Speed and the Newest Packers: Perception vs. Reality

Packers rookies speed

How do the new Packers compare speed-wise to other rookies?

Even though most of my time for the past month has been spent doing team draft grades, I have indeed been watching roster activity and the rumor mill. I want to touch on a couple of aspects of the Packers’ current roster and it’s composition.

But before I head in that specific direction I want to debunk one of the myths I heard during and just after the Packers 2012 draft. I heard talk on national TV and read several articles in print that a big goal for the team this off-season was upgrading team speed. My observation two months after the draft would be that rumors to that affect were greatly exaggerated. Either that or they absolutely had one of the League’s slowest collection of players coming out of the 2011 season, during which they went 15-1. Yes they lost to the Giants in their first Playoff game, but I think that has more to do with their D having problems (like many do these days) containing ELI, and the fact the Packers’ O suddenly decided to become a turnover and mistake machine.

I will grant you that some of their rookie additions could increase team speed incrementally if they pan out, but based on the simple numbers coming out of the combine, Green Bay is still going to look a tad slow indoors on fast tracks. Let’s just look at the numbers of players who are now Packers who ran a 40-yard dash at the combine and how they fared.

NICK PERRY, Pick 28, ran a 4.64/40 which was the second fastest of any DE in Indy. But as an OLB, which he is currently listed at, he would have been tied for 4th fastest. That’s good and I will grant you, a significant upgrade.

JEREL WORTHY, Pick 51timed at 4.79, which placed him tied for 10th out of 22 as a DT. IF he’s a 3-4 DE then you don’t want to know how far the list he was as a DE.

CASEY HAYWARD/CB, Pick 62 was timed with a 4.57/40, which made him the 17th fastest CB out of 32 to run at the COMBINE.

JERRON McMILLIAN/S, Pick 133 recorded a 4.56/40 in indy which made him the 5th fastest S out of 20. That’s a real plus.



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

Surviving Sunday with no Packers football.

Surviving Sunday with no Packers Football

This is the time of year when we plant our flowers/veggies while NFL teams hold rookie camps. There are some parallels there.

We select what we think look like healthy new plants/vegetables, and give them an initial strong foundation, planting them firmly in the ground. We then watch over them, monitoring their progress and giving them the care and nurturing they need to sprout into flower or veggie-producing mature plants.

NFL teams pick this years plants (rookies) in the April draft and the free agency period in the days following. Rookie mini-camps are held, where the players are given their initial foundation of knowledge with regards to team operations and offensive/defensive schemes. They are evaluated by the coaching staff, who then decide what kind of individualized ongoing attention and care they will need.

Training expectations are established and their progress is monitored and assisted. The goal is for these young players to develop and blossom into valuable producers in their own right.

Staying on that theme, today’s “Surviving Sunday” will focus on these new Packers players. While we all know their names by now, here are some articles that will tell us a little more about some of these players.

Tyler Dunne of JSOnline.com does an in-depth profile of Packers UDFA running back Marc Tyler.

Over at Acme Packing Company, they take a look at Nick Perry getting all his camp reps at left OLB.

Lori Nicke of JSOnline.com  takes a closer look at new Packers defensive back Casey Hayward.

Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV devotes a full podcast to a discussion of the rookie camp happenings.

Tom Silverstein of JSonline.com looks at the boom or bust potential of Packers 7th round draft pick Andrew Datko.

B.J. Coleman researched Packers history before coming to camp.

Jerron McMillian plans to prove the doubters wrong.

The longest of longshots: the 5 players signed as tryout invitees are discussed at Packersnews.com.

Our own Chad Toporski take a closer look at Packers’ UDFAs Sean Richardson and Dezman Moses.



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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.



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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Last week I used this space to discuss dead wrestlers, concussions and the suicide of Junior Seau. It was some heavy and serious stuff, so serious that I didn’t have the will to keep the post going and talk about Packers news.

To make up for it, this edition of Surviving Sunday will be nothing but Packers.


Rookie Camp
All eight Packers draft picks signed contracts and are participating in this weekend’s rookie camp. From a fan’s perspective, rookie camps and mini camps are a nice reminder that football season is getting closer, but that’s about it. It’s impossible for us outsiders to glean too much from offseason camps. The quotes from coaches are the same every year. Everybody looks great. Everybody is in amazing shape. Everybody looks real focused. Everybody just wants to help the team win. Yawn……

Alex Green and Ryan Grant
Alex Green wants to return by training camp according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. If he’s putting in the effort and work necessary to make it happen, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Green make it back for camp. It sounds like Adrian Peterson has a legit shot at playing in week one after ripping up his knee at the end of last season. Obviously, no two knee injuries are the same, but if Peterson can return that quickly, I like Green’s chances of being ready to go by August.

