5

May

Packers 2011 NFL Draft – What was Ted Thompson Thinking?

With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, Green Bay Packers fans everywhere are left to speculate on why Ted Thompson chose the players he did. In this article, I will try to delve into the mind of our ‘awkward genius” and present a coherent rational for each pick.

* Derek Sherrod – Offensive Tackle – Round 1, Pick 32 – Replacement for Chad Clifton: The Packers hope that they have their bookends for quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ prime years.  This pick reminds me a lot of Bryan Bulaga, another offensive tackle that was widely respected but not as highly touted as some of the other offensive linemen in the draft and probably fell roughly 10 spots before the being selected by the Packers.  Thompson was thinking value last year with Bryan Bulaga and that applies to Derek Sherrod as well.

At the moment, the Packers claim that they haven’t worked out where Bulaga and Sherrod will be playing, but I think it largely lies with Mark Tauscher.  If Tauscher decides to come back for another year (and beats out Bulaga as the starter), then the Packers will have the option of choosing who goes where.  If on the other hand Tauscher retires, gets cut or becomes the backup, then Bulaga becomes the logical choice for right tackle since he already has experience there and Sherrod gets to learn the ropes behind Clifton and become the future left tackle.

In my opinion this isn’t a snub on Bulaga, nowadays both bookends are equally important, especially with a pass first offense like the Packers; defenses will take advantage of the weakest offensive linemen, not just the blindside tackle.

* Randall Cobb – Wide Receiver – Round 1, Pick 64 – Replacement for James Jones/Donald Driver: The Packers hope to add another wide receiver to their stable to replace James Jones (who is likely to leave for greener pastures) and continue to add depth behind Donald Driver, who just turned 36.  Thompson knows that the Packers are a passing team and keeping multiple receivers on the field gives the Packers the best shot at winning.

While Cobb was seen as a slot receiver, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cobb spends plenty of time outside the numbers. The Packers are rather unconventional in the sense that they don’t really have designated roles for their wide receivers, with every receiver playing every position. For example, Greg Jennings was often most effective coming from the slot, perhaps due to the fact that #1 receivers rarely line up there and often have linebackers or safeties covering them.

1

May

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — Seventh Round, No. 233: DE Lawrence Guy

With the 233rd pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Arizona State DE Lawrence Guy

He measures in at 6-4, 305 pounds.  At the NFL Combine, he posted a 4.96-second 40-yard dash, 28 bench-presses, 4.43-second 20-yard shuttle and a 29″ vertical leap.

College history

Highly recruited out of High School, Guy turned down offers from Oklahoma, Nebraska and other big-time programs to play for the Sun Devils. Guy has played every position on the defensive line for the Sun Devils, but mostly played tackle in a 4-3 defense.  Guy was a three-year starter and is leaving ASU with one year of eligibility left.

In 12 games in 2010, Guy ended the year with 41 tackles (14 solo), six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a pair of pass break-ups..

Commentary

Here’s what I wrote about Guy in the CheeseheadTV Draft Guide:  ”Guy could be this year’s Mike Neal – an under-the-radar player with below average stats but a ton of potential. Where Neal’s best asset was his strength, Guy’s is the athleticism he displays for a man his size. He shows an explosive first step and never stops coming. Perfect body type for a five-technique end but needs to hit the weight room. The Packers make him Neal’s workout buddy – that should do it.”

I had him pegged as a fourth round pick, and so did most draft boards. He thus draws comparison to C. J. Wilson, another DL who was expected to go much higher than where the Packers drafted him. I was excited about the Wilson pick at the time (called it a steal) and I feel almost as good about this Lawrence Guy pick.

Guy has had to overcome dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. After a shaky start in college, Guy has worked hard to better himself in the classroom and as a person in addition to his play on the football field.

The official scouting report on Guy states, “Known primarily for his pass rushing skills, his size, strength and athletic ability make him a prime candidate to move to the ‘five technique’ defensive end position in a 3-4 alignment at the next level.” Then, from NFLDraftScout.com, “Guy’s statistics are solid (122 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 35 games), but not spectacular, leading to some discounting his talents. Don’t be surprised when this Sun Devil defensive tackle proves to be anything but just another ‘Guy’” and hears his name called among the top 100 selections.”

