Archive for April, 2008

The 2008 NFL Draft and the Packers

April 25, 2008

Here are some thoughts about who I would like to see the Packers take tomorrow. I think chances are better than 50/50 that the Packers trade down for more picks. It’s a deep draft — especially at DB and OT, the places the Packers have to be looking most carefully. So trading down makes sense. Plus, Ted Thompson loves to do it. Miami didn’t take Matt Ryan and if Atlanta doesn’t take him, both could be candidates to move up to get a Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco or, unbelievably, Chad Henne. (Atlanta has three second-round picks right now – 34, 37, 48. The Packers could give up 30 and a late round pick for one of atlanta’s second-round picks and a couple later picks. See here for the point system NFL teams use to determine the value of picks.)

My list below is not meant to be exhaustive. I skipped the guys most analysts think will go in the Top 10. I don’t have opinions about other guys. I didn’t spend much time on DT, thinking that the Packers probably don’t need one. But given the emphasis Thompson and Mike McCarthy place on the D-line, I would not at all be surprised if they went back to DT early in this draft again.

For what it’s worth (not much):

THRILLED
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
There is virtually no way he would fall this far. He has risen from a likely second-rounder a few months ago to an almost-certain Top 15 pick now. He will be phenomenal. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says he’s the best back in the draft. I agree.

Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Candidate to do the best Lambeau Leap ever. Has a vertical of 42 inches. 42 inches. That’s 42 inches. NFL.com’s Vic Carruci has a mock draft with the Packers taking him at #30. I think he’s on crack. I’ll be shocked if he’s still around after the first 15 picks. We would have arguable the best LB corps in the NFL.

Leodis McElvin, CB, Troy State
Potentially the best Packer name since Cletidus Hunt. The consensus top CB in the draft, will almost certainly be gone early. My favorite statistic comes from CBS: McElvin only played two offensive plays but nonetheless holds Troy State’s record for all-purpose yards over a career at 3,909. He was a pretty good return man. If Ted Thompson were ever inclined to move up to get anybody, I’d think McElvin would be a good candidate.

Branden Albert, G/OT, Virginia
Basketball athleticism in a football body.

Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
He’s slipping but I can’t imagine he slips this far.

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Can’t imagine he slips this far, either, and he looks just like Jeff Otah.

Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
Again, can’t imagine he falls to anywhere close to #30. But he’s a stud.

VERY HAPPY
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
I agree with NFL analyst Pat Kirwan’s take. If Brohm had come out last year, after his junior season, he would have likely been a Top 5 pick. I think he’ll be a solid NFL quarterback and maybe a very good one. The big concern is injuries, as he’s missed time with three big ones over his college career.

Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
A little concerned that he was a stud only for one year at Michigan State. But he has good numbers and a lot of upside. I don’t think we need a receiver, but I’ve become a believer in Ted Thompson’s best-player-available philosophy.

Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Solid. This is a great year for tackles and if it weren’t, Williams might have found himself at the top of the draft board.

Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
This guy is a beast. When I see him projected as a late first-rounder I’m baffled. Did these guys see him play? I understand that good linebackers can be had later, but I think he is an absolute monster. Can play inside or outside. Too bad he wasn’t around to play with Jack Ham.

Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Everything I’ve seen about this guy suggests he will be a star. He is supposedly very strong in man-to-man, obviously important for a Packer draftee.

SATISFIED
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
He has two last names. Ugh. Despite his solid combine numbers and impressive Senior Bowl, I’m worried that he’s overrated in part because his last name is Cromartie. (Lots of draft experts have him as a Top Ten pick.) I think there are several teams who wish they’d taken his cousin, Antonio Cromartie, when he was available two years ago. The Chargers got him with the 19th pick in the 2006 draft and he has become one of the most exciting players in the NFL, leading the league in interceptions last year.

Philip Merling, DE, Clemson
He sounds like a character from Masterpiece Theater. He’s had some injury issues – a sports hernia – but is solid. The Packers would do well to add someone strong opposite Aaron Kampman. I like KGB and I always want him to do well. But he’s just not getting it done anymore.

Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
See above, though his slow 40 times at the combine are a concern.

Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
His name is Limas Sweed. I don’t think we need a receiver, but I’ve become a believer in Ted Thompson’s best-player-available philosophy.

