Tag Archives: Packers

2015 NFL Draft: Packers Position Preview: TE

Maxx

The search for a dependable, dynamic Packers tight end has been long and arduous.  Not since Bubba Franks (and I’m not even sure he counts) have the Packers been able to count on one single consistently productive tight end.  There was inconsistency and flashes of brilliance with Jermichael Finley, no question about that.  Players like Donald Lee, Andrew Quarless, and most recently Richard Rodgers have provided spotty production as well, but  at no point during the late Favre and Aaron Rodgers era have the Green Bay Packers had a consistent dynamic threat at the tight end position.

One could argue that it’s by design.  No Thompson-era Packers team that’s made a deep run in the playoffs  (2007, 2010, 2014) has had such a presence at tight end, but more a group of players capable of doing their jobs.  Ted Thompson hasn’t really invested all that highly in the position, either.  Jermichael Finley was a high upside 3rd round pick, but after him there have been only mid-to-late round investements (Andrew Quarless, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor) all in the fifth round or later.  Richard Rodgers was the exact opposite of Finley.  Rodgers was a 3rd round selction with a high floor and a low ceiling who was able to contribute right away in 2014, but doesn’t project to ever be dynamic.

Ted Thompson’s draft history begs the question, does he care? Does he feel the need to give Aaron Rodgers a tight end in the way that the Patriots gave Gronk to Brady and the Saints gave Graham to Brees? Would a monster tight end truly make the Packers offense unstoppable or is it actually just a luxury?

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: ILBs Falter at Combine, Opportunity for Pack

Paul Dawson

The tweet of the combine for me came from @RumfordJohnny. “Paul Dawson running like he hates money.” He wasn’t kidding either.  Dawson’s performance was abysmal.  A prototypical off-the-ball linebacker would stand about 6 feet tall, weigh about 240 pounds, run a 40 yard dash in 4.7 seconds or less and a vertical leap of at least 33″.  Dawson ran an uninspiring 4.93 in the 40, had a vertical leap of only 28″.  Not only did this performance make scouts question what they saw from Dawson on tape, it made them question how prepared he was for the event.  For a player like Dawson with “character concerns”, that isn’t good.

Dawson wasn’t alone with his combine-related difficulties.  Everyone expected former safety Shaq Thompson to run a very fast 40 time.  This would have been very helpful for Shaq as he’s a little on the smaller side for an ILB.  He didn’t.  Thompson’s 4.64 40 was just slightly above average.

Bernardrick McKinney is another top option at the position that people assumed would test very well.  He checked in just fine.  He’s a very big prospect at 6’4″ 246 but performed marginally in every combine drill except for the vertical jump.  His dreams of the first round might just be gone.

One player that did help himself and actually forced people to go back and check out his tape was Stephone Anthony out of Clemson.  His performance on the bench press and vertical jump were more than adequate and his 40 yard dash and 20 yard shuttle were downright outstanding.  He’s the type of guy that moved up boards and probably solidified himself as a day 2 prospect.

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2015 NFL Draft: Packers Position Preview: RB

Ameer-Abdullah

Last week I wrote about how quarterback was the most important position in all of sports.  Running back was, for a very long time, held in similar esteem.  Old school football fans used to obsess about the running back position, and some still do.  Reality now tells a very different story.  The value of a running back in the NFL is decreasing almost every season.  The “new” NFL and it’s pass heavy approach to offense, as well as the short shelf life of running backs is leading to a smarter approach in the estimation of their value.

There wasn’t a running back taken in the first round of either of the last two drafts.  It had never happened before the 2013 selection meeting and now it has occurred for two seasons in a row.  The most lucrative free agent contract signed by a running back during the 2014 off season was a modest 4 year $10 million deal signed by Rashad Jennings.  The emphasis at the running back position is now being placed on youth and lack of expense.

This recent turn of events has left the NFL draft as the best place to acquire a running back, despite the lack of first round selections.  Running backs that are drafted after the 1st round are on very cheap 4 year contracts.  Once their 4 years are up the exceptional ones can sign extensions.  After that extension, however, the age of 30 and the running back expiration date approach quickly.  Last year’s Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots, paid their top 3 running backs a total less than $2.5 million.  In fact, the teams that employ the top 4 highest paid running backs, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster, did not qualify for the postseason.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Expect Thompson to Draft BPA, Really.

