Archive for April, 2008

High-Quality Analysis

April 28, 2008

from NFL.com’s Vic Carrucci.  Here’s his evaluation of the Packer draft.

Figuring out the Packers’ draft strategy isn’t easy. After bailing out of the first round, they used a second-round choice in an area where they didn’t seem to need any help: wide receiver. Still, Kansas State’s Jordy Nelson, a speedster, is an intriguing prospect. And doesn’t Aaron Rodgers have enough pressure on him as Brett Favre‘s replacement and with the potential that Favre might come back from retirement? Why invest another second-rounder in Louisville QB Brian Brohm, even if he was widely projected as a first-round pick? The Packers did address needs with second-round cornerback Patrick Lee, from Auburn, and third-round tight end Jermichael Finley, from Texas.

Hmmm.  Where to start?  How about the beginning.  He writes: “Figuring out the Packers’ draft strategy isn’t easy. After bailing out of the first round, they used a second-round choice in an area where they didn’t seem to need any help: wide receiver.”  Here’s a suggestion.  Check Ted Thompson’s bio on the Packer website.  You’ll see that shortly before the 2006 draft he said: “”You have to take the best player available.”  Before the 2007 draft he said: “A draft is an investment in a player that’s going to be here for a number of years. And when you don’t take the best player, it’ll just come back and bite you every time.”  At his press conference before this year’s draft, Thompson said: “I just think the draft is a long-term investment, especially the early-round picks, and I think if you take a lesser player … in your own mind, if you know Player A is a better player and you wind up taking Player B because he happens to play a different position, I think that’s a mistake.”  In introducing that comment in a pre-draft article, Packer beat writer Jason Wilde wrote that Thompson is well-known for taking the proverbial ‘best player available.'”  Yeah, figuring out the Packers’ draft strategy is really hard.

More amusing, though, was this part:

“And doesn’t Aaron Rodgers have enough pressure on him as Brett Favre‘s replacement and with the potential that Favre might come back from retirement? Why invest another second-rounder in Louisville QB Brian Brohm, even if he was widely projected as a first-round pick?

Did someone post this under Vic Carrucci’s name as part of a prank, to make him sound like a moron?  Ummm, Vic.  You invest a second-round pick in Brian Brohm because you think he is…wait for it…the best player available.  And if he’s projected as a first-round pick and you can get him at the bottom of the second isn’t that even more reason to take him?

And finally, if you were a GM, and in a position to choose players for your team, would you really avoid picking someone good at a position of great value because you didn’t want to hurt the feelings of your presumptive starter or make him nervous about some competition?  Hmmm, that would be a great team.

Jermichael Finley’s name – theory

April 28, 2008

There were many more interesting names in the 2008 Draft. But I thought I might share my theory on how Finley was named Jermichael. (And I should add, a scenario I’m not unfamiliar with…)

Setting – hospital in Texas, March 26, 1987:

Mother talking to father moments after mother delivers. “What should we call him. We’re so indecisive. We’ve narrowed it down to two, I love Jeremy and and you love Michael. We have to decide. I also am not sure if I should have the lasagna or the chop suey”.

Mom: “Let’s go with Jeremy”.

Father, “No, should be Michael.”

Mom: “Jeremy”

Father: “Michael”.

Nurse: “um, we need a name”.

Mom: “Fine, how about Micheremy?”

Father, “No, but Jermichael would work”.

Jermichael.

Jokes aside – I’m excited to welcome Jermichael to the Packers. Exciting player.

Thoughts on the Packer Draft? Immediate grade: B

April 28, 2008

Packergeeks invites your comments/thoughts on this past weekend’s draft. Just to recap for reference sake, our 9 picks:

  1. Jordy Nelson – WR
  2. Brian Brohm – QB
  3. Patrick Lee – CB
  4. Jermichael Finley – TE
  5. Jeremy Thompson – DE
  6. Josh Sitton – G/T
  7. Breno Giacomini – T
  8. Matt Flynn – QB
  9. Brett Swain -WR

Some of the reaction to the draft has been interesting. Some are ticked that we took 7 offensive players. Some are ticked we took 2 WR and 2 QBs. Some don’t like the attitude of Giacomini. Some think Patrick Lee is very mediocre. One guy (“Sparky” on WSSP) really didn’t like the draft and believes TT really blew this one. Doug Russell on WSSP earlier in the morning loves the draft. One of the guys at ESPN Milwaukee Radio is ticked at anyone who grades drafts saying you have to wait 3 years to know the true grade of a draft in the NFL. Yet, they then dissected the positive and negative points about the draft. It’s really the same thing fellas, you just didn’t assign a letter to it.