Gosder Cherlius, OT, Boston College
His name is Gosder Cherlius. If he’s still around, I bet the Packers grab him. Think the Packers have been on the phone with his coach last year, Jeff Jagodzinski?

Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
His name…kidding. A lot of draft analysts are high on him and his numbers are competitive. I haven’t seen much of him and he has some off-the-field issues. Clark Judge at CBS says a couple of teams are so worried about those issues – drugs – that they’ve taken him off of their board. Yikes.

Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
You have to like it when the knock on a corner is that he sometimes misses tackles because he tries to hard to punish receivers. He was a first team All-American last year. Everyone says that he plays faster than his 40 times – that’s because he 40 times were relatively slow (4.54). Questionable whether he can play the man-to-man schemes the Packers prefer.

Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
Solid. Often described as a “ball hawk,” which I like. Could be very effective in press coverage.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Not a position of need, in my view, but he can play. I’d prefer to wait on taking a running back – Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, or Steve Slaton later – but he’s the only other back I could see taking in the first round.

Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
Too skinny? This guy intrigues me. He’s nearly 6’7” and can throw. Became a Blue Hen after leaving the University of Pittsburgh. Big risk in Round One, though.

Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
He played a ton at Miami, which is saying a lot. And the school cranks out a lot of top-tier NFL safeties. His strengths are in coverage, which might mean he overlaps with Nick Collins too much. (That’s right, we’re not drafting for need.)

Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
I have a man-crush on Ryan Grant and I want to see him as the lead back, so it’s hard for me to get excited about another guy coming in to steal carries. Especially a high pick that’s not named Mendenhall. But Jones has a lot of potential and together they could be a nice combination.

DeSean Jackson, WR, California
The Packers don’t need WR help, but they’re reportedly interested in Jackson and despite his size he could be a solid player. Very fast. I think both Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy liked what they were able to do last year with such a strong receiving corps and with Donald Driver likely nearing the end of his career, it wouldn’t be crazy for them to keep it strong.

PISSED
Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
Nothing against Keller. I don’t want the Packers to pick a tight end here. In general, I don’t like using high picks on tight ends because they are not likely to be game-changers and lower round picks often emerge as professionals and early picks are unpredictable. Who was a more valuable rookie TE last year? Greg Olsen (1, 31), Zach Miller (2,6) or Kevin Boss (5, 16) out of Western Oregon? 2006 gives us better examples. The best tight end that year has proven to be Owen Daniels, the 9th TE selected. There are exceptions – Kellen Winslow Jr. in 2004. But he was the 6th overall pick. Bottom line: There are four or five TEs that virtually every analyst has graded evenly. It just doesn’t make sense to reach for one in the first round.

Fred Davis, TE, USC
See above.

John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame
See above.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
See above.

Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
Did anyone see him play in college?

Not semantics, Packers have real needs

April 25, 2008

I don’t think it’s a matter of semantics. The Packers have legit needs. I’ll grant that the “needs” of each team are relative and right now, because the Packers had a great season last year, they may not be as glaring as say the Bears or Bengals for example. But they are needs still the same. When I gave each position a grade, I wasn’t just thinking about their performance last year. If I was doing that, I would have definitely given higher marks for most categories. Instead, I was grading based on present/future need, so I was not just looking at 2007 performance, but also considering this year and beyond.

Also, Steve’s argument is based mostly on the how our starting line-up looks. I’ll admit, when you look at the starters, it wouldn’t appear as though too much is needed. But in the NFL, with injuries and the increasing role non-starters play in a game, there are needs within and outside our starting line-up. Take tight end. Yes, Donald Lee is quality. But he can’t play all of the plays and if we had another quality tight end in there, I’m sure McCarthy would be able to implement a bunch more effective plays he has drawn up for 2 tight end sets. And, Lee could be rested here and there without a big drop-off. Can’t help but think of ’96 and Keith Jackson and Chmura – that was an incredibly effective tandem.

Also, when I gave the corners a C+, I was saying that they are above average because of the veteran skills of Harris and Woodson (who are very good, but not the best tandem in the NFL), but there are question marks surrounding the back-ups and definite concerns for after these two retire. So, corner is a need position because we need viable players to be on the field for the various defensive packages this year as well as corners for the future.

