Saying that Ted Thompson and the Packers focused on defense in the 2012 NFL Draft wouldn’t be strong enough. Thompson used the Packers’ first six draft picks exclusively on defense before drafting Andrew Datko in the seventh round.
The heavy emphasis on defense wasn’t the only difference in this years’ draft for the Packers. After trading up just three times since taking over draft day responsibilities for the Packers, Thompson traded up not once, not twice, but thrice to get players.
Round 1: Nick Perry, OLB, University of Southern California
Perry fulfills a specific need while providing great value to the Packers at the 28th pick. Perry should be able to make the transition to OLB and fit nicely opposite Clay Matthews. It would appear that Perry will be the starter making the jump over Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo. With some coaching, Perry should be able to make an immediate impact on the Packers defense.
Round 2: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
With a pick I would have been pleased with in the first round, the Packers traded up and grabbed Worthy. The combo of Perry and Worthy will come into Green Bay with big expectations, similar to Matthews and B.J. Raji. Worthy will immediately improve the Packers defensive line lined up alongside Raji and Ryan Pickett. Worthy not only adds to the pass rush, but allows the Packers flexibility on the line because of his size.
Round 2a: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
As if one trade up wasn’t enough, Thompson did the previously unthinkable and got back into the second round to grab Casey Hayward. The pick should provide the Packers with better depth at cornerback and flexibility to adjust their defensive backfield accordingly. There were whispers of the possibility of Hayward switching to safety and the possibility of Woodson to safety seems more likely now than ever.
Round 4: Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
Apparently the Packers are taking their issues up front seriously. Before taking Daniels in the fourth round, the Packers had already added Anthony Hargrove in free agency and drafted Jerel Worthy in the second round. In addition to the newcomers, Lawrence Guy should be back in camp fighting for a chance. Daniels will have every opportunity in camp to crack the rotation and get some playing time. This could be a deathblow to Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson.
Round 4: Jerron McMillian, SS, Maine
Defense once again as the Packers take small school guy McMillian out of Maine. The former Black Bear adds an incredibly fast safety to the roster. It may take a few years of coaching for McMillian to make an impact, but with the Packers concerns at safety, anything is possible and the more options, the better in the search to find a replacement for Nick Collins.
Round 5: Terrell Manning, OLB, North Carolina State
It couldn’t possibly be another trade-up, could it? After saying he’s gone crazy yesterday, Thompson went even further off the deep end by trading up again to get back into the fifth round to select Terrell Manning. The Packers may be planning to use Manning inside, rather than out. It was also noted by a variety of different people, that the Packers are collecting a good number of players that could fit a 4-3 defense.
Round 7: Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State University
The Packers finally turned to the offensive side of the ball and selected Andrew Datko. With Chad Clifton’s release this offseason, the Packers could use another fresh body during camp. Datko is a tall lineman standing 6’6″ and will have a chance to compete in camp.
Round 7: B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga
Offense twice in a row to complete the Packers 2012 draft class. The Packers get a potential future backup quarterback in B.J. Coleman. Graham Harrell is likely to take up the backup role behind Aaron Rodgers. Coleman is pretty raw and will benefit from the Packers extremely talented coaching staff.
Overall thoughts on Draft class:
I am extremely pleased with the Packers draft class. Not only did the Packers address many of the specific needs of the team, they got good value in their picks. I don’t think the first two days of the draft could have been much better for Green Bay as they nabbed Perry, Worthy and Hayward. All three players can immediately help the defense in their specific roles.
The focus on defense was much needed for a team that struggled so much in that department last season. I have to applaud Ted Thompson for going out of his comfort zone by trading up three times. The Packers have not only set themselves up for immediate success with this draft class, but have ensured the future as well by drafting responsibly.——————
Michael is a sports writer currently attending Seattle University. You can follow Michael on Twitter .