So now all the guess work is over and the NFL Draft is in the books. As I write this most Packers rookies are showing up for their first taste of an NFL OTA.
And it is obvious that unless I am going to be totally oblivious of my readers’ desires, which is not a good thing at all, I am going to have to relent of my “no Draft Grades” stance, at least relative to the PACKERS and the rest of the NFC North.
So let’s start right at the top of the list with the team that is the clear choice as “America’s Team”, to the vast majority of my readers.
GREEN BAY PACKERS 2013 DRAFT ANALYSIS
ROUND 1, PICK 26 DATONE JONES 6’4/283 UCLA 4.80/40 32 3/4” ARMS 10” HANDS
JONES selection may have been a slight surprise to some, but his name had been surfacing in talk of the PACK’s Draft plan on a regular basis over the final weeks leading up to the Draft. The team’s brain trust (THOMPSON&McCARTHY) clearly agreed in principle with a lot of the PACKERS fan base that the team needed more help for CLAY MATTHEWS in generating pressure on opposing QBs. Disrupting opposing backfields turned into a hobby for JONES last season under the new coaching staff at UCLA, led by veteran NFL Coach JIM MORA. He recorded 19 TFL and 6.5 Sacks in his final season for the BRUINS. He might be a bit light in the pants for an NFL 3-4 scheme, but he carries his current weight well and combines functional strength and quickness to keep from being engulfed by bigger OT. His 29 reps in the Bench Press at the COMBINE was impressive for his weight. He also shows solid hand work combining strength and quickness to keep blockers off balance. He had a very solid week of work in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He excelled in practices and roamed the field effectively during the game. One would expect that DOM CAPERS will move JONES around and have him on the field even in his 2-man DL formations. He has experience all along the line and has more athleticism than the last guy the PACKERS selected to fill this role for them: MIKE NEAL. I would expect JONES and a healthy NICK PERRY to help CLAY MATTHEWS tremendously in the front 7 in 2013. Not a “special” player like MATTHEWS, but appears to be an excellent fit in the PACKERS schemes and should contribute right away as a Rookie.
Ranked 52nd overall in Pigskin Paul’s final prospect rankings.
ROUND 2, PICK 61 EDDIE LACY/RB 5’11/231 ALABAMA 4.60/40 31” ARMS 9.5” HANDS
There was no doubt that LACY was the top RB coming out of college football this year, but a lengthy list of medical issues as documented in his medical exams led to his being available for the PACK in Round 2. So the big question becomes how well the team’s medical staff was able to diagnose his past & current injury issues and project them going forward in a pro career. Despite the fact that with McCARTHY as the HC and AARON RODGERS at QB, this team is going to live and die by the passing game, an awful lot of people think this team clearly needs to be able to run the ball more effectively to win more Play-Off games and capture another LOMBARDI Trophy while their current roster is in its prime. When healthy LACY is a dominating power runner, with surprising quickness and field vision. In his three years at ‘BAMA he compiled a 6.8 ypc career mark, which also included 30 rushing TD. His determination and burst through the creases created by his OL, and the ability to bounce off would-be tacklers is reminiscent of MARSHAWN LYNCH. Although only asked to catch out of the backfield on a limited basis, he appears to have good hands. He also shows the desire and ability to pass-pro, which has been a missing quality in too many recent PACKERS RB candidates. Protecting RODGERS better is a big deal and that will require more than just better OL play. In the NFL RB pass-pro is essential. In essence I’m describing a RB who should significantly upgrade the PACKERS running game, which many fans have clamored for since TED THOMPSON took over the team. The medical issues may be a risk, but without them the PACK never would have gotten a sniff of this guy in Round 2. If he can stay healthy and get 20 touches per game the PACKERS running attack will improve tremendously with another 1,000 yard RB.
Ranked 27th overall by Pigskin Paul.
TRADER TED put on his cape and wheeled and dealed his way out of Round 3, leaving himself with a bevy of extra Picks for Saturday, where traditionally he has done some of his best prospect evaluation and picking. So let’s move on to Round 4, where THOMPSON ended up with 3 Picks.
