Can the Packers Afford Sam Shields?

Packers CB Sam Shields

Shields is one of Green Bay’s top free agents heading into 2014

This will come across as pouting and before we get into Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields in free agency, I have to say that I really wish I were still writing about a Packers team who was preparing for their next playoff game.  Such is life.

So what about Shields?  Well, last year Shields was a restricted free agent and the Packers placed a second round tender on him, meaning that if Shields negotiated a deal with another team and Green Bay chose not to match it, the receiving team would have owed the Packers a second round draft choice.

At the time that the Packers were gathering for training camp and there was talk that he might hold out if he was not given a long-term deal.  Shields’ agent is Drew Rosenhaus, who is no stranger to a holdout, an interview or an attempt to pan for the camera.  Shields eventually signed his tender with the Packers and played out his one-year, $2.023 million deal this season.

A likely motivator for Shields to get signed and into camp was that there was expected to be competition at the cornerback position.  Shields missed significant time in 2012 due to an ankle injury suffered early in the season but returned late in the year to help the Packers earn another division title.

Shields also had an interception for a touchdown early in the divisional round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Still, looming over Shields’ shoulder were cornerbacks Casey Hayward, Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde.

Shields kept his starting spot and had a stellar 2013 season, tallying 61 tackles, 17 passes defensed and had four interceptions in just 14 games.

Two of Shields’ interceptions will not soon be forgotten.  The first was a game-saver late in the win against the Dallas Cowboys on a play that, had Shields not made, likely would have gone for a touchdown and prevented the Packers from winning that game.  The second was the last play of Green Bay’s week 17 win over the Chicago Bears to seal the division title.  Shields intercepted a Jay Cutler Hail Mary pass that somehow failed to make it to the end zone.



Packers OL Don Barclay Quietly Earning A Roster Spot

Don Barclay

OL Don Barclay, #67, is quietly earning a roster spot with the Green Bay Packers.

There haven’t been a lot of bright spots across the Green Bay Packers’ backup offensive line this preseason, as Graham Harrell can probably attest to. All of this negative attention, however, has probably overshadowed some of the good line play going on. One player in particular – Don Barclay (#67) – has quietly been proving his worth with the second unit.

Barclay was picked up by the Packers as a rookie free agent from West Virginia University. With experience in the guard and tackle position, he was a three-year starter as the Mountaineers’ left tackle.

As a Green Bay Packer, Don Barclay made his first big jump during the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. He earned a No. 2 guard spot along with veteran Reggie Wells and has been practicing there since. In Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Barclay once again played with the second string offensive line at right guard. During the fourth quarter, he also took the reps at right tackle with the third string unit.

After hearing some rumors about his play, I decided to go back and “A.J. Hawk” him throughout the Bengals game. What I saw was very promising. Though I am no expert on the finer techniques of being an offensive lineman, I can definitely say that Barclay looked extremely solid. He didn’t give up any pressures or sacks, and he was able to hold his ground in pass protection, rarely if ever getting pushed backwards.

Though he also performed well in run blocking (at one point pulling across the line for a block), I would probably mark that as his area of weakness. He did whiff on his blocker at the second level a couple times, but truth be told, I think the Packers would rather him weaker in run blocking than in pass blocking. Regardless, he still did an overall nice job of controlling his man.

If I had to place my bets today, I would put money down on Don Barclay to make the team. Considering the lack of talent we’ve seen otherwise, he might not have much competition. Barclay’s ability to play both guard and tackle is just what the Packers like in their backup offensive lineman. Even though Barclay hasn’t played on the left side, the Packers could slip him into right tackle and move Bryan Bulaga over to left tackle if Marshall Newhouse gets injured.



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.



Packers Rookie Bio: C Tommie Draheim

Tommie Draheim

Rookie C Tommie Draheim

Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers have signed a total of 27 rookies to contracts this offseason. Eight of those were his 2012 NFL Draft picks, while the other 19 were undrafted free agents picked up immediately after the draft or brought in as tryout players during Rookie Orientation Camp. With the roster now at a full 90 players, it’s time to get to know some of these new faces.

