23

May

Ted Thompson Back to Collecting Wide Receivers

Ted Thompson looking for wide receivers

Wait, is that a wide receiver over there?

Shhhhhh… be vewy, vewy qwiet… It’s wabbit wide receiver season…

Trapper Ted is up to his old tricks., i.e.,  his normal off-season compulsive collecting of no-name wide receivers. On Wednesday, the Packers signed Alex Gillett, a 6’1″, 214lb former QB turned receiver from Eastern Michigan.

That brings the number of wide receivers currently on the Packers roster to eleven. That may seem like a lot at first glance, but it’s actually fairly normal for the Packers. I know this because I remember calling a few years in a row for the Packers to carry one less wide receiver on the camp roster so that they could bring in a second placekicker to make Mason Crosby actually, you know, earn his spot.

But no, we can’t waste a precious roster spot on a second kicker, I kept hearing. Well lo and behold, look what the Packers have done this season. Hey, they even went out and got an Italian kicker – Mama mia!

But before this veers off into another epic Crosby rant (I’m kind of due, aren’t I), let’s get back to the subject at hand.

The argument in favor of bringing so many receivers to camp has always been that they need camp bodies to run routes during practices so the main receivers don’t get worn out. I totally bought into that theory, but still felt it was a waste with the Packers only keeping five wide receivers – until last year.

Last season, the Packers actually brought 12 receivers into camp. (Borel, Boykin, Brewer, Cobb, Driver, Curenski, Gurley, Jennings, Jones, Moss, Nelson, Smithson). Many speculated they could keep seven. I expected them to keep six, what with Donald Driver being given a mercy roster spot after his fan popularity shot through the roof thanks to his Dancing with the Stars win. But seven?

The two players most assumed had the best chances of being #6 and #7  (Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley) were sent packing, while relative unknown Jarret Boykin (a rookie camp tryout invitee) was the surprise choice as the #6 receiver. In October, the Packers signed Jeremy Ross to the practice squad and signed him to the active roster on Dec 1. So the Packers did end up with seven wide receivers after all.

28

April

Tracking the Packers 2013 Undrafted Free Agent Signings (UDFA)

Ted Thompson on the Prowl

Must… Find… Hidden… Gems…

The 2013 NFL draft is in the books but this is when Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson’s dirty work is just beginning.  Thompson has forged a reputation for being a huge proponent of using undrafted free agency to find some hidden gems.  Some examples of those past finds are Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, M.D. Jennings, Don Barclay and Dezman Moses, to name a few.

Here is the complete list of the Packers’ 2012 UDFA (undrafted free agent) signings, complete with height, weight and 40 yard dash times. We will be continually updating the list with additional player information or adding new signings, so check back in throughout the day.

Matt Brown, QB, Illinois State – 6’3″ 223lbs, 4.87 40yd dash time -

Took over as the starter in his freshman season, compiling a 93.1 NFL passer rating across the next four years. Completed 928 of 1,456 passes (63.7%) for 10,596 yards, 78 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. At his Pro Day, also had a 41.5 inch vertical, had a 10’10 broad jump.

Ben Ericksen, S, Illinois State – 6’1″ 194lbs, 4.51 40yd dash time -

Played all four years at Illinois State, starting out as a wide receiver before converting to a safety in his second year. Was also used as a kick returner each year. In his senior year, had seven interceptions. At his Pro Day, scored 16 bench reps, 36.5″ vertical, 10’02″ broad jump, 4.22s shuttle, and 6.85s 3-cone.

Patrick Lewis, G, Texas A&M – 6’1″ 311lbs, 5.30 40yd dash time -

Started 52 games in college and earned three All-Big 12 selections. Visited the Packers prior to the draft. At his Pro day, scored 25 bench reps, 29″ vertical, 8’0″ broad jump, 4.93s shuttle, and 8.01s 3-cone.

Andy Mulumba, OLB, Eastern Michigan – 6’3″ 260lbs, 4.82 40yd dash time -

A hybrid pass rusher with experience in both two and three point stance, Mulumba doesn’t have great burst or speed, but he shows good awareness vs. the run with some upside. – Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

Angelo Pease, RB, Kansas State – 5’10″ 211lbs, 4.50 40yd dash time -

Saw action in 10 games in 2011, including a start against Texas A&M… Rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns… Rushed five times for 33 yards and his first career touchdown against No. 15 Baylor… Set career highs in both rushes (8) and yards (61) at Kansas.  Pease did a little of everything during his collegiate career, playing quarterback in wildcat situations, running back and even a little wide receiver.  He’s listed as a running back, but theoretically could play any of those positions.