Meanwhile, Ryan Grant remains unsigned and at least two prominent Packers bloggers have a feeling he’ll be back with the Packers. I’m in wait and see mode with Grant. No bold predictions from me. Talent-wise, I think Ted Thompson is fine with Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine. But he’s probably uncertain if Green and Starks can play a full 16 games.

Vikings Get Stadium
 The Vikings are staying in Minnesota, which is good news for the Packers for multiple reasons. 1) Keeping the Vikings in the NFC North means a guaranteed 60 wins for the Packers over the next 30 years; 2) We can point and laugh at people like this for the next 30 years; and 3) the stadium deal gave us this amazing .gif.

Finishing Notes



Rating the Rookies: Cobb Leads Packers 2011 Class Through 7 Games

The rookies on the Green Bay Packers roster have yet to complete a half-season in 2011, but the bye week in Week 8 gave us an opportunity to gauge how the Packers’ first-year players look through seven games.

Snap-counts and statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus

T Derek Sherrod (R1)

The Packers wanted him to take hold of the left guard position coming into training camp, but that experiment died in a hurry when Sherrod couldn’t handle the switch. He’s a right or left tackle from this point on. The only major action Sherrod has seen this season came against the Falcons in Week 5. After Chad Clifton went down with a hamstring injury, Sherrod filled in at right tackle as Marshall Newhouse slid over to the left side. Of the 51 snaps he played, 36 came on passing plays, and Sherrod allowed just two quarterback pressures and no sacks or hits. That kind of snap distribution shows the confidence that the Packers have in their rookie at right tackle in pass protection. Sherrod also came in on seven snaps (five run, two pass) against the Broncos in Week 4.

WR/KR Randall Cobb (R2)

GM Ted Thompson drafted Cobb in the second round to be the Packers primary return man and a sub-package receiver that can make plays in space. So far, that’s exactly what Cobb has been. He has returned every punt and kick save one, which was a squib kick that Tom Crabtree got his hands on. Cobb has done his best work on kicks, where his 30.5-yard average (13 returns, 396 yards) ranks fifth in the NFL among players with eight or more returns. Of course, his 108-yard TD against the Saints on opening night is the highlight of the season. He also lost a fumble in Carolina that contributed to the Packers falling down by 13 points in the first quarter.

Cobb hasn’t had the same impact on punt returns, where his 12 returns have yielded just 97 yards (8.1 average). Cobb has 11 fair catches. His only muffed punt of the season in Minnesota gave the Vikings good field position to re-take the lead, 14-7.  In the same game, Cobb had a 42-yard punt return that set up a Packers touchdown.



Growing Up Fast: Ranking the Green Bay Packers Rookies

Sam ShieldsWith the Green Bay Packers finally making their first trip to the Super Bowl in 13 years, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have all but silenced their critics and slain the monkey on their backs. Bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home to Green Bay would seal the deal completely, but after sending 15 players to injured reserve this year, just making to Super Bowl XLV has been more than most could have asked for.

Part of the Packers’ ability to overcome the myriad obstacles in their way was due to their skill in acquiring and coaching the right players for the job.

While nothing may compare to the drafting of defensive superstars Clay Matthews III and B.J. Raji, this year has arguably seen significant contributions by more rookies than any other year. Whether finding their way onto the gameday roster through injuries or talent, these players rose admirably to the expectations of being a Packer and wearing the Green and Gold.

Below is my ranking of the most influential rookies who helped push the Green Bay Packers into Super Bowl XLV:

8. DE Mike Neal [IR] (Purdue) – 2nd Rd. / 56th pick

For a guy who only played in two games during the regular season, the loss of defensive end Mike Neal to injured reserve was felt hard by many fans. His ability to push the pocket could be witnessed in the few snaps he took, and he even came away with one sack and a forced fumble on the season. Unfortunately, his injuries only allowed him to play two games, which means his contributions suffered on account of his availability.

7. S Morgan Burnett [IR] (Georgia Tech) – 3rd Rd. / 71st pick

Drafted as a future replacement for the aging Atari Bigby, safety Morgan Burnett became a starter sooner than any of the other rookies on the team (thanks to Bigby being placed on the PUP list during preseason). Though prone to making rookie mistakes and being seen as a little “soft,” Burnett showed a lot of promise both as a ball hawk and in his study habits. After just four games, however, Burnett was added to injured reserve with a torn ACL. Thus he was only able to amass 14 tackles and one (impressive) interception for the team while active.

6. DE C.J. Wilson (East Carolina) – 7th Rd. / 230th pick