If I had a leaning at this point, overall I would fall in favor of his selections this past weekend. While I did not classify WR as a need position prior to the draft, our #4 (Robinson) and #5 (Martin) receivers are really only OK and could possibly be upgraded. Obtaining Jordy may not be a bad pick if he indeed has the upside TT and the staff believe he has. To be consistent, I have to support picking a bigger/possession-type WR as I have been asking for one for years. The Brett Swain pick is a bit more mysterious unless they have special teams thoughts for him or perhaps think he may be a Wes Welker-type slot receiver. Patrick Lee was a need pick, regardless of TT’s claim that he only picks the best player – TT knew we needed at least another corner to compete behind Harris and Woodson. I’m fine picking the 2 QBs, especially Brohm. He is a really good player – you gotta wonder how the draft would have turned out had Petrino stayed at Atlanta – would he have taken Brohm #3 – probably. (I do wonder if TT has a notion to develop Flynn and Brohm and try to deal one of them down the road, especially if one of them sees some back-up action and plays well – like Matt Schaub). I really like the TE pick-up: a young guy who is coachable, has tremendous athleticism, is a great receiver and at the same time someone who can be developed. And, some fresh blood at DE in Jeremy Thompson might help out what became a worn down pass rush by year’s end lasts year. And, we need bodies to compete on the O-Line – and importantly, once we decide who will play, we need to coach them hard and give them a chance to succeed. I don’t want this back-and-forth crap like last year.

I do wish TT had angled harder to pick up a viable RB (and/or a FB). Grant is very good and I am fairly confident he’ll continue to play well. But I don’t like the guys behind him. I heard Homer on ESPN radio over the weekend reminding us to not forget about Noah Herron. Listen, I like Herron because he’s from Milwaukee, but I don’t like him on the Packers and I really don’t like his hair. But I fear the Packers’ brass likes him because he’s solid, doesn’t make mistakes and works hard. I’m sorry, sometimes there’s more to football than working hard. It’s interesting really, with the RB position, we have Herron who works too hard with limited results, Jackson who works pretty hard with OK results, Morency who works sort of hard with nothing-nothing-nothing-big run-nothing, and then Wynn who doesn’t work hard at all and has decent results. I still believe we should have pulled something to pick up Rashard Mendenhall when he was in that brief, inexplicable free-fall in the first round. Or, Steve Slaton. We need some excitement back there and I want a viable 1-2 punch. That said, I will allow for the possibility that TT and MM have seen something from these other RB guys in the off-season I haven’t and that perhaps we may be more stable there than most of us presently think.

What are your thoughts on the overall draft by the Pack?

UPDATE: Forgot to add that I think we should have picked up a linebacker – even a 7th round guy to be a competitive body in camp. With 9 picks, TT should have been able to find one RB and LB who could contribute.

The Jared Allen Deal Revisited

April 28, 2008

This line caught my eye.  It comes from Bill Williamson’s review of the NFC North draft at ESPN.com and it conveys his enthusiasm for the deal that brought Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings.  He writes: “Anytime you can get a player who led the NFL in sacks at the age of 25, you make that deal.”

Really?  What if the Packers had offered Ryan Grant, Aaron Kampman, Charles Woodson and first round picks in 2008, 2009 and 2010?  Of course not.  This is the kind of stupid analysis you expect to see on a Vikings blog or at someplace less esteemed than ESPN.  (Unless it came from Sean Salisbury, who offered these kind of bone-headed categorical statements in virtually every appearance.)  The reality is that the Jared Allen deal was a major risk for the Vikings (something Williamson acknowledges elsewhere in his post).  If might work out, it might not.  I happen to think they overpaid for him, even if he wasn’t a risk for a DUI-related suspension.  It was a move you’d expect more from a team that seemed to be on the verge of greatness, not a team like the Vikings.

Keep an Eye on Chris Simms

April 27, 2008

The Tampa Bay Bucaneers drafted Josh Johnson (San Diego) in the fifth round, giving them (technically) seven quarterbacks.  Most everyone expects Chris Simms to be cut this summer.  If the Packers are looking for a veteran despite adding both Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn, Simms is a good candidate.  Coming to Green Bay would make sense for Simms, too, as Aaron Rodgers is not settled in as the starter and has durability issues.

