Tag Archives: Packers draft prediction

2013 NFL Draft: Ted Thompson Gets His Guy

In the 2013 NFL Draft, Ted Thompson did what Ted Thompson does – sit patiently and wait for the talent and value to fall to him. And value is what fell to him in the form of DE Datone Jones out of UCLA.

Datone Jones looks to finally fill that gap left by Cullen Jenkins.

Datone Jones looks to finally fill that gap left by Cullen Jenkins.

Heading into the draft, the most glaring need was reinforcements on the defensive line. With Pickett nearing the end, Raji’s contract set to expire, and Worthy’s knee injury likely costing him 2013, the Packers had to bring in more talented and physical players. Enter Datone Jones.

Jones is a chiseled 6’4″, 285-lbs. and has the frame to add some more good weight. He has great short-yardage speed and known for a great get-off – evidenced by the best 20-yard shuttle at the combine. And for what it’s worth, he ran a 4.8 40-yard dash.

Because of his size-speed combination, he brings some versatility that Dom Capers will exploit by playing him over the tackle on early downs before standing him up over the middle, or wherever for that matter, on passing downs. And what should endear him to Packers fans is his motor. Bringing an edge from his background growing up in Compton, he’s a guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder, trying to prove himself on every play. And despite this tough background, he was a proven leader for UCLA while learning from Jim Mora, a former NFL head coach.

The glaring cons with Jones are that he mostly relies upon that initial burst and, like a lot of young players, he needs to improve on keeping his pad level lower. My initial reaction to this: please don’t be another Jerel Worthy – a guy that relied singularly on his speed to get upfield. And when that failed most of the time, he was taken out of the play.

Additionally, I can’t help but be a bit concerned that he is a touch undersized at 285 lbs. Most 3-4 DE’s are 300 lbs because they need to take the tackle head-on in early downs to help set the edge and maintain gap integrity. The positive in this is that he’s a strong 285 lbs. and can add good weight if the coaches think its necessary, which dissipates this concern somewhat.

Overall, though, I am pleased with this pick. It was the guy TT clearly had rated highest amongst a strong crop of available players – and in Ted I Trust. Plus, some scouts have compared him to J.J. Watt, which is obviously quite lofty (and potentially blasphemy in Wisconsin). But, it’s that kind of potential and skill set that makes this such an appealing pick. Packers fans should be excited about this selection and happy the Packers addressed the DL in the first round.

Day 2 Preview – 

On day 2, the Packers hold the 23rd (55th overall) selection in round 2 and 26th (88th overall) selection in round 3. And as we discussed earlier this week, the Packers have plenty of needs to fill out its roster. With seven selections remaining, including 2 in the fifth round, I would not be surprised to see Evil-TT reappear to trade up in either round to nab a player TT covets.

I can make one guarantee about what will happen on day 2 – TT will select a WR or TE. It’s TT’s mantra: Jordy, Jennings, Terrance Murphy, and Cobb were round-2 selections, while Jones and JMike were round 3 selections. And with Jennings’ departure, looming contracts expiring with Jordy and Jones, and JMike’s future unknown, the Packers should bring in another weapon. Thankfully, day-2 should offer plenty of value at WR or TE.

Wideouts like Keenan Allen (Cal), Robert Woods (USC), Markus Wheaton (Ore. St.), and Quinton Patton (La. Tech) are viable options that would likely interest TT. Wheaton, in particular, is a guy to watch for in the third round. He’s got top-end speed with good hands and  toughness. He’s a bit undersized, but that’s never scared TT away. As for the TE’s,  Zach Ertz, the stud from Standford, remains, but he’ll be long gone before we can get him. Instead, I’m targeting Jordan Reed, the Aaron Hernandez clone, that can line up all over the field, literally: TE, slot, split out, H-back, and even RB. McCarthy would have some fun with him.

