27

February

What if Packers GM Ted Thompson takes a WR Early in the NFL Draft?

Could Packers GM Ted Thompson take a WR like LUS's Odell Beckham, Jr. in the NFL draft?

Could Packers GM Ted Thompson take a WR like LUS’s Odell Beckham, Jr. in the NFL draft?

It’s obvious to both diehard and casual Packers fans that the team desperately needs to upgrade at the safety position and also on the defensive line. Middle linebacker or tight end (if Jermichael Finley can’t play) could use upgrades as well.

With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb returning at wide receiver, and Jarrett Boykin emerging last season, nobody is clamoring for the Packers to add another receiver. But the upcoming draft is overflowing with receiving talent, and Packers general manager Ted Thompson might not be able to help himself.

If the Packers take a wide receiver in the first two rounds, I’ll have no problem with it. Sure, it might not fill an immediate need, but Thompson’s batting average in drafting receivers is one of the best in the league. It’s definitely a lot higher than when he tries to draft a pass-rushing complement to Clay Matthews, a dynamic defensive lineman or an offensive tackle.

If Thompson does take a wide receiver early in the draft, here are five guys that I think would be good selections for the Packers.

Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU
5-11, 198
Combine results

Fit with the Packers: I thought Beckham could possibly be a second-round target for the Packers, but he has rocketed up draft boards in recent weeks. After an impressive performance at the NFL Combine, he might be gone by the time the Packers pick in the first round. What I like most about Beckham is the consistency of his speed. Aaron Rodgers takes his footwork and timing on passing plays seriously. When Rodgers is in position to make a throw, he needs his receivers to be where he expects them to be on the route. Beckham’s quickness off the ball and smoothness in his acceleration makes that possible. He’s not herky-jerky in his movements and won’t be a half-step off when Rodgers is ready to throw.

Davante Adams, Fresno St.
6-1, 212
Combine results

23

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived (Bonus Edition)

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

So yesterday I accidentally scheduled my Surviving Sunday post to run on Saturday. It was a brain freeze similar to what happens when Mike McCarthy calls for the fullback dive on 3rd-and-short.

Hopefully you enjoyed your Saturday edition of Surviving Sunday. Now that it actually is Sunday, here is a bonus Sunday edition of Surviving Sunday.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Reports surfaced on Saturday that Packers free agent cornerback Sam Shields is seeking a deal similar to the 4 years, $22.4 million contract signed by the Bears’ Tim Jennings. If that’s truly the case, then the Packers need to get this deal done ASAP. I’m guessing the overall guarantee on Shields’ deal would be bigger than Jennings’, but even if that’s true, that’s a perfectly fair deal for both sides and still leaves the Packers salary cap room to make other moves this offseason.
  • Might new Giants offensive coordinator and former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo try to sign James Starks and Evan Dietrich-Smith away from the Packers? It’d be nice to keep Starks around, but with Eddie Lacy on the roster and DuJuan Harris and Jonthan Franklin returning from injury, Starks is more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, Starks ran at turbo speed last season. Given his injury history, a part-time role is probably best for him and he sure excelled filling in for Lacy. I don’t like playing musical chairs at center, but is Dietrich-Smith worthy overpaying if another team dumps a big offer on him? I don’t think so. I’m willing to see what J.C. Tretter can do at the position.
  • According to a study from Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News, the Packers have lost a league-high 153 games by injuries to preferred starters over the last two seasons. So what are Mike McCarthy and the Packers going to do about it? Who knows. In this interview with Jason Wilde, McCarthy vowed to figure out what’s going on and make changes. He said the same things last offseason. The most logical change at this point might be to just hire the training and medical staff from Stanford University.
  • If you’re still holding out hope that the Packers will sign Jarius Byrd to fix their issues at safety, this Tweet might squash that hope.

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

22

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Note: Relax, no need to go check your calendar – it’s not Sunday. Just a little scheduling snafu. Look for a bonus edition tomorrow, though…  

I’m going straight to the Packers news and commentary this week. No time for a long intro rant or rave. There is snow to shovel. More and more snow to shovel. 