Chris Simms, a Green Bay Packer?

Ted Thompson’s Draft Philosophy, Etc.

April 27, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered what it is, wonder no more. Here it is, in one sentence: “I think quantity and quality go hand in hand when it comes to this.”

In his post-draft press conference, Thompson was asked whether he felt like he needed more quality than quantity in this draft. Here is the rest of his response.

“I think first of all, as we’ve said before, I think 10 picks are better than six picks. But you don’t want to sacrifice too much to get the 10 picks because if you have 10 picks, you have a better chance of finding, you know, the odds are better. And Ron always believed in this, at the same time you don’t want to move just for the sake of accumulating picks if you’re going to sacrifice something that you’re trying to do in terms of building up your team. So it’s sort of a gut call.”

The entire transcript is here. Some highlights. Thompson on the two offensive linemen:

[Josh Sitton] was wearing a Hawaiian short and shorts when he was here in I think March, so he doesn’t know anything about Wisconsin yet. But he’s a tough guy. He blocks his guy and he’s one of those guys that maybe isn’t always the prettiest guy in the world, but we think he’ll fit in good with our group. And Geno (who?), I’m not going to even try and say his last name. What is his name? Breno Giacomini. Geno? He’s a former tight end. He’s still growing into being the sized guy you’re looking for, but he’s got a big frame, big legs, very athletic. When I was in there in the fall, specifically I was kind of watching quarterback, but when we go scouting we scout everybody that’s on the list. And he was much admired by the staff there. He is the horse there in terms of attitude and loving the game and liking challenges and things like that. We liked his competitiveness. We talked to him at the Combine, our coaches got a chance to visit with him and we think he has a bright future.

On Jermichael Finley:

He’s a young man, he’s a very young man, a true junior I think. It wasn’t overly a concern to us. With juniors you always have to be a little bit cautious because you don’t scout them as much as you do seniors. And seniors you scout a whole year coming up and junior you start scouting in January. So sometimes you have to be careful about that but we felt like he’s a talented kid that can get up the field. He’s got excellent hands, very athletic and our coaches were very excited about him joining Donald.

On Jeremy Thompson:

We had him rated really high and we liked him. He’s the brother or Orrin. He’s a good player. Good size, good length, he can run. We liked him and we were surprised he was still there, which, was the impetus for us to try to make the move to get him.

Thompson also said that he had running backs that he liked, but the way the draft unfolded they were gone by the time the Packers picks came up.  Also, he said Craig Nall was not likely to be a Packer next year.  And with that they’re working on free agents.

What Does “Ace” Have in Common with Josh Sitton?

April 27, 2008

Found something interesting in the transcript of the media call with Josh Sitton, the Packers’ fourth round pick of Central Florida.  Frequent commenter “Ace,” a veteran of the Florabama mullet toss, is bound to like this:

(How was the fish tossing contest?) Actually I just went and watched. I didn’t have the 20 bucks to enter it.

(Story behind fish toss?) It’s just a little mullet tossing competition that got started like 20 years ago. My buddy lives out there by Alabama and it’s just a fun thing for people to go out and watch. It’s just kind of fun.

Next year he’ll have to try it.

Great News

April 27, 2008

Ted Thompson, at today’s post-draft press conference, on signing a veteran quarterback: “I don’t know. I think we’ll still be open looking. We haven’t had any luck bringing in a guy.”

Goodbye, Daunte Culpepper.  Take your arm-rolling somewhere else.

Draft Thoughts Through Round Four

April 27, 2008

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+

Packers select Jermichael Finley in 3rd round

April 27, 2008

Intriguing prospect. This guy made a surprising decision to enter the draft after having a solid year at Texas (as only a 3rd year sophomore). He indicates that he entered the draft primarily because he has a young family to take care of.

Read up here on this guy’s talents. I like drafting for a tight end – especially a 6’5″ guy who is 243lbs now, but with the capacity to add a good amount of weight without affecting his quickness. This guy’s athleticism is thought to be exceptional and I think this is a strong draft choice. He also apparently has great hands and is not afraid to contend for jump balls (could be valuable to Packers in the end zone). His blocking sounds like it needs improvement, but one comment made was that he’s very coachable (of course he is, most TT/MM draft picks are), so blocking can always be improved. Good pick.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the analysis:

“Finley will bring instant value in a double-tight end package, as he can line up in the slot, wide or in motion.”


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