22

April

Best “Not First Round” Safety Prospects in this Year’s NFL Draft

Florida State Safety Terrence BrooksOK kids it is that time of year again, draft talk is everywhere. Who will be taken number one and who are the top ten picks gets way more play then it should. In fact, I think it has got to the point of being sickening.  We as Packer fans don’t get included in all that TOP ten blather and that is a good thing.

Over the off season a lot of what I hear at my usual hang out TalkinPackers and just about every place else I partake in everything Packers is about the Packers having to fix the middle of the defense, specifically at Safety.  I can’t disagree that safety is a top need. I disagree on the type of safety needed. I have even gone so far as to say that two need to be drafted, both a Free Safety and Strong.

The two highest ranked Safeties are HaHa Clinton-Dix out of Alabama and Calvin Pryor from Louisville. I like Haha, not so much Pryor. I would take Clinton-Dix at #21 but not Pryor. Some of the recent mocks have the Packers taking Jimmy Ward at #21, that would be a reach to me, I just can’t believe that there would not be prospects rated a lot higher at that point in this draft.  I like Ward and you can’t discount ninety five tackles and seven int’s his senior year.

With changes in the passing game in the NFL today you need a FS/CB and SS/FS.   And in Capers defense the ability to play either spot is even more important. You can hide coverage’s, roll the FS to the slot and blitz the slot CB.  To go with that, disguise who is playing SS and who is FS, who drops, who stays in the box. With so many 3, 4 and 5 players running pass routes, coverage ability is a premium.

Clinton-Dix is the safety in this draft that I think can do everything and do it well.  He can play in the box, deep third, deep half and slide over to the slot to cover. Pryor to me is more an in the box guy then coverage. I would even take Ward over Pryor, but as I said neither at #21.

21

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Alec Ogletree, LB Georgia

Georgia LB Alec Ogletree

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: LB Alec Ogletree

Player Info:

Alec Ogletree

6’3”

237 lbs.

Hometown: Newnan, GA

 STATS

NFL Combine:

40-yard dash: 4.70 seconds

Bench Press: 20 reps (225 lbs)

Vertical Leap:    33.5 inches

Broad Jump:       122 inches

20 Yd Shuttle:    4.39 seconds

Three Cone:       7.16 seconds

News and Notes:

He earned the team’s Newcomer of the Year award as a true freshman in 2010. Ogletree moved from safety to inside linebacker at the request of coaches. After he broke his foot against Boise State in 2011, Ogletree missed seven games. He was suspended the first four games of 2012 due to violation of team rules.  The final play of his college career was a sack to seal a bowl win over Nebraska.

What they’re saying about him:

NFL.com: “Has excellent speed for the position, can turn on the jets to chase plays down form behind. Beats blocks with hand quickness, plays the position like a safety with a chance to build a frame like a linebacker. Attacks the football when tackling in the hopes of creating a fumble. Outstanding straight-line speed. Plays loose.”

“Overruns a lot of plays between the tackles, struggles to recover. Has a lot of issues dealing with second level blocks from the offensive line, rarely can work over top of them, there winds up walled off. Run and chase player at this point, loses gap integrity with false or wasted steps. Dives or lunges for a lot of tackles rather than running through them and wrapping up.”

CBSSports.com: “A former safety, Ogletree showed off his terrific range and athleticism, making plays all over the field in 2012 and was often the best player on a defense loaded with NFL talent. Terrific quickness around the edge, capable of making stops in the backfield and is fast in pursuit. Doesn’t shy from making the big hit. Arrives with deceiving power and violent intentions. Lengthy frame, athleticism and experience in coverage. Has the long arms scouts like from linebackers.”

20

April

NFL Draft Prospect: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Datone Jones

UCLA DE Datone Jones

Player Information:

Datone Jones, Defensive End, UCLA

6’04″, 283 pounds

Compton, CA

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.80

225-pound bench: 29 reps

Vertical: 31 1/2″

20 yard shuttle:  4.32

News and Notes:

Jones was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. . .started as a true freshman in 2008 and in 2009, racked up 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. . . missed the entire 2010 season due to a foot fracture suffered in Spring practice. . . in 2012, Jones was extremely productive. He tallied 62 tackles with 19 for a loss.