Again, QB is a need position because Rodgers might get injured on the first play of the year and while I’d want a veteran as the #2 QB, having a young talent from the draft wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway in case Rodgers doesn’t cut it and the veteran doesn’t help much either.

And while Grant is solid, we need someone else to get some yards when he’s out of the game. Lots of teams are going to the 1-2 punch RB scheme and I think it’s sensible. It keeps each back fresher and also makes the defense have to prepare for 2 different kinds of back. We need the #2 part of this punch and I’m just not sold on the options we presently have. So this is a need.

Poppinga is mediocre – poor overall and we NEED someone else to fill his role. Average teams can probably get by with someone like Poppinga, but great teams consider this a need position and find someone who can contribute more.

And again, the O-line: both tackle and guard. We need a better selection of players to develop here. Consistency on the line will dictate whether or not Grant develops into as good a back as we all think he can be.

I guess my overall point is that if we make zero changes, sure, we probably would not be too bad as a team this year, but I guess I don’t think we could get to the Super Bowl with this present group. So, I consider the above to be draft and free agency needs.

Draft Prediction: Trades Galore

April 25, 2008

With the depth in this draft and the lack of many clear-cut stars, I think one of the stories coming out of the first day of the draft tomorrow is how many trades there will be.

“Something’s Bound to Happen”

April 25, 2008

Seriously, is Brett Favre retired? A week or two Andy promised that I’d be making a case here that Brett Favre is really not retired and intends to come back. I never did it. We’d had a conversation in which I took a bunch of data points and strung them together as a hypothesis that Favre was actually coming back. There was a little something there, but really I was joking. He spoke with conviction at his press conference and in a couple of subsequent comments he seemed comfortable with his decision.

In an interview with Peter King earlier this month, Favre said that he was happy being away from football and was not considering a comeback. But when pressed, he said: “I suppose anything could happen.” That prompted King to write: “The reason that quote is not in the lead of this story is because it’s an honest reflection of a man who won’t try to predict the future. Ninety-nine percent of what he said in a 20-minute conversation was very much about football being in the rearview mirror. And he certainly would not want the Packers or any other team to line up, hoping he’d change his mind in August and come in to save a sorry quarterback situation.” I think that was sound journalistic judgment. That comment didn’t reflect the tone of the broader conversation. But might it be the most important thing to have come out of their chat? Maybe. King also wrote that he was 98 percent sure Favre would stay retired after his press conference and only 93 percent certain after their phone call. I’m guessing this was tongue-in-cheek, but the reality is that King had a 20-minute conversation with Favre, almost all of it about Favre being comfortable with his decision to retire, and King came away less convinced than he had been twenty minutes earlier.

So what are we to make of Favre’s comments on Letterman last night. He did not sound like someone who wanted to stay retired. Here’s the exchange:

DL: “So, you have retired? You have not retired?”

BF: (Pause) “I have retired. Watch TV a lot don’t you?” (Laughter)

DL: “Somebody told me that that form, the retirement form, had not been signed and mailed in. Is there a retirement form that needs to be signed and mailed in?”

BF: “That’s what I’ve heard.”

DL: “Have you signed it and mailed it in?”

BF: “No, I haven’t signed it.”

DL: “Well, there you go…Your honor!”

BF: “I think the only reason to sign that form is so I get a severance check or something. So it’s actually in my benefit, I guess.”

DL: “You’re only 38 for goodness sakes.”

BF: “I know.”

DL: “And each day — we’re getting close to mini-camps. You start feeling a little something?”

BF: “You know what, not with minicamps.”

DL: “Okay, forget minicamps. Did I say minicamps? Forget minicamps.”

BF: “I wasn’t excited about it last year. I think when training, I will — something’s bound to happen.”

DL: “Now what does that mean? Something’s bound to happen. As you get close to training camp, something’s bound to happen. What does that mean?”

BF: “I don’t know. Did I just say that?”

DL: “You just said something’s bound to happen. So, that makes me think you’re not retired.”

BF: “Butteflies or — I don’t know, something’s bound to happen.”

DL: “Let me put it to you this way, and I don’t want to be silly about this, but I guess it’s too late for that. If there could be adjustments made for your training summer schedule regiment, would that be of interest to you?”

