31

October

The 2013 Class is Packers’ Best Draft Yet Under Thompson

Packers RB Eddie Lacy leads a ridiculously strong 2013 rookie class for the Green Bay Packers

Ted Thompson has made a lot of brilliant draft picks since taking over as Green Bay Packers general manager in 2005.

He drafted some guy named Aaron Rodgers in the first round in 2005, Greg Jennings (current issues aside) in the second round in 2006,  Jordy Nelson in the second round in 2008 and both Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji in the first round in 2009. Don’t forget Randall Cobb in the second round of 2011 either.

The middle rounds have seen success too. James Jones was a third rounder in 2007 and Josh Sitton was selected in the fourth round in 2008.  Sitton’s partner-in-crime, T.J. Lang, was a fourth rounder as well in 2009.

This is just a partial list of great picks Thompson has made during his tenure with the Packers.  He’s hit more than he’s missed and has Green Bay poised to be in Super Bowl contention for the next several years.    We could go on and on about how deft Thompson has been at drafting over the years and that doesn’t even include undrafted free agents.

That being said, no draft class of Thompson’s has made quite the impact, especially right out of the gate, as the 2013 class of rookies.  Some of it may not have been planned on due to yet another injury epidemic on the Packers’ roster, but this group of youngsters has come to play and very well could down as Thompson’s finest draft class to date.

To review, here is the 2013 Green Bay Packers draft class:

1. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

4a. David Bakhtiari, T, Colorado

4b. J.C. Tretter, T, Cornell

4c. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

5a. Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa

5b. Josh Boyd, DE, Mississippi State

6. Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois State

7a. Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State

7b. Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland

7c. Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida

Go down that list and you will see many reasons why the Packers are still in control of the NFC North despite Lambeau Field once again doubling as an infirmary.

29

April

They Coulda Been Packers, They Coulda Been Somebody

On the Waterfornt - Marlon Brando

On the Waterfornt – Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront:” You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.

One thing about getting so heavily involved in research for the NFL draft is that you get emotionally attached to certain players. You call them “my guys” or “my sleepers” or “my late round steals.” As the draft unfolds, these players are always on your radar. As the Packers pick approaches,’ you’re eagerly hoping and praying they will still be available so the Packers can take “your guy” and justify your belief in how “perfect” he is for the Packers.

The reality of the situation is, these two separate worlds (NFL GM reality & Draftnik Fantasy) only occasionally intersect to deliver what you want. This year’s draft was worse than usual for this draftnik. The previous two years, the Packers drafted several of “my guys.” Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Lawrence Guy, Nick Perry, Casey Hayward, BJ Coleman. In all, it was a pretty good haul. This year I got Datone Jones and Johnathan Franklin (but not where I expected him) and then no other player remotely on my radar.

But it’s not my loss, it’s theirs. They could have been Packers. They coulda had class. They coulda been contenders. They coulda been somebody, instead of bums, which is what they are, let’s face it.

If you’re not a Packer, you’re nobody…

So here’s my list of guys that could have been Packers, members of the greatest franchise in all of sports.

WR Stedman Bailey – Oh Stedman, it was sooooooo close. Ted Thompson traded back figuring it was a safe bet that the Falcons wouldn’t draft a wide receiver right in front of them. Well, he never counted on the Rams trading into that spot to pry Bailey from Ted Thompson’s grasp. Ted rolled the dice and it came up snake eyes. He crapped out and we all lost our shirts…

28

April

Green Bay Packers Final 2013 Draft Board

Packers GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy completed their eight draft together this weekend

Packers GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy completed their eight draft together this weekend

The 2013 NFL Draft is in the books which means the Green Bay Packers have made all of their selections and we know who will be joining the team in training camp come late July.  Our team at ALLGBP.com has done a fantastic job in breaking down each of these players and be sure to check out each and get to know your newest Packer players!

Let’s take a look at this year’s full slate of draft picks:

Round 1

26th, 26th overall – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Many expected this pick if the Packers were staying put in round one.  Many say Jones was a great value at 26th overall and should start right away.  Helps solidify a position of need.

Round 2

29th, 61st overall (from 49ers) – Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

After several draft analysts had Lacy going to the Packers in round one and even before their pick, Green Bay had to be shocked to see him fall into their laps in round two.  Touted by many as the best running back in this year’s class, Lacy was the fourth back taken after Giovani Bernard (Bengals), Le’Veon Bell (Steelers) and Montee Ball (Broncos).  Clearly the Packers wanted Lacy and he will make an immediate impact to a running game that has lacked punch for the past three seasons.