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)

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.

26

June

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.

23

May

Packers Rookie Bio: C Tommie Draheim

Tommie Draheim

Rookie C Tommie Draheim

Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers have signed a total of 27 rookies to contracts this offseason. Eight of those were his 2012 NFL Draft picks, while the other 19 were undrafted free agents picked up immediately after the draft or brought in as tryout players during Rookie Orientation Camp. With the roster now at a full 90 players, it’s time to get to know some of these new faces.

Next up is center Tommie Draheim.

Born on December 23, 1988, in Kennewick, WA, Tommie Draheim (Dray-hime) grew up in Lakeside, CA, where he played at center and defensive tackle as a senior at El Capitan High. He is the son of Tamura and Damon Draheim.

Draheim was a redshirt freshman in 2007 with the San Diego State Aztecs, and he was projected to be the starting center in 2008 until a shoulder injury suffered during summer workouts sidelined him for the season. Due to “team needs,” he was moved to left tackle upon his return, where he ended up starting in 30 consecutive games across his last three years with the team.

As a senior, Draheim became the first Aztecs offensive lineman to be named first-team all-conference since Brendan Darby in 2003. He was part of an SDSU offensive line that ranked 10th in the country in fewest sacks allowed (0.83 per game) and tied for 15th in fewest tackles for a loss allowed (4.42). They also helped quarterback Ryan Lindley become the school’s all-time leading passer and running back Ronnie Hillman finish third nationally in rushing.

Measuring 6-4, 309 lbs., Draheim bench pressed 22 reps at his Pro Day and had a 28” vertical jump. Though he primarily played left tackle at SDSU, Draheim was signed by the Packers as a center.

Both the National Football Post and Sports Illustrated scouting reports describe Draheim as “stiff,” “straight-legged,” and “not a natural knee bender.” He consistently gets doubled-over at the waist and displays poor footwork. His balance and use of leverage also need a lot of work, or he will struggle to hold up against the power of NFL linemen.

Draheim is considered to be a solid athlete with good awareness and a hard-working attitude. It’s understandable from scouting reports why he has been signed as a center rather than a guard or tackle prospct. Still, Draheim has a long way to go and a lot of technique to learn before he will be able to compete as a starter.

19

May

Packers Rookie Bio: S Sean Richardson

Sean Richardson

Rookie S Sean Richardson

Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers have signed a total of 27 rookies to contracts this offseason. Eight of those were his 2012 NFL Draft picks, while the other 19 were undrafted free agents picked up immediately after the draft or brought in as tryout players during Rookie Orientation Camp. With the roster now at a full 90 players, it’s time to get to know some of these new faces.

Next up is safety Sean Richardson.

Born on Jan. 21, 1990, Seandre Antonio Richardson hails from Linden, Alabama, where he was given a key to the city upon his signing with the Green Bay Packers. He is the first football player from Linden to earn a Division I scholarship. He is the son of Darnell and Sandra Richardson and brother to Darnell, Jr., and sister Shonedra.

Sean was a starter at safety for his last three seasons with the Vanderbilt Commodores, and he never missed a single game, despite undergoing hand surgery in 2009. He became an instant contributor on special teams during his freshman year, concluding with the Commodore’s only touchdown (a muffed punt recovery) against Boston College in the Music City Bowl.

Both Richardson and Packers second round draft pick Casey Hayward were the anchors of the Vanderbilt secondary. As a junior, Sean Richardson set single-season career highs in virtually every statistical category: 67 solo tackles, 98 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 QB hurries, and 7 passes defended. He played mostly “in the box,” working more in run support than pass coverage. His only career interception came as a senior.

Measuring 6-2, 216 lbs., Richardson ran a 4.47 second 40-yard dash, 7.01 second 3-cone drill, 4.44 second shuttle, and bench pressed 22 reps at the NFL Combine. Though undrafted, he gained interest from 14 teams wanting to sign him afterward. Some clubs were interested in having Richardson add about 15 pounds to play linebacker. The Packers, however, plan on keeping Richardson as a safety.

Most scouts use the word “physical” to describe Sean Richardson. He is more of a straight-line player, but does well shedding blocks and has a nose for the football. He maintains a low pad level and will “run through his target,” generating some “thump” on contact.