But, for round 2, I foresee the Packers sticking to the defense and continuing to target players that bring a level of toughness so desperately needed. In fact, my prediction is the Packers add another defensive lineman, probably a DT, in the second. With the likes of Tank Carradine (so much for that media hype I fell for) and Margus Hunt (SMU) offering terrific value at DE, and Jesse Williams (Alabama), John Jenkins (Georgia), Johnathan Hankins (OSU), and Kawann Short (Purdue) are still very quality DT’s, any of which would be great additions.

If the Packers look outside the DL, I still think they stick to the defensive side of the ball. With only two linebackers and three safeties taken, there are plenty of talent remaining that would fit the bill. Guys like Arthur Brown (KSU) and Kevin Minter (LSU) would challenge A.J. Hawk (or Brad Jones I guess) at ILB, and John Cyprien (Fla. Intl.), D.J. Swearinger (S. Car.), and J.J. Wilcox (Ga. Southern) would bring more competition to the starting safety spot opposite Burnett.

My fearless predictions: Round 2: John Jenkins and Round 3: Jordan Reed – TT trades up into early round 3 to get Reed.

Packers had a successful day 1, nabbing a talented and tough DE that should do well paired with Clay, Raji, and Perry. And if the Packers snag another defensive linemen, the Packers may start to develop a fearsome line that can create some havoc.

As always, enjoy the draft and be sure to check back here for our day 2 review and day 3 preview. Go Pack Go!

Advertisements

2012 NFL Draft: Act One

The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft was wilder than a substance fueled Charlie Sheen all-nighter. The picks came in so hot they actually had to queue selections to allow the television coverage to catch-up – which may or may not have been the most annoying part of the show. (This was not.) There was a flurry of trades within the first round with multiple teams jockeying for guys they think can help their team win. This included some shrewd activity, both early and late, by one of the Border Rivals squads. While the other Border Rivals squad sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the High Life while he let the draft come to him.

The following is both a review of what happened during round one and what could happen in Friday’s sequel. To kick things off, let’s start with the surprisingly active half of the Border Rivals rivalry.

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings shrewdly swapped their 3rd overall pick for the Browns 4th overall and their 4th, 5th, and 7th round picks. This trade marked a departure for a Vikings management group that has never swung a deal like this, despite fans clamoring for it. As long as this author has been alive, the Vikes have never been the team to make the savvy, draft-day move. In fact, quite the opposite, this was the team that was late bringing its pick to the podium not once, but TWICE. And yet tonight, the Vikes made the perfect move, not once, but TWICE.

Trading down from #3 was perfect because they not only landed the player they wanted anyway, Matt Kalil, but they leveraged the Browns into coughing up three additional picks. Then, they used one of those picks, to finance a trade to get back into the first round and get the other player they really wanted, safety Harrison Smith.

Mount Kalil’s considerable skills have been detailed on this site’s pages here. His presence at left tackle actually improves the Vikes at two positions because now last year’s left tackle, Charlie Johnson, can move inside to guard. As for Smith, he is a solid safety who will consistently make the heady play. He may not be flashy, but, he will make the ordinary plays, extraordinarily well (shout out to John Gagliardi for that line). This kind of consistency will be a nice departure from the practice squad All-stars that manned the porous secondary last year.

Ultimately though, the difference between this year’s draft being good and great is going to come down to whether the Vikings can replicate their mastery of the move in rounds two and three. Most draft “experts” agree that, barring a Tom Brady or Marques Colston suprise, this draft is about 100 players deep. That means the odds are in your favor for getting a decent NFL starter in the first three rounds. For that reason, the Vikes should use their bounty of picks in the later rounds to try and trade back into the second or third rounds. For a team with needs all over the field, two or three more decent NFL starters will make all the difference.

Green Bay Packers

Staying true to his M.O., TT patiently waited until his selection and (most likely) picked the best player available. Thankfully, TT’s best player available also happened to be the biggest need for the Packers – another OLB to rush the passer and compliment The Claymaker. Going back to the well, TT selected USC’s Nick Perry (OLB) with the 28th overall selection.

