raji was a constant force to be reckoned with. He excelled in his role as the anchor of the defensive line, eating up blockers and pushing the pocket when needed. Plus, it’s hard not to be impressed with a nose tackle that amassed 34 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, and a pick-six all in one year. To top it off, he played over 85% of the snaps during the season. I don’t think it’s too much to expect more of the same in 2011 from such a young, motivated player.

11

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Offensive Line

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the offensive line positions currently stand. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#63 Scott Wells [C]
30 yrs. old / 7 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#62 Evan Dietrich-Smith [C/G]
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#67 Nick McDonald [C/G]
23 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2012

#72 Jason Spitz [C/G]
28 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (no tender offered)

#71 Josh Sitton [G]
24 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#64 Adrian Battles [G]
24 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#73 Daryn Colledge [G]
29 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

#74 Marshall Newhouse [G/T]
22 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2013

#70 T.J. Lang [T/G]
23 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#76 Chad Clifton [T]
34 yrs. old / 11 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#65 Mark Tauscher [T]
33 yrs. old / 11 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#75 Bryan Bulaga [T]
22 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#69 Chris Campbell [T]
24 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

The offensive line as a unit has come a long way from its dismal 2009 performance. It still has its weak points, but overall the unit does a good job in pass protection.