Round 4

12th, 109th overall (from Saints through Dolphins) – David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado

After trading down a few spots in the fourth round, Thompson opted to add some depth to the Packers offensive line.  Bakhtiari brings all 6’4″, 300 lbs with him to Green Bay and should be given an opportunity to battle with Derek Sherrod (if healthy) and become a starting tackle opposite Bryan Bulaga.  He is versatile, however, and can also play at the guard spot.

25th, 122nd overall – J.C. Tretter, OT, Cornell

Tretter was a bit of a surprise pick here, at least to me.  Just 13 picks after selecting Bakhtiari, the Packers drafted another offensive tackle.  A further glace at Tretter shows that he is more likely to translate in the NFL as a guard or possibly even center.  That versatility is what Packers GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy like in a lineman.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more times than any other quarterback since 2008.  Shoring up the offensive front was clearly a priority for Thompson.

23

April

What Does the Packers Draft and Development Philosophy Mean to You?

Desmond Bishop is one player the Packers have drafted and developed.

Desmond Bishop is one player the Packers have drafted and developed.

An interesting discussion about the Packers draft and develop philosophy broke out in the comments section of this post the other day.

The basic question that came out of the discussion was this: What does draft and develop mean to you?

Draft and develop might mean different things to different people. The various meanings appear to include:

  • Having players on the roster who can immediately and adequately fill in when a starter is injured.
  • When an upper-echelon player leaves the team (for whatever reason), there’s another player on the roster than can immediately play at a similar level of the departed star.
  • Accumulating as much young talent as possible.

There is no right answer to the question, but if I had to select one of the above, I’d select the third option. However, that answer is a little broad. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t want to accumulate as much young talent as possible. That franchise goal isn’t unique to the Packers.

Perhaps I need to add a fourth option: Accumulating as much young talent as possible and having the patience to stick with that philosophy and actually make it work.

Draft and develop has paid off for the Packers because they didn’t ditch it at the first sign of trouble. It’s also worked because the front office appears to be on the same page as the coaching staff, which is a lot more rare than we think. (It’s also worked because the Packers have Aaron Rodgers.)

I picked a hybrid fourth option, but the first three options have merit. There are real examples of the first three options being used on the Packers.

  • See Desmond Bishop in 2010 or James Jones in 2012 for an example of players adequately filling in when a starter is injured.
  • See Rodgers taking over for Brett Favre when a star player leaves the team (for whatever reason).
  • See Ted Thompson accumulating picks late in the draft and signing undrafted free agents who often turn into useful players.

If you want to extend the draft and develop philosophy discussion further, we can talk about how once the drafted talent is developed, you have to open up the checkbook to keep it. Clay Matthews just got extended. Aaron Rodgers will soon. Those two players will likely eat up about a fourth of the Packers salary cap.

9

April

Pigskin Paul’s NFC North Mock Draft

2013 NFL Draft

2013 NFL Draft

Since my Packers Mock Draft a little while back, I’ve received request for a Bears mock draft as well.  So here goes nothing. But I do have one disclaimer. I am not familiar with the long term work of PHIL EMERY, so this one is purely on me with no inside information to draw from. And at the request of more than a few folks whose favorite division is the NFC North, here’s the whole division for you.

(As with my previous PACKERS MOCK the number in parenthesis after the Pick name and vitals is where I currently have the player ranked on my Regardless of Position Prospect list.)

 

DA BEARS   2013 MOCK DRAFT

Round 1, Pick 20    ALEC OGLETREE/LB/GEORGIA/6’3/242(22)

The LB position is the biggest rebuild unit on this team now that VFA has been used to finally upgrade the OL. If EMERY can get past the off-field issues OGLETREE could be an instant starter for them, on the outside in my opinion. He’s an excellent athlete and his ex-S skills can be put to best use outside rather than in the Middle where he’d be a bit undersized for the NFL.

Round 2, Pick 50    MARKUS WHEATON/WR/OREGON STATE/5’11/189(50)

DA BEARS have a solid group of WR, but none of them is the quick/fast combo slot type. WHEATON plays faster & quicker than his Combine 40-time of 4.45. And remember EMERY has announced that DEVIN HESTER is now a  RS not a receiver. Combine that decision with the injury retirement of JOHNNY KNOX and this team needs a fast slot receiver. You can’t have too many weapons when your centerpiece is JAY CUTLER. On my Board all the value DT types were gone when this Pick came up, or I would have gone there with the selection.

