Archive for the ‘2009 Draft’ Category

Good point from reader DaveK

April 28, 2009

Both reader DaveK and the guys over at Packerupdate have talked about how interestingly, the Packers now may have ideal personnel for a 4-3 (or at least to shift over to a 4-3 occasionally). (Though DaveK, if I’m not mistaken, you were the first to point this out right after the draft.) While I still favor what a 3-4 line-up brings, I could see how shifting to an occasional 4-3 look could be smart. Consider this line-up: Kampman, Raji, Pickett and Jenkins on the line with Matthews, Barnett and Hawk (or Bishop or Chillar) as LBs. Raji and Pickett could function similarly to the Williams’ duo in Minnesota. We’d suddenly have a viable front 7.

One reason why I’m pleased with the draft overall though, is (as DaveK and others have pointed out) because we now have flexibility that we didn’t have before. We have several different linebackers with different strengths, and a bit more depth on our D-Line. Couple this with a coach many of us feel will be good at using multiple combinations and there may be reason for optimism for our defense. In fact, as much as I talk about the importance of an offense creating mismatches (a philosophy I know McCarthy embraces as well), I think it’s similarly important for a defense to create different looks. When an astute QB or O-coordinator can anticipate what a defense is going to bring, playing offense becomes much easier. But when a QB/offense is unsure of what may happen, the defense can control the game. With greater flexibility because of a better selection of defensive personnel, I wouldn’t be surprised if Capers is able to add more of a surprise element than we’ve had the past few years.

Packers add DE Wynn and CB Underwood

April 26, 2009

I’m glad we picked up a DE, but my hope would have been that he would have been a bit bigger (he’s only 275lbs). It’s interesting, the more the draft plays out and the more I think about the Pack’s roster, the more I wonder if they are going to use a somewhat improvised 3-4 line-up. I am wondering if they are thinking about pairing Raji with Pickett and Jenkins on the line and going with 4 LBs. It would be a bit different from other 3-4 line-ups in that either Raji or Pickett (probably Raji), whoever plays DE, would be quite a bit bigger than most DEs in a 3-4. I also wonder if Capers’ system will be much more of a hybrid 3-4/4-3 that has a bunch of sub packages – one that brings a ton of different looks.

We do have future needs at CB so I don’t mind grabbing one here.

Pack add OT Lang and FB Johnson

April 26, 2009

Nice additions again. I’m not sure about how quality these two guys JT Lang or Quinn Johnson are – but Quinn Johnson does come from a newer football powerhouse in LSU. Wonder if Matt Flynn knew this guy.

One reason why I’m feeling pretty good about this draft – is that TT appears to be drafting for need positions more than in the past. While I understand the philosophy behind “best player available”, I think it’s best when that philosophy is blended as well as possible with team needs. I think TT would have a hard time arguing that this year, he hasn’t been focused a bit more on team needs. (By the way, I think FB was more of a need than others. Korey Hall and John Kuhn have been OK, nothing special, and I’d go so far as to say that they played a part in the weaker running game last year (as did Grant and the O-Line).

Was move for Matthews worth it?

April 25, 2009

That is the question of the hour. My initial reaction was very positive until I heard about what we gave up (#41, #73 and #83 picks – and getting some later round pick back from the Pats). I had told Steve shortly after taking Raji that I wouldn’t mind trading up to get one of the high profile LBs who were still available. So, I actually don’t really fault TT for trading up to get a LB he apparently really wanted. And, I also just like that he did something a bit different, a bit unconventional for TT. Really, he’s taken a decent gamble here because we gave up a lot for this guy. One thing I suspect is that TT thinks there are likely to be some decent players available still in the later rounds. Prior to the draft he disagreed with some of the other GMs who thought this was a weak draft. He said he thought it was actually quite a “deep” draft.

While I’m not sure I would have given up quite so much, in the end, I have to say I’m pleased with Day 1. A fair # of the draft “experts” had both of these guys ranked within the top 20 – so having 2 top 20 guys is a good thing.

B.J. Raji Packer’s #9 pick

April 25, 2009

B.J. Raji is a solid pick. While I’m not exactly sure how they will work this out with Ryan Pickett (could Pickett lose 20 pounds and move to a DE spot in the 3-4…doubtful?), for the team’s future, by all accounts, it does seem to be a good pick. In some mock drafts, Raji was put as high as 4-5, so it’s generally recognized that the guy has some special talent. Brother Steve doesn’t mind the pick either.

To be honest thought, I must say that I find myself a bit less pumped than if we would have been able to land someone like Eugene Monroe – Steve just said the same thing. Oh well, again, not a bad pick in an area that definitely needs some quality depth.

2009 Packer draft needs

April 25, 2009

Here are the areas of the team I hope are addressed in the draft (in order of priority):

  1. Offensive Tackle – One of the biggest concerns I have going into the 2009 season is offensive tackle. Both RT and LT are very important positions for any offense. A shoddy player at either post can really interfere with the effectiveness of an offense. I’ve been saying for a few years now that I think Chad Clifton is pretty much done. He was very good at one time, but the last few years (even during his “Pro Bowl” year – that was a you-should-have-been-in-previous-Pro-Bowls nod), he’s been borderline bad. We may be able to squeeze another year out of him, but I’d be doubtful beyond that. And if Tauscher doesn’t come back, I have concerns about any existing players taking over. Maybe one of them would do fine but I think it would be smart to strongly consider taking a quality OT with one of our first 2-3 picks in this draft. (I’d be happiest with any of the b ig 4 – Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, then Jason Smith or Michael Oher).
  2. Defensive Line – I’ve noticed a good number of Packer fans are lobbying for BJ Raji. I wouldn’t mind that pick, but I don’t think it’s as much of a need as OT or LB…or DE. I still think Ryan Pickett will end up doing well as THE guy in the middle of the 3-4. He was not great last year but I think he’s the kind of guy who will play better for a better coach – and I’m pretty sure Capers will be better than Sanders. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to add depth behind Pickett – I just would do it with a later round pick. I am presently more concerned re the DE position. Right now, we have a recovering-from-major-injury Cullen Jenkins and I don’t know, probably Johnny Jolly as our DEs. Jolly seemed to take a step backward last year and of course, the uncertainty with Jenkins is a concern. I think we should consider taking a DE with one of our first few picks. (I’d watch for Tyson Jackson here).
  3. Linebacker – Considering we’ve switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4, I’d also like another LB or two in the mix in case any existing players really struggle with the transition. I also just think we need a better overall selection of players because the present group is average at best. One thing I do feel better about now with Capers at the helm is the likelihood that he’ll offer a more honest assessment of the LB talent we have. I think Poppinga and Hawk got free passes last year (actually Poppinga for 3 years now) despite really weak play likely because several loyalists were being stubborn. I’m hoping Capers may be more willing to look harder at Lansanah and Bishop. Still, I think we should draft 1-2 LBs in this draft and maybe even use one of the first 2 picks for him. (Guys to watch for are James Laurinaitis and Larry English and Rey Maualuga – by the way, this post was drafted initially before reading Bob McGinn’s 4/25 article stating that these 3 guys are guys TT likes. The other guys I have to think will be  tempting for TT is Connor Barwin and Clint Sintim. Barwin is the tallest LB at 6’4″ and was one of the fastest at 4.56. There is some thought that he would be an ideal OLB in a 3-4.)
  4. Running back – there are some good RBs in this year’s draft apparently. I think Grant will bounce back this year and his part of the running game will probably be good again. But I’m not dazzled by his back-ups. Brandon Jackson isn’t terrible, and it could be argued that Wynn may in fact have the most potential. But based on the decent possibility that Jackson and/or Wynn don’t progress this year, I think this group could use more competition – ideally in the form of a very fast/shifty scat back type. If Grant can wear defenses down, this guy could tire them out by making them chase. I wouldn’t be too surprised if TT drafted a RB on the first day. (Cedric Peerman or Andre Brown).
  5. Cornerback – draft for the future here. We need a another CB or 2 heading into this year because it’s possible Woodson/Harris may see a decline in their play soon – and because as olders guys, they may be more prone to injury. I’d take a CB in mid to later rounds as the CB group this year is not considered to be that great. (They apparently like Bradley Fletcher from Iowa.)
  6. Tight End – This may seem to be too high a priority for TE, but the reason I placed it here is because this is a year there seems to be major talent at the position. Donald Lee is a bit above average, Humphrey may still be good but doesn’t seem to get the chance and Finley strikes me as one of those guys who will continually frustrate. Again, I can admit that overall, TE is not a desperate need, but I think it would be smart to use a mid-round pick on TE. (People will mock, but I would take a chance on Travis Beckum. He has great hands, he’s fast and he benched more than any TE at the combine. While blocking needs help, he has the strength and athleticism to learn how. I’d also look at Chase Coffman – he was very good in college and of course his dad Paul rules).
  7. Safety – I have concerns about Bigby’s injuries from last year and his overall lack of contribution. I felt like Rouse took a step back last year when he had the opportunity to shine and Collins’ frequent injuries concern me (though he often bounces back). I have heard that newly acquired Anthony Smith has at least the physical talent to be quite good, but I wouldn’t bank on it if Pitt didn’t think retaining him for a relatively low salary was worth it. I would look for a safety in the middle rounds and I would place a specific emphasis on finding a heady player – one reputed to pick things up quickly (though Marquand Manual was supposed to be like that and he sucked). (That’s why I wanted to pick up Jim Leonhard earlier – he’s a smart player whose consistent playmaking is not a coincidence – the guy is very good.)
  8. WR – again, considering Driver and his decent contract may not have much time left in Green Bay, I can see the team looking for another Jennings-like steal at WR in the middle rounds of the draft. (Watch for 6’6″ freak Ramses Bardin).
  9. Punter – while I doubt TT would use a draft choice on a punter, we could use competition here to ensure that we don’t have another disastrous year at the position.
  10. Fullback – We could use a later round pick on FB – not convinced our two FBs do as much to help the running game as they could. (Watch for Tony Fiammetta only because his name sounds like a FB name and someone TT would like.)
  11. Offensive Guard – If McCarthy stops shuffling everyone around this year, I imagine Colledge and Spitz (or Sitton if Spitz moved to center) may end up being at least serviceable. And the addition of Duke Preston may end up being a wise, quiet move as he could find himself a starter. Still, I wouldn’t be bothered if we used a pick on an OG.

McGinn’s info – where did he get it from?

April 25, 2009

Read Bob McGinn’s article this morning about Michael Crabtree and the draft and the first question you have may be the first question I had: how did he get this information? Ted Thompson and co never reveal their favorites in the draft, so why should we take this information as true? Is TT (or whoever offered this info) putting McGinn and now the rest of us intentionally off on the wrong scent? Or, maybe this info is dead one and just maybe, TT is seeing the top players in this draft similarly to how other GMs and mock draft “experts” see it. I don’t know, I guess the skeptic in me finds this hard to believe considering TT’s history of gravitating toward lesser known players.

If this info is accurate, though, I must say that I am somewhat comforted. I’d go so far as to say that I would welcome pretty much every player mentioned in the article as our first pick – and the only one I would be really concerned about actually, would be Crabtree. I am not keen on the fact that several different teams had that same negative impression re this guy. Now, I wouldn’t actually be totally opposed to taking a high quality WR because I personally think this may be Driver’s last year in Green Bay – potentially leaving us with only 1 for-sure excellent WR in Jennings. (As I noted before, I would rather make an offer to the Cardinals for Anquan Boldin – maybe even offer our first round pick, allowing us to then eventually pay Boldin the $20 million guaranteed money that that first round, unproven player would demand.)

Nice Silverstein article on the draft

April 20, 2009

From today’s jsonline, Silverstein has an interesting look at (and explanation for) why the Packers use their 30 prospect visits for later round/free agent type prospects. After reading through this list of lower profile guys, I have to admit, I am reminded that in any draft, sorting through such a huge number of prospects really is a daunting task. And while I contend that TT is somewhat mediocre at drafting, I want to make sure I stop short of making it seem like I think his job on draft day is an easy one. It’s not. There is so much to consider and so many different directions the draft can go at any second. In the end, I’m just hoping this year that we land at least 2-3 high quality guys who can help in 2009.

First draft premonition

April 20, 2009

I’ve been waiting for some kind of a gut feeling about the upcoming draft for the Packers. Especially concerning the first round. For months, I’ve sat here with nothing. Absolutely nothing. Really no clue about what the Pack might do. I have thoughts on what they should do – and will be posting some of these thoughts in the coming days. But I have no idea what TT has planned. TT could trade down if there are any takers, he could shock the world and trade up for Aaron Curry, he could take Malcolm Jenkins because he thinks he’s a great athlete, he could take BJ Raji because it would be nice to add some depth to the D-Line, or he could take one of a handful of decent LB options. Or, he could take another WR, or he might snag a QB from a college nobody has ever heard of, or he might take a punter or he might draft Brother Steve for the new position of “team arguer”  –  the guy who argues with teammates until they get really pissed off leading to angrier and more aggressive play. I have no idea what’s going to happen and I haven’t had a gut feeling about anything…until yesterday.

Lately, my 21 month old son has been making up words…like his father. He thinks it’s very, very funny. (The difference, of course, is that he hasn’t learned about verbal immunity and his need to add “if you will” or “as it were” to any made up word giving him proper license to make up the word…he’ll learn eventually.) Anyway, what he does is say a random word he believes is not a word and then laughs very hard making everyone nearby laugh very hard as well. Repeatedly yesterday, for I’d say 20 minutes, he kept yelling the ‘word’ “maybin, maybin, maybin…” until the room would break out in laughter. Shortly after this Maybin outburst, I happened to review an article on the draft mentioning one Aaron Maybin. Perhaps it’s a sign (actually, I doubt it, but with TT at the helm, this may be as legit a guess as any another).

Jamaicanadian DT on Packers radar?

March 31, 2009

Steve Wyche from NFL.com should have titled  this article , “Ted Thompson’s draft board exposed”. I bet there is a solid chance one of these guys becomes a Packer (though the exposure they’ve just gotten from this article may discourage TT because he prefers that NOBODY has heard of his draft picks.)

I’d say the most likely candidate here is this DT Vaughn Martin. He seems very much like the kind of obscure yet intriguing prospect TT covets. He’s originally from Jamaica, but a Canadian citizen, he’s 6’3″ and 331 lbs, ran a 5.04 40 and benched 225 32 times at his pro day. Not bad, eh? And the report is that he’s very athletic for a guy his size. Perhaps the biggest reason TT may go after a guy like this is his attitude:

“With me, you get a blank canvas to mold into whatever you want to mold me into.”

Though molding canvas isn’t necessarily easy, I’m sure Ted gets the gist of the comment and we all know that openness to being brainwashed is exactly what Ted looks for.



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