PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Be Prepared

Last year, Packers fans felt like they were “pretty sure” about a few things.  They were pretty sure that Ted Thompson was going to have inside linebacker, tight end and cornerback as a priority.  Green Bay had to use Clay Matthews out of position at inside linebacker in 2015.  Richard Rodgers had a fine rookie season, but a field-stretching tight end in the mold of Jermichael Finley was almost certainly not on the roster.  Cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House left for more money (on worse teams).

Packers fans also felt “pretty sure” that Green Bay was set at a few positions.  The wide receiver group featured Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and the promising duo of Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis.  No early round pick there.  With HaHa Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson and Micah Hyde on the roster, it didn’t seem like safety was a place to go, either.  Running back seemed like a stay-away as well.

The silver-haired assassin then proceeded to select Arizona State safety Damarious Randall in the first round.  Panicking Packers fans quickly talked themselves in to the idea that Randall was going to be a safety/cornerback hybrid with an emphasis on the slot cornerback position.

“TT” followed up that nonsense by selecting a second consecutive cornerback with experience questions in Quentin Rollins and WR/KR Ty Montgomery of standard.  My point? Do not let Teddy surprise you.

Here’s a few things that might happen on draft weekend that I’d prepare yourself for:

He might take a corner (again) earlier than you might think.  In this league (although maybe not in this division now that Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall are gone), you can never have enough corners.  This season, and basically all the seasons for the rest of the Aaron Rodgers era, the goal is beyond the NFC North title.

Casey Hayward was one of the finest slot cornerbacks in the league, and is now a San Diego Charger.  Yes, Quentin Rollins looks like a reasonable replacement, but the depth behind him is questionable.  If TT sees a value in round 2, 3, or 4, don’t be surprised.  Corner is a premium position.

He might not take an inside linebacker when you want him to.  Green Bay’s clearest needs, at least according to the public, heading in to this draft were tight end and inside linebacker.  The Packers now have free agent signee Jared Cook at one tight end spot and 2014 3rd round pick Richard Rodgers at the other.  It seems unlikely they’ll go that direction.

They might not take an inside linebacker, either.  Not that I agree with it, but it’s completely possible the powers that be feel comfortable with a starting linebacker corps of Clay Matthews, Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan and Julius Peppers.  That would be a better group than Green Bay has had in a lot of years of the Dom Capers 3-4 era.

The Packers have real draft needs on the offensive line, defensive line and on the edge (OLB).  Green Bay’s last mid-round foray on a pass rusher (Carl Bradford), did not go well.  This is also a tremendous class of defensive linemen.  BJ Raji is gone and Mike Pennel is suspended.  TJ Lang, Josh Sitton and David Bakhttiari are free agents at the end of the year.

If the first three picks are on an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman and an edge rusher, the natives may grow restless.  Unfortunately for the general Packer fan public, those positions are more important in today’s NFL, and Thompson’s draft history would tell you that he believes that very strongly.

He might take a quarterback again.  Ron Wolf was famous for wanting to get a quarterback in each draft class.  Thompson certainly hasn’t been so bold, but did trade up a season ago to take Brett Hundley in the fifth round.  After just one year of development it appears McCarthy and Thompson are ready for Hundley to be the backup quarterback.

With that said, 2013 is not so long ago that it has been forgotten at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.  Green Bay’s depth chart after Hundley is a disaster.  Ryan Williams didn’t really get snaps in college, despite very much looking the part.  If a QB that Green Bay likes, much in the way that Hundley did last year falls, don’t be surprised if they address that “developmental” QB behind the backup situation again, rather than in UDFA.

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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21 thoughts on “PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Be Prepared

  1. Ross, I agree! You never knows with Ted. He might pick ILB in the 1st round, but we can not be sure what Packers draft board is looks like… Like last year lot of fans were stunned with first 3 rounds, but all of them are gold picking… Lets hope this year Ted repeat that!

  2. Great commentary Ross.. i wish more of the people posting on places like Packers.com had the mature perspective you offer here.

  3. Great commentary Ross.. i wish more of the people posting on places like Packers.com had the mature perspective you offer here.

  4. I’m starting to think Thompson IS looking at the LB’ing group the Packers currently have and is satisfied. There’s been some FA Linebackers that have been signed like Dansby, Carter, Brown, or Freeman who have come pretty cheap, especially the first 3. All of them would have been upgrades in coverage over who’s on the Packers roster not named Matthews.

    I’d be pretty happy is TT came out of the first 4 rounds (6 picks) with 2 D-Linemen, 2 O-Linemen, a ILB and OLB. IMO this is the most important draft Thompson has had as GM aside from maybe the 2005 draft. Thompson already has a good idea who he’s going to try and keep next year so next years roster could look much different and it we’ll start to see next month.