ROUND 4, PICK 109 DAVID BAKHTIARI/OT 6’4/299 COLORADO 5.09/40 34” ARMS 9.5” HANDS
Once again the specter of too many hits on RODGERS prompted THOMPSON to switch his emphasis into the trenches. BAKHTIARI toiled in relative obscurity at one of the worst D1 college football programs in the country, in recent years. He opted to leave school early rather than face another new coaching staff this Fall. He started all three years at Colorado. Despite being the long-armed, lanky zone blocking type of player the PACKERS covet he is strong for his frame, with a solid hand punch and an impressive 28 reps at the COMBINE. He’s a natural knee bender and should be able to keep up with the faster speed pass rushers around the League. My guess would be that he’ll be a weight room project to improve his core strength. Word right now is that he will open Training Camp competing at the LT spot with BRIAN BULAGA. I’d bet dollars to donuts that the team would love for this guy to shine right away and allow them to move BULAGA back to RT. I doubt they are counting on that scenario, but I’m sure they see him as their LT f the future.
Pigskin Paul had him ranked as the 124th best prospect in the DRAFT.
ROUND 4, PICK 122 J.C. TRETTER/OG/OC 6’4/307 CORNELL 5.09/40 33 3/8” ARMS 10 3/8” HANDS
I had been touting TRETTER for the PACK ever since the COMBINE. Evidently THOMPSON saw even more in him than I did, taking him this early. But there is no denying the athleticism and potential of this Ivy Leaguer who started at LT his last 2 years there. He looks to have the frame to add another 10 lbs. easily as part of the proposed switch to the interior OL. He will represent the kind of athletic, but strong interior OL they like. He could also have great value early in his career with his ability to likely back up all 5 OL slots. He pressed the bar 29 times at the COMBINE, which is well above average for his weight and arm length. I am not going to quibble that he was taken to early. He has NFL starting potential and that justifies being picked in the top 150.
He was ranked as the 196th best prospect by Pigskin Paul.
ROUND 4, PICK 125 JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN/RB 5’10/205 UCLA 4.49/40 30” ARMS 9 3/8” HANDS
I’m thinking an awful lot of PACKERS fans were downright stunned that WHITEY would take another RB with this Pick. Even more of us were stunned that this player was still on the Draft Board beyond Friday’s selections. I have been wondering for almost a year where the love was for FRANKLIN given his career’s work at UCLA. Like JONES he absolutely thrived under the MORA coaching regime. He left UCLA as their all-time leading rusher with over 4,400 hundred yards and a career average of 5.6 ypc. He showed excellent hands as a senior when they looked for him in the passing game and hauled in 33 catches. Coach MORA was effusive in praise of him both as a person and a player, which is always music to the ears of TED THOMPSON. His early career fumbling problems disappeared under the MORA staff, with only 1 fumble in 315 touches last season. He too, MR. RODGERS, is solid in pass-pro for his size. I would expect he might get a chance to return kick-offs in Green Bay. Based on the praise from his college coaches also expect him to be a leader on Special Teams if asked to work there. He has shown the ability to get to the corner and take it to the end zone with incredible upfield burst.
Pigskin Paul had him ranked all the way up at the 85th overall slot.
ROUND 5, PICK 159 MICAH HYDE/CB 6’0/196 IOWA 4.56/40 31 1/2” ARMS 9 3/8” HANDS
At this point in the Draft IOWA players become popular because under a FERENTZ coaching staff they learn a lot of NFL principles of play and technique. HYDE, assuming he gets past an upcoming court date unscathed, can play any slot in the secondary with his only real question mark being deep cover/catch-up speed. But like FLETCHER & SPIEVEY before him, he’s likely to be a valuable 6th DB who can play either S or CB in a pinch or a sub-package. He’s also likely to find some key roles on PACKERS Special Teams. He’s not likely to ever be an NFL starter, but his versatility could improve the bottom half of their roster and from this point on in a Draft that is the most you can expect.
He was ranked as the 182nd best prospect by Pigskin Paul.
ROUND 5, PICK 167 JOSH BOYD/DL 6’3/310 MISSISSIPPI ST 5.14/40 32” ARMS 10” HANDS
A really productive, work/try-hard player with more talent than it looks like at first blush. He would seem to have scheme diversity for the PACKERS D. That would seem especially true when the team goes to its 2-man DL scheme. He may not catch the opposing QB very often, but he will chase until the whistle blows or until taken off the field. Had a more than respectable 32 reps in the bench press at the COMBINE. He might have room to improve his overall game some under the coaching at the NFL level, and the help of a solid weight and strength training regimen. With the majority of the PACKERS veteran DL in the final year of their contracts BOYD has a great opportunity to prove to the coaching staff that there is no need to re-up some of those journeymen vets. I like his NFL potential.