What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “Well-built athlete with long arms and good strength, throughout. Flashes an explosive initial burst off the snap to penetrate gaps. Uses his hands well at the snap to rip free from blocks, showing a variety of pass rush techniques (swim, rip, club), as well as enough power to simply bull over offensive linemen into the backfield.”
  • NFL.com: “Versatile lineman that can fit in an odd or even front. Fires off the ball with impressive pad level and is often able to shock the offensive lineman with a quick jolt. Use active hands to disengage quickly. If he cannot disengage, he keeps his arms extended.  Maintains the line by keeping his body leaning forward. Difficult for running backs to avoid him in tight quarters, keeps his feet moving while wrapping up.”

 

Video Analysis:

  • Has a good initial move.  Quick burst, powerful
  • Uses hands effectively but will initially have issues disengaging NFL O-linemen
  • Can get downfield and pursues well
  • Has a good motor and his initial burst can get him into the backfield
  • Lacks ideal size for a 3-4 DL.  Will need to add some weight
  • As with many college defensive prospect, overruns the play, taking himself out of it

If drafted by the Packers:

19

April

NFL Draft Prospect: Miguel Maysonet, RB, Stony Brook

Miguel Maysonet

Stony Brook RB Miguel Maysonet

Player Information:

Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook University

5’10″, 205 pounds

Riverhead, NY

STATS

NFL Combine/Pro Day:

40 time: 4.60 (Pro day)

10 yard split: 1.58 (Pro day)

225-pound bench: 20 reps

3 Cone: 7.21

20 yard shuttle:  4.43

Vertical jump: 31 1/2″ (Pro day)

News and Notes:

Maysonet started his collegiate career at Hofstra in 2009 but had to transfer afterwards when the football program was cut. . .in his first season at Stony Brook, he rushed for 1,128 yards and 12 touchdowns on 176 carries. . . continued that momentum the following year, rushing for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns on 252 carries. . . Walter Payton Award (outstanding FCS player) runner-up. . . had 1,964 yards and 21 touchdowns on 267 carries in his senior year. . . returned kicks as well and had a return for a score during his senior season. . . was not able to fully participate in this year’s NFL Combine due to a hamstring injury. . . would become the first Puerto Rican-born NFL player if he is drafted and sticks on the roster.

What they’re saying about him:

  • ESPN.com: “Workhorse.  Runs with a chip on his shoulder. Would grade out extremely high in this area if not for recent fumbling issues.  Above average run instincts.  Usually senses crease before it opens. Shows the instincts to locate hole while going full speed, which is critical in transition to faster NFL game.  Very good lateral agility.  Will make one cut and go.  Can stick foot in ground and accelerate up the field.”
  • NFL.com: “Sees snaps from single back, I formation, and pistol. Decisive upfield cuts to continue forward momentum. Sees front side lanes even if run calls for different gap. Determined runner, little wasted movement, makes a choice and sticks to it. Refuses to go down on first contact, takes some big hits because of it. Patient on zone read and sticks with mesh point.”

 

Video Analysis:

  • Gets north/south well and is not afraid of contact
  • Bounces off initial hit and keeps his feet moving to pick up additional yards
  • Seems to stick with the play call, tries to jam into the gap called
  • Does not cut back often
15

April

Evaluating Evan Dietrich-Smith’s Cool Reception on the Free Agent Market

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Evan Dietrich-Smith ended up back in Green Bay.

When the Packers only offered the original round tender to restricted free agent Evan Dietrich-Smith — as of now, the team’s leading candidate to start at center — I was a little puzzled.

In Dietrich-Smith’s case, “original round” meant any team that wanted to sign him would not have to surrender a draft pick as compensation since Dietrich-Smith was undrafted out of Idaho State.

I thought for sure some other team would take a run at Dietrich-Smith, but I was wrong. He signed his tender for $1.323 million last week and will be in Green Bay for the offseason conditioning program starting Monday.

Is it concerning that the guy slated to start at center for the Packers was unable to even draw a minimal offer from another team?

I know the free-agent market has been dry for both centers and restricted free agents this spring, but you’d think someone would be interested in signing the likely starting center for a Super Bowl contending team with the best quarterback in the league.

Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have had nothing but praise for Dietrich-Smith since he became the starter last season. I know a teammate and coach will never come right out and say one of their teammates/players is no good, but you can usually read between the lines to get the true sense of how a player is viewed.

Perhaps I’m naive, but I never read anything between the lines that suggested Dietrich-Smith didn’t have the full confidence of his quarterback and coach.

I realize that the Packers aren’t proclaiming Dietrich-Smith to be the next Dermontti Dawson, but jeez, the guy can’t even attract a $1.5 million offer from another team?