Perry started his career at USC playing the Elephant position (the same position The Claymaker made famous) and then converted to a DE force. In his final season (red-shirt junior year), Perry recorded 55 tackles and 9.5 sacks, good enough to lead the Pac-whatever-the-number-is-now in sacks. Perry is 6’3” and 270 lbs. He ran a 4.64 40-yard dash (third-best for an OLB at the Combine) and benched 225 lbs. 35 times (good for 5th best out of all defensive linemen). The experts report that Perry’s biggest strengths are his burst off the ball, his overall quickness, which is especially impressive considering his size, and his relentless pursuit. Clearly, TT found another stud in the first-round, right?

Not so fast. Perry’s biggest weakness gives me cause for concern. He played primarily DE in college and any highlight package you see of Perry shows him with his hand in the ground. He undoubtedly has superior athleticism, but that’s not enough to win in the NFL. Even Perry proclaimed at the Combine that he’d prefer sticking his hand in the ground in a 4-3 over playing OLB in a 3-4. He knows how to get to the QB. But, it’s a complete guess whether he can fully play the OLB position in a 3-4 – i.e. can he play standing up, guard TE’s in open space, and not get lost in zone coverage. I have full faith in our coaching staff, most importantly Kevin Greene, to coach this young man up and get him ready – after all, they worked wonders with Frank Zombo in making him competent enough to start on a Super Bowl winning team. Still, it’s going to require some major coaching and there will certainly be some growing pains along the way to get Perry comfortable in his new OLB position.

In addition to this primary concern, I’m also a bit frustrated TT didn’t make a move to trade up and get a player – namely, Dont’a Hightower, a beast ILB from Alabama. The Hoodie traded a 4th round pick to move up and grab Hightower. It’s a nominal price, particularly since the Packers have three 4th round selections this year. I coveted getting a thumper ILB to pair with Bishop. And even if Hightower wasn’t the selection, it would have been nice to see TT move up to get a player he coveted given the low cost and superfluous picks we have this year. Along these lines, it was somewhat surprising TT went with Perry over Courtney Upshaw, OLB from Alabama. Upshaw seems to be the more proven OLB commodity having played that position in a 3-4 in college and for the best defense in the country. My guess is Perry’s superior athleticism pushed him over Upshaw and TT has full confidence in his staff to teach Perry the position.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the 1st round for the Packers. A position of dire need was filled with an unquestionably talented player. Perry comes from an elite program and is an instant starter for us. That’s what you want out of an end-of-1st selection.

As for the 2nd-3rd rounds Friday night, I anticipate TT will continue to devote picks to the defense. The Packers own the 27th selection in both the 2nd (59th overall) and 3rd (90th) rounds. Stocked with three 4th round selections and 12 picks overall, I anticipate TT will not simply sit back and wait like he did in the 1st round. There is plenty of talent left on the board and believe TT could make a move up to grab a player he covets. He did this two years ago when he sniped Morgan Burnett, and it’s a model he should follow again this year. The Packers do not need 12 new players to add to the roster. Instead, the Packers need impact-players, ones that TT targets, and trades up to acquire.

There are several DE prospects still lingering – Jerel Worthy, Devon Still, Kendall Reyes, and Jared Crick. Additionally, Courtney Upshaw, Lavonte David, Zach Brown, Ronnell Lewis, Andre Branch, Vinny Curry, and Olivier Vernon are OLB prospects that are still on the board. Finally, both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are CB’s that could interest the Packers. As you can tell, there’s a lot of talent for the taking in the second round. At least some of these players will start to fall. It’s time for TT to be aggressive and move up several spots to grab one of these players.

Prediction: I see TT going after the front 7 on defense again in the second round. If TT makes a move, he will go after Reyes or David. If he sits back and waits, the pick will be Crick or Lewis/Curry. In the 3rd round, he should try to get secondary help. One name to keep an eye out for is Casey Hayward from Vanderbilt. If he avoids the secondary, this may be the spot TT addresses the OL – either a guard (remember, T.J. Lang is a FA next year) or center.

For a change, both sides of the St. Croix should be pleased with the results from the 1st Rd. Friday night’s rounds 2 and 3 are just as important to both teams’ success. Enjoy the festivities and make sure to check back here for some reaction following the draft.