1

May

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — Seventh Round, No. 218: TE Ryan Taylor

With the 218th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected North Carolina TE (H-back) Ryan Taylor

He measures in at 6-3, 254 pounds.  At his Pro day, he posted a 4.76-second 40-yard dash, 21 bench-presses, 4.47-second 20-yard shuttle and a 34″ vertical leap.

College history

Taylor started out strictly as a linebacker for two seasons, spent two seasons playing both linebacker and tight end, then converted full-time to tight end (H-back) his senior year. All four years, however, he was a key contributor on special team, twice being named ST captain. (Taylor’s college coach Butch Davis, used the H-back position to help develop Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow Jr when he was at Miami)

Taylor finished the 2010 season with 36 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns. He excelled in the post-season Music City bowl, leading North Carolina with nine catches for 85 yards as the Tar Heels won a 30-27 double-overtime game over Tennessee .

Commentary

Ryan Taylor appears to be Spencer Havner with a head start. Where Havner was switched to tight end in the Pros, Taylor has already made the move and has had some excellent coaching at North Carolina.  The scouting report on Taylor says he’s an aggressive and very effective blocker on the edge, but can struggle hitting blocking targets downfield. Has solid hands, gets into his routes quickly, but will not get many additional yds after the catch.  Undersized for the pro tight end position, but if used in the H-back role, can be an effective player.

In summary, Taylor will be looked at primarily as a both sides of the ball special team player, and primarily as a blocker from the tight end or H-back position

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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30

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 Draft — Fifth Round: D.J. Williams

With the 141st pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Arkansas tight end D. J. Williams.

Williams measures in at 6-2, 245 pounds. He posted a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, 20 bench-presses, 4.51-second 20-yard shuttle and a 33.5″ vertical leap.

Before reading this preview on D.J. Williams, the Packers fifth-round pick, watch this E60 story about Williams’ journey to the NFL. It’s amazing and will have you cheering for Williams even if he never plays a down for the Packers.

Are you back? Ok good. Dry your eyes and continue reading about Williams on the football field. He looks like a good

D.J. Williams is a high-character guy that should get a chance to compete at TE and FB.

one.

College Highlights
Williams set an Arkansas tight-end single-season record with 61 catches as a sophomore. He only caught 32 passes the following season because he says he focused on refining his blocking skills. Everything came together his senior season when he caught 54 passes, blocked well and was named the John Mackey award winner as the nation’s top tight end.

Analysis
Williams is undersized but has continued to persevere both in life and on the football field. When he needed to overcome a bad family situation, he did it. When he needed to become a better blocker, he did it. When he needed to put it all together his senior season, he did it.

Some analysts think Williams might end up playing fullback in the NFL. Given the Packers infatuation with stockpiling multiple fullbacks and tight ends, seeing Williams line up in front of James Starks or Ryan Grant wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Perhaps Williams could free up Tom Crabtree to focus exclusively on being a tight end instead of occasionally lining up in the backfield. Or maybe both Williams and Crabtree will take snaps at tight end and fullback. Either scenario will be interesting to watch play out.

Many analysts also rave about Williams’ hands. Doug Farrar from Football Outsiders tweeted that Williams has some of the best hands in the draft. With Jermichael Finley set to become a free agent after this season and the Packers lapses in short-yardage situations, Williams should have an opportunity to establish a role in his rookie season.

30

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 Draft — Fourth Round, No.131: CB Davon House

Davon House went to the Packers in round four.

With the 131rd pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected New Mexico State CB Davon House

House measures in at 6-1, 200 pounds.  At the NFL Combine, he posted a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, 14 bench-presses, 4.12-second 20-yard shuttle and a 33.5″ vertical leap.

After trading the first of their two fourth-round picks to Denver, the Green Bay Packers selected New Mexico State cornerback Davon House with the compensatory picked received after DE Aaron Kampman’s free-agent departure.

House is a 6-foot, 184-pound press-coverage corner with the size and speed necessary to handle bigger outside receivers.

College History
House played 12 games as a true freshman and continued to improve throughout his entire college career. He intercepted 11 passes in four years and returned three for touchdowns. He also demonstrated an ability to stop the run, racking up 202 solo tackles.