    1. Why would you think he’s satisfied? Releasing Palmer doesn’t change anything w the ILB group. He was down the depth chart and didn’t offer anything the Packers didn’t already have alot of. Becuz he didn’t sign a bunch of Re-tread ILB that have been released by multiple teams already? Or didn’t overpay for Trevathan or the other ILB the bares signed?
      Even if they might have had a LITTLE to offer, they are no better at coverage than quite a few ILB in the draft, who will be cheaper and get better.
      Barrington is a good ILB, so is Ryan. Neither is really the coverage type we need however. But Ryan does have good measurables and might improve in coverage dramatically. Ryan did admit that coverage is the area he needs to improve most.
      Matthews will still be used occassionally at ILB, even if Matthews will be an OLB, he said it w/ the idea that OLB first, but still some ILB snaps.
      The Packers need an ILB that can be an everydown player and is good or better in man coverage and they also need an OLB. I expect Thomspon is quite aware of both needs.

      1. TT being aware of the needs and doing anything about it are 2 entirely different things. ILB has been “A Need” since the first preseason game of 2012. Obviously he addressed it last year in the 4th round but questions still exist. As far as TE not quite as long, but it happened before the mid point of the 2013 season. Now if RR was his answer to the issue at TE in 2014, then I guess he tried to address it. But one would think after looking at the tape, Rodgers wasn’t going to be the seam busting TE Finley was or Cook could be

        As far as Palmer goes who cares? I never mentioned Palmer. The 3 LB’ers I mentioned all play pretty well in coverage. Dansby might fall off the cliff this year who knows, but last year he was solid in coverage and so was Brown. Freeman was a friggen bargin for the Bears at 3 years $12 Million and most felt the same way. Same with Trevation though it will be interesting to see Trevation play without 5 or 6 All-Pros surrounding him.

        I happen to agree with you on Barrington and Ryan and like you hope Jake worked his ass of this Winter and will be better in coverage. I loved the Ryan pick last year so maybe TT is satisfied (Not a Bad Thing).

        1. Maybe, just maybe. Thompson and his pro scouts have thoroughly looked at all these players you’ve mentioned and he and Elliot Wolf have already decided that those players AREN’T better than what’s on the team or worth even a fair vets contract. Does it ever occur to you that Thompson and Wolf actually do their due diligence and have different conclusions on the players?!
          Or maybe Thompson thinks w/ an offseason a player like Barrington, Palmer or Ryan is actually going to be better than the FA’s you think are automatically an upgrade…
          What about asking yourself, why players like Carter, Brown and Freeman have become FA’s? Apparently the teams that let them go to FA didn’t actually believe they were worth keeping! I mean the Indy Defense has been bad to terrible for longer than the Packers, yet they didn’t want Freeman back! Isn’t that a BIG red flag to you? I guess not cuz you think any FA that is available is better than the Packers have.

          Smells of signing a FA to appease you, not to actually improve the TEAM!

          1. Wolf?? Why would you bring up Wolf?? Ted is going to be Ted and it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks or wants, at least that seems to be the case year in and year out. If you don’t think MM, AR or even Capers have talked to him about getting them a player or some help outside of the Draft you’re just fooling yourself. I’m not going to sit and argue with you Dan, I know how that ends up from all the various sites you’ve been kicked off of. It’s a dead F’ing end.

            You’re right, it’s all to appease me.

            1. Bring up Wolf becuz he is Thompson’s Pro Personnel director. He puts the scouting reports on Thompson’s desk does he not?! How do you know that Wolf doesn’t grade the players an upgrade over what you think they are? Thompson gives his scouts freedom to push for players he doesn’t shut them down like your suggesting.
              I’m trying to get you to realize that most of the FA are there for a reason. The teams they were on didn’t deam them good enough to bring back! Do you ever consider that? Never mind… all your incessant Thompson bashing answers for you!

            2. Why can’t you answer the questions Nick? Not a single response to any of the questions I posed for you.

              Lets start w/ Freeman. Why is it if Freeman is such a good player does a team like Indy, w/ a terrible Defense, let Freeman become a FA?
              Don’t you think if he was such a good player Indy would want to keep him around while they try to make their Defense better?
              Just waiting for answers Nick.

            3. Question 2. Bruce Carter is on his 3rd team in 3 years. Please tell us why he cant stick w/ the other teams even tho he is such a good ILB?
              Dallas tried w/ him from the time he was drafted, but they let him go after his rookie contract. Why didn’t Dallas re-sign him if he’s such a good player?

              Answer Nick?

            4. Ummm, because Tampa offered him over $17, million, much more than Dallas could offer Carter. The biggest issue was Tampa plays a 4-3 defense, Carter is a better fit in a 3-4 than 4-3 defense. In 2014 Carter was damn good if you recall. My points with Freeman and Carter is the money spent, especially on Carter. Carter signed for $840,000/$250,000 guaranteed, hardly a Cap busting contract Dan.
              As far as Freeman goes teams can’t keep everybody Dan. There’s that and Andrew Luck is a FA in 2017. I’m pretty sure barring injury it will cost them more than Rodgers contract cost the Packers. Pretty simple really Dan, yet you insist on being snippy and rude.