USATSI_8390864

As I’ve mentioned before, more than anything I blame the 2011 and 2012 drafts for the shortcomings of what truly looked like a budding Packers dynasty after the 2011 NFL regular season (the team had just gone 15-1 while defending the 2010 Super Bowl title).  Why did these drafts fall short of the standard of excellence that Ted Thompson true believers have become accustomed to? It comes down to two things, really.  One is obvious, and carries less weight, but the more troubling factor is what I want to explore here.

The first problem, of course, is bad luck.  Luck will always be a part of the draft process.  Not only the obvious difficulty of projecting which college athletes will succeed in professional football, but the unfortunate rash of career ending and career altering injuries that Green Bay draft picks have endured since Thompson took over.

Early on Ted lost Terrence Murphy and Nick Collins.  Two second round picks that he obviously projected as cornerstones of the franchise.  Collins was on a Hall of Fame path before his neck injury and Thompson thought so much of Murphy’s future that he roomed him with QB of the future Aaron Rodgers.  Before there was going to be Rodgers to Jennings or Rodgers to Nelson there was supposed to be Rodgers to Terrence Murphy.

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2015 NFL Draft: Packers Position Preview: QB

Sean Mannion

Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports.  A quarterback doesn’t have the same impact that one basketball player, like Kevin Durant or LeBron James can have, but that’s more of a function of only having 10 athletes on the field of play, not the positional importance of “small forward”.  Sure, it can be argued that a dominate starting pitcher could also be in the discussion.  I mean look at what Madison Bumgarner did in the World Series.  If you can’t hit, you can’t score.  If you can’t score, you can’t win.  The problem with starting pitchers is they only play 1 out of every 5 team games.  Yes baseball players play every day and football players only once a week but only participating in 18-20% of your team’s contests disqualifies you.

It’s definitely quarterbacks.  They touch the ball on every play.  They often change the called play.  The balance of the game not only hinges on their athleticism, but on their decision making.  The decisions that the quarterback makes matter, all the way from pre-snap until the play is over.  In this league, if you don’t have a quarterback, you really don’t have anything.

Rarely are franchise quarterbacks available in free agency.  It almost only happens in the wake of frightening injuries.  The Chargers feared that Drew Brees would never return from a shoulder injury the same way that the Colts were uneasy about Peyton Manning’s neck.  Just look at this year’s free agent class at QB: Mark Sanchez, Brian Hoyer, Michael Vick.  Ick! That’s why hitting on QB in the draft is so very important..

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Looking back at the 2006 Green Bay Packers Draft

Green Bay Packers 2006 Draft

One year after Ted Thompson set the foundation for the future of the Green Bay Packers, the team hit rock bottom. A 4-12 season marked the worst record since 1991 and the end of the Mike Sherman era. This season truly marked the beginning of Thompson’s Packers.

His first move was to hire an unknown offensive coordinator from San Francisco named Mike McCarthy. From that date until today, their relationship is linked with the success of the franchise over the past nine seasons. Following McCarthy’s hiring, Thompson went back to his draft and develop ways and focused on the 2006 NFL Draft.

Holding the fifth pick, Thompson looked for immediate help and drafted a class of players with the skill set to get the team back on the right track. From this class, 3 of the players started in Super Bowl XLV and a couple more were key rotational pieces on the offensive and defensive lines. Let’s take a look at them.

ROUND 1 (5) – AJ Hawk, LB. Ohio State

Best Available Player (BAP): Haloti Ngata, DL. Oregon

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Foot on the Gas, Hands on the Wheel

eddie-lacy-nfl-green-bay-packers-seattle-seahawks-850x560

Kelly’s right. The symmetry is almost perfect.  The Packers rolled into Seattle in week 1 expecting to be a favorite in the NFC.  The team expected to have one of the top offenses in the league.  The Seahawks were the defending world champions.  The last time they played they undressed (as underdogs) the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl by a score of 43-8.  Yes, Manning has a history of coming up small in big games but this was an onslaught that no one could have predicted.  The Seahawks brought back most of that roster and figured to be a favorite in the NFC and one of the top defenses in the league.

Seattle won the opening game by 20, though the game wasn’t as much of a blowout as the score would tell you.  1100 yard rusher Eddie Lacy left the game early with a concussion.  Green Bay led after the first quarter and was driving to tie the game in the 3rd quarter when all hell broke loose.  Aaron Rodgers threw a quick slant off of Jordy Nelson’s hands that was intercepted.  RT Bryan Bulaga was injured on the same play.  His replacement, Derek Sherrod, gave up two sacks that completely changed the game.  One was on a 4th and medium in Seahawks territory with the Packers driving and the other allowed a sack/strip/safety that effectively ended the game.

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