25

May

Can the Green Bay Packers 2011 Draft Picks Stay Healthy?


Mike Neal missed most of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury.

There isn’t much to criticize Ted Thompson for these days. If you’re searching for something, it would probably be the fact that his recent high draft choices, particularly on defense, have gotten themselves injured with some frequency .

Green Bay Packers’ defenders drafted in the first three rounds since 2009 have missed 29 games. That total rises to 39 games if you count Brad Jones, a seventh round pick in 2009.

It’s not like Thompson has been drafting players that had injury issues in college. But for some reason, they get hurt once they join the Packers.

The first three picks in the 2011 draft were all pretty durable in college. Will they stay off the IR once they join the Packers? Hopefully.

Just for fun, lets review the NFL injury history of the first three picks in 2009 and 2010, then take a look at the durability of the 2011 class.

2009

BJ Raji
Raji was hobbled by a sprained ankle early in his rookie season. He missed two games, started only one, and never really got going. He rebounded in 2010 and now looks like one of the more promising interior defenders in the league.

Clay Matthews
Matthews has been slowed by hamstring injuries throughout each of his first two training camps. He’s only missed one regular season game, though, and is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

TJ Lang
Offseason wrist surgery hampered Lang’s progress last season. Lang saw action in all 16 games as a rookie, but was not a factor in 2010.

2010

Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga dealt with a shoulder injury after the wild card win over the Eagles, but didn’t miss any time. He played in all 16 regular season games and will hopefully do the same this season.

Mike Neal
Neal only played in two games because of a shoulder injury. He looked good in those two games, but the Packers need him to stay healthy and contribute this season.

Morgan Burnett
The strong safety tore his ACL in week four and missed the rest of the 2010 season. Like Neal, the Packers need Burnett to come back strong and compete for a starting spot in 2011.

2011

30

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — Sixth Round, No. 197: LB Ricky Elmore

With the 197th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Arizona linebacker Ricky Elmore.

He measures in at 6-5, 260 pounds with 31″ arms. He posted a 4.88-second 40-yard dash, 26 bench-presses, 4.32-second 20-yard shuttle and a 31.5″ vertical leap.

College history

Elmore finished his college career with nearly 150 tackles and 25.5 sacks for Arizona. He started the final 39 games and appeared in 51 games total.

Elmore led the Pac-10 in sacks in both 2010 and 2009 after finishing with 21.5 total over the two years. He was an Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 selection in 2009 and a First Teamer in 2010.

Commentary

The Packers took a pass rushing linebacker from Arizona, but his name wasn’t Brooks Reed. While that might be a disappointment to some, Elmore was the more productive of the two prospects and features a similar non-stop motor to Reed.

He certainly lacks the athleticism you want in a 3-4 outside linebacker, but Elmore has a knack for getting to the quarterback and won’t stop until the whistle blows.

And while there are certainly some holes in his game, Elmore can also come in and fight for playing time at a suddenly overflowing outside linebacker position. He’s also another high-character guy—a reoccurring trend for the Packers 2011 draft class.

Video:

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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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30

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — Sixth Round, No. 186: LB D.J. Smith

With the 186th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Appalachian State linebacker D.J. Smith.

Smith measures 5-10, 240 pounds with 32.2″ arms. He posted a 4.75-second 40-yard dash, 20 bench-presses and a 31″ vertical leap.

College history

Smith has been one of the more productive linebackers in college football over the past four seasons. A four-year starter at Appalachian State, Smith racked up over 500 tackles and nine sacks in 50 career starts.

Smith was also a three-year All-American selection, including two First Team picks his final two seasons. In those last two years, Smith was a final for the Buck Buchanan award, given to the best defensive player in the FCS.

Commentary

Most fans wanted this position addressed much earlier (I not being one of them), but the Packers finally got their outside linebacker.

Smith is a well-built defender and has the production and experience to add competition to the position. He doesn’t seem to have the pass-rushing skills that would warrant starting on the outside, but the Packers obviously saw something in the way he was always around the football.

Video (DJ Smith is #9)

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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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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.

Video

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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.

Video

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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.

VIDEO:

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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.

28

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft – 1st Round, Pick 32: Derek Sherrod

With their 1st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select offensive tackle Derek Sherrod  from the Mississippi State University.

Sherrod measured 6’5” 321 lbs with a 35 3/8 inch wingspan and at the combine and posted a 5.18 second 40-yard dash, 23 bench presses, 28 inch vertical jump, 97 inch broad jump, 7.43 second 3-cone drill and 4.63 second 20-yard shuttle.

 

College history: Derek Sherrod is one of the most decorated college football players in the nation both on and off the field; he was named to seven All-American teams this year as well as winning the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Award, which is given to the top 16 players in the nation for their academic and leadership ability.  Sherrod graduated in August of 2010 with a 3.54 grade point average in business.

On the football field he played in 47 games and started 36 of them at left offensive tackle, racking up 319 knockdown blocks (8.86 per game, highest of any draft eligible offensive linemen in this years draft), and graded out at 92.8% in blocking efficiency.  Sherrod is more of a pass blocker than a run blocker, just like the Packers like them.  He’s also seen as more of a technician than an athletic specimen, which again is just like the Packers like them (see Bryan Bulaga)

Commentary: The Packers waited until they had 30 second left before turning in their pick; this probably meant that the Packers were fielding trade options until the last minute (as is Ted Thompsons MO), but apparently the value wasn’t there for the Packers so they selected their best player available, which was Sherrod.  Sherrod is likely to be the future tackle once Chad Clifton decides to hang it up or as Bryan Bulaga’s replacement once he switches over to the left when Chad Clifton finally decides to hang it up.  Who will be where?  In actuality, it doesn’t really matter.  The Packers have stated that they prefer to have two “left tackles” at bookend; with defenses commonly shifting personnel to get the best match ups, the best pass rusher is no longer over the blind slide, the best rusher is now over the weakest player.

Video:

On Packers.com

 

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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