BF: (Pause) “Ummm, can you get that worked…”

DL: “Yes. Yes I can. I can take care of that.”

Letterman then asked whether Randy Moss had anything to do with Favre’s decision (Favre said no) and who the Packers quarterback would be (Favre, haltingly, said “Aaron Rodgers, I think, is the guy. I think he’ll do well.)

Maybe Favre is purposely being vague to be funny. And maybe I’m reading too much into his comments because I spend my working life trying to decipher the words of politicians. But everything from his appearance last night suggests that he’s deliberately leaving the door open to a return. Just as he did when Peter King’s level of metaphysical certitude slipped from 98 percent to 93 percent. I wonder what it’s at now?

Here’s the JS Online blog with additional highlights. And see the video below:

UPDATE: BratsNBeerGuy thinks Favre was kidding. Profootballtalk.com is closer to my take.

Bedard Was Right, As Usual

April 24, 2008

Perhaps it’s just a matter of semantics — a question of what we all mean by “need.”  But I agree completely with Greg Bedard that the Packers don’t have any serious “needs.”  There are certainly places for upgrades, as Andy points out.  But that’s different from a “need.” The Vikings “need” a quarterback. The Bears “need” wide receivers. The Lions “need” offensive lineman (and a new GM).

The truth is the Packers have solid players at virtually every position.  As we talk throughout the season, Andy and I actually agree far more than we disagree.  Which is why I’m so baffled by his grades.  Is he back on crack?

Here are mine:

QB: ? We simply know too little about Aaron Rodgers. The lack of a backup is worrisome given Rodgers’ injury history.

RB: B+. Yes, I have a man-crush on Ryan Grant. I think he’s a good back. The numbers from the last half of the season — where he was the second leading producer at his position — would seem to back me up. Can it continue? I think it can. We’ll see.

TE: B. We need another one, but Donald Lee has proven that he’s a solid option, particularly in the passing game.

WR: A. I’m not sure that I would trade the Packer receiving corps wholesale with any other team in the league, with the possible exception of the Arizona Cardinals.

O-Line: B-. Scott Wells is decent, the tackles are very good but aging, and the guard play needs to improve. I’d say signing a new OT is a priority, though I wouldn’t yet call it a need.

D-Line: A-. We could use another playmaker opposite Aaron Kampman. KGB just cannot produce like he used to and Cullen Jenkins has underperformed. That said, Jenkins was hobbled with injuries most of last season. I think the middle of our D-line — with a healthy Johnny Jolly, often-overlooked Ryan Pickett, solid Colin Cole, rising prospect Daniel Muir and question mark Justin Harrell — is very good with the potential to be great.

LB: B. Nick Barnett is a Pro-Bowler, AJ Hawk is steady if unspectacular and Brady Poppinga is a special teamer in a starting role. I’m glad we brought in Brandon Chillar, but I think he’ll help primarily in the run when we need help in coverage.

CB: A-. When Charles Woodson and Al Harris are on their game, they really might be the best cornerback tandem in the league. But Harris gets jumpy in big games and seems to have lost a step. They’re both getting up there in years. Tramon Williams is raw but has potential. I don’t see Jarrett Bush developing into a starter. If this were two years from now I’d call this a position need.

S: B-. Can Atari Bigby do for an entire season what he did at year’s end? I’m skeptical. He seems rather spacey. If he can, this grade is probably a B+. I keep waiting for Nick Collins to realize his potential and play to the standard he set in his rookie year.  I thought Aaron Rouse looked good when he played.  The concern about him coming out of Virginia Tech was that he looked the part but didn’t deliver hits when he had to.  He had several big hits last season.  If that’s the beginning of a trend, he could be a factor.

P: B.  The Packers could probably do better than Jon Ryan, but I like the guy so much I don’t want them to.  I still think he can get better — he’s got a huge leg.

K: A-.  Mason Crosby was everything the Packers could have asked for in a rookie kicker.  He’s going to be a stud.

Wrong Bedard, Packers do have needs to fill

April 24, 2008

I disagree with Greg Bedard’s claim in this article that the Packers might look to trade up for an impact player because: “With one of the youngest teams in the league coming off a berth in the NFC Championship Game, the Packers have depth and few, if any, needs to fill”. We do have needs. Despite getting close to the Super Bowl last year, to get to the Super Bowl this year (and in years to come) and win it, there are needs to fill. I recognize that a team can fill needs in the draft, via trades and free agency. But heading into the draft this weekend – this is how I see our present team needs.