By the time this winter is over, my back is going to snap in half from shoveling and Dr. Pat McKenzie will refuse to clear me in time for training camp.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Tyler Dunne at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked to a bunch of folks about Sam Shields. Is Shields worth a mega-contract? You might not find a faster corner in the league. But Shields also has missed games every season with various injuries. And he has a little ways to go before truly being one of the league’s top corners instead of having the potential to be one of the league’s top corners. As with any free-agent decision, it all comes down to value. I’d like to see Shields re-signed, but if he walks, the Packers still have Tramon Williams, a returning Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House at cornerback.
  • Mike Mccarthy sounded optimistic in an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine that Jermichael Finley would play again. Finley had the same two vertebrae fused that ended Nick Collins career. I’m rooting for Finley to make it back, but I still have doubts that, if he does return, it’ll be with the Packers. Either way, I’m curious what kind of offer he gets in free agency if he is cleared.
  • Ted Thompson also spoke at the combine. As usual, he said nothing.
  • I agree with John Rehor over at Packerstalk.com: Let’s calm down about Ted Thompson preparing to go all nutso in free agency. I don’t see it happening. I do think Thompson will sign a few guys. There has been value in some under-the-radar veterans in recent years that don’t completely blow up a team’s payroll. Thompson has missed the boat on some of these guys and won’t want to miss it again. At least I hope he won’t…
  • As always, when you’re at Packerstalk.com, check out the latest podcasts from this week.
21

February

Dissecting Thompson, McCarthy’s Words at NFL Combine

Mike McCarthy & Ted Thompson

Thompson and McCarthy both spoke during Friday’s media session at the NFL Combine

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy both spoke to the media on Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  As usual, both were short and did not offer a lot of substance to what they had to say.

With three straight disappointing appearances in the postseason now behind them, following their Super Bowl championship in 2010, Thompson and McCarthy have many eyes trained on them during this offseason.  There has already been speculation on what they might do to address the needs their team has heading into the 2014 season.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport created a stir when he reported that the Packers plan to be more active in free agency than they have in years.  His report stated that the Packers could add “up to five” new players.  This raised many eyebrows, as it goes against what Thompson has done year in and year out during his time as GM:  build and develop, largely through the draft.

With Friday’s media sessions, there was hope to gain some insight into what Thompson and McCarthy said.  The Journal-Sentinel’s Packers blog provided a recap of Thompson’s comments.  Our friends over at Acme Packing Company laid out a nice recap of McCarthy’s comments.

I have the snippets below with some of my own thoughts on what was said.

 

THOMPSON

 

On cornerback Sam Shields:  “I think Sam’s been a good player for us.  He does a good job and he’s one of the fellas that we’d like to have back.” 

Shields definitely was a solid fella last season.  He led the Packers with four interceptions and was their best defensive back overall.  There have been no rumblings about a new contract for Shields yet, and with each passing day, it appears likely the team will let him hit the open market.  Thompson likely has a figure in mind for Shields but may be concerned that he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are looking for an inflated amount.  If Shields truly wants to break the bank, he’s not likely going to do so in Green Bay.

21

February

10 Players Packers Fans Should Watch at the NFL Combine

Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.

Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.

The NFL Scouting Combine starts on Saturday and Packers general manager Ted Thompson will be there to observe all of the young NFL hopefuls who could potentially fill holes on the Packers roster.

Yes, it’s that time of year where words like “athletic” and “upside” become part of our everyday vocabulary and we pay extra close attention to how long a player’s arms are and what kind of motor he has. Keeping track of everything going on at the NFL Combine and the buzz about various prospects can be overwhelming. That’s why ALLGBP.com is here to help.

I picked out 10 players to watch at the NFL Combine if you’re a Packers fan. I have no idea if Thompson himself will be closely watching these players over others, but these 10 players are a mix of possible first-round targets for the Packers, or mid-round picks that appear to have the tools to help the Packers in one way or another down the road.

Of course, after the NFL Combine wraps up, ALLGBP.com will have more NFL draft profiles on possible future Packers than you will be able to handle. For now, keep an eye on these 10 players and we’ll see if any of them wind up in Green Bay come April.