Commentary
With Charles Woodson getting older and Tramon Williams and Sam Shields coming off seasons where each played out of their minds, the Packers needed to add some depth at CB. It would be great if Woodson, Williams and Shields all repeated what they did in 2010, but just in case they don’t, House is there to help.

Most analysts peg House as a press coverage corner that shines on the outside. Speaking shortly after House was drafted, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said that House is not a one-dimensional player. Capers praised House’s versatility and indicated that he would be used throughout the field.

Overall, House seems to be an ideal fit with the other Packers defensive backs. He’s big, he’s good against the run and the pass, and he doesn’t get beat deep. Many reports say that House is reactionary and doesn’t anticipate routes well, but if you give him a year or two in Capers’ scheme, perhaps that will improve.

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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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29

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — 3rd Round, No. 96: RB Alex Green

With the 96th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Hawaii running back Alex Green.

He measures 6-0, 225 pounds with 32″ arms. Green posted a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, 20 bench-presses, 34″ vertical leap, 114″ broad jump, 6.91-second 3 cone drill and 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle.

College History

Playing in Hawaii’s pass-happy offense, Green was able to rush for 1,199 yards on 146 carries (8.2 ypc) and 18 touchdowns his senior season. He also caught 27 passes for 363 yards and another touchdown. Green was named Second Team All-WAC in 2010.

Green was only at Hawaii for two seasons, having transferred from Butte Community College in California—the same place that produced Aaron Rodgers.

One other thing of note: Green rushed for 372 yards against New Mexico State, a performance that broke Hawaii’s single-game rushing record.

Commentary

I’ll admit to knowing little about Green when the pick was made, but I had heard from some of the talking heads that he was a sleeper candidate at the running back position.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock certainly gave him a vote confidence when he said that “Green will be an impact player this year for the Green Bay Packers.”

After a little digging, there was plenty of other solid reviews on Green. Russ Lande of The Sporting News said that Green could develop into an “Arian Foster-type back.” Foster rushed for 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for the Texans.

It would obviously be fantastic if that scenario unfolded, but Green could be a weapon for the Packers right away. He has good vision and hits the hole hard, and his big frame fits what the Packers like in their backs. Green also has experience catching the ball out of the backfield, making him a potential replacement for Brandon Jackson in third down roles.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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29

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 Draft — 2nd Round, Pick 64: WR Randall Cobb

With the 64th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb.

Cobb measures out at 5-11, 196 pounds with 31″ arms. He posted a 4.46-second 40-yard dash, 16 bench-presses, 33.5″ vertical leap, 115″ broad jump, 7.08-second 3 cone drill, 4.34-second 20-yard shuttle and 11.56-second 60-yard shuttle.

College History

Cobb finished his college career at Kentucky as one of the nation’s most versatile players. He entered college as a decorated high school quarterback, and ended up throwing for over 600 yards and five touchdowns with Kentucky.

He ended up moving him to receiver, however, and Cobb continued to produce. Over his three years in college, Cobb racked up 5,000 all-purpose yards, including 1,661 receiving and 1,313 rushing. In his final year, Cobb posted 84 catches for 1,017 yards and was selected as a First Team All-American for his efforts.

Commentary

I’ve said it for awhile now, but Cobb seems like the perfect pick for the Packers. Not only is he versatile, but he’s versatile at positions that the Packers needed. He should immediately be the Packers returner of both punts and kicks, giving the special teams unit a dangerous threat for the first time since possibly Allen Rossom in 2000.

Cobb also has unique talents at the receiver position. He’s not tall, but he’s well-built and should be an excellent slot receiver. I hesitate to fully compare him to Percy Harvin, but he has a very similar skill set as the Vikings dynamic receiver/returner.

And not only is he a good fit for the Packers on the field, he’s a great fit for organization off it. He’s been involved with numerous charities and events around the Lexington area, and he has a passion for the game that fans will instantly fall in love with. Cobb just wants to be on the field anyway he can, and he’s going to work his tail off to make sure he’s playing for the Packers on Sundays.

In my opinion, Cobb is the complete package and the Packers are very fortunate to have him available to them at pick No. 64.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.