Quarterback: C-. Right now we have Rodgers and some bodies (though I admit to knowing zero about Babb and Bell – not interested in keeping Nall). Rodgers definitely could be good and may be able to survive a whole season – that is definitely possible. But Rodgers is injury prone and we have nobody to help when he goes down. This is a need position and my hope would be that we could draft a really solid player and pick up a savvy veteran (Chad Pennington?) to help bring Rodgers along.

Running Back: B-. Grant appears to be a quality back and likely will be solid again this year. And if this were years ago, we’d be fine here as so many teams just had a feature back who did most of the work. Nowadays though, the Pack should have a reliable counter-punch for opposing defenses to deal with. I’d say only one player between Wynn, Morency, Jackson and Herron should make the team (probably Wynn or Jackson) and the Packers should draft or pick up another player (or maybe give Corey White a shot – he’s done nothing but play well when asked). We could also take a look at another FB. FB/RB are need positions.

Tight End: C. This could change to a B- if Tory Humphrey gets back out there and plays well. Krause is not impressive so far. Donald Lee is a good tight end, but he needs a partner out there. This could be a position to fill in the draft (and there are apparently some good options in Keller and Fred Davis).

Wide Receivers: B+/A-. This is a really good group. Driver is aging but still effective, Jennings is really breaking out, I’m pretty sure Jones is ready for a break-out year, Koren Robinson will hopefully be in a bit better shape to play and Ruvell Martin may be the best #5 receiver in the NFL. However, ever since about 1995, I’ve been hoping the Pack would pick up another huge, bruising-type receiver who can bench press the bus (still can’t let go of Sterling Sharpe retiring). I wouldn’t give up much here to add a receiver – not really a need position, but adding a quality option could never hurt. (I thought briefly about writing a post pushing for the Pack to pick-up Boldin because he’s really really good, but I know it would cost too much. But just think of a 4 receiver set of Boldin, Driver, Jennings and Jones. That would be an unstoppable passing game).

Offensive Line: C+. I thought the Packers should have looked harder at Matt Burke, perhaps sign him and then move Wells to guard. There are some new faces at guard the team will be looking at (Ryan Keenan, Cameron Stephenson, also Babre) and this may also be a position to fill in the draft. Colledge and Spitz probably have camp and then 4-6 more games to prove they can play. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of them dropped if their collective mediocrity continues. The Packers’ present thoughts on Coston may be the deciding factor in how aggressively we pursue a guard in the draft. Tackle is also a position the team might need to start thinking about more. Tauscher is still awfully good and I think has several more quality years left. But Clifton is someone in whom I am losing confidence. He got some attention last year (even some arguments for the Pro Bowl), but I think he’s on the decline and we need to start thinking about a replacement. I wouldn’t be surprised to see TT go for a quality guard or tackle with our first 3 picks.

Defensive Line – B. I may be in the minority here giving this high of a grade, but I think we’re in pretty good shape along the line. Losing Williams does hurt, but only if Jolly can’t come back to full strength. I think Jolly’s injury was a quiet reason the Packers defense as a whole declined at the end of last year. He is an effective player who can change a game even if he isn’t playing well simply because he makes it really hard for the QB to see with those Paul Pressey-like arms. I feel better about our interior D-Line (Pickett, Jolly, Harrell, Cole, Muir) than I do about the ends. Really Kampman is the only good one. Jenkins was OK last year but Cletidused a bit (or, faltering after getting a big contract – “to Cletidus” is the infinitive verb form). He may actually be more effective platooning at DT. KGB should be cut, Hunter is just too small (though I like his motor), and despite my pulling for him, Montgomery seems quite average. I wouldn’t be surprised to see TT pick up a good DE in the draft. (Or maybe surprise us all and trade a second rounder and 5th rounder or something for Jason Taylor??)

