Apologies for taking this long to post something. I saw the Jordy Nelson pick last night and then had to head to a dinner. So I couldn’t post anything and didn’t read/watch much after that. So here are my raw thoughts on the Packers’ draft without having the benefit of seeing much other reaction.
Jordy Nelson felt like a reach, like a guy Ted Thompson was taking to prove that he truly believes the best-player-available philosophy he advocates. Did Thompson have to take him with the 36th pick? Seemed early.
That said, I think we may read over the next couple of days (or perhaps it’s out there already) that other teams were increasingly high on Nelson. (This happened last year with Justin Harrell. While Packer fans — and some analysts — thought the pick was early, it turns out that the Denver Broncos would have taken Harrell with the very next pick, 17th overall.) On Friday, the Washington Redskins took a high-profile trip to visit Malcolm Kelly, the WR from Oklahoma. They brought QB Jason Campbell and their visit was widely reported. What received far less attention was that the Redskin also stopped to workout Jordy Nelson and many people expected them to take him in the second round if they didn’t pick a WR in the first round. So I’m guessing Nelson may have been rated higher on team boards than he was on the boards of the outside draft experts.
I love the Brian Brohm pick. I wrote before the draft that I would have been very pleased with him at #30. So I’m thrilled with him at #56. Brohm would have almost certainly been a Top 5 pick had he come out last year. And if Louisville would have had a better record last year (if Bobby Petrino had stuck around), Brohm stock would have remained high. Several outside draft experts had Brohm as the highest rated QB in the draft this year — above the #3 overall pick, Matt Ryan.
I don’t know as much about Patrick Lee. I had read before the draft that his strength was man-to-man press coverage. The knock on him was his lack of tackling and lack of experience. I liked Justin King from Penn State better. He did not go for another 40 picks. We’ll see.
I like the pick of Jermichael Finley. As readers of this blog know, I don’t like spending high picks on tight ends. Unless you have a Kellen Winslow Jr., I just don’t think they’re worth it. Finley is athletic and young. He’s still learning. His numbers at the combine were poor and probably contributed to him being available this late. Fine. The read on him at several sites I visited was that he plays much faster than he was timed. Coming out after his junior year, there’s a lot he will be able to learn and I think the Packers will be able to shape him into a productive player.
I love Jeremy Thompson. I can’t believe he fell to the 4th round. Neither could Gil Brandt (former Cowboys GM) and Pat Kirwan (former Jets GM), who discussed the pick on Sirius NFL Radio while I was driving home. They agreed that it was an incredible value for the Packers and they both believe he is going to be a high-quality NFL starter for years. Before the draft, Brandt ranked his Top 100 in tiers of ten. He had Thompson in the fourth tier — 31-40 — and as one of his highest-ranked defensive ends. You can see his write-up on Thompson here and Brandt’s fourth tier right here. [Thompson is in good company there. Among the others in that tier -- Joe Flacco (1st Rd), Chris Johnson (1st Rd), Calais Campbell (2nd Rd), Jamaal Charles (2nd Rd), Chad Henne (2nd Rd), Lawrence Jackson (1st Rd), Curtis Lofton (2nd Rd), Kenny Phillips (1st Rd), Pat Sims (3rd)]. He could be a phenomenal value and I think he has the potential to contribute this year.
I don’t know much about Josh Sitton. NFL.com’s analysis says he had a good pro-day at UCF when teams were visiting to watch RB Kevin Smith. His numbers had him “soaring up draft boards.” As a general proposition I think it’s very possible to get OL value in these midddle/late rounds, especially when they come from smaller schools. I like small school prospects at this point in the draft because they are just thrilled to have been drafted and to have an opportunity in the NFL. Give us more of them.
I’ll have more thoughts later. But generally, I’m beginning to think this was a very good draft for the Packers. I would have guessed that Jordy Nelson and Brian Brohm would have gone in reverse order, but if Thompson is this high on Nelson, I think the GM has earned some benefit of the doubt. We may have to reconsider that a bit depending on how Justin Harrell and Aaron Rodgers perform this year. If they don’t perform up to expectations, Thompson may get a reputation as a guy who can draft well after he bombs on his first pick.
Preliminary grade from me? B+