            5. ’17 season is still a long ways away. If Freeman was really that good and a leader of the Defense in Indy, I’m very sure they would have found a way to keep Freeman and still sign Luck. You dont let good players walk, hell they still have Erik Walden don’t they? Surely Freeman is a better player than Walden. And if they don’t have Walden, use the money they gained from his sorry Ass being gone to sign Freeman! Simple really don’t you think?
              As for Carter, he IS on his 3rd team in 3 years! Thats a major red flag. So TB overpaid for him. Great he didnt even start for TB, except for 3 games at the end of the year. And then he bounced from starting one week to being inactive the next (or doing absolely nothing). The book on Carter has always been he’s a terrific physically talented specimen, but he has absotely no instincts or feel for the game. So Dallas more than likely LET him go in FA. TB signed him thinking he can run fast so he’s a natural in the Tampa 2 D. But they dumped him after one year!
              Football skills Nick. What football skills do they bring that will make the Packers better?

              Freeman is another Ryan/Barrington, he’s not a coverage LB. And Carter w/ his terrible instincts and feel for the game means he’s no good in coverage either. But hey, they’re FA, they MUST be better than Ryan and Barrington, who are younger AND improving!
              You’re right… It really is simple Nick! They aren’t very good! Or they wouldn’t have become FA.
              And Trevathon looked good in Denver w/ alot of talent around him. I’m far from sold that he is as talented as he looked. But we’ll see… My guess is he doesn’t finish his contract in Chicago.

            6. Ummm, because Tampa offered him over $17, million, much more than Dallas could offer Carter. The biggest issue was Tampa plays a 4-3 defense, Carter is a better fit in a 3-4 than 4-3 defense. In 2014 Carter was damn good if you recall. My points with Freeman and Carter is the money spent, especially on Carter. Carter signed for $840,000/$250,000 guaranteed, hardly a Cap busting contract Dan.
              As far as Freeman goes teams can’t keep everybody Dan. There’s that and Andrew Luck is a FA in 2017. I’m pretty sure barring injury it will cost them more than Rodgers contract cost the Packers. Pretty simple really Dan, yet you insist on being snippy and rude.

  5. I’m starting to think Thompson IS looking at the LB’ing group the Packers currently have and is satisfied. There’s been some FA Linebackers that have been signed like Dansby, Carter, Brown, or Freeman who have come pretty cheap, especially the first 3. All of them would have been upgrades in coverage over who’s on the Packers roster not named Matthews.

    I’d be pretty happy is TT came out of the first 4 rounds (6 picks) with 2 D-Linemen, 2 O-Linemen, a ILB and OLB. IMO this is the most important draft Thompson has had as GM aside from maybe the 2005 draft. Thompson already has a good idea who he’s going to try and keep next year so next years roster could look much different and it we’ll start to see next month.

  6. Looks to me like the Pack needs to draft another cornerback. Demetri was not a star but if he has to give up the PEDs now, his performance might drop even further.

  7. Figuring Thompson’s draft strategy isn’t too difficult really. The author inadvertently touched on it when he said Thompson doesn’t value ILB like fans do and therefore may not draft on again as early as most think. Doesn’t mean he won’t draft one high but only if the value is there.
    4 positions in the NFL tip the field much more than the others. They are QB, LT (today OT generally) on offense and pass rusher and CB on Defense. Those 4 positions are the premium positions in the NFL.

    Thompson will start w/ those positions. QB is more than covered, w/ Rodgers, the best QB in the NFL. He has a passable to good or slightly higher OT group, but not depth. He won’t draft an OT unless its a clear franchise type LT in this draft. No OT are that good nor would they fall to #27. Unlikely to say the least.
    Pass rusher is definitely in play at #27. After using 2 high picks on CB last year and Shields presence, this is again highly unlikely.
    After those 4 positions DL is the next highest priority, since there is a lack on athletic BIG men. Then comes the true BPA.
    Thompson’s drafts fit this profile perfectly. He’s used a 1st on QB, 2 OT, CB, pass rusher and also on DL.
    For the Packers this year, at #27 it should come down to OLB/edge rusher and DL. If you can find a DL w/ some pass rush all the better. Guys like Spence and Floyd fit the scheme best but Dodd might fit. Along w/ those 3 are some quality DL (that may not help pass rush much) like Jarron Reed, Robinson and Butler fit the need, to a lesser extent Billings. Personally I think the Packers need a true 5 tech more than NT since NT is Guion and Pennels best position. Butler has excellent length and 5 tech ability along w/ Chris Jones in the 2nd. Any or all of those players are distinct possibilities.
    The X factor in this years draft is Jaylon Smith. If his knee doesn’t have nerve dysfunction he should be expected to make a full recovery even tho he likely misses the ’16 season. He is among a handful of the best most talented players in the draft. A true playmaker and difference maker. The Packers aren’t likely to be in position to draft a player w/ his ability as long as Rodgers is at QB. So don’t be surprised if Thompson recognizes it and uses #27 on Smith if he gets the chance. IMO it would be a great pick as long as there isn’t nerve dysfunction in his knee.
    OLB/edge rusher, DL and Jaylon Smith seem like the best candidates.