Linebackers: B-. Barnett played very well last year. I finally feel comfortable with him in the middle (prior to last year I thought he was overrated). Hawk is solid, but that’s it. For now, I’m OK with him on the weak-side but I may raise a stink next year if he has a mediocre-poor year this year. He is a #5 overall pick – Urlacher was a #9 overall pick. I expect major contributions from the guy and I don’t buy the “scheme” excuse used to explain Hawk and Poppinga not making big plays. I’m excited that we picked up Chillar because I think we need to replace Poppinga, but I’m not sure Chillar is the guy. I’m not sure why Desmond Bishop isn’t getting more of a chance to dethrone Poppinga from his OLB spot. It is possible we may pick up an OLB in this draft.

Secondary – C+. While there is lots of chatter out there about the Packers needing to draft a CB, I would not put it as our #1 need (though it is a need). Tramon Williams showed flashes of major talent last year, as did Will Blackmon. Our 2 corners, though aging, still play with enough veteran savvy to be above average corners. Bigby created a reputation for himself with some great hits, and if he can develop a better sense in coverage, he could become a monster back there. Collins, early on one of my favorite players, has been a disappointment. He does nicely in general in containing big plays (mostly because of his speed), but frankly, I’m not sure he’s smart enough to be the leader of the secondary. Rouse showed promise and I’m comforted that he could step in should Collins or Bigby get injured or play like crap. Jarrett Bush should be cut and Tyrone Culver should get a shot at playing CB.  I could see TT looking for a CB or safety in later rounds. (As I said before, the only secondary guy I’d be inclined to draft early on (perhaps 2nd round if he’s still there) would be Tom Zbibowksi from Notre Dame.

Special Teams: B. We weren’t too bad on special teams this past year. I think it is part of the reason the team played well overall. Looks like Jon Ryan will have competition by Ryan Dougherty, but outside of that, we should be OK. We may miss the leadership though of Rob Davis (though he’ll be in the locker room still as director of player development). Importantly, we’ve re-signed Tracy White who is simply a star on special teams.

Here is my order of draft need priority:

  1. Tight End
  2. Offensive guard
  3. Quarterback
  4. Corner
  5. Running back (possibly fullback)
  6. Outside linebacker
  7. Defensive end
  8. Safety
  9. Offensive tackle

PFT: Packers Looking to Trade Down?

April 24, 2008

Profootballtalk.com has a post claiming, without any sourcing, that the Packers are looking to trade down for more picks.   Credible?  Perhaps, though PFT’s lack of sourcing and passive formulation — “the Packers are believed” — don’t give much reason to believe it’s anything more than idle speculation.  Insightful?  Not really.  Ted Thompson always looks to obtain more picks.

Still, let’s assume it’s true.  I think it’s smart.  Ted Thompson has proven himself to be a first-class talent evaluator (we’ll wait and see on Justin Harrell) and this is a deep draft.  So get more picks.  The difference between the #30 overall and, say, the #45 overall is minimal and picking up a few extra shots at getting lucky makes sense.

Beer Blogging

April 24, 2008

Great find by BratsNBeerGuy.  I cannot believe Brother Andy didn’t create this job when he was working for Miller.

More on Culpepper

April 23, 2008

Okay, for those who were not persuaded by my previous rant, let me try again, a bit more dispassionately.

Daunte Culpepper is no longer a good quarterback. After coming out of Central Florida in 1999, he sat his rookie year. He had a solid second year, then two bad ones and a decent one. In 2004, he had his best season ever, throwing an extraordinary 39 touchdowns leading a very solid Vikings offense. In 2005, Randy Moss was traded. The next year Culpepper was awful. He went 2-5 before getting injured. Brad Johnson came in and managed to win six straight games with the same offense. He went to Miami, then Oakland and has been awful at each stop.

Over his career, Culpepper has been sacked an average of three times per game. In 92 games, he has fumbled 93 times. (Favre fumbled closer to once every other game.) His career won-loss record is 41-47. So Culpepper was uneven over the first four years of his career and has been awful over the last four.

The bigger issue for me, though, is his character. I believe he would be an awful presence in the locker room, especially for a young quarterback hoping to take control of his team.

By all accounts, the guy is a problem. In 2005, Culpepper blew out a knee. That same year, he was charged as part of the Vikings “Love Boat” scandal, though the charges were later dropped because the judge did not find “probable cause.”