Round 4, Pick 117    AKEEM SPENCE/DT/ILLINOIS/6’1/307(116)

No, he’s not the behemoth they should have inside but he’s a young, athletic player who can play the run and push the pocket a bit. He’s an example of the quality depth in the middle of this Draft class. He’d come in real handy if OKOYE & IDONIJE both price themselves out of town. Could become an instant starter, or at the least a viable part of a DT rotation.

Round 5, Pick 153    TRAVIS KELCE/TE/CINCINNATI/6’5/255(152)

2

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

Montee Ball

Wisconsin RB Montee Ball

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: RB Montee Ball

Player Info:

Montee Ball

5’11”

212 lbs.

Hometown: Wentzville, MO

STATS:

NFL Combine:

-40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds

-Bench press: 15 reps

-Vertical jump: 32”

-Broad Jump: 118”

-3-cone drill: 6.88 seconds

-20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds

News and Notes: Highly recruited out of high school after racking up over 5000 yards and scoring 71 times in his final two years.  Owns the NCAA career record for touchdowns, tied Barry Sanders during the 2011 season for the single season mark with 39 and was a Heisman finalist.  Spent first two seasons at Wisconsin as a backup and ran for over 1300 yards in a “running back by committee” approach.

Ball stunned many by choosing to come back to Wisconsin for his senior year instead of entering the NFL draft in 2012.  He was assaulted on campus early in the season which resulted in a concussion.  Finished his career at Wisconsin with 5,140 rushing yards and 77 touchdowns. Ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at his pro day, which is about two-tenths quicker than his time at the scouting combine.

What they’re saying about him:

NFL.com: “Reliable, hard-working zone back. Presses the line of scrimmage, and generally has good vision and feel to find the cutback lane or cut away from penetrating defenders. Smaller back with a lot of wear on his tires. Possesses average overall size and straight-line speed. One speed runner who another gear to accelerate once in space, and doesn’t have elite agility to elude quicker defenders.”

CBSSports.com: “Ball does a nice job finding the run lanes and attacking the line of scrimmage with good quickness in tight areas, showing the speed to get around the edge. He has good balance and deceiving run power to slip out of tackles, rarely going down easily.  With more than 600 touches (so far) on his collegiate resume, Ball has put a lot of tread on his tires and shocked many when he decided to return to school for his senior season. But as long as he stays healthy, he will be one of the highest-rated backs next April and could hear his name in the first few rounds.”

Video:

 

Video Analysis:

6

February

First thoughts on Packers Draft Season from Pigskin Paul

Ted Thompson is on the prowl...

Ted Thompson is on the prowl…

Before I get totally immersed in DRAFT information, including, but not limited to, the upcoming NFL COMBINE I thought it might be a good time to drop a few tidbits of information and opinion on the PACKERS off-season.

I can assure you that TED THOMPSON and his staff are involved up to their eyeballs when it comes to the off season scouting process in preparation for the 2013 NFL DRAFT, which is the lifeblood of this organization under the guidance of the Thompson  administration. Want some further proof of that statement look no further than the current official PACKERS roster posted at their official website http://www.packers.com . Taking away the announced retirements of DRIVER & SATURDAY the roster stands at 69 players right now. Of those 69, 36 are original draftees of the PACKERS.

But for THOMPSON, the 7 Round Draft is just part 1 of the annual talent acquisition process. The other part takes place (legally speaking) a second after the final pick of each draft concludes. That is when all teams hop on the phones and try to sign the highest ranked, or most interesting players not drafted but classified as having that something special that Green Bay is looking for. Another 10 players on the current roster were signed as Undrafted Free Agents by the Green & Gold.

It should also be noted that the PACKERS scouting personnel don’t always get everyone they are interested in to sign those UDFA contracts. So they keep a list of players they wanted but could not sign. Then the pro personnel staff scout these and other players during training camp as they attempt to make other rosters around the league. Every season a few of the ones that got away, get cut and are signed by the PACK. Another 18 players on today’s roster originally joined other teams as UDFAs, but were picked up by the PACKERS when they were released by said teams.

That means that out of 69 total players on the current roster 28 came into the NFL as undrafted players. Besides the PACKERS ability to find talent, one of the major tenets within the organization is that TED THOMPSON must have a coaching staff that prides itself on teaching and developing young players into NFL caliber veterans. Other than “stars” like RODGERS & MATTHEWS, there isn’t much talent differential at roster spots 20-50 for most NFL teams. It is more often than not the ability of coaches to teach and develop  players within a team’s schemes that leads to a deep and productive roster.