    The blueprint I laid out is pretty tried and true for Thompson. Expect that to continue…

    1. Excellent comment, Dan. I view OLB and 5 tech as areas of need, and where there are few prospects I have confidence in. Spence, Floyd and Dodd as OLB prospects carry more risk than the interior DL picks, but could make TT look like a genius. At 5 tech, Butler, Jones, maybe Dodd, look like candidates. Jones is scary, and I’d be happier with him in the 2nd or even moving up to the mid-3rd to take him. Nikemdiche also could make a GM look like an idiot or a genius. Robinson, Reed, Butler (TT might be able to slide back a few spots for Butler) and Billings are fairly safe picks, but there are no guarantees.

      1. I agree for the most part. All the OLB propects have a bit of a boom/bust tag on them, but then again almost any player at the end of Rd 1 probably does to some extent. I didn’t mention Nkmdeche cuz he is a big red flag IMO. I think Butler is the best 5 tech in the draft. Most fans have him as a NT instead of 5 tech, His NFL.com draft comparison is Wilkerson w/ NYJ. Jones doesn’t have production to match his measurable, but I read he was forced to play NT, not DE. That would certainly affect his production some. Robinson and Reed are very safe picks for the most part. But they don’t have a really high ceiling either IMO. I think Butler’s ceiling is quite a bit higher than both. I would be happy w/ him at #27.
        I LOVE me some Jaylon Smith. I hope like hell Thompson picks him if he has the chance! Certainly has a fairly big risk factor, but when will the Packers ever have a shot at a Top 5 talent like him again? Only after Rodgers is gone.

      2. Edit previous comment. Robinson and Butler IMO are the best 5 tech in the draft. Forgot to include Robinson as a 5 tech. He and Butler are close, but Robinson has more run stuffing ability, so he should get the nod.

  8. Figuring Thompson’s draft strategy isn’t too difficult really. The author inadvertently touched on it when he said Thompson doesn’t value ILB like fans do and therefore may not draft on again as early as most think. Doesn’t mean he won’t draft one high but only if the value is there.
    4 positions in the NFL tip the field much more than the others. They are QB, LT (today OT generally) on offense and pass rusher and CB on Defense. Those 4 positions are the premium positions in the NFL.

    Thompson will start w/ those positions. QB is more than covered, w/ Rodgers, the best QB in the NFL. He has a passable to good or slightly higher OT group, but not depth. He won’t draft an OT unless its a clear franchise type LT in this draft. No OT are that good nor would they fall to #27. Unlikely to say the least.
    Pass rusher is definitely in play at #27. After using 2 high picks on CB last year and Shields presence, this is again highly unlikely.
    After those 4 positions DL is the next highest priority, since there is a lack on athletic BIG men. Then comes the true BPA.
    Thompson’s drafts fit this profile perfectly. He’s used a 1st on QB, 2 OT, CB, pass rusher and also on DL.
    For the Packers this year, at #27 it should come down to OLB/edge rusher and DL. If you can find a DL w/ some pass rush all the better. Guys like Spence and Floyd fit the scheme best but Dodd might fit. Along w/ those 3 are some quality DL (that may not help pass rush much) like Jarron Reed, Robinson and Butler fit the need, to a lesser extent Billings. Personally I think the Packers need a true 5 tech more than NT since NT is Guion and Pennels best position. Butler has excellent length and 5 tech ability along w/ Chris Jones in the 2nd. Any or all of those players are distinct possibilities.
    The X factor in this years draft is Jaylon Smith. If his knee doesn’t have nerve dysfunction he should be expected to make a full recovery even tho he likely misses the ’16 season. He is among a handful of the best most talented players in the draft. A true playmaker and difference maker. The Packers aren’t likely to be in position to draft a player w/ his ability as long as Rodgers is at QB. So don’t be surprised if Thompson recognizes it and uses #27 on Smith if he gets the chance. IMO it would be a great pick as long as there isn’t nerve dysfunction in his knee.
    OLB/edge rusher, DL and Jaylon Smith seem like the best candidates.

    The blueprint I laid out is pretty tried and true for Thompson. Expect that to continue…

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