Next up is center Tommie Draheim.

Born on December 23, 1988, in Kennewick, WA, Tommie Draheim (Dray-hime) grew up in Lakeside, CA, where he played at center and defensive tackle as a senior at El Capitan High. He is the son of Tamura and Damon Draheim.

Draheim was a redshirt freshman in 2007 with the San Diego State Aztecs, and he was projected to be the starting center in 2008 until a shoulder injury suffered during summer workouts sidelined him for the season. Due to “team needs,” he was moved to left tackle upon his return, where he ended up starting in 30 consecutive games across his last three years with the team.

As a senior, Draheim became the first Aztecs offensive lineman to be named first-team all-conference since Brendan Darby in 2003. He was part of an SDSU offensive line that ranked 10th in the country in fewest sacks allowed (0.83 per game) and tied for 15th in fewest tackles for a loss allowed (4.42). They also helped quarterback Ryan Lindley become the school’s all-time leading passer and running back Ronnie Hillman finish third nationally in rushing.

Measuring 6-4, 309 lbs., Draheim bench pressed 22 reps at his Pro Day and had a 28” vertical jump. Though he primarily played left tackle at SDSU, Draheim was signed by the Packers as a center.

Both the National Football Post and Sports Illustrated scouting reports describe Draheim as “stiff,” “straight-legged,” and “not a natural knee bender.” He consistently gets doubled-over at the waist and displays poor footwork. His balance and use of leverage also need a lot of work, or he will struggle to hold up against the power of NFL linemen.

Draheim is considered to be a solid athlete with good awareness and a hard-working attitude. It’s understandable from scouting reports why he has been signed as a center rather than a guard or tackle prospct. Still, Draheim has a long way to go and a lot of technique to learn before he will be able to compete as a starter.



Packers Rookie Bio: S Sean Richardson

Sean Richardson

Rookie S Sean Richardson

Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers have signed a total of 27 rookies to contracts this offseason. Eight of those were his 2012 NFL Draft picks, while the other 19 were undrafted free agents picked up immediately after the draft or brought in as tryout players during Rookie Orientation Camp. With the roster now at a full 90 players, it’s time to get to know some of these new faces.

Next up is safety Sean Richardson.

Born on Jan. 21, 1990, Seandre Antonio Richardson hails from Linden, Alabama, where he was given a key to the city upon his signing with the Green Bay Packers. He is the first football player from Linden to earn a Division I scholarship. He is the son of Darnell and Sandra Richardson and brother to Darnell, Jr., and sister Shonedra.

Sean was a starter at safety for his last three seasons with the Vanderbilt Commodores, and he never missed a single game, despite undergoing hand surgery in 2009. He became an instant contributor on special teams during his freshman year, concluding with the Commodore’s only touchdown (a muffed punt recovery) against Boston College in the Music City Bowl.

Both Richardson and Packers second round draft pick Casey Hayward were the anchors of the Vanderbilt secondary. As a junior, Sean Richardson set single-season career highs in virtually every statistical category: 67 solo tackles, 98 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 QB hurries, and 7 passes defended. He played mostly “in the box,” working more in run support than pass coverage. His only career interception came as a senior.

Measuring 6-2, 216 lbs., Richardson ran a 4.47 second 40-yard dash, 7.01 second 3-cone drill, 4.44 second shuttle, and bench pressed 22 reps at the NFL Combine. Though undrafted, he gained interest from 14 teams wanting to sign him afterward. Some clubs were interested in having Richardson add about 15 pounds to play linebacker. The Packers, however, plan on keeping Richardson as a safety.

Most scouts use the word “physical” to describe Sean Richardson. He is more of a straight-line player, but does well shedding blocks and has a nose for the football. He maintains a low pad level and will “run through his target,” generating some “thump” on contact.