When the Vikings asked him to rehab with the team, Culpepper refused. Worried that Johnson was on the rise after performing well as Culpepper’s replacement, he first reportedly asked for a raise and then asked to be traded. (Culpepper doesn’t use an agent and often communicates with the press via rambling email.) New Vikings coach Brad Childress called Culpepper selfish and compared him to Terrell Ownens. “It just became a deal where I didn’t feel like it was the team. I felt like it was ‘me,’ ” Childress said of his interactions with Culpepper. “And I went through a big ‘me’ situation last year with a guy who was all about ‘me.’ “

After he ended up in Miami, Culpepper pushed himself to return from his knee injury. It did not go well. He blamed the Dolphins. A bad situation got worse. When Dolphin Coach Nick Saban told Culpepper he would be benched, the two engaged in a shouting match at practice. Eventually Culpepper demanded that the Dolphins release him (second team in as many year) and called for the NFLPA to intervene on his behalf. The ESPN article about it was headlined “Peeved Culpepper vows to block trade plans.” He was escorted from a practice by Dolphins security.

In fairness, to Culpepper there have been reports out of Oakland that he served as something of a mentor to JaMarcus Russell. Good for him, though Culpepper might have had to be on his best behavior. There were persistent reports that his debilitating hamstring injury came after he pulled it in a race with Stanford Routt, a collegiate sprinter, trying to prove that he could still run.

So I have two major concerns about signing Culpepper. 1) He might play. 2) He might not.

For argument’s sake, let me swallow my skepticism about Aaron Rodgers and defer to Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson and most Packer beat writers when they say that he looks good. He has shown himself susceptible to injury. That means Culpepper might have to play. Looking at his play over the past four years, that ought to be depressing to Packer fans. Give me Craig Nall or, yes, Kelly Holcomb any day.

Potentially more problematic, though, is that Culpepper comes in as the backup to Rodgers and, because he still thinks he’s an NFL starting quarterback, could undermine Rodgers at precisely the time he needs someone getting his back. He has a long track record of taking his complaints public. If Rodgers struggles, will Culpepper send an email to reporters complaining that he’s not playing? Will he criticize Mike McCarthy in public? Will he whisper his frustration in the locker room?

All of that and he does that stupid arm-roll.

UPDATE: Tom Silverstein thinks it’s subterfuge. I sure hope he’s right, but I’ve got a bad feeling that he’s not.

UPDATE II: I’ve read two stories today implying that Culpepper’s career was oustanding before he blew his out knee and mediocre afterwards. This is misleading. As I pointed out above, Culpepper had some decent years before his major injury but he also had two very average/poor ones. And more important, after Randy Moss was traded, Culpepper was awful with Minnesota for seven games before he blew out his knee.

UPDATE III: Greg Bedard’s first reaction to a potential Culpepper signing?  He thought it was a joke.   He’s got a very smart take on the Vikings and Jared Allen, too.  Allen may end up being solid — and sober — as Viking, but they gave up a ton to get him.  Their QB is still Tavaris Jackson.

UPDATE IV: And Aaron makes the best case possible for a bad position.  I’m with him on Tim Rattay, though.

Culpepper thoughts…

April 23, 2008

I’m not a huge fan of Culpepper and agree – TT would have to make sure it is written into Culpepper’s contract that the arm roll thing is not allowed on the team. He fizzled in Oakland and was mediocre to poor in Miami before that. And, how would it look to sign a washed up veteran on the same day the Vikes pick up Jared Allen (granted they did trade away their future at the same time)?!?!

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must admit that prior to last year, I did think that picking up Culpepper would be a good idea. While again, I’m not so sure about the move now, 1-poor-achieving -year removed from Oakland, here’s are some reasons why it may not be a horrible decision: 1) if he is put into an offense with playmakers, he’s proven he can do a sufficient job – and the Pack has playmakers; 2) he’s huge and really difficult to bring down; 3) he’s had experience in the NFC North; 4) while some of those passes were crappy and Moss made great plays, some of them were long bombs thrown well leading to some devastating Packer losses; 4) he always seemed to use tight end options effectively; and 5) Favre probably would have struggled at Oakland last year.

Again, I’m not a big fan of his, but I don’t think it would hurt to bring him in and see first-hand if he can still compete. I’d much rather have him than some inexperienced guy.


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