HaHa Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
The Packers need a safety and Clinton-Dix might be the best one in this draft class. Scouts rave about Clinton-Dix’s instincts when the ball is in the air and his ability to shift directions and accelerate. His tackling could use some work, but the Packers desperately need a safety who can close on the ball and help eliminate big plays in the opponent’s passing game. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s really hard to get over the top on Clinton-Dix. Teams have had no problems getting over the top on the Packers safeties ever since Nick Collins was injured. If you’re a Packers fan, you might actually hope Clinton-Dix has a poor showing at the combine to increase the chances that he’ll fall to the Packer at pick No. 21.

3

July

High Praise for Packers 7th Round Pick Sam Barrington from NFL Analyst Greg Cosell

Is Packers LB Sam Barrington the latest draft steal for GM Ted Thompson?

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell had high praise for Packers seventh-round draft pick Sam Barrington on Tuesday.

Speaking with with Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports on the Shutdown Corner podcast, Cosell called the 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker from South Florida an “athletic kid,” whose “athletic ability was a second- or third-round pick.”

“I think this kid has a chance, and certainly to stick on special teams because of his athleticism,” the highly respected Cosell said. “But I thought he was far more athletic than a lot of linebackers I watched and I was surprised he was not talked about.”

Cosell also said he did some additional research on Barrington and found out that he may have dropped in the draft because of issues diagnosing plays and learning on defense, but that’s impossible to know for sure.

Barrington was also arrested four times at South Florida — all for driving with a revoked or suspended license. Getting arrested four times generally doesn’t help one’s draft stock, either.

Barrington’s numbers improved every season at South Florida, culminating with 80 tackles, two forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks in 11 games as a senior.

His 40-yard-dash time at the NFL combine was a ho-hum 4.89 seconds, but improved to 4.69 seconds on South Florida’s pro day.

After Packers GM Ted Thompson picked Barrington, he called him a “good value.” That’s about as boastful as you’ll hear the tight-lipped Thompson get about a pick he’s made.

The Packers have had success with seventh-round draft picks in the past. Is Barrington the latest steal for Thompson?

“I was really surprised that he was not drafted until the seventh round,” Cosell said. “The more I watched him the more I liked his game. I wouldn’t call him explosive, but he was athletic with really good movement. I always defer to film as opposed to 40 times, and I thought he played as an athlete.”

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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10

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Markus Wheaton, WR Oregon State

Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton

Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: WR Markus Wheaton

Player Information:

Markus Wheaton, WR Oregon State
5-11, 189 pounds
Hometown: Chandler, AZ

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.45
Vertical: 37″
225-pound bench: 20 reps
20-yard shuttle: 4.02
60-yard shuttle: 11.16

News and Notes:

Three-year starter … Holds the Oregon State school record for career receptions … During his four-year career, Wheaton caught 227 passes for 2,994 yards and 16 touchdowns … Also in the running game on jet sweeps and end arounds … Was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection as a senior in 2012 … Caught 91 passes for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior … Carried the ball 83 times during his college career … Sprinter on the track team … Beat Oregon speedster De’Anthony Thomas in the 100m dash in May 2012 with a time of 10.58

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • NFL.com: ”His quickness is blatant and dangerous. Whether taking off from the slot or outside, his feet are literally a step ahead of his defender on everything from speed outs, crossers, to jerk routes. Displays the flexibility to grab throws behind him or over his shoulder when running deep. He’ll also extend away from his body to bring in high or wide throws, and will stutter on the sideline to ensure he makes the catch in-bounds. Possesses some thickness to his frame, and is willing to lower his shoulder to get the extra yard – often diving under defenders to get as many as possible. Wheaton also dabbled in track while at OSU, reminding scouts of his elite speed.”
  • eDraft.com: “Wheaton’s biggest asset is definitely his speed. Though he only ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the combine, he has elite football speed. He was often used on jet sweeps and bubble screens where the Beavers just gave him the ball and let him do the rest. He can eat up cushion off the line in a heartbeat, and he can pull away from defensive backs in the open field. Often players with Wheaton’s speed are just track stars who get lost on the gridiron … He has smart and quick in his route running, showing an understanding of most of the routes on the route tree. He sets defensive backs up with head fakes and route angles, and sinks his hips well, exploding out of his breaks … In the games I viewed, he faced press a few times and showed great quickness and technical ability to overcome it.”