Packers Rookie Bio: LB Dezman Moses

Dezman Moses

Rookie OLB Dezman Moses

Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers have signed a total of 27 rookies to contracts within the past week. Eight of those were his 2012 NFL Draft picks, while the other 19 were undrafted free agents picked up immediately after the draft or brought in as tryout players during Rookie Orientation Camp. With the roster now at a full 90 players, it’s time to get to know some of these new faces.

First up is outside linebacker Dezman Moses.

Born on Jan. 4, 1989,  Dezman Mirrill Moses hails from Willingboro, N.J., where he played wide receiver and inside linebacker at Willingboro High. He was named first-team all-county, all-conference and All-South Jersey as a senior, when he hauled in 35 passes for 596 yards and 10 touchdowns as a wideout while recording 87 tackles and five interceptions – including two returned for touchdowns. Dezman is the son of Vernon and Valerie Moses and brother to two sisters, Lauren and Shaina.

Moses graduated with scholarship offers in basketball, football and baseball. He made the decision to play football at the University of Iowa, but transferred after two seasons to Tulane in 2009 and sat out that fall per the transfer rule.

Making an immediate impact as left defensive end with the Green Wave, Moses would go on to record 114 tackles, 24 1/2 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, six forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered across two season. In 2011, he led Tulane’s defensive line in total stops and ranked fifth overall in tackles. Moses ranked third among C-USA players and 17th nationally in sacks. His 15.5 sacks in two seasons ranks fifth among Tulane’s career leaders, and his sack total in 2011 ranks third all-time.

Moses was also suspended by Tulane coach Bob Toledo for the first two games of 2010 for a prior incident of public intoxication.

At 6-2, 239 lbs., Dezman Moses’ lowest recorded 40-yd. time was 4.82 on his Pro Day, and he benched 225 ponds 22 times. Based on his body type, he was projected as 3-4 outside linebacker, which is where the Packers currently have him.



I Have a Feeling: Ryan Grant Will Return to the Packers

Ryan Grant Green Bay Packers Free Agent

Packers Free Agent Ryan Grant

Since this has unofficially become running backs week at AllGBP.com, I’ll chime in with some thoughts on the one guy who hasn’t been mentioned, Ryan Grant.

This is also the first in what I hope will become a series of “I have a feeling” posts, based on nothing more than what my gut tells me and intended to spur active discussion and debate. So, let’s get started.

Earlier in the week, Matthew Stein asked the question, “Which running back gives the Packers the best chance to win?” That was followed up on Thursday by Adam Czech, who gave us a look at some other players in the mix; the Packers UDFA running backs.

After reading and dissecting both posts, I came to this rather unlikely (for me) conclusion; Ryan Grant could be the guy that gives the Packers the best chance to win.

Those of you who remember some of my past posts on Ryan Grant, (like “Ryan Grant can’t cut it“), can all pick yourself up off of the floor now. But lets remember that several years have passed since that particular post. In the time that has elapsed, I came to accept what Ryan Grant provides (when healthy) to this pass-first Packers offense; dependability and accountability.

While I’ll always be yearning for a more dynamic running back, having a big-time running back like Adrian Peterson, let’s say, would be a waste on this team. It’s apparent to anyone paying attention that the running game is given just token consideration in this offense.

What the Packers mostly want from a #1 running back is to not fumble when given the ball and to be able to occasionally block when you’re still in the game on a passing play. Grant has had 6 fumbles in 924 career carries, Peterson 22 in 1400 carries. Grant fits for the Packers.

Mike McCarthy is very comfortable with Ryan Grant as his running back. So is Ted Thompson, but Thompson knows how to play this game. He did it last year with James Jones. He feigned disinterest and let Jones test free agency, all the time knowing there wouldn’t be much of a market for Jones, and that he would come back to the Packers on their terms.