He was ranked by Pigskin Paul as the 172nd best prospect in this Draft.
ROUND 6, PICK 193 NATE PALMER/OLB 6’2/233 ILLINOIS STATE 4.85/40
Just the kind of small school, highly athletic, conversion project you should expect from TED THOMPSON by the time you get to Round 6. He’s a well built, athletic player who showed a knack for pressuring the QB with his hand in the dirt. The PACK scouts must have had a great scouting visit the Redbirds campus last Fall since they signed two other players as URFA. One would expect a year on the Practice Squad unless he shows too much in pre-season to escape a waiver claim by another alert NFL team. f they can hide him and coach him up, he might be able to contribute on the playing field from scrimmage after an apprenticeship on Special Teams.
Not ranked in Pigskin Paul’s Top 300, but listed as an unranked prospect.
ROUND 7, PICK 216 CHARLES JOHNSON/WR 6’2/215 GRAND VALLEY ST 4.40/40
It took a while, but it seemed pretty logical that the PACK would add a WR or two given the number of Picks they had, and the loss of DRIVER/JENNINGS. JOHNSON had some post-HS off-field issues but landed at small school power Grand Valley two years ago and kept his nose clean off the field. He was a production machine with 128 catches and 31 TD in two seasons. He got some attention after his Pro Day when he ran a reported sub-4.00/40. Such times are quite often highly suspicious, but suffice it to say that a guy his size motoring in the 4.40 range is impressive. He’s the kind of physical specimen/project that WHITEY likes to present to his coaches and let the teaching begin. His most obvious value at is size could be as a Red Zone weapon. RODGERS should have no problem spotting him in a crowd. Good upside Pick in Round 7.
Pigskin Paul had him ranked as the 263rd best prospect overall.
ROUND 7, PICK 224 KEVIN DORSEY/WR 6’2/210 MARYLAND 4.47/40
It’s hard to get a recent read on DORSEY’s ability since MARYLAND has had such a huge upheaval since Randy Edsall took over the program two seasons ago. DORSEY had a constant parade of new QB throwing the ball to him, on the rare occasions that the team wasn’t running the option Offense. But the team had him in Green Bay for a workout and visit. Suffice it to say they saw something they liked and decided to nab him here. He might surprise, or he could just be Training Camp fodder in a numbers game. But at the least he would seem like a solid candidate to land on their Practice Squad for further development.
Pigskin Paul did not have DORSEY ranked but did have him on his prospect list.
ROUND 7, PICK 232 SAM BARRINGTON/ILB 6’1/246 SOUTH FLORIDA 4.91/40
BARRINGTON was a very productive and versatile performer for SKIP HOLTZ at USF. A bit undersized for today’s NFL, he nonetheless could bring value to the team as a Special Teamer initially. Another player who I suspect will end up on their Practice Squad unless injuries at LB force their hand to retain him on the roster. Things will still boil down to how much he impresses with his Special Teams play if he is to have any chance to stick. Nothing is a reach this late in the Draft, but I don’t see anything special that he adds to their roster right now.
Not ranked by Pigskin Paul but included in his prospect list.
This was an interesting DRAFT and most likely a productive one for the PACK. There is a good mix of need-picks and value-picks in the mix here. Even though TED did not/could not trade out of Round 1, he did work the Draft and got himself up from 8 Picks up to 11. As I stated many times this Spring the value in this Draft was quality depth, not elite players. Thus, getting an extra 3 Picks allowed the team to add some quality volume and help increase Training Camp competition. I would also point out that it appears that WHITEY did indeed make a conscious effort to increase team speed, athleticism and strength with this Draft Class. It’s doubtful the team under THOMPSON will ever be confused with the Monsters of the Midway of days gone by, but I do believe the organization does want to ramp things up a bit to match-up better with the more physical rosters than annually seem to advance furthest in the Play-Offs.
A very solid and creative Draft effort that I think rates a B+ grade.
Note: You can read more from Paul on the Packers and the NFL Draft on his website, Pigskin Paul’s Place.