I know, I know. I need to calm down. The Packers have been successful developing from within.

If I got a hug every time I said, “Ted Thompson is really going into the season with that guy as his starter?” only to have that guy turn into a productive player, I’d be the most hugged guy in the world.

I’ve always liked Dietrch-Smith. Apparently I like him a lot more than the rest of te NFL.

Yeah, it’s a little puzzling that no other team came after him, but now is his time to prove that he’s more than just a career sixth offensive lineman.

4

March

Should the Packers Cut Back on all the Pre-Snap Screwing Around?

McCarthy and Rodgers

Will Packers coach Mike McCarthy give Aaron Rodgers a little less freedom at the line of scrimage in 2013?

The Packers are fortunate to have a very smart head coach, a quarterback who is as well-prepared as any in the game, and a defensive coordinator known for his innovation and scheme adjustments.

When Mike McCarthy’s offensive brilliance, Aaron Rodgers’ ability to read a defense and Dom Capers’ knack for confusing offenses all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing.

But there were times last season when I wondered if perhaps they were too smart for their own good.

Exhibit No. 1 is the all-too-familiar scene of two Packers defensive backs staring at each other in bewilderment and pointing after giving up a big play. This scene typically comes after the defense scrambles around pre-snap like a bunch of worker ants.

“You were supposed to be there!”

“No, you were supposed to take that guy and I was supposed to be here!”

Ugh.

What happened to just lining up, covering your man or your area, and beating the guy who lines up across from you or enters your zone?

Rodgers sometimes drove me a little crazy last season as well with all of his pre-snap maneuvering. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game. He’s got a group of elite wide receivers and a freakishly athletic tight end.

Run the play that was originally called and let your talent carry you to victory. You don’t always need to try and create a mismatch in order to gain an advantage. Sometimes the mismatch is just there because you’re better than the other team.

Is this post over-simplifying the issue? Of course. I have no idea what the Packers are doing pre-snap. Maybe they’re talking about the latest episode of The Walking Dead and all that pre-snap activity is just a cover-up. I don’t know the Packers playbook, I’m not in their meetings and I’m not on the field.

However, I’m not saying that the Packers should morph into a predictable team that other teams can easily scheme against. All I’m saying is that it might be time for McCarthy, Rodgers and Capers to trust the Packers talent a little more.

You don’t always have to try and scheme to get an unblocked pass rusher. Line up and beat the guy across from you.

29

April

Thoughts and Reactions to the Packers 2012 Draft Class

Green Bay Packer Draft Pick Nick Perry USC

USC DE/OLB Nick Perry

Saying that Ted Thompson and the Packers focused on defense in the 2012 NFL Draft wouldn’t be strong enough. Thompson used the Packers’ first six draft picks exclusively on defense before drafting Andrew Datko in the seventh round.

The heavy emphasis on defense wasn’t the only difference in this years’ draft for the Packers. After trading up just three times since taking over draft day responsibilities for the Packers, Thompson traded up not once, not twice, but thrice to get players.

Round 1: Nick Perry, OLB, University of Southern California

Perry fulfills a specific need while providing great value to the Packers at the 28th pick. Perry should be able to make the transition to OLB and fit nicely opposite Clay Matthews. It would appear that Perry will be the starter making the jump over Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo. With some coaching, Perry should be able to make an immediate impact on the Packers defense.

Round 2: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

With a pick I would have been pleased with in the first round, the Packers traded up and grabbed Worthy. The combo of Perry and Worthy will come into Green Bay with big expectations, similar to Matthews and B.J. Raji. Worthy will immediately improve the Packers defensive line lined up alongside Raji and Ryan Pickett. Worthy not only adds to the pass rush, but allows the Packers flexibility on the line because of his size.

Round 2a: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

As if one trade up wasn’t enough, Thompson did the previously unthinkable and got back into the second round to grab Casey Hayward. The pick should provide the Packers with better depth at cornerback and flexibility to adjust their defensive backfield accordingly. There were whispers of the possibility of Hayward switching to safety and the possibility of Woodson to safety seems more likely now than ever.

Round 4: Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa

Apparently the Packers are taking their issues up front seriously. Before taking Daniels in the fourth round, the Packers had already added Anthony Hargrove in free agency and drafted Jerel Worthy in the second round. In addition to the newcomers, Lawrence Guy should be back in camp fighting for a chance. Daniels will have every opportunity in camp to crack the rotation and get some playing time. This could be a deathblow to Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson.