Defensive Line – I like our D-Line. I like that Pickett’s here to stay for a bit, Raji looks to be a nice addition, Jolly is still good and Jenkins is OK. Beyond that though, we are a bit thin. I wouldn’t be surprised if TT went after at least one quality pass rusher (lighter DE/LB type guy) and one Jenkins-sized D-lineman. We could use depth here. One thing that wouldn’t surprise me is if Justin Harrell ends up playing decently. Because time has passed, I don’t think Harrell will feel the negative pressure he felt the first few years on the team. I think he may be able to finally just get in there and play…assuming of course, he stays healthy which considering his past, is a massive assumption.
Linebackers – After cutting Poppinga (which hopefully happens early on), the team should have some room for a younger guy. I still think Hawk is not very good despite his improvement last year. He’s adequate yes, but I continue to worry that he’s playing in front of not one, but two players who could play better – Chillar, Bishop. Barnett was solid and Matthews was quite good and has loads of potential (though his coverage and run D need some work). Brad Jones held his own and didn’t do badly for a rookie, but let’s be honest, he has one pass rush move and considering the number of times he was rushing, this is something he needs to improve upon big-time. The tough question with Jones might be: what do we do if he doesn’t develop well this year? I would kind of like to see how his development progresses before benching him because again, he wasn’t terrible last year for a rookie – he was decent for a rookie. But I also don’t want us to be disadvantaged too much on defense because we’re trying to develop someone when there are guys behind him who may just plain be better (especially Chillar). Chillar is a decent player and I can’t help but wonder how things would be if he were a regular starter. I like him over Hawk (and maybe even Brad Jones as OLB) because of his speed and coverage abilities. I still think Desmond Bishop has the potential to step in and change games and I’d really like to see him be given a better chance this year to prove himself. I think he would outplay both Hawk and even Jones at OLB if he were given the chance. (Imagine the chaos that would ensue if Bishop and Matthews were called upon to rush the QB on the same play from opposite sides. Both have an energy level and a certain tenacity that few others have.) Like I’ve said before, while there are a number of names we all throw around at the LB position, that doesn’t mean necessarily that there is lots of depth. I’d rate 2 starters as above average (Barnett, Matthews) but the other two,Hawk and Jones, are average. I think we should add a LB from the draft to improve our depth and our potential going forward. One guy to keep an eye on this year is LB Cyril Obiozor. He struggled to pick things up early last year, but Kevin Greene has worked a lot with him and if I remember right from last year, Greene thinks this guy has loads of potential. He is a big dude and I think the coaching staff sees him someday filling a role as a punishing hitter having a nasty presence on the field.
Cornerbacks – Al Harris will be back. For someone whose hair suggests a laid back, Rastafarian, pot-accepting outlook, Al Harris is a hard-working and motivated guy who will do whatever it takes to get back on the field. I like that about him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dom Capers experiments a little bit with Harris this year – kind of like he has with Woodson. Harris is a heady player, smart, savvy, good tackler. I could see Capers working with Harris on dropping off of man coverage on some nickel/dime situations and being more of a freelancer like Woodson. Maybe it wouldn’t work and would be too much of a departure for him from his normal gig. And maybe it would be dumb to pull Harris away from his strength which is man-to-man. But his man-to-man skills have declined especially against bigger WRs and I definitely think Harris has a mental understanding/veteran astuteness that might enable him to be a bit of a rover. Offenses have a hard enough time with Woodson improvising, having another veteran doing it could make things really messy for opposing offenses (or perhaps more disorganized for us…). Woodson is unreal – no concerns there at all. Tramon Williams is a guy many of us believe should be a bit further ahead right now developmentally. But whenever I worry about him, I try to remind myself that CB is one of, if not the most difficult positions on the football field and that guys like Woodson, Revis and Asomougha are big-time exceptions. With the precision passing games that so many teams have, even blanket coverage sometimes isn’t enough. I still like his potential and was pleased in particular with his ball-hawking/interception improvement last year. I would be a bit surprised if Will Blackmon figures much into the CB rotation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets back into returning. We’ll see how he’s recovered. One guy who could surprise this year because lots of us have kind of forgotten about him is Pat Lee. He looked a bit raw last preseason yes, but he also had flashes of quality play and one big hit I remember. I would love to see him jump right back in and give us a little different feel back there. Just when I decide again that Jarrett Bush should be cut, I think back to when he was a restricted free agent (I believe he was an RFA) a couple years ago and others teams apparently expressed serious interest in him. Must be his special teams work as his coverage abilities remain iffy. Brandon Underwood may be decent yet too – he could figure in there (not so sure about Josh Bell).
Safeties – Glad we’ve signed Collins. He’s good – he’s not a superstar, but he’d pretty solid. I am very curious to see what Atari Bigby brings this season. He’s had flashes of tremendous play during his time here and he did show an increased ball-hawking talent last year. But he isn’t always steady and I remember him taking some particularly bad angles last year. I don’t mind him as the starter opposite Collins and right now, I definitely would prefer him there to any of the other options (Derrick Martin, Khalil Jones, Jarrett Bush). Now, Derrick Martin had a bad go of it earlier in 2009 when he was thrust into starting duty hardly knowing the defense. My guess is that if he ended up having to start, he’d probably do much better now – he’s a heck of an athlete and a quality special teamer. Still, I think the Packers should draft a safety. In the near-term, I think picking up a safety with good coverage skills in particular would be smart because having the option to bring a safety up to cover might free up Woodson to improvise leading to many more interceptions returned for TDs.
I definitely agree with everything you said. Linebackers is the biggest thing where it’s going to be interesting this year. I really wanna see what Bishop can do. Coaches can see more than we can cause we only see the games etc, not the practices and all the behind the scenes. But it just seems like he can do it, and I hope with a year of working on our scheme, Capers has mastered some great ideas and using our entire LB corps very effectively. And if we were able to add a pass rusher opposite clay to that group, I think Dom might really have fun this year. This defense has the potential, if we add the right guys (and don’t end up with busts obviously).
Based on the games that GB lost down the stretch to Pitt and Az I think that an OLB opposite Matthews and more help in the defensive backfield should be the priority early in the draft. As horrible as the OL was early last year it did stabilize by the end of the year for the most part (although I cannot argue with anyone who points out that Rodgers is our franchise now and the #1 priority going forward has to be protection to allow him to do his thing).
My hope is that TT has identified his “guys” in these three groups and will take the guy who he sees as the biggest impact player with that #23 pick. If Jerry Hughes is there I’ll be pulling for us to take him, but Mays (S, USC) and the CB from Rutgers, McCourty, sound like good fits too. My gut tells me that TT will count on Lee and Underwood to step up and the pick will be that OLB unless a OT falls down and is too good to pass up. In today’s game putting pressure on the passer is so important and getting Matthews a counterpart who can get in the backfield is the best way to help the DBs. The pack is young and on the verge of having a really special defense, it would be great to add one more dynamic playmaker to this group.
OL must be addressed, no question, but I think TT probably feels he can get volume and value later in the draft for that position. If Spitz is healthy and Lang keeps progressing, the line will be fine for the short term. I am not a big fan of Colledge, but if he can be serviceable it buys some more time.
If there is a stud punter out there, a 5th or 6th rd pick would seem to fill a need. And more love here for a scat-back/KR . . . I was a little disapppinted that the pack seemed to have no interest in Ted Ginn, Jr. He is a limited player in a lot of ways but he is very explosive and might have been a good fit for this team.
I’m sticking with my original recommendation: Myron Rolle, S/DB, FSU
Then we go OT/OLB the next few rounds.
Wild card here…..if Tebow is available in later rounds (third is probably the latest) it would be a great signing as a third string QB/Jersey seller. He would be able to mix it up a bit in the backfield in Wildcat-type situations and mentoring under A-Rodg could make him big time trade value potential/good backup for if Rodg goes down.
Im actually the exact opposite of you. I think the top ten will be overrated and the depth here will be fantastic. I dont think we have an ’83 on our hands – but I think there will be some future pro-bowlers/game changers taken in the second-fifth rounds this year.
I believe what TT told us yesterday. The focus will be OT and DB. The higher selections will be spent in those categories and LB and DL at the bottom. Maybe a kicker and punter as Undrafted FA’s later.
In my opinion, the Packers needs this year are OLB, OT, CB, and S in that order. But, the draft isn’t about this year. The draft is finding talent that can play for you for the next 5-6 years. Besides QB, the hardest and most important positions to fill for teams are LT and CB. The offense just doesn’t work without a quality LT and a defense without two quality CB’s is easy to pick apart. OT and CB are always key cogs to a championship team and they are two positions that team struggle with the most. And with our RT, LT, and two CB’s north of 30 you have to think the Packers have to focus on OT and CB in this draft. From what I have read this draft is full of quality 3-4 OLB’s and even though that is the biggest need this year in my opinion, let’s hope it can be addressed in round 3 or 4 and TT drafts our starting LT and CB for the next decade in the first two rounds!