Unless you were asleep at the switch, or were abducted by aliens, it was hard for PACKERS fans to not notice that the team’s 2012 DRAFT effort had a very different flavor to it this year. WHITEY flipped positions around 3 times and has a new nickname: TRADER TED. It just so happened that the team needed Defense and almost every time the team Picked the Best Available Athlete on their Board it was a defender. They seemed to get more than their share of players who had a higher Draft value than the spot at which they took them. But let’s slow down the train a bit and look at items individually for a couple of minutes.
It may seem hard to believe, but this was THOMPSON’s 8th DRAFT as the PACKERS head man. Where does the time go? In the previous 7 Drafts WHITEY traded “up” 3 times. In this DRAFT alone he traded up 3 times under the new personna TRADER TED. Having 12 Picks in his quiver emboldened him, I believe, to move up to secure players they had highly rated, but who he felt would not still be there when their next turn came around. And because the entire organization felt such a strong need to bolster the defensive troops he was trading up to get valued defenders as his top priority. So, even though it may look like the Best Available theory went out the window, I think this effort was just a variation on a theme so to speak. And to all of you PACKERS fans who have been screaming since the Play-Off loss to the GIANTS about needing to fix he Defense… you should be very happy right now.
So 12 Picks turned into 8, which must have caused some serious angst on the part of conservative TED, who normally hoards Picks like diamonds. He even alluded to that during several of his press appearances, saying he wasn’t his “conservative” father’s son anymore. By the way, some of his statements and how they were phrased also made me believe he was quite comfortable with the Draft path he chose to follow this year. He seemed very relaxed and casual in front of the camera this year… at least for the TED THOMPSON we’ve known this past almost decade. For a 15-1 team I see no real issue with 8 drafted Rookies on the roster as opposed to 12. They are in the process of signing a boatload of undrafted Free Agents, which I’ll discuss next week after the first mini-camp is over in Green Bay.
So what about value in these Picks? I will fess up that my player projections for this year’s Draft did not compare with my success rate from last year. But when BRUCE IRVIN gets taken half way thru Round 1, I knew it spelled trouble for conventional wisdom for us die hard Draftniks. Sure enough there were more surprises in the first 3 Rounds than ever. So despite not winning a ribbon at the fair for my prognostications this year.I am still going to compare the value they got for who/where they picked to what I had projected.
ROUND 1 PICK 28 NICK PERRY/DE/OLB He was my 33rd ranked overall player prospect, but I have had him pegged to the PACKERS since my first PACKERS Mock in early April. He’s a good fit for their scheme and generating potential pass rush pressure.
ROUND 2 PICK 51 JEREL WORTHY/DT I, like many people, had WORTHY ranked as a First Rounder. He was my 29th overall player. He has some issues but lack of talent is not one of them.
ROUND 3 PICK 62 CASEY HAYWARD/CB I had him ranked 66th, which means pretty much a wash, and I think his tough style of play with good man-cover skills fits their D nicely. HAYWARD is a football player. Watch out SAM SHIELDS.
ROUND 4 PICK 132 MIKE DANIELS/DT I only had him ranked as the 258th best prospect. And I also did not see his fit in a 3-4 scheme, but we’ll touch on that later. He’s an active, quick guy when healthy, but will be a sub-package player only.
ROUND 4 PICK 133 JERRON McMILLAN/S I smell a need pick here with the cutting of NICK COLLINS. But he is a good athlete & should excel on Special Teams. I had him ranked at 211.
ROUND 5 PICK 163 TERRELL MANNING/OLB This was their best “get” on my Board. I ranked MANNING as the 117th best player which is more than a Round higher than he was taken. Bets fit is as OLB in 4-3 scheme; more on that later.
ROUND 7 PICK 241 ANDREW DATKO/OT Prior to two shoulder surgeries he reminded me an awful lot of CLIFTON coming out of college. Not a great athlete, but a hard worker with a great attitude. If he came with a good health note from DR. JAMES ANDREWS then he can help their OL, and soon. He’s a better player than an athlete. I ranked him 280 because of the shoulder issues.
ROUND 7 PICK 243 B.J. COLEMAN/QB Great size, good athlete and a strong arm. But he wilts under pass rush pressure and has accuracy issues. A nice McCARTHY project with more talent than FLYNN. I had him ranked as 190th best player.
As I look at their selections it seems to me that almost half of them don’t look like perfect fits for a 3-4 scheme. I have serious questions as to how much we might see some 4-3 alignments on the field this coming season, as opposed to a 3-4, or 2-4 sub packages in long yardage situations as early as 2nd down. I think the PACKERS brass looked more at overall talent and athleticism than perfect fits for a standard 3-4 defensive scheme. Hey, the PACKERS had a 3-man DL on the field less than 50% of the time in 2011. I also find it quite interesting that if you go the official PACKERS website and bring up the roster PERRY is already shown as an OLB, not a DE.
It also occurs to me that if you take the Draftees and combine them with VFA HARGROVE & MUIR, there shouldn’t be too many players at defensive positions feeling too secure in their job status. I believe the PACKERS coaching staff is prepared for major changes in defensive personnel if the newcomers play up to their potential. If I’m a veteran PACKERS defender I’m not sensing great job security right now.
Only 1 Draftee (HAYWARD) played in he Senior Bowl, which is low for this team under THOMPSON. 3of the 8 players selected were underclassmen; PERRY. WORTHY & MANNING. That’s a high percentage for the old WHITEY in the Draft. 2 players came from the BIG 10, but as usual no BADGERS were selected by the Green & Gold. Two guys came via the ACC in MANNING & DATKO.
Since I had a disappointing prediction year overall I am going to crow a little bit. Please look at my final PACKERS MOCK, which appears just below this article. I projected PERRY in Round 1. I also had HAYWARD as an alternate selection in Round 2. And I had COLEMAN as their QB project in Round 6. Given how covert of a Draft operation TRADER TED runs, I’ll settle for 3/8 any year.
As I look ahead to the Undrafted Rookie signings, I will be looking for three specific “need areas” that still require addressing beyond the 8 Draft Picks: OL, RB, WR. Let’s see if I can have some talented guys to talk to you about when that list is finalized.
Editors Note: Thanks once again to our friend Pigskin Paul for this contribution to the Packers universe. You can read more of Paul’s writing at his own site, Pigskin Paul’s Place and follow him on twitter at @PigskinPaul.